The Autopsy Report of a Cards Loss

First, let me start things off by saying the Cardinals suck.   That’s right.  They are losers and in my overall opinion,don’t deserve to deliver food to a playoff stadium based on the amount of stress and heartache they have saddled their fanbase with this season.   The 2011 Cards are a series of false starts and severe fumbles, if its okay to use football jargon to apply to this summer burn.  Thursdays loss was easily the worst loss in the last decade on the basis of its significance. If they blow a four run lead in the 9th on April 22nd, fans shrug and shake it off.   When the carnage falls on September 22nd and in the heart of a pennant race, an autopsy report must be filed and an investigation must be laid out.  This is the price of being a true sports fan.  Emotional investments come back to haunt you and unless you root for the Yankees, Patriots or Red Wings, there’s a decent chance your soul will be burned.  Let’s go over a few reasons we lost on Thursday and wasted a golden(truly crispy golden brown crust variety) opportunity to gain a half game on the idle Braves.   Vicodin may be required.

1.)Motte pitching the 9th yesterday in a 4 run game after throwing 24 pitches on Wednesday night.  A bad call to push a guy who’s have to assume the role of Lance Lynn, Eduardo Sanchez and Fernando Salas the past 2 months.  Motte recorded a 4 out save the night before and needed the day off.  Closers don’t come into 4 run games and if you know Cardinal history, they often blow up non save situations.  La Russa’s failure to recognize Motte as the closer the past few weeks led to this move.  If Motte was closer in chief, he wouldn’t be out there throwing 29 pitches and walking 3.  This isn’t giving Motte a pass for a bad outing. I’m simply telling you it never should have happened.  La Russa argued after the game that the media put it in Mottes head that he was a closer and that it hurt him.  I disagree with the genius.   Motte was the closer based on performance but if he understands how to read a box score, the kid was wearing down.   Where was Mitchell Boggs, a forgotten man who could of started the 9th inning?  Motte is wearing down from an innings and role workload.  Thanks to La Russa for that.  He fucked up the setup of this game with his desperate push of Motte, who has started to weaken the past week.  Bad call by Don Tony.

2.)Furcal’s error was detrimental to success in the 9th.   After a leadoff walk, Motte induced a double play smelling soft grounder to short that Rafy Furcal booted and fumbled away.  A potential inning changer gets wasted in one hurried movement.   Furcal is so good that you sit in shock when he makes a Theriot like error.  However, that’s his 5th error in his past 6 games and 11th as a Cardinal.  We forget about this because he makes the amazing plays so often and looks so smooth. However, he has made several low throws to first and muffled a few easy plays the past week so it may be time for a rest.   Start Daniel Descalso at short or put a shock bracelet on Furcals wrist.  The great shortstops always try to make the great plays but in this case Furcal fucked up an easy 6-4-3 DP and it broke his team and set up a big inning that saw 3 relievers get used.  La Russa set up the damage but Furcal compounded it with another mistake.  His bat doesn’t produce enough to cover up a few ordinary play misfires, especially at this time of the year.

3.)Does this bury the Cardinals?  No.  There is still time.   6 games against the Cubs and Astros, who are a combined 300 games under .500 and only exist as spoilers in this last second race.  This is a painful loss because of the timing, but there’s still time.  Painting a coat of shine on a shit storm of a game isn’t easy, but here I go.  The Braves face a pesky Nationals team this weekend, including a DC opening task of taking on Steven Strasburg.  The Nationals are hot, winning 10 of 12 including a beating of the Phillies this week.  After that, The Braves face the Phillies.  Charlie Manuel wants to get his team going before the preseason, so you’ll bet the Phils will be tough.  Things are set up for the Cards to win this race, but losses like Thursday definitely change the attitude of the fanbase.  The lesson gets spread around the camp that no wins come easy and 4 run leads can be blown by any team.

