Skip to content

I’m blaming this one on Mike Matheny

Sep 15, 2012, 2:09 AM EDT

Mike Matheny Getty Images

The Cardinals were up 4-3 on the Dodgers with right-handed starter Joe Kelly weakening in the bottom the fifth inning tonight. With a man on first and the left-handed-hitting Andre Ethier on deck, I think it had already been decided that he was facing his last batter when Shane Victorino flied out to left to the end the frame. Left-hander Sam Freeman was ready to go in the pen.

A funny thing happened afterwards, though. When Kelly was replaced to start the bottom of the sixth, it was by Trevor Rosenthal, not Freeman.

The game quickly went south. Ethier singled to start the inning. Rosenthal bounced back to retire Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez, but he then hit Hanley Ramirez with a pitch. Mike Matheny came out to make the change to another right-hander, calling in ex-Marlin Edward Mujica. Mujica, the most homer-prone reliever in the pen, promptly gave up a three-run shot to Luis Cruz, a guy who hadn’t had an extra-base hit in three weeks.

The Cardinals went on to lose 8-5. Freeman eventually got into a game, retiring Ethier (but allowing a walk and a single to the other two batters he faced) in the seventh.

I imagine the Matheny figured out tonight what NL West managers have already learned; when you have the chance to bring in a lefty to face Ethier, you do it. I’m sure Matheny has confidence in Rosenthal’s ability to get out lefties — he’s done a terrific job of it in his limited action in the majors — but Ethier is just brutal against lefty specialists.

My problem with it is that Matheny didn’t see Ethier leading off the sixth inning in a one-run game as being a big situation. Ethier up with two on and two outs in the fifth? That was big, in Matheny’s opinion, and would have required Freeman’s usage. However, Ethier with no outs in the sixth is awfully big too, particularly now that he’s hitting second and being followed by Kemp, Gonzalez and Ramirez. Matheny chose to save Freeman for a more crucial situation that didn’t materialize.

(There is one other thing worth mentioning here; the Cardinals are currently going with just two left-handed relievers, even though it’s September. That certainly wouldn’t have flown back in Tony La Russa’s day.)

Anyway, the Cardinals still have their one-game lead in the wild card, courtesy of Thursday’s series-opening victory. They get to face the struggling Joe Blanton on Saturday and no one knows if Clayton Kershaw (hip) is going to be ready to pitch Sunday. They’re still in a pretty good spot.

A couple of other thoughts from the game:

- Yadier Molina was terrific. He homered, picked off Nick Punto at first base (though it looked like Punto avoided the tag long enough to get his hand on the bag) and worked a 12-pitch walk. I though the walk off Stawn Tolleson was most impressive of all. However, it was immediately followed by David Freese grounded the first pitch he saw to second for a double play.

- Gonzalez seems to be heating up for the Dodgers. He entered with a .233 average 17 strikeouts in 18 games for the Dodgers, but he connected on two doubles tonight. In fact, his last four hits have been doubles.

- I thought Lance Lynn was quite a bit more impressive in his spot start Thursday than Kelly was tonight. The plan appears to be for Lynn to return to the pen with Chris Carpenter coming off the DL next week. but I’d take my chances with him over Kelly right now. Maybe the relief stint allowed him to recharge his batteries after a rough August.

Latest Posts
  1. Brandon McCarthy tosses a four-hit shutout as the Yankees top the Astros

    Aug 21, 2014, 3:40 PM EDT

    Brandon McCarthy AP

    Work fast. Throw strikes. If anyone has come up with a better way to win games, I haven’t heard of it yet.

  2. Chris Rock catches a foul ball at Yankee Stadium, gives it to a kid

    Aug 21, 2014, 2:54 PM EDT

    Video camera

    That’s kind of the whole story, but there’s nothing else going on right now.

  3. Masahiro Tanaka to throw against live hitters Saturday

    Aug 21, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT

    Masahiro Tanaka AP

    Masahiro Tanaka’s attempt to avoid Tommy John elbow surgery with the rest-and-rehab approach has gone well enough that the Yankees right-hander will face live hitters for the first time Saturday.

  4. Cano, Puig, Pujols to participate in an All-Star series in Japan in November

    Aug 21, 2014, 2:04 PM EDT

    Japan Flag

    It’s better than no baseball in November, right?

  5. Rangers pull back Neal Cotts off waivers, won’t trade him

    Aug 21, 2014, 1:43 PM EDT

    Tampa Bay Rays v Texas Rangers Getty Images

    Texas not trading impending free agent reliever Neal Cotts before the July 31 deadline was surprising and now they’re going to hang onto the left-hander for the rest of the season.

