There's a reason while the Cardinals have been recognized as one of the more environmentally-conscious teams in baseball. Some teams would have seen a six-run lead as something to waste, using that cushion and cruising to a 6-2 win or something. Not these Cardinals, though. They were committed to not wasting a single bit of that 6-0 lead they had and, by golly, that's exactly what they did, winning with not a whit to spare.
It's fitting that last night's Hero should be one of those former starters that's being reused in the bullpen. Trevor Rosenthal came into a bases-loaded, two-out, 6-3 game and got perhaps the biggest out of the night. When the bullpen has struggled as much as this Cardinal one has, having a shut-down moment is huge. Rosenthal then pitched the eighth and while he was nicked for a run, it was unearned due to Daniel Descalso muffing a ball. Rosenthal wasn't hit hard in that inning at all and caught some bad breaks, but is really starting to look like a pitcher we can rely on again.
(I've said it before, but Descalso can get away with hitting under .200 if he'll be a reliable glove to bring into late innings. That was Descalso's fifth error of the season, one of the higher totals in Major League Baseball. Something's got to get better or Dirty Dan could be the odd man out if Kolten Wong forces the issue.)
While the Goat tag is going to go to Joe Kelly, who came in and started that bullpen meltdown that we've seen so many times this year, it wasn't completely his fault. He could have gotten out of the inning with just one run allowed had Mitchell Boggs been at all successful in his outing. Boggs got ahead of Rickie Weeks--a batter who'd never gotten a hit off of him--1-2 before throwing three straight pitches that weren't even close to the plate. Seriously, you could tell when the ball left his hand these weren't going in the right direction.
That loaded the bases for Carlos Gomez. Gomez is not known as a patient hitter. Get it around the plate and you should be able to take care of him. Which is why it was even more telling when Boggs went to a 3-0 count on him, again with pitches that weren't anywhere close. (To be fair, the third one was. If Boggs had been more consistent in the strike zone before that, he probably would have gotten the call.) He came back to get a couple of strikes, but wound up walking him on a ball in the dirt.
That was all for Boggs, whose time with the Cardinals has now been reduced. Per Derrick Goold's story, Boggs is heading to Memphis for a head-straightening. We were talking in the Bonfyre last night about if that would happen and who would be the replacement. The 40-man roster is full, but they'll move Rafael Furcal to the 60-day disabled list to free up a spot. I don't think they'll go with Carlos Martinez here, but I guess it's possible. I don't see them bringing up another Memphis starter (such as John Gast) to throw because we've not seen Seth Maness yet. I think they are more likely to grab a guy that's already in the bullpen or that, in the case of Martinez, they'd be willing to use as something more than a long relief guy. Nobody like that stands out on the Memphis roster, though. Michael Wacha's name is going to get brought up as well, but I think they want to continue to condition him as a starter for a while before letting him work in the pen and, again, that's not likely to be a one-inning role for him anyway. [EDIT: Martinez is the call, which really did seem to be the only one when you think about it.]
Offensively, the Cards looked like they broke out, scoring six runs and 12 hits. However, St. Louis recycled one of their favorite scripts, having one big inning and letting that take care of it all. All six runs and seven of the hits came in the third and, as we know, that was just barely enough. It was good to see David Freese get a couple of hits after sitting down for a couple of days. The offense could really use him on track. Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina and Jon Jay also had two hits, but save for that one inning when the line got moving, nothing came of them.
Even with the drama, even with Edward Mujica making it as tight as possible by allowing a run and having the tying run on base, the Cards have now won three in a row and lead the Central by a game. Milwaukee and Cincinnati are tied for third at just 2.5 out, so there's no comfortable lead there but it's nice to know that, given all the problems so far in St. Louis, they are still right now the team to beat. So if they start firing on all cylinders, look out.
A rematch game tonight as Shelby Miller faces off against Kyle Lohse. When the two met in Busch a couple of weeks back, Lohse gave up just two runs, but that was enough to take the loss as Miller gave up just one hit and struck out eight over seven innings. That outing is the only time the Brewers have seen Miller, but here's the table for Lohse against the Redbirds.
Again, as encouraging as those numbers are, Lohse is definitely a different pitcher than he's been in the past and I would expect something more like his first outing against St. Louis rather than what these numbers show. Would be fine with the latter, though!
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