4.)The bullpen is burnt.  Anyone else think Jake Westbrook could have pitched a 7th inning after only 84 pitches?  During the past month, La Russa has a quick hook for Westbrook, which is fine if he was pitching bad.  Jake was pitching well into the 6th and an extra inning saves the bullpen and allows Octavio Dotel to finish the game.  A huge factor in the teams downfall is the tendency of La Russa to lose faith in his rotation and put the pressure on the bullpen to pitch more innings than required.  The micromanaging brain of La Russa got him in trouble yesterday and its an ugly trend that hasn’t lost steam all season.  A perfectionist always screws up the outcome.

5.)There’s no room to blame the offense.  Were there moments for them to score more runs?  Sure, but 6 runs is enough to win most games and I can’t fault the bats.  They built a 2-0 lead, added to it and gave the arms a chance.  A realization this season has been that the lineup has done the job amidst the turmoil.   Thursday’s loss was reminscent of the entire season.  The starter doesn’t go deep into the game and the bullpen takes a push to finish the game and crumbles.   A sad story.

What happens next?   The Cards and the Cubs clash tonight in a matchup that makes me feel uneasy. The Cubs are playing better lately and always play the Cards tough in September.   Chris Carpenter will pitch tonight and Wednesday, giving the Cards a fighting chance.  The bats are firing on cylinders right now, scoring 23 runs against the Mets.   The bullpen has to rebound and La Russa must unleash Sanchez if he carries zero faith in Boggs.   If a manager carries zero faith in a pitcher and only uses him 3 times in 3 weeks, why keep the player on the roster, and that’s whether he’s good or not.  Mitchell Boggs hasn’t gotten a chance in the second half, so why keep him here?  Sanchez could be a fresh tool to throw in the shed.

In summary, what the hell happened yesterday?
-Tony La Russa micromanaged,panicked a bit, pulling Jake Westbrook earlier and letting a tired Motte enter the ninth and refusing to pull him while the inning got detonated.  Managers don’t play the game but they can still make an impact on a game with their decisions.
-Rafael Furcal commits a horrible error and shifts the momentum of the inning.  He muffled a routine grounder and lost a chance at a double play, which could of drastically changed the inning.  Furcal is looking worn down and making more errors on plays he usually makes with his eyes closed.  A pure shame.  Bad defense helped lose the game.
-A throwing error, wild pitch and passed ball allowed a run in the 7th inning that gave the Mets a run and showed off the rough Cards defense.   The Cards D has been a liability all season.
-Instead of gaining a half game, the Cards fall 2 full games back.
-Allen Craig and Albert Pujols homers are wasted.

All in all, a game that may haunt the Cards.  A bad day at the office.  If we lose out on postseason play by a game, this will be the painful reminder of an opportunity lost.  That will never go away, but its a pain that can be saved for next week.

Along with savoring the unfortunate flavor and moving on, the Cards need to clear their heads and just keep playing.  There’s six games left to erase the memory.  Get on with the dance because the drama isn’t letting up.

While I wait for the miracle drug, I’m going to calm my nerves by watching Jason Statham, Robert DeNiro and Clive Owen do battle in the Killer Elite.  Until killing becomes legal, we watch others blow shit up and enjoy ourselves.

Also, a key to keeping my cool when watching the Cardinals blow a huge lead in a game.  Sitting next to my son, Vincent.  That’s right my friends.   Putting your kid next to you in games makes you take a more quiet approach.   If you wake him up, its time to clean up shit or get him carried away back to sleep.  Parents spend the first part of their lives avoiding doom.  Vincent is my new therapist.  I made a shirt for him that says, “Don’t”.

Alright, thats it.  I wrote a bulk of this earlier today, took a break to see the film and now will send it off.  Take it as you usually do.  Straight up and down the hatch of reality.

Thanks for reading,

DLB

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Author: D. Buffa

A regular guy who feels a journalistic hunger to tell the news. I blog because its wired into my brain to write what I think in print. I offer an opinion. A solo tour here. Take regular stories and offer my spin on them. Sports, film, television, music, fatherhood, culture, food, and so on. Commentary on everything. A St. Louis native and Little Rock resident who wants to write just to keep the hands fresh and ready.

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