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Texas Toast! Redbirds On Brink of Elimination

Posted By Chaz Ingram On Oct 26 2011 @ 1:33 pm In St. Louis Cardinals | 9 Comments

Maybe the Cardinals should have saved some of the 16 runs they scored against the Rangers in game 3 for the remaining games  of the World Series.  Since that explosion which now seem like eons ago the Cardinals have managed to score only 2 runs in the last 18 innings blowing quality starts by Edwin Jackson and ace Chris Carpenter.


Rangers' relief pitcher Neftali Feliz and catcher Mike Napoli celebrate after game five victory over Cardinals

As if Sunday’s 4-0 shutout at the hands of the Rangers’ Derek Holland wasn’t embarrassing enough the Cardinals trumped that performance with a 4-2 defeat Monday that had more bloops and blunders than an episode of “America’s Funniest Home Videos”.  You knew things were bad when the Cardinals couldn’t even execute a simple phone call. In an age where a call can happen with one push of the button and messages are sent in a millimeter of a second the Redbirds had difficulty making proper use of one of America’s simplest inventions.

With the score tied 2-2 in the eighth Cardinals’ manager Tony LaRussa initially ordered bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist to have left handed relief pitcher Mark Rzepczynski  and  hard throwing right hander Jason Motte warm up and prepare to enter the game. Simple enough, right?    Uh, not exactly. For some reason only Rzepczynski warmed up.


LaRussa removes pitcher Mark Rzepczynski from the game

LaRussa made a second call to the bullpen to reiterate his request when he noticed Motte not warming up.  Despite a second attempt to get  Motte up LaRussa’s request fell on deaf ears again and this time recently used relief man Lance Lynn began warming up. As a result of the miscommunication Motte was not ready to go when needed.  Rzepczynski, came into the game and immediately gave up an infield hit to David Murphy.  The plan was to have Motte eventually relieve Rzepczynski and keep the score tied. That’s not the way things panned out. Instead Rzepczynski stayed in the game to face right handed  hitting Mike Napoli who promptly greeted him with a two run double to right center in what would proved to be the winning runs.  Though LaRussa requested Motte reliever Lance Lynn entered the game.  Lynn was immediately ordered to intentionally walk Ian Kinsler.  Finally, Motte came into the game but the damage had been done.


Cardinals' Allen Craig out at second attempting to steal

The only explanation LaRussa could muster for the gaffe that cost the team a possible one game lead in the series heading back to St. Louis was that “it was loud and the bullpen coach may not have been able to hear me.” Whatever the case the blunder put the Cardinals in a serious hole, one they may not be able to dig themselves out of. [4]

Another move that would most likely fall under the “not so genius like” category was actually made twice in the game. With the score tied 2-2 in the Cardinals’ half of the seventh Albert Pujols was at bat and right fielder Allen Craig at first.  Craig attempted to steal second and was thrown out by a mile and the potential rally wiped out. Why attempt a steal with the best hitter in baseball at bat is beyond me. Pujols took the blame for the mishap saying that he, not LaRussa made the call. That’s strange, players don’t normally determine the strategy for his team’s game plan. Either way, it was not a smart move killing a potential Cardinals’ rally. [5]

[6]The Cardinals were presented with the same scenario in the ninth inning,  only this time they were trailing by two runs.  With no outs Pujols was at bat and Craig was at first after being hit by a pitch.  With  Pujols swinging on a 3-2 count Craig again attempted to steal second.  Pujols struck out swinging and Craig was thrown out…again, just like that two outs and the game all but over.  The Cards were one for twelve with runners in scoring position for the game and just like the incident with the phones in the bullpen there was an obvious disconnect between the manager and his team.

LaRussa has often been criticized for over managing, making several unwarranted moves that ultimately  prove to be fruitless causing fans in Cardinals’ nation to question his managerial skills.  There is no doubt in my mind that LaRussa is destined for the hall of fame as a manger. However, I believe he may have managed his worst game of the season in this game five of the World Series. It surely was the worst  of this post season.

The loss puts the Cardinals in a familiar place with a win or go home situation.  The Redbirds have fared well in such games so far this season and hopefully that trend continues tonight in the friendly confines of Busch Stadium as the series heads back to St. Louis for game six and seven.  In a rematch of game two Jaime Garcia gets the start for the Redbirds and Colby Lewis goes for the Rangers.

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