Cardinals-Reds: St. Louis' Bullpen Woes Overshadow Penny's Performance

Derek CoffeltSenior Analyst IApril 8, 2010

It was a pitchers duel in Cincinnati on Thursday as Bronson Arroyo and Brad Penny squared off against one another.

However, St. Louis' bullpen imploded in the late innings as the Reds defeated the Cardinals 2-1.

Jason Motte surrendered the death nail as Johnny Gomes blasted a walk off home run to stem the tide of the series and prevent a sweep.

Newly-acquired pitcher Brad Penny spoke of how tough the loss was and acknowledged the toughness of his adversary on the mound.

"It's a tough loss," said Penny. "If we do our job and keep the team close, usually this team is going to come through and score a few runs. We've got a great lineup, so you've just got to tip your hat. He [Arroyo] threw the ball well today."

Penny fared well in his debut with the Cardinals, save for the final result. Penny allowed a run on six hits, struck out four and walked two. Penny needed 100 pitches for his 21 outs, 70 of them going for strikes, and collected 13 groundouts against four flyouts.

Effective to say the least.

Unfortunately, the Redbirds' offense just couldn't reignite that opening day hitting clinic as the only run for St. Louis came off a Matt Holliday solo home run. Slugger Albert Pujols went hitless for the day, as did the table-setter, shortstop Brendan Ryan.

When the batters at the top of the order start to come up empty, it will make for a long day for the starter. Adding to the pressure of debuting with a new team is tough enough, but having to carry that team when the offense fails is another ball game.

However, credit needs to be given where it is due, and it goes to Cincinnati Reds starter Bronson Arroyo.

And that was something one of Arroyo's former teammates gave him.

"You've got to tip your hat to him," said Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue, a teammate of Arroyo's in 2006. "He kept the ball down, mixed the ball up typically the way he does when he's going good. He's going to throw anything. He mixes the ball up. He's not a so-called fastball pitcher. He throws all of his off-speed stuff for strikes and mixes them up really well."

Arroyo allowed the Cards a run on four hits over eight innings, striking out six and walking three. He even provided some offense with an RBI—singling home Ryan Hanigan after Hanigan's double in the fifth inning.

Penny and Arroyo usually don't strike fear in the hearts of batters at the plate but they proved their worth on this day. As these hurlers were vying for supremacy on the mound, the game ended in dramatic fashion with a walk-off home run. Thus ending the duel. 

It should be pointed out that baseball is truly a game of inches and pitch location.

Cardinals reliever Jason Motte commented on this fact of the game.

"It's [about] where I threw it," said Motte. "Not the pitch, but where I threw it. If I would have thrown it down and away and he'd [Gomes] rolled over it, it would be a whole different interview. That's the way it is."

The way it is now is just one loss in a very early season and it is good to see that Holliday is showing some power with his bat.

As for the rest of the offense, maybe it was just an off day.

Every dog has its day and today belonged to Bronson Arroyo. However, the game was held in check by both throwers.

A fact that Johnny Gomes whole-heartedly admitted.

"It could have gone either way," said Gomes. "A solo home run doesn't win that game without Bronson Arroyo pitching the way he pitched."

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