I’ll say it again. The only way to get over a horrible loss is to explain it completely. By getting over Thursday’s crippling momentum shifting defeat at Busch, I am going to prep myself for Game 3, clear my head and set things straight.
There’s no need to talk about the first 8 innings. Jaime Garcia and Colby Lewis dueled for a bunch of scoreless frames before Allen Craig got a hit off Texas reliever Ogando for the second straight night to drive in the go ahead run. 1-0 Cards heading into the 9th inning. Yes, the Cards hit into a few double plays, left runners on base, wasted chances to get more runs, but Texas didn’t fare much better and the game produced another even match. Even fights can only produce one winner. Texas won and here’s why.
Tony La Russa lost faith in his closer. You don’t pull your young closer when he still has the lead and a chance to escape. Motte entered the ninth, and quickly gave up a bloop hit to Ian Kinsler. The ball dropped into the empty vicinity in left field because Matt Holliday was playing near the warning track. Outfielders playing so far back to start an inning is a bad idea and always a move by the manager. Never mind that Kinsler has 32 homers, I still play standard depth in the outfield. Kinsler’s pop would have found a glove if Holliday is playing normal depth. Kinsler goes on to steal second base by a small reach off Yadi Molina. Motte wouldn’t have hurt himself by throwing to first a couple times to keep a known base stealing threat close. He didn’t throw once and Kinsler burned him. Elvis Androus was next. He worked the count to 2-2 after a couple foul balls and slapped a base hit to right center. Jon Jay cuts it off and fires a worthlessly lame attempt towards home plate that triple hops into the middle of the infield. Here comes the detail that starts the mini letdown. Albert Pujols is the cutoff guy and doesn’t get a glove on the throw, allowing it to roll to the foul line and Elvis moves up to second base. I don’t know if Yadi told him to let it go(if so, that’s still a moronic move, no chance Jay’s throw gets there to nab Kinsler, who stopped at third base). Pujols failing to corral the throw allowed Elvis an extra base, who eventually scored the winning run. Second and third with the gimpy Josh Hamilton coming to the plate. Hamilton would be on the DL if this were the regular season. That’s how bad his groin injury is. He has been swinging one legged and with no power. With no outs and two on, you need a strikeout. Why does La Russa pull Motte for the lefty Arthur Rhodes? La Russa doesn’t trust Motte to get the out and escape. He only trusts a veteran over 40 years old. Rhodes is no match to strike out Hamilton and keep the ball on the infield.
This is the point where I can’t get past. Why pull your ace closer with the lead in hand? You live and die by your best arm and you don’t pull your closer with a lead? NO MANAGER DOES THAT!!! Plus, Motte is a strikeout pitcher and he is the perfect match to get a slow swinging Hamilton out. Motte put runners on base and didn’t pitch great but his stuff was hitting the spots and he deserved the chance to make it right. This raises the aggravation level for me. If Motte stays in and Hamilton hits a 2 run double or a home run, I am mad but I am content with the right move being made. You let your closer make the final pitch and only pull him when the lead is far gone and his pitch count is high. Tony La Russa put in Rhodes to cover up the fact that he didn’t trust Motte. Arthur Rhodes’ 87 mph fastball wasn’t enough to keep Hamilton from hitting a deep enough fly ball to score Kinsler and move Androus over to third base. He failed. A fly ball wasn’t the answer there. A strikeout was, and Motte was the man for the job. Big miss here by Tony.
So far the misfires are-
1.)Playing outfield too deep
2.)Pujols missing cutoff
3.)La Russa pulling Motte without a good reason
4.)Failing to think about walking Hamilton to load bases for the force out.
La Russa takes Rhodes out and inserts Lance Lynn. Lynn gets to 3-2 on Michael Young and surrenders a deep fly ball to center that scores Androus. Rangers lead 2-1 and all of a sudden the momentum in this series is lost for the Cards. It shifts to Texas, who just climbed out of a scary 2-0 hole that few teams have survived in the World Series. You can’t blow saves and hope to win the World Series. You really can’t make the wrong moves from the bench. La Russa and Motte fucked up this game. Tony’s decision defies logic. Once he put Lynn into the game with one out and a runner on third base, why not walk Young and set up the double play ball for Adrian Beltre. Beltre ended up grounding weakly to third base, which could have been turned for a double play and the game is still tied heading to the bottom half of the 9th inning. Where was La Russa’s gamesmanship and genius there? Save the praise for La Russa’s moves up to this point in the playoffs. Once Game 2 started, everything that any player or coach had accomplished went out the window. A new dawn and a new day with heavier expectations. The latest TLR debacle is all I see here.
Here’s one more thing-Why do you take out David Freese in the 8th inning? Freese is your hottest hitter and a decent third basemen, so why does Tony deplete his bench with a one run lead? He also put in Skip Schumacher for Lance Berkman, which I support more because of Skip’s arm in right and the ability to throw someone out at home plate. The move to take out Freese was a bad one because you need your bench for extra innings. You have to manage that way at all times. Taking out Freese and Berkman made the Cards lineup beatable and hindered the shot of a comeback.
Looking ahead to Game 3-
*Predicting what Kyle Lohse brings to the mound is hazardous role playing. Lohse starts Game 3 in an offense enabled ballpark and once again his main task will be to keep the ball down. Lohse will have to survive 6 strong innings and give his lineup a chance to hammer Texas’ pitcher, Harrison. Lohse holds the cards and that’s scary. He’s like the driver in the getaway car who you only trust with his foot on the pedal.
*So far, the Cards bats are being tamed by the Rangers pitchers. Take away Allen Craig’s two pinch hits and the offense has produced 2 lousy runs through 17 innings of play. A matchup of two powerful lineups is being tamed by pitching thus far. Albert Pujols, Holliday and Berkman are all being held in check. Pujols is getting close and Holliday and Berkman are chasing. This has to stop or else the Rangers will take control. It’s only a matter of time before the Rangers start to hit. Now that Jaime Garcia and Carp have pitched, the next two games in Texas are huge. With Lohse and Jackson/Westbrook taking command, the lineup needs to wakeup.
*Let’s not forget Jaime Garcia’s outstanding work on Thursday night. A recovery performance from two bad Mikwaukee outings. Jaime controlled the Texas lineup, throwing 7 innings, striking out 7 and only allowing 2 hits. He dominated and gave his team a very good chance to win. My pressure boot is off Jaime’s neck for now. He is in line for the Game 6 start at home. While this start was impressive, the next may be the biggest of his career yet.
This is the World Series kids. Strap in and get comfortable. The Game 2 collapse was heartbreaking and knocked this Cardinal team down, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get back up. Respond to force with excessive force. Arrive in Texas ready to score early and often. Two pitching dominated close battles will give way to offensive firepower. The question is….which pitching staff breaks first? The Rangers have used Ogando and Mike Adams,and gotten mixed results. The Cards have used everyone and pitched decent. The starters have been very impressive. The lineups are being held in check. Which group breaks out of the cage first? We will see. Game 3 and 4 this weekend in Texas will be high stakes poker. Who comes out with the lead? With the two teams so evenly matched and playing so close, the answer is unclear. All a fan can do is think about the Game 2 failure and hope for a happier ending in Game 3. That’s life. Hope for the best and wait for the worst. You never know what’s coming next in the playoffs. As we do in life, we deal and keep on coming back for more.
There’s nothing else to talk about. As a man once said, say what you have to and do nothing more. Treat your audience like a ticking timebomb. Speak firm and tread carefully across the vulnerable waters. I’m done here.
Thanks for reading,