With Jason Motte taking the reins in the race to be the Cardinals closer, Chris Perez couldn't afford any setbacks.
But that's exactly what happened Wednesday when he came into the game to start the ninth inning in a tie game and left with the Astros ahead by one.
Cardinals closer candidate Chris Perez makes a delivery Wendesday against the Astros. He couldn't hold the tie and St. Louis lost 4-3.
He gave up two hits and a walk to let the Astros plate the tying run. But he almost wiggled off the hook when, with two outs he allowed a seeing eye grounder up the middle that barely eluded his outstretched glove.
It's not that Perez has been terrible. But he seems tight, like a batter who is pressing for a hit. What do the Cardinals do if he doesn't win the closer's spot. Do they send him to Class AAA Memphis to close? It's probably better for him to be in St. Louis as a middle reliever at this point...
Joel Pineiro started the game and wasn't much better. He gave up two earned runs on six hits and a walk in five innings. He struck out five. But the damage could have been a lot worse. He wiggled out of trouble on several occasions.
In the field, Skip Schumaker may have made his best play of the spring at second base when he speared a ball with a dive to his right then got up and made a perfect peg to first for the out.