  6. HBT Daily: Can’t stop the Nats

    Aug 21, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    HBT Daily Logo

    A nine game winning streak and a bunch of walkoff wins. Do they have a weakness right now?

  7. When will Ryan Zimmerman return to Nationals? “Sometime in September”

    Aug 21, 2014, 12:48 PM EDT

    Ryan Zimmerman AP AP

    There’s only a week or so remaining in the minor-league season, so if Zimmerman wants to go on a rehab assignment before coming off the disabled list he’s running out of time.

  8. The Cubs defend their grounds crew

    Aug 21, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Wrigley Tarp Getty Images

    The Cubs have their grounds crew’s back.

  9. Yankees plan to shift David Phelps from the rotation to the bullpen

    Aug 21, 2014, 12:16 PM EDT

    New York Yankees v Baltimore Orioles Getty Images

    Phelps started 17 games with a 4.28 ERA before being shut down with elbow problems three weeks ago.

  10. Cubs place struggling Edwin Jackson on the disabled list

    Aug 21, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT

    Chicago Cubs v St. Louis Cardinals Getty Images

    After signing a four-year, $52 million contract with the Cubs last offseason Edwin Jackson struggled last season and has now been a mess this year, giving him a combined 14-32 record and 5.47 ERA in 57 starts for Chicago.

  11. Miguel Cabrera aggravated an ankle injury last night

    Aug 21, 2014, 11:32 AM EDT

    miguel cabrera getty Getty Images

    He’ll rub some dirt on it and play through, but the Tigers really don’t need this.

  12. Nationals’ nine-game winning streak is “absolutely epic”

    Aug 21, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

    Bryce Harper AP

    The events taking place each evening on South Capitol Street are beginning to defy explanation.

  13. Kris Bryant reclaims minors leads with 41st homer

    Aug 21, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT

    kris bryant getty Getty Images

    According to MLB.com the last minor leaguer with more than 41 homers in a season was Dallas McPherson of the Marlins with 42 at Triple-A in 2008.

  14. Salvador Perez to have an MRI on his knee

    Aug 21, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    salvador perez light blue getty Getty Images

    He was hurt Monday. Played Tuesday. Out yesterday. Now it’s MRI time.

  15. Justin Verlander has avoided the disabled list and expects to start Saturday

    Aug 21, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    Division Series - Detroit Tigers v Oakland Athletics - Game Two Getty Images

    Dating back to mid-May he has a 5.85 ERA in 17 starts, including an ERA higher than 4.50 in May, June, July, and August.

  16. ESPN Dallas guy says Yu Darvish should pitch through elbow pain

    Aug 21, 2014, 9:31 AM EDT

    yu darvish getty Getty Images

    When you put a football analyst on the baseball beat, you’re gonna have a bad time.

  17. A pitch clock in Major League Baseball? No thanks.

    Aug 21, 2014, 9:08 AM EDT

    Play Clock

    It feels like baseball is interested in continuing its bad habit of solving minor problems in the most disruptive and gimmicky way possible.

  18. Video: Brewers broadcast booth sends fan a beer after he loses his in a foul ball scrum

    Aug 21, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT

    Replacement Beer

    Doing good deeds is not part of a TV broadcaster’s job, but people are friendlier in the Midwest.

  19. And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

    Aug 21, 2014, 7:11 AM EDT

    Anthony Rendon Getty Images

    No one can stop the Nats. Who, as one young lad on their team says, are playing “absolutely epic” baseball right now.

  20. Yadier Molina swings a bat for first time since surgery for ligament tear in his right thumb

    Aug 20, 2014, 11:41 PM EDT

    yadier molina cardinals getty Getty Images

    Yadier Molina is beginning to make some progress. Brian Stull of STL Baseball Weekly reports that the star catcher took swings in an indoor batting cage Wednesday at Busch Stadium for the first time since tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb July 9 on an awkward side-swiping slide into third base.

Featured video

Who's to blame for Cubs tarp fiasco?
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Castillo (3290)
  2. M. Cuddyer (2984)
  3. K. Bryant (2422)
  4. A. Garcia (2379)
  5. W. Myers (2232)
  1. J. Werth (2215)
  2. A. McCutchen (2156)
  3. Y. Molina (2129)
  4. T. Frazier (1913)
  5. M. Fiers (1913)