It was supposed to be a night where St. Louis finally had their hitting and pitching blend together in an overall beat down of a perennial bottom feeder in the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Instead, as the Cardinals offense soared to new heights, their bullpen hit a new low.
The Redbirds lost an extra-innings affair to the Pirates with a final score of 12-11 on Saturday night. It was not the first time the bullpen could not hold a lead, but it came at a horrible time when their offense finally decided to show up.
St. Louis managed a season-high 22 hits against Pittsburgh in an offensive clinic. Seven Cardinals batters recorded multi-hit games, including a pair of four-hit games from Troy Glaus and Yadier Molina.
Glaus hit his 14th home run of the year and Ludwick continued his hot streak as he managed to hit his 20th blast before the All-Star break. It was a truly huge night for the Redbirds offense.
In only the fourth time in Cardinals history, two Redbirds teammates managed to hit 20 home runs before the All-Star break. Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel encompassed the duo in what is an extraordinary power hitting achievement.
A very scary moment for Cardinals nation occured when outfielder Rick Ankiel seemed to severely roll his ankle on a hard hit ground ball. He immediately crumpled to the dirt in pain and did not return. This could be a potentially major blow to St. Louis' offense as the Redbirds have struggled recently with run production.
The Cardinals starter, Todd Wellemeyer, actually had a decent outing considering the offensive output. Pitching six and one-third innings while giving up four earned on four hits. He pitched well but the only mistakes he made ended up home runs by Adam LaRoche and Jason Bay.
St. Louis seemed to match all of the runs the Pirates mustered in every inning. It seemed like a lock for a victory, until the eighth inning. As Ryan Franklin took to the mound he was in control of his pitches and was throwing strikes.
Oh, how momentum can change with one swing of the bat.
Jason Bay hit his second home run of the game as he closed the gap to make it a four-run game. It wasn't the first time Franklin allowed a home run, but it seemed as though the Cardinals would nail this one down.
It was not to be.
As the ninth inning came about and Jason Isringhausen came into the game, he once again proved he had lost his touch. Nate McLouth hammered a pitch that has yet to land to send the game into extra innings.
St. Louis wouldn't recover. Jason Michaels pinched hit in the 10th, and he would not look back as he hit a walk-off home run to win the game.
As the Cubs edged out an extra innings win of their own, the Cardinals cannot string together enough solid pitching to take advantage of the Brewers loss on Saturday. Chicago continues to increase their lead as the Redbirds continued to be mired in blown save after blown save.
Fortunately, the All-Star break is only several days away. Maybe the consecutive days off might give the bullpen some much needed rest.
As the second half of the season approaches, one thing is undeniably clear: the Cardinals need bullpen help.