Where exactly do you lay the most blame for last night's loss? Kyle Lohse didn't have a good start, which put the Cards in a hole early. Two home runs allowed, five runs total in five innings. There aren't many nights where that is going to win a ball game and Lohse was lucky not to factor into the decision.
What may be the most frustrating thing about that outing was that he could have easily kept it at three runs (which, granted, was bad enough as they all came in the first) when he got a double play in the third that left no one on and two outs. Then single-double-walk-single and the Braves have two more. The Cards have been bad this year about not closing out innings and it almost always comes back to haunt them.
Jason Motte? The closer came into a one-run Atlanta game just trying to keep it close for his team to have at least a shot in the ninth. Three walks (one intentional), a sac fly and a single later, the Braves are back up to their three run lead and, with Craig Kimbrel coming into the game and the Cardinal lineup looking like it should be in Memphis, the game was effectively over.
Yet neither of these guys get the Goat. I think that "honor" has to go to Marc Rzepczynski. This game was very similar to the game against the Phillies last week. The Cardinals get in a big hole early, battle back to tie it up, then immediately the bullpen allows the tiebreaking runs. All momentum is lost and, while the Cards continue to battle, they can't get back over the hump.
Scrabble had actually been getting back into form. In his last three outings he'd allowed only one hit and had lowered his ERA (which, obviously, is never a great measure for a reliever) to 3.44. Last night, though, nothing went right for him. Jack Wilson got a double, which is always a telling sign that your night is in the trash. He threw a wild pitch and Yadier Molina had a passed ball. Brian McCann, who Rzep should have been most effective against, got a two-run single. (Granted, McCann beat the exaggerated shift, so some of that has to go to Mike Matheny, but he could have easily gotten out of the inning before that.) Some days you just wish the phone never rang.
There were positives, of course. I'll give the Hero to Matt Holliday for his two hits and two RBI. Rafael Furcal also had two hits and Tyler Greene had a big single in that four-run sixth as the Cards pushed to tie it up. Mitchell Boggs also was the only effective pitcher of the night, pitching a clean seventh inning.
(By the way, it took Freddie Freeman like a week to get those new prescription goggles. They couldn't have been delayed one more day? Three for five with a home run. Apparently seeing is the most important thing.)
You give credit to the Cardinals for not giving up--a lineup that had Greene, Skip Schumaker, Daniel Descalso and Shane Robinson in it all at the same time isn't necessarily the juggernaut we've gotten used to, but they put together a rally--but at the same time, they've got to figure out a way to stop the bleeding.
That means on AND off the field. Not only did they stumble their way to the end of the month, they did so with new injury concerns. Jon Jay is returning for a second opinion on his shoulder, which is not a positive development at all. Jay is eligible to return from the DL, so having him still in pain and discomfort isn't a good sign. I think Jay's been a huge loss for the Cards, because having his bat in the two hole and him playing center field seems to help set everything else for the club. Obviously the offense is still running without him, but it could be better. I really miss him out in center field, though.
Then you have Jaime Garcia who went for an MRI yesterday on his throwing elbow. While the official word is that everything looked fine and that Garcia will only miss one start, it's still a troubling thing. Will this be a recurring problem? Will it really only be one start? If it's more than that, what happens then? It looks like the off-day helps and it means everyone just moves up a slot. If Garcia's out for any length of time, though, does the Shelby Miller watch begin? Or do they go with Joe Kelly who is having a better season in Memphis? Hopefully these are moot questions, but the way this month has gone for the Cardinals, you have to be prepared. (That also is a bummer for me, because I was going to see Lance Lynn when I was at Busch next week. Now, it looks like Jake Westbrook. THAT should be fun.)
Finally, Schumaker left last night's game with a hamstring injury, most likely causing him to return to the disabled list. Allen Craig is supposed to be returning, so they'll likely swap places and not have to raid Memphis again, but it's still not helping the Cards put out the optimal team. Does mean that Adron Chambers gets a little longer in the bigs, though.
Plus you have the nagging injuries of David Freese and Carlos Beltran. Freese was able to come into last night's game when Schumaker left and get a couple of at-bats, but that wasn't the optimal situation for the Redbirds. An off day today, though, and hopefully he's good to go for Friday. Beltran's knee was again barking at him, limiting him to pinch-hitting in the eighth instead of starting. It sounds like that was more precautionary and he'll be ready to go Friday as well, but I don't think any of us will be surprised if his leg actually detaches on the flight to New York.
I'm likely not to blog tomorrow for various reasons, so let's take a look at Friday's matchup. Adam Wainwright gets to return to New York, site of one of the highlights of his career (though now in a different park), and take on a Mets team that sits just 1.5 games out of first and is a game better than the Cards record-wise. Waino's not seen a lot of the Mets, but he's done well against them when he has faced them.
Not much there and we'll have to see what holds--past history or David Wright's hot start to the season.
It's a matchup of aces coming off of injury as the Mets will throw Johan Santana. Like Wainwright, he's had his ups and down this year and, like Wainwright, he's thrown a shutout against San Diego, doing that last time out.
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