St. Louis Cardinals: The Game is Never Over According to Joe Maddon

May 24, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) looks on from the dugout in the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
May 24, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) looks on from the dugout in the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

During tonight’s St. Louis Cardinals’ game against the Chicago Cubs, Maddon showed tenacity and refused to consider the game finished despite the Cubs leading 8-0.  Did the Cardinals show similar tenacity?

Whenever the St. Louis Cardinals face the Chicago Cubs, a tiring fight is surely on hand.  During tonight’s game, despite having the lead from the start of the game thanks to an extremely lackluster performance from Michael Wacha. Cubs manager Joe Maddon refused to toss in the towel and insisted that the Cubs play as though the game was tied.

This tenacity showed itself in the top of the ninth with one out.  With Javier Baez on first thanks to his leaning over the plate and being hit by the pitch, Addison Russell grounded softly to Kolten Wong.  The play at first was close.  The call on the field was out.  Maddon challenged.

Let’s review: top of the ninth, leading 8-1, one out, runner advanced to second, now with two outs, Maddon challenges the call.  AND won the challenge!  First, I was angry that Maddon would challenge at this point in the game but then I found myself admiring his push.

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And why push?  Why with such a strong lead?  Let’s ignore for a moment the fact that this challenge succeeded and ignore for a moment (as I know we all wish to do anyway) the fact that Chicago went on in the top of the ninth to score four more runs and focus instead on the message sent.

Maddon’s message — in light of the four-game losing streak the Cubs was facing — was that his team would never give up.  His message — at least as I received it — was that his team would get a solid win tonight at all costs and with all fight.  This message paid off.

So, now let’s turn our attention to the Cardinals. Did they too exhibit such tenacity, such fight, or did the birds lay down with clipped wings after facing an 8-run uphill climb thanks to Wacha’s horrible first inning?

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Mike Matheny, while not laying down and quitting, did swap out some of the regulars and allowed others like Ruben Tejada and Jeremy Hazelbaker and Eric Fryer enter and get playing time.  Was this giving up?  While that is one view, I found myself agreeing with Matheny’s decision.

Having said that, I did feel that fans and maybe even Matheny himself had chalked this game as done long before the ninth inning.  But wait!  The bottom of the ninth hit and the Cardinals — albeit facing substitute pitching and substitute players sent in by Maddon —  showed tenacity of their own.

In the bottom of the ninth, down 12-1, the Cardinals’ bats showed they weren’t dead after all.  Through a series of hits, the Cardinals were able to scratch out two additional runs.  While these didn’t make the difference in the game, they did show that the birds could still flap their wings.

The bottom line is this: Maddon showed fight that earned additional runs (something I admire and despise), Matheny allowed players to pick up experience, and the Cardinals who face at-bats in the ninth showed they too refused to accept that the game was over until the 27th out.

To close, it is important to issue a gigantic bought of thanks to Hazelbaker, Gyorko, Matt Adams, Tejada, Randal Grichuk, Wong, and Brandon Moss for working their at-bats in the bottom of the ninth.  While celebrating, we should also shake our fists at the frustrations of innings one through eight.

Next: Inconsistent Pitching is Costing the Cardinals' Games

Tomorrow is another day and the Cards must face Jake Arrieta.  Rest fast, Cardinals, and return to Busch stadium early tomorrow for a day game.  Let us hope that we might find a weakness in the armor that is Arrieta or let us hope we show Maddon-like tenacity!