The Cards bats came back to life over the weekend, and it was looking like they were in the driver’s seat to stretch out their wings over the NL Central. The first 2 games of the series were won easily, and in game 3 they got 7 hits and 4 walks in 6 innings off of Zack Greinke. They also had two hits and a run of off K-Rod, and had 1st and 3rd in the bottom of the ninth with no one out off of closer John Axford. That sounds like the Cards got a sweep, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t enough, but it should have been. Instead, a blunder and a brain fart got in the way.
In the bottom of the 5th inning, the Cards had runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out. The runner on 3rd was Jaime Garcia, and for some reason he headed home on a deep fly ball hit off the bat of Matt Holliday instead of returning to the bag to tag up. The ball was so deep that Yadier Molina could have made it home easily without it being close. That’s the brain fart.
The next inning was obvious. Garcia took his troubles to the mound and gave up 3 runs, putting the Brewers up 3-1. Mike Matheny should have seen that one coming, but that’s not my complaint about Matheny. He gave Garcia a chance to make up for his mistake. Up to this point, I’ve been very excited to see the aggressive play of Matheny’s Cards, but the decisions he made in the bottom of the 9th were just not necessary.
The Cards had Tyler Greene at 3rd after he pinch ran for Holliday when he walked. Carlos Beltran singled and sent Greene to 3rd. 1st and 3rd, no one out. Axford is on the ropes. David Freese strikes out on a pitch up and away. In defense of Freese, he had to swing at that pitch because the first strike against him was called in the same area. So now it’s 1st and 3rd with one out. Molina is at the plate, he has an 0-2 count and Matheny puts on a delayed double steal hit and run. Because of the hit and run, Molina had to swing at a pitch way out of the zone, which he struck out on. Beltran did the right thing in getting in a run down to give Greene a chance to make it home, but the throw was on target, and Greene was out easily.
I just don’t understand why Matheny took the bat out of Molina’s hands at that point in the game. He’s hot, and rarely strikes out. Let’s call this one the blunder. It’s hard to complain when a team is 14-8, especially considering Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Lance Berkman and Allen Craig have been out or ineffective. However, these games count the same in April as they do in September, and the last three losses have all been 3-2 games, and heartbreakers at that.
On to better things, Craig is going to make his return to the Cards on Tuesday against the Pirates. That’s all I have for this series. The Cards won another series, but let a game slip away against the team that will be there fighting with them in the end for the NL Central title.