It’s Not Over In The First Inning

Last night’s loss was brutal.  I confess that I turned the game off after Trevor Rosenthal walked the lead off hitter in the 9th.  I knew what torture was coming.  I followed the game on Gameday after that because it was less painful that way.  Once again, the Cardinal offense failed to score after the 1st inning.  How many times have we seen that this season?  I have no idea why that happens.  Do the players lose focus after the 1st inning?  Does the opposing pitcher pitch better?  Is it a combination of the two?  I only know that it is frustrating to me as a fan.

The Cardinals can not afford any more such losses.  There are only 11 games left and the Pirates are on a mission.  The Pirates are playing the Boston Red Sox right now, a team that is eliminated from playoff contention and is just playing out the season.  They follow with the Brewers, the Braves and the Reds.  Only the Brewers and the Braves have something to play for.  The Cardinals must bear down from here on out and win most of these remaining games.

As for last night’s game, there are too many grimacing moments to count.  Just about every player did something that made me want to throw hard objects at my TV.  Though Mike Matheny wasn’t the villain in this particular baseball episode, he didn’t help the situation much either.  Perhaps if we hadn’t been once again been subjected to Daniel Descalso playing defense, that bloop single by Hector Gomez that drove in the Brewers winning run might have been caught.  Kolten Wong has caught several of those types of balls before, he has better speed than Descalso and might have been able to catch up to it.  Who knows for sure, but I would have liked our chances better.  Even Pete Kozma might have gotten to it; he certainly had a better chance than Descalso.  Both Kozma and Wong are faster and better defenders than Descalso. Once again, Matheny’s obsession with Descalso came back to bite us.

However, the main villain was the offense.  Scoring runs after the 1st inning would have nullified all of the hand-wringing at the end.  Rosenthal would have had a bigger cushion to work with.  Jhonny Peralta swinging on the first pitch and grounding into a double play in the first inning was a huge rally killer, and may have been the turning point in the game.  That doesn’t excuse the inability to score later in the game, but it certainly put an end to more runs in the first inning.

I can’t stress enough that all season it has been pitching and defense that has kept this team’s playoff hopes alive.  Lance Lynn pitched a good game last night and deserved to win. Many, many times this season, defense has been the savior.  The last thing the Cardinals need is for either of those things to falter or be sacrificed.   The offense has been often scarce, so without the pitching and defense, this team would be in a world of hurt.

As for where the offense went, well that is a question for the ages.  The Cardinals have been trying to find that “spark” all season.  They haven’t found it.  Many hoped Oscar Taveras would be that guy, but he has not.  Though he has hit better of late, overall he has not been significantly better than anyone else.  The power that we all heard about (and that I have personally seen in the minor leagues) is not there.  That doesn’t mean that it won’t eventually come, but I doubt this season will be the one where we see it.  I have high hopes for Oscar, but this season he has been a disappointment, posting  -o.9 fWAR so far for the season.  Last night he had a opportunity to shine in a pinch hit role in extra innings; instead he struck out swinging.  His defense has been less than stellar as well, but to be fair, Oscar has never been a good defensive player.  His talent is with the bat, and when that talent comes out in its full glory, watch out.  Next season I think we will see what he can bring.

So, tonight we face the Brewers again with Adam Wainwright on the mound.  The Cardinals will be facing Mike Fiers, a pitcher that the Cardinals have had trouble with, but who is coming off the brutal outing against the Marlins, where he hit Giancarlo Stanton in the face with a pitch, probably ending his season.  Will Fiers still be affected by that outing?  Who knows, but the Cardinals need to take advantage of any weakness they can.

These games will be a turning point for the Cardinals.  Games like last night must not happen again.  I hope I am not forced to turn the game off again.

 

 

Thank you for reading.

 

 

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