So much for my hopes that the Cardinals would issue a smackdown in their three-game set with the Reds, teaching the pretenders who was the rightful heir to the National League Central Division crown.
Instead, the Redbirds were once again schooled by a pitcher that most have never heard of before. Sure Mike Leak isn't exactly Bud Norris. His 4-0 record proves he can beat other teams besides the irritatingly hapless Cardinals. But St. Louis had Cy Young finalist Adam Wainwright on the mound. Surely it's offense could do enough against a fresh faced rookie to get Wainwright a victory. Right? Wrong. The Cardinals lost 4-3 and today will play Cincinnati with the winner leaving the series with the division lead.
Cardinals rightfielder Ryan Ludwick congratulates centerfielder Colby Rasmus after Rasmus hit a solo homer to regain the lead for St. Louis in the third inning. The Cardinals wore 1947 vintage uniforms for the Civil Rights Game in honor of the season Jackie Robinson made his MLB debut. AP photo.
Well, the Birds' batsmen did twice give Wainwright the lead only to quickly lose it each time. But they have to start doing better than two or three runs a game. That's too much pressure on a pitching staff that has overachieved to this point -- at least in terms of combined ERA.
Despite all their offensive failing, the Cardinals did come an eyelash from tying the game in the top of the ninth when sub-.200 hitting reserve outfielder Joe Mather hit a rifle shot into the left field corner with Skip Schumaker hustling around the bases. The Reds left fielder had to go all the way to the wall to get the ball that died at the base of the fence and then throw a flat-footed peg to the cutoff man who threw a relay that was just offline at the plate. But Cincinnati cather Ramon Hernandez collected the ball and dove back in front of the dish in time to tag Schumaker at the dish just before he could score.
Should the runner have been held? I can't really argue with the call to send him when it took a nearly perfect play under tough circumstances to record the out. Colby Rasmus, 1-for-4 on the night with a homer, stood on deck. But Rasmus' batting average indicates that he had roughly a 28 percent chance to get a hit while Schumaker's odds of beating the throw to the plate were more like 50-50... I think you have to take that chance.
Cardinals Star of the Game: David Freese was again the only St. Louis batter to manage more than one hit.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Denny's Reyes, with the game hanging in the balance in the bottom of the eighth, was called in to find a way out of a bases loaded jam with only one out. A run scored probably would have dashed any St. Louis hopes of a comeback. Reyes managed to get a double play ball on his second pitch.
Lowlight: Brendan Ryan, pinch hit for by Mather in the ninth. was 0-for-3 on the night to slip to .162 for the season. I wonder how long manager Tony La Russa can keep throwing his pitcher out there to bat eighth when the "second leadoff man" is hitting .162...