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The Cardinals snatch defeat from the jaws of victory

I think I have kept a pretty even keel this season when it comes to the St. Louis Cardinals.

I mean, this hasn't been the easiest of seasons to watch. the Redbirds are pretty chronic under-achievers and, particularly, they've had an awful time scoring runs.

But that all came to a crashing halt Saturday when the Cardinals managed to blow a 5-1 lead to a mediocre Miami Marlins team. It's not really that the team lost that caused me to stew, however, as it is HOW it lost that makes my blood boil.

It seems that the Birds are going to play the same game 162 times a year, no matter what happens, and their utter predictability came back to bite them in the rear end this time. In short, it wasn't manager Mike Matheny's greatest performance.

That's frustrating because the Cardinals actually managed to put a few runs on the board. They broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning when the struggling middle of their line-up collected three-consecutive RBI hits including home runs by Allen Craig and Jhonny Peralta. It seemed like everything was clicking.

Unfortunately, the pitching staff that has been so good when the offense couldn't get out of its own way, decided to pay the offense back.

Starting pitcher Shelby Miller, who seems to be in a constant competition with himself to see how many pitches he can pack into five innings or work, managed to be pushing the century mark after five frames Saturday. Yet he was allowed to start the sixth inning and allowed two men to reach before Matheny came out to send him to the showers.

In came Seth Maness who got the first out. But the second hitter, Christian Yelich -- batting .266 with six homers -- belted a pitch deep over the outfield wall to make it a one-run game.

But it wasn't over yet. 

In the eighth inning Matheny brought in Pat Neshek, who has been ridiculously good this season with a .077 ERA, and he shut the Marlins down cold. Neshek retired the Fish on nine pitches and seemed primed to finish the game.

Closer Trevor Rosethal had an awful night Friday and barely escaped with a save after allowing two runs and letting the tying run reach third base with only one out. He seemed like a guy who could use a mental break as well as a break from pitching after throwing as many offerings as he did the night before. But Matheny was determined to let Rosenthal close out the game, regardless of the game situation, because that's just how it works, gosh darn it.

Unfortunately, Rosenthal allowed a run on two hits to tie the game and then had to be relieved by Sam Freeman who gave up the go ahead run.

The game was in the bag and the Birds let Miami off the hook to throw away the progress they made the night before and settle back to five games behind Milwaukee in the standings.

At some point, if St. Louis is serious about trying to win this division -- or at least to make the playoffs, the Cardinals are going to have to stop giving away games.