The St. Louis Cardinals scored 20 runs heading in the first two games of the three game series against the Milwaukee Brewers. There was no carryover in the scoring department Sunday as the Redbirds went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. That and sloppy execution on the bases led to a 3-2 loss to Brewers.
There were numerous times that the Cardinals had Brewers starter Zack Greinke on the ropes but were never able to completely breakthrough. Despite allowing seven hits and four walks in six innings, Greinke surrendered only one run. Greinke only struck out two batters so he didn’t have his best stuff.
The Cardinals left 13 runners on, 9 by Greinke alone. When the Cards weren’t stranding runners they were making mistakes on the bases. In the fifth inning Jaime Garcia singled and then moved to third on a Jon Jay single. Matt Holliday hit a fly ball with plenty of distance for a sac fly, but Garcia got over aggressive and broke too far from the bag. He couldn’t get back to third in time and was left there after Carlos Beltran walked and David Freese made the final out of the inning.
Garcia went out for the bottom of the inning and lost the 1-0 lead. Aramis Ramirez singled in Carlos Gomez and then catcher Jonathan Lucroy doubled home Ramirez and Corey Hart to give the Brewers a 3-1 lead.
In the eighth with Francisco Rodriguez on the mound for the Brewers, the Cardinals struck for a run. Matt Carpenter doubled to lead off the inning. Skip Schumaker followed with a single. Pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso grounded into a force play at second which scored Carpenter and made the score 3-2 Brewers.
The epitome of the game surfaced in the bottom of the ninth. Brewers closer John Axford walked Holliday to start the inning. Tyler Greene came in to pinch-run for Holliday. He got to third base on a Beltran single. Axford then struck out Freese.
With one out, Yadier Molina came to the plate and manager Mike Matheny decided this would be a good time for some trickery. He put on the play that worked a couple times in Spring Training where the runner on first broke for second to try and draw the throw t get in a run-down and the player at third would try to steal home. On the third pitch of the at-bat, Molina struck out and Beltran got an bad jump. Lucroy double pumped before throwing to Brewers shortstop Alex Gonzalez. This caused Greene to hesitate before leaving for home and that gave Gonzalez enough time to get a good throw to Lucroy to get Greene at home and end the game.
- The Cardinals finished April with a 14-8 record with a three game lead over the Cincinnati Reds atop the NL Central.
- Allen Craig could be activated on Tuesday according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.
- The Cardinals are off today and will host the Pittsburgh Pirates for three games beginning Tuesday.
MY TWO CENTS
For what it’s worth, I’m not sure yesterday’s trick play was all that necessary. I understand that the Cardinals had been awful with runners in scoring position throughout the day, but with the tying run on third, only one out and one of your better hitters on the season at the plate, don’t you have to give him the chance to drive in the run?
Axford has not exactly been dominate this season. Yes, he has converted 48 straight save opportunities but he has had his share of close calls throughout the streak. He was primed to blow this one.
But, once a trick play is called for by the manager it changes the mindset of the player at the plate. Molina now feels he has to protect the runners so he swings at a terrible pitch up and away and strikes out. Beltran’s hesitation is somewhat understandable as he is luring the Brewers into the run-down. This all rests on Greene and he didn’t execute the play. We have to give credit to Brewers shortstop Alex Gonzalez for being alert too.
The play had no business being called in that situation. If the Cardinals want to be aggressive on the bases, they can do that by continuing to try to steal bases (preferably second and third) to set up scoring chances. Tricks are great when they work, but they seldom do, which is why they have a time and place. With the tying run on third and a productive hitter at the plate and a two-strike count, this didn’t seem to be the moment.
Tags: Alex Gonzalez Allen Craig Aramis Ramirez Cardinals Carlos Beltran Daniel Descalso David Freese Franciso Rodriguez Jaime Garcia John Axford Jon Jay Jonathan Lucroy Matt Carpenter Matt Holliday Mike Matheny Rafael Furcal Skip Schumaker St Louis Cardinals Tyler Greene Yadier Molina Zack Greinke