Like La Russa said, it ain’t the bullpen. Or, even if he didn’t say that, it wasn’t the bullpen tonight.
Lack of offense; starter not going deep enough into the game. Bullpen hanging on by a thread.
The Cardinals suffered their sixth loss in a row tonight at the hands of starter Mike Pelfrey, who came right at the Redbirds, allowing them only one run in his seven full innings of work, striking out five. Pelfrey threw 103 pitches in his duration on the mound.
Tony La Russa had a choice between Mitchell Boggs and Brad Thompson to start against the New York Mets in the first game of a three-game series in New York. Shy a starter and with an overworked bullpen, it was six of one, half a dozen of the other, and Boggs got the nod.
It’s possible the hope was to get more than five innings out of whomever the starter would be, with anything over five a bonus. Boggs didn’t make it five innings, lasting only until he got one out in the fifth before La Russa pulled him, handing the ball over to Randy Flores.
The Mets were first on the board, scoring a run in the third, two in the fourth, and rallying for three runs in the fifth, leading 6-0.
The Cards didn’t get on the board until the sixth, Ryan Ludwick scoring on a Troy Glaus single up the middle.
Boggs gave up six runs on eight hits, walking four, but if he failed at anything, it was that he burned up far too many pitches, reaching 95 in a little more than half a game. Whether it was a lack of control or trying to pitch in too precise a manner, neither way will work, and things didn’t work out for Boggs. Much easier said than done, Boggs would’ve been better off pitching to contract, especially considering how good a defense the Cardinals possess. In this way, Boggs would’ve lasted longer, even if he gave up just as many runs.
Flores cleaned up the rest of the fifth and then threw a scoreless sixth, a good piece of middle relief, which encouraging.
Thompson took over from there, starting the seventh, striking out a couple, but getting touched up for the longball, a solo homer by Argenis Reyes. Thompson continued pitching well in the eighth, a scoreless frame this time.
Meanwhile, the score is 7-1 with an inning of outs left to hit with.
The never-say-die attitude of the Cardinals kicked in, loading the bases on an Adam Kennedy single, a Brendan Ryan walk, and a Joe Mather single. The Mets brought in reliever Pedro Feliciano; Schumaker popped out. The Mets then went with reliever Aaron Heilman to face Ryan Ludwick, who took him a full count, fouled off a bevy of pitches, then flew out to deep right, Kennedy tagging up and scoring to cut the lead to 7-2.
Albert Pujols got a shot at continuing the rally. He had struck out three times in the game. Pujols grounded out to third baseman David Wright, however, and the Cardinals suffered their fifth loss in a row.
Boggs took the loss, now 3-2. Mike Pelfrey took the win for the Mets, his record now 9-6.
The Mets used four relievers, but none of them for more than three outs, and manager Jerry Manuel avoided using his best closer, Billy Wagner.
photo by Alan Penner
On deck: The Cards are in New York for what will probably be their last games ever in Shea Stadium as the Mets will be moving to a new facility next season. The Cards will be in New York to start a seven-game road trip; three games with the Mets and four in Atlanta. The road trip will take the Cards through the July 31 trade deadline.
Game time will be 6:10 p.m. CDT.
Probables: STL-Mitchell Boggs RHP (3-1, 6.59) vs. NYM-Mike Pelfrey RHP (8-6, 3.81)
Boggs has been a welcome fresh arm for a troubled starting Cards’ rotation, winning three in a row before the Mets roughed him up pretty good in his last outing before being sent back to Class AAA Memphis. The 10 out of 11 earned runs the Mets pounded Boggs for accounts for most of high lofty ERA.
Pelfrey has given up the longball lately, according to the St. Louis Cardinals Official Web Site, but his prior record suggests that was an unusual occurrence.
Birds’ Perch: The Redbirds are roosting in third place these days, not yet close to any danger of slipping into fourth in the NL Central, but slipping into a slightly uncomfortable zone in relationship to the second place Breweres and first place Cubs, three and four games behind, respecively.
