In the final game of the 3 game series against the NL Central leading Brewers, the Cardinals put themselves in a position to take two out of three, to pull within a game and a half of the Brewers. Instead, Tony LaRussa decided to go in another direction, allowing newly acquired Edwin Jackson to make some history and have his name up there with Jason Marquis. Tony also allowed the Cards to fall three and a half games behind the Brewers. After giving up seven runs in 5 innings, the Cards were still in position to make it a game and have a big inning, down 7-4. With runners at second and third and no outs in the top of the sixth, Tony decides to leave Jackson in the game to hit for himself. An inning that could have led to the heart of the Cardinals order to put them back on top instead ended with only one run scored. Edwin Jackson would pitch another 2 innings and give up another 3 runs. As Bernie pointed out this morning, Jackson became the first Cardinals pitcher to allow 4 HR’s in a start since Marquis did it in 2006. Marquis and Jackson are the only Cards to allow at least 10 runs and 14 hits since WW II.
I keep reading that the bullpen was worn out, but that doesn’t really hold water. The only relievers to pitch on Monday night were Octavio Dotel and Mitchell Boggs. In Tuesday’s game, Jason Motte, “Zep”, Lance Lynn, Fernando Salas, Kyle McClellan and Dotel were used. That means that only Dotel had been used 2 days in a row. Salas did pitch 2 innings Tuesday. Besides that, I’m not sure where the belief that the bullpen is worn out is coming from. If Boggs is really having trouble with a bulging disk, then put him on the DL and call up someone. I have no idea why McClellan, Lynn, and Motte wouldn’t have been available. It’s not as if this wasn’t the most important series of the year to date. If the Cards were out of the game early it would have been one thing, but “Playing a Hard Nine” did not happen yesterday.
It’s also nice to know that Tony might have given Casey McGehee exactly what he needed to get going, as if the Brewers weren’t potent enough. I’m not sure what kind of message Tony sent to his team yesterday, other than to put more pressure on them the rest of the way instead of giving them a fighting chance. This loss can’t be put on Jackson either. Starters have bad days, and after a successful first start for the Cardinals, he clearly didn’t have it yesterday. He had by far the worst game of his career and was hung out to dry. Let’s hope that doesn’t affect his confidence for here on out.
On to other things, it looks as if Rafael Furcal is going to be a nice addition. If he stays healthy, the Cards finally have something special at shortstop and speed at the top of the order. Hopefully the Cards look to re-sign Furcal if his health and production are there at the end of the year.
The decision not to re-sign Albert Pujols is looking better every day. Pujols is still putting up decent numbers, but nowhere close to a player that should be paid 10 years and $300 million by any team. Pujols is swinging and missing at pitches never before seen on a regular basis. If the Cardinals fail to make the playoffs this year, that will be 5 years of having AP and not winning a playoff game. If they can’t win with AP making $16 million a year, how are they going to win with him making $25 to $30 million a year? As I’ll continue to say again and again, I hope the Cardinals become less top heavy and spend the money on pitching.
The Cards are going to have to go on an amazing run to make the playoffs in 2011. It should have started with this series against the Brewers. The Cards had to rely on a 3 run HR from Jaime Garcia to pull off one game in the series. They still had a chance to take 2 of 3, but LaRussa decided to give away a chance to win the third game. “Playing a Hard Nine” was something Tony didn’t do.