Cardinals Major League Notebook: 07/08/10

In Colorado on Wednesday night, the Cardinals blew their second consecutive game in walkoff fashion.

INSIDE PITCH

 

The Cardinals bullpen, stout for most of the season, has failed miserably the past two nights at Colorado.

After allowing nine ninth-inning runs in a 12-9 loss Tuesday, St. Louis squandered another sizeable advantage. The Cardinals led a 5-0 after 4 1/2 innings Wednesday.

Manager Tony La Russa, seeking to avoiding using Ryan Franklin, who threw 26 pitches in allowing six runs in the ninth Tuesday, and Dennys Reyes, who was sick, had to turn to Evan MacLane. The rookie left-hander made his major league debut in the bottom of the ninth with the game tied 7-7.

It was a short debut.

MacLane left a 3-2 changeup over the plate to Chris Iannetta, and for the second night in succession, the Cardinals were walk-off losers on a game-ending home run.

Wednesday's game really unraveled in the eighth inning. With the Cardinals holding a 7-4 lead, right-hander Mitchell Boggs allowed a double and a groundout. He was replaced by left-hander Trever Miller, who hadn't retired either hitter he faced Tuesday.

Miller walked Ian Stewart on a close 3-2 pitch, and La Russa, perhaps impatiently, pulled Miller even though the next four hitters were either switch hitters or left-handed hitters. "Trever needed to get a left-hander out, and it left us in a bad spot," La Russa said.

Right-hander Jason Motte, the Cardinals' strikeout reliever, entered the game, ostensibly to throw the ball by somebody, or everybody. And, indeed Seth Smith and Jason Giambi did strike out. But before that, Motte allowed just the second homer of the season by Dexter Fowler. Fowler's three-run blast to right-center tied the game 7-7.

"You don't want to walk him," Motte said. "You don't want to load the bases. (The home run pitch) was right down the middle. I fell behind. When you fall behind, you've got to throw strikes."

MacLane then allowed a walk-off homer on his sixth pitch. He is believed to be just the second pitcher since 1974 to allow a game-ending homer in his big-league debut.

Now the Cardinals are forced to try to beat Ubaldo Jimenez (14-1) on Thursday afternoon to salvage a game in the series. Chris Carpenter (9-2) will pitch for the Cardinals and will have to go deep into the game, considering the tattered nature of the bullpen. The Cardinals have fallen a season-high three games behind Cincinnati in the National League Central.

"We did a lot of good things," La Russa said. "Sounds like sour grapes, but I thought we played an outstanding game. We added on (runs), and we made plays."

ROCKIES 8, CARDINALS 7: Former Colorado star Matt Holliday, happy to be back at Coors Field, hit his second and third homers in two nights, and rookie Jon Jay had three hits, including his third homer of the season. Jaime Garcia worked four scoreless innings but was victimized by a costly throwing error by SS Tyler Greene on a double-play ball in the fifth, and the Rockies got back into the game with three unearned runs. "I don't want to put it on Tyler, but that's a big miss," manager Tony La Russa said.

NOTES AND QUOTES

RHP Adam Ottavino, 0-2 with an 8.46 ERA in three starts and two relief appearances, was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain, and LHP Evan MacLane, 5-7 with a 4.47 in 17 starts for Class AAA Memphis, was recalled for the second time. MacLane arrived just in time to draw his first loss, allowing a game-ending home run.

RHP Brad Penny, who experienced renewed pain during a side throwing session Tuesday, returned to St. Louis to have his right shoulder examined. An MRI found nothing that hadn't been diagnosed before, but Penny was told not to throw for seven to 10 days, meaning he probably won't be pitching with the Cardinals until August. Penny, who said he felt discomfort in the triceps area while throwing, has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 22 with a strained muscle in his upper back.

The Cardinals hadn't lost on back-to-back walk-off home runs since 2003 in Cincinnati, when Aaron Boone and Barry Larkin beat them. They hadn't blown back-to-back leads of at least five runs since 1930. They are 1-10 in their last 11 games against Colorado and 1-8 over the last two seasons.

LF Matt Holliday is hitting .382 and has eight home runs and 19 RBI since June 18, a span of 18 games. His two homers at Coors Field on Wednesday gave him 14 for the season. "It's a good place to hit," Holliday said. "It's really a good place to see the ball."

C Yadier Molina slowly but surely is climbing out of a hole that left him at .229. Molina drove in a run for the second night in a row with a hit.

One of the reasons the Cardinals have scored 16 runs in two nights is the continued good work in the leadoff spot by 3B Felipe Lopez, who has had five hits in the first two games of the series and is 11-for-22 over the last five games.

The Cardinals were 37-0 when leading after seven innings before they got to Denver. Now they're 37-2. "You score 16 runs, you usually win," Holliday said of the last two games.

1B Albert Pujols was strangely silent as the two teams combined for 31 hits and 15 runs Wednesday. Pujols made two standout defensive plays but went 0-for-5.

By the Numbers:

20,60 - 1B Albert Pujols has had at least that many home runs and that many runs batted in eight times in his career, including this year, through the first 81 games.

Quote to Note:

"It's pretty unbelievable. It makes me sick to my stomach."

- SS Brendan Ryan, on his average sinking to .198.

 

ROSTER REPORT

 

Medical Watch:

RHP Adam Ottavino (right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 4.

RF Ryan Ludwick (strained left calf) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 26. He hopes to return just after the All-Star break.

3B David Freese (bone bruise on right ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28. He will begin a rehab assignment during the All-Star break, and he might return to the Cardinals just after the break.

RHP Kyle Lohse (right forearm strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 23, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 5. He had surgery May 28 to alleviate muscle discomfort. He played catch June 28 for the first time since the surgery.

RHP Brad Penny (strained upper back) went on the 15-day disabled list May 22. He threw bullpen sessions June 28 and July 1 but had to cut short a bullpen session July 6 due to tightness in his triceps area. He underwent an MRI on July 7, which found nothing that hadn't been diagnosed before. He won't resume throwing until after the All-Star break, meaning he probably won't be pitching with the Cardinals until August.


The Cardinal Nation Top Stories