Cheap Seats

Bring on Greg Holland, because I can't stand any more late-inning losses

The St. Louis Cardinals Monday activated closer Greg Holland from Class A Palm Beach.
The St. Louis Cardinals Monday activated closer Greg Holland from Class A Palm Beach. AP

Is there anything more demoralizing to a baseball team — or its fans, for that matter — than to have your favorite club seize the lead during the first at-bat of the game and hold it all game long only to give up the tie and then the loss on back-to-back homers with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning?

I was prepared to write a nice post (for the first time in a while) about how much more lively the Redbirds looked Tuesday at the plate and on the bases. About what a nice start by rookie pitcher Jack Flaherty made and how in control St. Louis looked all night.

And then the club had to go and blow a three-run lead at the midpoint of the eighth inning. I was having a quite enjoyable time watching the first game of the year that I had a chance to enjoy from start to finish. And now I am too mad to go to sleep. Ugh.

I guess the bright side is that there is little doubt the Cardinals could use a legitimate closer after watching the bullpen choke up lead after lead last season only to start 2018 like this. Fortunately, recent free-agent signee Greg Holland is gearing up at extended spring training and will be ready to join the big-league club soon.

On the bright side, Dexter Fowler seems to have overcome his slow start. Besides his leadoff home run, he's been hitting the ball squarely lately, even if it is sometimes into bad luck.

And Tommy Pham, who stirred the pot Tuesday when the controversial story in which he complained about how the Cardinals disrespected him and cost him millions by conspiring to keep him in the minor leagues, where he couldn't get the big bucks just because he couldn't stay healthy, also seems to have his bat — and his legs — going. His batting average is up to .368 and his on-base plus slugging percentage is up to 1.057. Those numbers are almost up to the point where it makes Pham's complaining worthwhile. But I hope the SI article is the last we'll hear of this Pham pity party so this team can focus on the task at hand: winning games.

I wonder how Jose Martinez must feel about Pham's complaints about being marooned in Class AAA baseball even though he felt he was the best player in Memphis. When Martinez was in the minors with the Kansas City Royals organization, he won a Class AAA batting title — and he couldn't even get a September call-up.

So it seemed like the Cardinals started the season under a cloud for whatever reason. They stumbled to a 0-2 start against a not very good New York Mets team. But then they rebounded nicely to beat the Brewers in game one, and they played even better in game two, despite the loss. I'm going to try to put this one behind me and hope they can rally to win the Brewers series on Wednesday.

The Redbirds shouldn't sleep on this Milwaukee team. It can slug with the best of them, and I think its pitching is going to get stronger as the season goes on. Wins now mean just as much as wins in August and September. So it would be nice to start banking some victories against a Central Division foe now.