In my most recent post, I spoke out about the need for a Cardinal Nation Penalty Box for those “fans” who simply insist on giving up on the Cardinals before the very end. I’m here to tell you right now that the penalty box is full, and you folks know who you are. I saw at least 4 people in my section yesterday get up and leave prior to the end of the 7th inning. Please don’t tell me that they watched from somewhere else in the stadium, either. If that’s the case, then they deserve the penalty box anyway, because they had seats within 10 rows of the field. At one point, they were closer to the ball than John Mayberry Jr., and they were almost rendered stupefied by a Yadier Molina foul ball. On a happier note, at least I couldn’t hear them complaining about how the Cardinals should fire LaRussa based on his managing tactics in 1 game.
Granted, it was an important game. Admittedly, he made some moves that were more difficult to understand than Craig Sager’s choice in attire. (Side Note: I understand that the jacket he wore yesterday could be seen from space. It was ugly in the same way Martin Lawrence dressed as a woman is ugly. Just plain wrong.) So, just how bad were the supposed managing gaffes? Well, I’ll put the situations out there, and you can judge for yourself (right along with me).
- On the incredulous scale (where 1 is Bieber shaving his head and 10 is unicorn-drawn carriages delivering me 8-lb burritos), I’d give the entire game about a 4 in the LaRussa era. Face it, folks. We’ve seen far worse than yesterday, and it’s not like he wasn’t at least trying.
- Was it a good idea to walk Carlos Ruiz in order to bring up the pitcher’s spot when Cole Hamels was already at 117 pitches? Well, hindsight may be 20-20, but the Cardinal faithful at Busch were booing the move like crazy when it happened, so maybe you don’t need 20-20 to see a wreck about to happen. Setting up a force out and getting Hamels out of the game sounded good in theory. However, it was Carlos Ruiz at-bat, and he’s not exactly a speed merchant. Get Ruiz, and it’s still 0-0 with the pitcher’s spot due up 1st the next inning. Ruiz hits a blast, and it’s just 2-0, and at worst Hamels bats and hangs in for another inning with the possibility that he’ll end up running on fumes. Go with the IBB, and all it takes is a double to score 2 runs. Sorry, but I just don’t like the IBB there, and I wouldn’t have liked it, even if they ended up getting out of the inning unscathed. Yes, a similar moved worked earlier in the game, and Garcia got Ryan Howard out. That’s a completely different scenario, and you know it. TLR knows it as well. Howard may be a beast, but Jaime has had his number. TLR had to know Garcia would end up facing a right-handed pinch hitter. It wasn’t a terrible idea, and it may work a great deal of the time, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll ever like the IBB in that situation.
- Garcia looked pretty sharp through 6 innings, and a pitcher’s duel is definitely a thing to behold. However, when the Cardinals had Theriot on 2nd base with 2 outs in the bottom of the 6th, Garcia came to bat. Would you have let that happen, or would you have pinch hit someone like Nick Punto in that situation? Honestly, I was hoping for a pinch hitter, because at that point I was thinking that 1 run might win the game. Didn’t happen. It’s hard to blame TLR for this one, though.
- Instead of just looking at the Nick Punto pinch hitting for Jon Jay situation, try looking at the entire bottom of the 8th. Maybe the numbers looked better for Punto. Maybe not. I just recall that he gets out both righties and lefties with ridiculous frequency. However, he actually surrendered a slightly higher OBP, slugging percentage, and OPS to left-handed hitters. Instead, TLR chose to effectively burn 2 players at once, because he then had to bring in Skip Schumaker to play CF. Well, he didn’t have to, but I’m not sure I wanted to see how he was going to replace Jay with Punto in the field. Beyond that part of the inning, there was another key move worth noting. Holliday did his job by getting a hit, but he was taken out for a pinch runner, Adron Chambers. It probably wouldn’t have been a big deal, but later on we all had the please of seeing…..
- Kyle Lohse the pinch runner? The Cardinals were down 3-2, and Theriot was at the plate. All he has to do is drop a double down the 1st base line, and the Lohse is going to be mentioned in the same sentence as Curt Flood, right? Right? Someone please tell me that Lohse would have scored easily on a double down the line. Please….
Sure, TLR blew through his bench like it was nothing at all. He definitely made some moves that didn’t pay off. Can’t blame a guy for trying, though. Maybe you can a thing or two about not trying, and an IBB is pretty much the definition of not trying…..as in not trying to get Ruiz out. Beyond that judgment call, it’s hard to say with any certainty that he wasn’t pulling the right strings. Players have to make plays. When a team leaves 14 runners stranded, then that team simply hasn’t made enough plays. End of discussion.
TIDBITS IN CASE YOU WEREN’T THERE:
- Just a judgment call here, but I could swear the loudest cheers during player announcements were for Adam Wainwright. Nice work, folks.
- The Clydesdales made the usual appearance, and it was accompanied by the usual music. When the team reached the end of the full circuit, they appeared to pause for a split second before continuing around again on a bit of a “victory lap’. Sweet.
- The band performing the National Anthem did a fine job. The portion of the crowd that started singing along with no encouragement? Yeah, you were every bit as good.
- When you are in the middle of over 40,000 people chanting “Ya-di!” at full force while waving rally towels, you don’t have time to think about stress, bills, work, or that 8-lb burrito you ate before the game. It’s all about the heart and soul of the Cardinals. I can envision the Cardinals without Albert Pujols, but I can’t see Yadier Molina in another jersey. Ever.
FINAL BIT OF TID: I don’t know if Skip Schumaker is normally a gambler, but he sure took a huge gamble going for that short ball in CF last night. Misjudge that ball and another run scores easily. Nice job by the umpiring crew to get together and go with the opinion of the 1 person on the crew who was awake and looking at the field during the play, too. I’m guessing the only people in the world who were unaware of the actual result were all dressed alike and on the field with that 1 person. Quality stuff.
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