Cardinals-Tigers: Redbirds Bullpen Implodes After Rain Delay

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst IJune 26, 2008

Rain certainly has a way from dampening spirits. For Kyle McClellan, it cost him a game.

The Detroit Tigers beat the Cardinals 8-7 on Wednesday night, or more accurately, Thursday morning. The game didn't finish until nearly 1 a.m. local time after a lengthy rain delay.

However, that was not the highlight of the game. The St. Louis Cardinals tied an all-time franchise high with two blown saves and squandered four leads in road to the loss. Not what you would want in trying to stay in pace for the NL Central.

Clete Thomas led-off the ninth with a double and McClellan had already let the Tigers come back one inning earlier to tie the game. Then, Gary Sheffield hit the game-winning RBI single off of McClellan to end what could only be described as a nightmare of a game.

The two hour and 25 minute rain delay in the fifth obviously must have effected McClellan as Sheffield and Thomas both hit 3-2 pitches to put themselves in position for the win.

Obviously pitching from behind counts in the late innings of a ball game is something McClellan could not allow.

"You can't fall behind hitters in that situation," said McClellan. "Then you've got to make pitches after that. You've got to let them put the ball in play. It's tough to pitch from behind. I got back to 3-2 and it was kind of the same thing. It's tough to pitch around lead-off doubles."

Despite two home runs from Rick Ankiel and another by Skip Schumaker, the Cardinals couldn't hold the leads. They had been up 2-0, 4-2, 6-5, 7-6 at points in the game but the bullpen gave the Tigers opportunities to get back into the game.

When that happens, you can only expect the worst.

The Cardinals starter, and All-Star hopeful, Kyle Lohse was also knocked around by the Tigers. Allowing five runs on 11 hits, with four being for extra bases, the promising young starter's streak of six straight winning decisions ended.

Lohse expressed why he had such a bad outing against the Tigers, whom he has a lifetime 5.95 ERA against.

"I was all over the place tonight," Lohse said. "I was leaving a lot of balls out over the middle. They were down a lot of times, but you can't throw it down the middle and miss the corners. I never got anything going. It seemed like I was constantly pitching from behind and with guys on base. It makes for a long night. I almost got out of it a couple times, but bottom line, I just didn't make good enough pitches."

Jason Isringhausen returned to his old form by allowing a run to score on a bases-loaded double play in the seventh, squandering a 6-5 lead. The only bright spot for the Cardinals bullpen was that Chris Perez pitched two shutout innings.

The eventual return of Albert Pujols could have helped the Cardinals offense as the Redbirds just managed a horrific one-for-eight with runners in scoring position. They also left a bases-loaded golden opportunity slip away in the top of seventh.

After the game manager Tony LaRussa knew exactly why the Cardinals got the loss.

"We had a chance to get the runner from third a couple times and didn't do it, no doubt about it," La Russa said. "We also made some mistakes. Lohse threw a ball [numbers-high] for a three-run homer. We did good things, and we made mistakes -- exactly the way the Tigers played."