I'm still shocked by the claims that the Cardinals were out-managed in their 20-inning loss Saturday against the Mets. And I couldn't disagree more.
As we've already discussed in these parts, what St. Louis manager Tony La Russa did after the 14th inning is completely irrelevant because there is no one to blame but the players for failing to execute when they had men on second and third with no one out. A fly ball and that one was wrapped up with a big bow...
La Russa was looking at the big picture when dealing the hand he was dealt. And, while the Mets ended up -- barely -- winning the battle. The Cardinals certainly won the war. St. Louis fans may have been frustrated Saturday to see Felipe Lopez and Joe Mather on the mound. But no more frustrated than the loudmouth Mets fan sitting behind me on Sunday when I pointed out maybe he shouldn't be so excited about his team's early lead. At the time, New York Starter John Maine was up 3-0. But he had thrown 95 pitches through four innings -- and New York's bullpen was COMPLETELY fried from the night before.
Is it any surprise that the Cardinals were able to pound the tiring Maine and the exhausted Mets pen men for five runs?
And that's just one game. How often do teams play a 14 or 15 inning game and fry their bullpen to the point that it never recovers? Four New York bullpenners pitched two innings or more Saturday. Only two Cardinals regular pitchers did: long man Blake Hawksworth and Kyle McClellan who stretched out as a starter in spring training. While Adam Wainwright pitched a complete game, four or five of the seven St. Louis relievers should have been available if needed on Sunday. Thanks to Wainwright's efforts, everyone should be available Monday against Arizona.
This story on Yahoo Sports not only questions La Russa's decisions with his pitching staff, but the decision to pull Matt Holliday. I don't get how the author can admit that Holliday was sick but still question the move. What was La Russa supposed to do, hope Holliday could get a big hit while trying not to throw up at the plate?
Sometimes you aren't dealt an ideal hand. And when you're trying to keep your players ready to play, I admire a manager who is willing to take the heat for doing the right thing over the long haul.
And if Schumaker or Ludwick could have hit a sacrifice fly, we wouldn't still be talking about this. La Russa would have won both the battle AND the war.