The calendar may read 2009, yet the St. Louis Cardinals started off this season just like they ended it in 2008.
"Same stuff, different day," I said to myself.
Despite the bullpen collapse, I still was hyping myself up in hopes of the Redbirds returning to their post-season glory days.
It was not to be, as the Cardinals fell to the Pirates on Opening Day, 6-4.
Jason Motte's emergence out of the platoon of relief pitchers coming out of Spring Training only spelled disaster in my mind, as I can't fathom how a "closer by committee" approach does anything but destroy a pitcher's mentality.
If history has taught the Cardinals faithful anything, it is that when you expect the worst, it has a way of turning into reality.
Motte allowed a four-run ninth inning that was started by Pittsburgh's shortstop, Jack Wilson. His two-out, three-run double felt like a slap in face, all while Motte's implosion felt like a knife in the back.
Wilson's clutch hit was the final nail in the coffin for Motte's destruction—I covered my face in disgust. It was all preceded when he allowed a pinch-hit double to Eric Hinske, and proceeded to out-do himself only by hitting the next batter, Brandon Moss, to load the bases.
The entire bullpen wasn't to blame as Josh Kinney, Trevor Miller, and Kyle McClellan all pitched scoreless outings, and issued a combined one walk with three hits.
The big bats came through for St. Louis, however, as sliver slugger Albert Pujols went 3-for-4. As he set the table, All-Star Ryan Ludwick and newly-acquired Khalil Greene cleared it, going a combined 3-for-10 with three RBI and a solo HR.
Sparks of hope for the Redbirds, as all the offense's hard work would eventually go to waste.
St. Louis' young ace Adam Wainwright had an effective but inefficient day, as he only managed 5 1/3 innings pitched with two earned runs while striking out seven. However, he equaled his career high in issuing walks, with five.
Not his greatest outing my any means, but it was nothing that St. Louis couldn't work with. It was the third year in a row that the Cardinals have lost on Opening Day.
Statistics and information attributed to MLB.com