St. Louis Cardinals: Infuriating Loss

michaeldavidmiles
Jun 18, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal (44) walks off the field after being removed from the game during the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers at Busch Stadium. The Rangers won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 18, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal (44) walks off the field after being removed from the game during the ninth inning against the Texas Rangers at Busch Stadium. The Rangers won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /
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The St. Louis Cardinals lost their second contest against the Texas Rangers on Saturday after what had appeared to be a win through seven innings.

What looked like a sure win for the St. Louis Cardinals through seven innings on Saturday afternoon ended in heartbreak.  Carlos Martinez faced the Rangers’ Nick Martinez.  While the Cardinals took an early 3-0 lead, the birds simply couldn’t hold this after the seventh inning and ended the game with a 4-3 loss.

Here’s a quick recap.  Thanks to Yadier Molina‘s second inning RBI single, the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead on a run scored by Jhonny Peralta.  In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Cardinals plated two additional runs on a Kolten Wong (this game’s center fielder) during which he took second on the throw and on a Stephen Piscotty single that scored Matt Carpenter.

Defensively through seven, the Cardinals looked good.  Martinez had a strong game having gone seven complete innings and surrendering only four hits and zero runs across 101 pitches.  After Saturday’s game, Martinez owns a 1.23 ERA across his last four starts.  Solid.  Just solid.

Speaking of defense, on a day when the Cardinals sent Randal Grichuk to Memphis (one day after sending Jeremy Hazelbaker to Memphis as well) having recalled Tommy Pham (a day after recalling Wong), Wong got his first start in centerfield and looked good there.  For more on Saturday’s moves, jump over to Steven’s optioning review.

This is when all positivity went out the window.  Mike Matheny turned to Seung Hwan Oh in the eighth inning.  Oh has had great outings of late and through the first two outs of the inning, this seemed to remain true.  Then, somehow, the wheels fell off the cart and Oh couldn’t get out of the inning and he allowed two runs to score– one on a wild pitch.

In this eighth inning, there were a few close calls when it seemed the Cardinals were going to get out of the inning such as the foul ball to the left of first that was right at the tarp that Matt Adams couldn’t cut the distance to catch.  This type of play made me instantly miss Albert Pujols‘ ability to hop onto the tarp to catch foul balls like this one.

That said, the Cardinals exited the top of the eighth with the lead still intact but just barely.  Score: Cardinals 3, Rangers 2.  A silent bottom of the eighth lead to a rocky and terrifying top of the ninth.

Matheny, in this (and all other situations of similar nature) save situation, turned to Trevor Rosenthal.  Matheny infuriatingly insists on maintaining roles and will murder a three-time dead horse to ensure that his pitchers work only their roles.  So, this one run game must be Rosenthal territory.

And this was the big mistake.  For the third time this season, Rosenthal entered a save situation and loaded the bases without recording a single out.  Where Oh looked shaky in his final out of his inning wherein he surrendered two runs (one earned) to record the final out, Rosenthal simply couldn’t be bothered to record even a single out.

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Matheny had to to do something and replaced Rosy with Kevin Siegrist— his defacto closer.  This begs the question of whether Siegrist is the appropriate choice for this or would it better to have Oh serve as this role.  I’m sure many will debate this in the coming days, so I’ll just leave that to them.

Siegrist entered and induced a weak pop-out to Wong in center maintaining the loaded bases.  Patience paid off for Shin-Soo Choo and he was awarded a textbook Siegrist walk to tie the game: run charged to Rosenthal by way of Siegrist.  With the game tied, Siegrist next allowed a sacrifice fly to give the Rangers the go-ahead run (then struck out the next batter and was out of the inning).

In their half of the ninth, needing only a run to extend the game, the Cardinals sent Molina to strike out, Aledmys Diaz to strike out, and Tommy Pham to lineout and the game was done.

I was livid.  I thought for sure the birds on the bat had a win in their pocket after seven innings and a three-run cushion.  I was severely wrong.  I thought that Rosenthal was the closer and it was his job to enter a save situation and close the door.  I was severely wrong.

Next: One Step Forward Two Steps Back

Can someone please take a pen to paper and write two letters: one to Matheny requesting that someone else close games for a while (or the remainder of the season), and one to Mozeliak asking for a read trade using experiemented outfielders for some starting and relieving pitching depth?

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