It wasn't rookie starter Joe Kelly who was the problem Sunday as the Cardinals dropped the rubber game of their interleague series against Cleveland.
The usual suspects -- the Birds' awful bullpen and their suddenly weak offense -- that let another big crowd down.
Kelly pitched five excellent innings, allowing one run on seven hits and a walk. He struck out four and walked one and left the game tied at one. But the bullpen fell to 4-11 for the season when Jason Motte failed to hold a tie game.
The only offense St. Louis could Muster came in the first inning when Carlos Beltran hit a solo homer, his 18th of the year. The Indians tied the game in the third and things stayed that way until St. Louis found itself with the bases loaded and one out when Carlos Beltran drew a walk.
Yadier Molina, who represented a huge threat to hit into a double play batting in place of Matt Holliday in the third spot in the order, didn't do that. But he did the next worst thing he could do by expanding the strike zone and swinging repeatedly at wide sliders until he was retired. Craig nearly broke open the game with a bloop down the right field line. But the ball went just foul and he, instead, whiffed on a lousy pitch like Molina.
I understand that these hurlers throw nasty stuff. But it was pretty obvious the Cleveland hurler was only throwing slider off the plate after slider off the plate. The Cardinals could have bested him if they showed ANY plate discipline -- or if they would have crowded the plate and forced him far enough off the outside corner that there was no way he could have painted the corner without the ball being in reach.
Of course, that all became academic when Motte came into the game and threw fastball after fastball after fastball. As seems the be the case more and more frequently this season, someone eventually times one and puts a ball in the bleachers. This time it came after a cheap single from Johnny Damon and a walk to make the homer run a three-run shot.
Motte seems to fail at shutting down the other team about 40 percent of the time these days. And I don't know how much longer the Cardinals can go on with that sort of poor performance. Unfortunately, it spoiled an uncharacteristically good day for the rest of the 'pen including Marc Rzepczynski.
Cardinals Star of the Game: Joe Kelly
Cardinals Play of the Game: Beltran's homer.
Lowlight: Molina's strike out with the go-ahead run on third base and one out after the two batters in front of him were walked.