I guess I should be glad that the Cardinals won two games out of three against the Pirates. Sort of in the way a person should be glad that a loan shark only broke one of his arms when he could have broken them both.
Simply put, the Birds had the Sunday game in the palm of their hands and totally gave it away with poor clutch hitting, questionable strategy and untimely shoddy defense.
In the tenth inning Jason Motte with one out and the bases empty coaxed a medium speed grounder down the first base line to Albert Pujols. The Cardinals first sacker was oddly casual about the play and the Pirates baserunner, Xavier Paul was able to beat the throw to the bag by about an eighth of a step to give the Bucs a scoring opportunity.
Paul attempted to steal second base and back-up catcher Gerald Laird uncorked a lousy throw, giving the runner second on a silver platter. But that wasn't good enough for Ryan Theriot who for the second time in a game made a pathetic effort to keep the ball in front of him and allowed the runner to go all the way to third.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to Belleville News-Democrat
Instead of two outs and no one on, the Cardinals handed the Pirates an easy chance to win on a sacrifice fly and they did just that.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals couldn't do the same thing when they had a similar chance. Leading 3-2 in the sixth inning the Cardinals had runners at first and third with one out. With Matt Holliday on the bench with a day off, manager Tony La Russa sent third-string catcher Tony Cruz to the plate... And he struck out to kill the rally. Concidentally, when Holliday was sent to the plate later with no one on base he hit a fly ball to the warning track. Had it come with a runner at third and one out in the sixth, the Cardinals likely would have won the game.
In the fifth inning the Cardinals took the lead on a wild pitch and had Pujols come to the plate with runners on first and second and one out. Pujols popped up on the infield.
Starting pitcher Kyle Lohse who took his turn in the rotation despite a sore and swollen index finger on his right hand, was effective. He allowed four hits and two runs before La Russa pulled him from the game. It wasn't mentioned if Lohse was having a problem with his finger or if he was taken out for strategic reasons. But he had only thrown 64 pitches at the time of his yanking.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Colby Rasmus was 2-for-4 with his first home run in ages. Hopefully he's getting locked back in and the Cardinals offense is going to take off.
Cardinals Play of the Game: Rasmus' homer
Lowlight: With David Freese apparently getting a day off to rest his ankles, Daniel Descalso slid over to third and Ryan Theriot was back in the lineup as shortstop. He made three lousy plays in the field and was 1-for-5 at the plate while stranding five runners. He was in a position to win the game for the Redbirds several times. Instead he was instrumental in blowing it.