I'm a big believer in the Golden Rule. As a Christian, it's one of those basic foundations of how I try to live my life. The world would be better if we all did that, I'd suggest. That said, every rule has its exceptions. I'm pretty sure this one doesn't cover nine run innings in baseball. Just because you got one on Sunday doesn't mean you need to turn around and allow one on Monday.
The ninth inning yesterday (and really, you could count the eighth inning in here as well) ruined what was an incredible day in St. Louis up until that point. You had the Hall of Famers, the Clydesdales, the moving tribute to Stan Musial and the unveiling of the same design the Cards are wearing on their jerseys out on the outfield wall You had the largest crowd ever in Busch Stadium III history on hand. You had local boy David Freese making his season debut after his time on the DL. Plus you had perhaps the most unique National Anthem ever for an opener, honoring The Man in a special way.
You also had a really good pitching performance by Jaime Garcia. Garcia went six and two-thirds, striking out 10 batters and allowing three runs. There were questions whether a completely healthy Freese or maybe Matt Carpenter could have gotten to the ball in the seventh that turned into an RBI double and ended Garcia's day, so the line could have looked even better. He did allow a home run to Brandon Phillips, but on the whole, Garcia really deserved to win that game and gets Hero status in this one.
The Goat is fairly easy to figure out. Even though Trevor Rosenthal allowed the game to be tied up in the eighth, which warranted consideration for this title, there's little doubt that Mitchell Boggs gets the nod. In one-third of an inning, he walked four and allowed two hits, eventually leading to seven runs. Some of those scored after he was yanked and Marc Rzepczynski came in and struggled as well, but Boggs was well responsible for the game getting out of hand. When the only effective reliever is Randy Choate, you start getting concerned. Choate came in and did what he was supposed to do--retire Joey Votto with the game riding in the balance--but he got a significant assist from Votto, who swung at a 3-0 pitch and hit a dribbler to second base.
The bullpen is a huge question mark right now, one that may or may not be somewhat relieved after today's examination of Jason Motte. If Motte is recovering and they can start to set a timetable for his return, then maybe they can make some patch work adjustments. If he's going to be out a significant amount of time, though, the bullpen needs to be rethought.
Boggs has struggled in his outings with the game on the line. He was able to preserve the three-run lead on Saturday, but he blew the save in Arizona and then completely melted down yesterday. More than anything, those four walks stand out. He only had one in the four innings before that, so perhaps all of this is just a one-day thing, a blip on the radar. It's just an awfully big blip and takes away any margin of error Boggs may have. If he blows another save in the next week or so, there's got to be consideration about moving him out of the role. The weak bullpen of the last two years forced the Cards into furious second half rallies. Not digging that hole again should be a priority.
Of course, who do you go to? Rosenthal would have been the choice before the season started, but he's had two holds on the young season that have gone by the wayside while he was in. When he comes into games with the Cards behind, he's been effective, even dominant. When he's got to protect a lead, though, it's gone south for him. Small sample size so maybe it's a fluke, but maybe there's something more to it. Again, there's not going to be a change in role just yet, but the thoughts are there.
Beyond those two, I'm not sure who you go to. You need Edward Mujica in the seventh/eighth inning area. I'd almost considered Rzepczynski due to his fairly dominant outings before yesterday, but that went by the wayside and it seems unlikely either of the Cardinal lefties are what you want to be using as your regular closer. Joe Kelly was drafted as a closer, but he's only had one (out of three) scoreless outings this season.
The best case scenario is that Motte gets a clean bill of health and can return in a month or so and that Boggs straightens up until then. The alternatives aren't quite worth thinking about just yet.
The bullpen woes obsured the fact that, offensively, yesterday wasn't the strongest day for the Cardinals either. If the Reds had had a regular centerfielder, there's a strong chance the Redbirds would have been behind in the late innings anyway. Shin-Soo Choo had an awful game, making two errors that led directly to three runs. Other than that, the Cards had four hits and one run, not exactly the offensive performance you wanted to see in an opener, especially against a guy that came in with a 9.00 ERA against the Cardinals. There's no doubt that Mat Latos is a quality pitcher, but the Cards had solved him before so it was disappointing they did not do so again yesterday. That being said, there were a number of balls that were hit deep that might have gone out had they been playing in Cincinnati, so maybe he wasn't completely fooling them.
Still, losing by nine means about as much as winning by 11. The Cardinals can win the next two games and be tied for the divisional lead when Cincinnati decamps and Milwaukee comes in. The only thing that was affected with the Pythagorean record and they don't use that one yet for playoff determinations.
Lance Lynn goes to the mound tonight against the Reds, hoping to have a much more productive outing than he did in Arizona last week. If you want to keep a positive frame of mind about that possibility, you might want to skip the upcoming table.
Yeah, that's not good. Small sample size and all that, but anytime a lineup is hitting close to .550 off of you, they aren't exactly trembling when you walk to the mound. Still, that's just a handful of at-bats, so there's not a lot of predictive value there. Hopefully.
On the flip side, the Cards have seen Bronson Arroyo plenty in his career. It seems like, more often than not, Arroyo is able to frustrate St. Louis and get wins that were unexpected.
It would seem that the Cards could get plenty of baserunners against him and Arroyo is 8-13 against the Redbirds in his career, though with a respectable 4.56 ERA. It's too bad Garcia went yesterday--five for six with a home run, a double, and a walk? That's some serious carnage for a pitcher!
With Yadier Molina's history against Arroyo, you wonder if tonight will be his first night off of the season. It would seem more likely that Tony Cruz would go in tomorrow's game, since it's a day game after a night game and would give Molina two days of rest with that off day on Thursday, but it wouldn't be a terrible thing if he sat out tonight.
By the way, if you are interested the official Cardinal browser theme has been updated for the 2013 season. It's created by BrandThunder.com. I installed it last year and thought it was pretty nice, though the search bar popped up just late enough to shift my page down when I was trying to click something. My computer is pretty old, though, so that may well have had something to do with it.
Cards play their first night game since the extra-inning marathon at Arizona this evening. Let's hope it doesn't take that long for them to win it!
The BBA has, as a secondary aim, the goal of producing year-end
awards in a similar fashion to the Baseball Writers of America. These
awards can be found at the official site in October with links back to the voters,
ensuring transparency and, most likely, the onset of some good baseball