The St. Louis Cardinals, despite leading by several runs, saw their lead disappear and found their first loss of the Pirates series on Friday night.
The St. Louis Cardinals, a team that on paper has a unmatched back of the bullpen, has watched yet another game fall thanks to the arms from the pen. This occurred yet again on Friday night as the Cards began their three-game set in Pittsburgh.
Friday night was cold. This seems to be the continuing theme of the start of this season of baseball. And matching the cold are the St. Louis Cardinals players.
Looking at the club on paper, one would assume that the likes of Matt Carpenter, Jose Martinez, Jedd Gyorko, Yadier Molina, and Marcell Ozuna would tear through opposing pitching. This has not all clicked (yet). Is the cold to blame?
Looking at the club on paper, one would assume that the likes of Luke Gregerson, Bud Norris (albeit a surprise to all currently), Tyler Lyons, Matthew Bowman, and Greg Holland (disappointing of late) would find it easy to shut the door on games in which the club is leading. This has not all clicked (yet). Is the cold to blame?
On Friday, facing the Pirates in Pittsburgh, the St. Louis Cardinals jumped to a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Miles Mikolas was clicking again and making John Mozeliak’s decision to snag this returning player look all the more ingenious as he held the Pirates to no runs through five complete innings.
During these five innings, the Cardinals managed to tack on five runs. Yes, you are reading that correctly: on a night that was chilly (to say the least), the Cardinals scored five runs and were leading 5-0 through five innings. Then Mikolas tired and surrendered two runs. 5-2 was the score after six innings.
Mikolas would pitch the seventh and complete it without surrendering any additional damage. The St. Louis Cardinals still led 5-2 going into the bottom of the ninth. Norris pitched the eighth inning and allowed zero runs rewarding him with a hold. Then the wheels fell off.
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Mike Matheny brought the assumed All-Star closer into the game. Greg Holland found himself unable to pitch and surrendered three runs. Yes, three runs that allowed the game to be tied. And all of this without even recording a single out. Holland was awarded the blown save.
It took three other pitchers from the pen to close out the ninth. This is just terrible managing. It took Dominic Leone, Lyons, and Bowman to get out of the ninth inning. Then the clock slowly ticked by as the Cardinals and Pirates went into extra innings.
Fast-forward into the 11th and young phenom Jordan Hicks found himself saddled with the loss as the offense had gone on vacation.
Here’s the thing: the St. Louis Cardinals management desperately needs to understand how to manage the bullpen. This game was not the first time that we fans have witnessed this poor mismanagement and- if you’ve been watching the other games in the series- was not to be the last time of poor management either.
Greg Holland needs to be sent to the minors so he can get his swagger back.
Tyler Lyons needs a phantom injury so that he can rest and work on some location issues.
Jordan Hicks will be fine but he has become terribly predictable and major league hitters are starting to pick up on this.
Finally, St. Louis Cardinals fans deserve the right to know who is actually in charge of the pitching staff. Coming into this season, we were told that Mike Maddux would have complete say over the pitchers. The mismanagement on display leads me to believe that Matheny is the one responsible as I refuse to believe that Maddux would make such hair-brained decisions. So, please tell me who is responsible for the ignorance!
We fans of the St. Louis Cardinals deserve better. Perhaps the Pirates are just a more superior club this season but I find that difficult to swallow. In short, we need to play the Reds again to make me believe in this club or- hell- send the Memphis squad up here to play!