Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/30/11

The Cardinals head to Milwaukee with red-hot Jason Motte leading the relievers.



The Cardinals have had eight different pitchers record saves this year, more than Tony La Russa ever can remember having on one team.

On one hand, this could mean the Cardinals have depth in their bullpen. On the other, it could mean they've had trouble deciding on who should close.

"It's a great example of half-empty, half-full," said La Russa. "And I definitely think we're half-full."

The latest in the barrel is right-hander Jason Motte, who gained his first save of the season on Sunday with a perfect ninth inning. Motte hasn't allowed a run in his last 17 outings and no earned runs in his last 29 outings, dating to June 23.

That latter streak covers 22 innings in which he has fanned 18 and walked just two. Motte hasn't even allowed a hit in his last nine appearances, spanning eight innings.

"You give guys what they earn," said La Russa, "and they make the decisions for you."

Motte was the closer on Opening Day in 2009 in what would be his first full major league season, but he allowed four runs to Pittsburgh in the ninth inning and soon was removed in favor of veteran right-hander Ryan Franklin.

Since then, he has been a valued setup man, specializing in the strikeout with men on base.

The closer job is one he would relish, but Motte seems comfortable in the other roles. "If it's something in the seventh inning with two guys on, that's fine," he said. "If it's pitching in the eighth inning, if it's pitching in the sixth inning, all that's fine. I'll go when they tell me."

For now, La Russa is apt to tell Motte, a 29-year-old former catcher, to go in in the ninth.

"You look at how guys improve and develop and get more responsibility," said La Russa. "He'll get what he earns."


RHP Edwin Jackson will make his third start against Milwaukee this month. In the first two, he allowed 13 runs (10 earned) in 13 innings, but was much better in the second, limiting the Brewers to two earned runs over six frames.

RHP Brandon Dickson, who will be recalled from Class AAA Memphis to pitch in Thursday's series finale, will give the Brewers a different look, manager Tony La Russa hopes. In the teams' last three series, the Brewers have won seven of nine games, including five of six in Milwaukee.

It seems that most hope for the Cardinals accomplishing anything substantial is gone, but manager Tony La Russa said, "You just control your thinking. I play this like it's the seventh game of the World Series. It's not hard to convince yourself that the game you're playing is the seventh game of the World Series. It's pretty exciting to do that it way. And I still like to do it."

LHP Marc Rzepczynski, obtained from Toronto in the trade for CF Colby Rasmus, has given up just one run in 11 innings for the Cardinals. Tony La Russa plans to use him more as an "innings" man out of the bullpen rather than as a one- or two-batter specialist.

INF Ryan Theriot's two runs batted in Sunday matched his total for the month of August. But Theriot's playing time has been cut with the acquisition of SS Rafael Furcal from Los Angeles.

BY THE NUMBERS: 20-8 - Record the Cardinals would have to compile the rest of the way to reach 90 wins.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "In the history of the game, there's been nobody who's done a better job than Dave. Sure, you're going to miss him. His record stands alone."

- Manager Tony La Russa, on his long-time pitching coach Dave Duncan, who is absent from the team as he cares for his ailing wife.




RHP Lance Lynn (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 10.

INF Nick Punto (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list July 29.

RHP Eduardo Sanchez (mild right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Springfield on July 7 but had renewed soreness soon after and was shut down until late August or early September. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 31.

RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season.


Tue., Aug. 30 at BREWERS: Edwin Jackson (10-9, 3.94) vs. Shaun Marcum (11-4, 3.38) 7:10 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).

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