Streaky worries: The Cards current lock on third is due to a several-game spread between them and the teams above and below. But the first place Cubs have won their last two in a row, the second place Brewers are on an eight-game tear, and chasing, the Reds have won their last two while the Pirates have a four-game winning streak alive. About the only team not on the positive streak is the last place Astros, who, like the Cards, have lost their last four. Yikes!
Whatcha done for me lately? These are the Cardinals with the most in the last seven games.
ABs: Skip Schumaker — 28
Runs: Albert Pujols — 6
Hits: Skip Schumaker — 9
Doubles: Troy Glaus — 4
Home Runs: Ryan Ludwick — 2
RBIs: Rick Ankiel — 7
Total bases: Troy Glaus — 14
Walks: Skip Schumaker, Troy Glaus — 4
Strikeouts: Ryan Ludwick — 11
Stolen bases: Cesar Izturis — 2
On-base percentage: Albert Pujols — .429
Slugging percentage: Aaron Miles — .579
Batting average: Aaron Miles — .368
photo by Iscan
On-deck: The St. Louis Cardinals will play the Milwaukee Brewers tonight in
St. Louis at Busch Stadium, 7:15 p.m. CDT, in the second game of a four-game series. The Brewers won last night’s game, 6-3, in extra innings.
Probables: The Cardinals will throw their ace, Kyle Lohse RHP (12-2, 3.35) against a former Cardinal, Jeff Suppan RHP (5-6, 4.71). Suppan has just come off the DL with what has been described as elbow irritation.
How they stand: The Brewers took second place in the NL Central away from the Cardinals with last night’s win, sporting a 56-43 record, the Cardinals’ record falling to 57-44. The Cubs loss last night allowed the Brewers to make ground on the first place Chicago team as well, now only two games behind. The Cardinals are also only two games behind the Cubs but are two percentage points behind the Brewers.
One up, one down: Yet another activation took place on Sunday, lefthander Jaime Garcia sent down to Triple-A Memphis. Mitchell Boggs has been re-called to the parent Cardinals. Tony La Russa has stated in so many words that the move was designed as a precaution to a starter getting knocked out early. With Boggs (basically a fresh arm in place of Garcia, who had just started Sunday) in the bullpen, La Russa can go to him instead of eating up so much of a pen that has its troubles as it is, even when fresh. There would be no sense in making that situation worse then it already is.
Whatcha done for me lately? The the last five games, Kyle Lohse has pitched the most at 7.0 innings.
Because Braden Looper got bombshelled in his three innings of work, he sports a huge 18.00 ERA.
Looper also hit the most batters in the previous five games, but only one. No other Cards’ pitcher hit a batsmen.
Looper gave up the most runs at six; also, the most earned runs at six.
Giving up the most home runs with 2-each was Looper and Jaime Garcia.
Todd Wellemeyer issued the most walks, three.
Three Cards’ pitchers are tied for the most strikeouts at four-apiece: Lohse, Garcia, and Brad Thompson.
NOTE: Pitching stats taken from small samplings tend to look either quite outstanding or simply awful, depending on the particular stat.
Mark Mulder will get a shot at getting back into the St. Louis Cardinals’ starting rotation on Wednesday against the Philadelphia Phillies. The probable Phillies
Mitchell Boggs will head back to Triple-A Memphis to make room for Cesar Izturis, who is coming off the DL list today. La Russa is not in any hurry to rush Izturis back into the lineup, but Izturis says his hamstring feels fine.
Joe Mather has been activated from Memphis, filling a roster spot opened up by Brian Barton, who has gone on the 15-day DL with a right wrist injury. Mather will start today in left field.
The rookie pitcher, Mitchell Boggs, no longer has the pressure of carrying a perfect record. Lately, the Cardinals’ starters have had their turns (except for Lohse) at having “one of those games.” Tonight was Boggs’ turn.
The Mets got to Boggs early, scoring three in the first inning, then another six runs in the third. The game was getting out of hand at 5-0, but really got away from Boggs and the Cards when Jose Reyes tripled over the head of Rick Ankiel. Manager Tony La Russa made a trip to the mound, but already, the strategy was obvious: Boggs would have to go as far as he could with no relief, as there was no need to burn up the bullpen on a game so far out of reach.
