I didn’t have the words after the game 1 loss. I saw a lot of finger pointing, but I could not believe my eyes when Marc Rzepczynski was brought in to a 2-1 game in the 8th inning to replace Mitchell Boggs. Mike Matheny made the first mistake of his postseason managing career; he messed with the successive formula that had been working all year in removing Boggs. Not only did Boggs have better numbers against LHH’ers than Scrabble, but he held them to a .135 BA since the ASB. There were many things as game 1 went along that left you with the feeling it wasn’t going to be a Cards win. Jayson Werth robbing Daniel Descalso of a HR, Allen Craig and Yadier Molina making 3 outs on 2 pitches with the bases loaded, the error by Pete Kozma, and those are just the ones that stick out.
Still, the Cards had the game in hand, and I will never understand using Scrabble in that situation with the power arms we have in the BP. If you want to use the argument that Tyler Moore just stuck out the bat and hit a pitch out of the zone, I’ll counter with that being part of the problem. There’s a reason power arms succeed in the playoffs more than control pitchers, the batter has less time to react. It’s as simple as that. I think Matheny learns from this and we don’t see Scrabble again in a close and late situation. Not with Boggs, Trevor Rosenthal, Joe Kelly, Jason Motte, and now, Shelby Miller. The news just came out, and Miller will replace Jaime Garcia for the NLDS and likely for the year if the Cards advance. All I can say is I’m surprised that Garcia lasted as long as he did if the original shoulder diagnosis was correct, which was fraying of the labrum and rotator cuff.
So, let’s go ahead and get to game 2. The Cards came through with their backs up against the wall. They had to win game 2 to have a realistic shot in this series. Carlos Beltran went deep twice, and this time, Matheny used the BP perfectly. To sum it up, the Cardinals offense showed why it was among the league leaders all year. The Nationals will go home with what they wanted, a split in St. Louis, but the Cards get to counter Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler with Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse in the first 2 games. If the Cards can take 1 of the next 2, it will be a rematch of the Game 1 SP’s in Game 5 with Adam Wainwright vs. Gio Gonzalez.
Even with a rib being removed less than 3 months ago during a thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Carpenter do what he does best and pitch well in a big game. The Cards actually catch a break in this series with the Garcia injury and the upcoming games. Garcia wouldn’t have pitched again this series, and the Cards get to add another arm to the BP in Miller. If Carpenter can get through 5 solid innings and keep the Cards in the game, it’s advantage St. Louis.
One thing to be aware of here is Matheny’s use of Edward Mujica. Before coming to STL, Mujica had a 4.38 ERA pitching for the Marlins in the NL East. Facing the Nationals, his numbers were better. In 9.2 IP, he had a zero ERA and a 0.72 WHIP. I’m only saying that they’ve seen him a lot, and probably have a better feel for what he’s trying to do against them. This is another reason that adding Miller was a blessing in disguise. Matheny doesn’t have to rely on Mujica to Boggs to Motte if things aren’t going as planned. He’s got some power arms to work with, arms the Nats haven’t had much of a look at. I won’t yell if one of them gets beat on their best pitch. If Scrabble comes in to face Bryce Harper or Adam LaRoche, that’s one thing, Davy Johnson is not going to pull either one for a PH. If Scrabble is brought in to face Chad Tracy and Johnson counters with a RHH, a base should be open so he can face his one man and be replaced after he intentionally walks him. If Scrabble is brought in with the tying or go ahead run at the plate in any situation, I don’t know why we’d expect a different outcome than what we’ve seen all year.