I have to say it, I’m a fan of Tony LaRussa, even though many experts think the real reason alot of people dislike the Cardinals so much is because of Tony LaRussa. Personally I think alot of the hatred towards the Cardinals stems from the fact that the Cardinals have been so successful over the years as the face of the NL Central.
Now that I’ve said that, there is one area where I strongly disagree with the Cardinals manager, and that is how he micro manages the bullpen. Tonight’s game was kind of an example, and of course I understand with the way SP Kyle Lohse has been performing as of late (he can’t seem to get a quality start), but the fact is that burning through the bullpen like a chain smoker goes through a pack of smokes is very unhealthy with all of the month of August and September still to go.
Tonight’s game saw Lance “Fastball” Lynn come in and strike out the side, and show no sign of letting up, yet he does not come out to pitch the next inning? Then Octavio Dotel, who has been pitching practially every game since the trade, comes in and shows a bit of fatigue and was unable to record a single out. Then LaRussa brings in Jason Motte, I’ll be the first to admit I have been on the anti-Motte bandwagon, but kudos to Motte who showed a moxie and got out of a bases loaded jam and even got his last out via nasty strikeout. Now LaRussa playing the roulette wheel brings in Rzepczynski to try to get that final out, but unable to gives up a run. Why if Lance Lynn or Jason Motte look good, why take them out. Unfortunately, and fortunately Fernando Salas was able to get a 4 out save, his 20th on the season. This makes more sense as to why the Cardinals didn’t go all stupid in the Heath Bell sweepstakes, as Salas has shown very good poise as the young Cardinals reliever in the 9th inning. You notice I still don’t use the “C” word to describe Salas. But my worries are that we are in the hottest month of the year, and you have to be careful with the young arm that is Fernando Salas. He’s shown tendencies at time to not be able to go more than one inning, so why risk it. The announcers would tell you that LaRussa did it because of the importance of the win. But I say that the way Lynn and Motte pitched there was no need to risk Salas more than the 9th inning. I just hope that, this micro managing does not eventually bite the Cardinals in the backside.
On some positive notes from tonight was Albert Pujols’s 25th home run in the fourth inning, that was as big of a blast as I’ve seen in awhile. On the defensive side, Albert showed great glove work by starting and ending a 3-6-3 double play later. Please Mo, sign this guy to a contract that has him retire wearing the Birds on a Bat, pretty please! Matt Holliday’s 17th blast in the 1st was nice too, and then there’s Rafael Furcal. Man has his defense already made you forget the short stop woes of players not name Furcal. I say, yes yes yes to that trade. You know I don’t care if the guy hits worth a lick, his defense has more than made me be glad to see his name in the lineup nightly. And lastly, to our valiant third baseman David Freese, who was drilled in the head and had to leave the game with a concussion. I remember seeing on twitter certain people stating the Cardinals should retalilate, and there were the level headed ones who knew that there is not that kind of bad blood between the Cards and Marlins. And the fact that the game went on without incident, was a breath of fresh air after the last series in Milwaukee. Hopefully young Mr. Freese won’t have to miss significant time, he deserves a better fate than what he’s been dealt thus far in his young career.
So the Cardinals are within 3 of the Brewers and pulling away from the Pirates and Reds in the standings. I’m very hopeful that Jake Westbrook can go a solid 7 or 8 innings tomorrow vs the Marlins, as this bullpen needs a breather.