Such a strategy forced the young pitcher to gut it out, to take one for the team. To the new baseball fan, leaving the rookie out on the hill like that seems unfair, cruel, even, but one must understand that the team wouldn’t want to use up a lot of relievers, only to become severely limited for the weekend series versus the Chicago Cubs.
At the end of the third inning, the Mets held their 9-0 lead. And into the fourth went Boggs, getting strikeout and a couple ground outs for a one-two-three inning, probably wondering why it couldn’t have been that easy in the previous innings. Continuing his odyssey, he struggled through the fifth, then suffered a bit more in the sixth when Carlos Delgado blasted a two-run shot out in field, making it 11-0.
The Cardinals would ruin the shutout in the sixth, finally scoring off of Mets’ starter Mike Pelfrey, Adam Kennedy scoring on a Chris Duncan ground out.
Boggs’ turn at a terrible night ended when reliever Ron Villone took over to start the seventh.
Scott Schoeneweis then took over for Pelfrey to start the eighth. The Cards left the bases loaded.
Jason Isringhausen took a turn on the mound, not having pitched since last Sunday. Pitching to contact, Isringhausen was able to set down the Mets in order, the bullpen now able to have full availability if the Cardinals couldn’t win.
Shoeneweis shut down the Cardinals in the ninth, and the Mets secured a series split, 2-2, with the 11-1 victory. Mike Pelfrey improved to 6-6 with the win while Boggs took a hard first loss, his perfect record tarnished to 3-1.
Boggs stated afterward that any time you go out on the field and put your teammates in the hole the way he did, you’re going to get beat.
When asked about having to remain on the hill for the six innings he pitched, Boggs said: “It was good for me to stay out there, take my lumps, and get better.”
photo by Alan Penner
Probables: The Cardinals’ will throw rookie Mitchell Boggs RHP (3-0, 4.37) against the Mets’ Mike Pelfrey RHP (5-6, 4.47) in the last of a four-game set at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
50th? The Cards are going for their 50th win of the season tonight.
300th? Albert Pujols has struggled for hits, although he has hit the ball well in many ABs. Whatever his batting status, the three-hole hitter hasn’t reached the milestone mark of 300 home runs. Some believe he is pushing, widening his strike zone, not a good thing. Some believe he is simply in a slight lull.
Whatcha done for me lately? He has registered 22 total bases in the last week, tops on the Cards. Who is he? (answer below)
The Boggs Perfection: It’s only 3-0, but it is a perfect record, so far. Boggs has settled into the starting rotation for manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan, but regardless of how well he has done so far, he will have to continue to add to a growing number of good innings and outings. If Boggs wants to get his work in tonight, he’ll have to get through the Mets leadoff-through clean-up portion of the order without getting scarred. Keeping the ball down and proving is off-speed is the only way he’ll stay in this game.
Beltran has cooled: In his last 26 ABs, Carlos Beltran is hitting a lowly .154 with one dinger and one double. The Mets have scored their runs versus the Cardinals in the first three games of their four-game set, but Mets fans have to be wondering if they might’ve turned at least one of the scores around in their two losses. When Beltran is hitting snuff-up, the first half of the Mets lineup is as tough as any in baseball.
Miles to play before I sleep: Aaron Miles has now reached a 14-game hitting streak. More importantly for the Cards, he has provided solid defense at second base and a lot of productive ABs. It might be a good idea to let him ride out this stretch of good ball-playing. Not sure? Ask yourself: If Albert Pujols or Rick Ankiel were on a hitting streak, would you platoon them? It’s a tough argument that Miles isn’t ordinarilly a regular, either, because that is how a player becomes a regular.
Derrick Gould of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak may need to make a hard choice on what to do with the rehabbing right-hander, Matt Clement, now working the bullpen in Triple-A Memphis.
Cards’ affiliate pitcher of the month, June: Nick Additon. June’s record, 2-0, 1.53 ERA, 27 Ks, OBA .192. (Quad Cities River Bandits)
Cards’ affiliate player of the month, June: Jon Jay. BA .385. (Springfield Cardinals)
Whatcha done for me lately? He has registered 22 total bases in the last week, tops on the Cards. He plays third base, #8, Troy Glaus.
photo by Alan Penner