The fact that the Cardinals lost to the Colorado Rockies Thursday is less worrisome than the way they did it.
It took 15 innings -- and more than 10 innings of work from a parade of relievers -- to get the game over Thursday. And that's a problem, especially with rookie Shelby Miller on the hill Friday in Milwaukee.
Miller has failed to complete six innings in three of his last four starts because of his persistent issue of throwing too many pitches early in games. In his last 16 starts dating back to mid June he has pitched as many as six innings only four times.
The Cardinals could desperately use a couple of long starts to allow its relievers to get the bullpenners some rest. But that doesn't seem likely to happen as they try to hang on to a one-game lead in the National League Central Division.
Another problem is that Edward Mujica is officially setting off alarm bells. He's got an ERA over 7.00 in September, blew a save Thursday -- his second in the month -- and he loaded the bases on Wednesday before wiggling off the hook.
Who'd a thunk an 11-man bullpen in September wouldn't be enough? But it's not because there are only a handful of guys that manager Mike Matheny seems to be willing to trust in a close game. And with Mujica a question mark, that's a possibly hole the skipper has to fill with a limited number of options.
The Cardinals could move Trevor Rosenthal to the ninth inning. But if they do, they're going to have to replace him in the eighth inning role and so on and so on.
I sure hope the Birds can score about 10 runs in the Milwaukee opener to give the bullpenners some relief. Maybe then some of the less trustworthy guys can shoulder the burden.