While I was disappointed, and even mad about the loss directly afterwards—as a fan, I had to appreciate what I had just witnessed.
Thoughts were flying through my mind at a million miles per second. Some entering and exiting my head before I could even try to rationalize them.
With that said, I came to some very important conclusions because of this game, and I thought I ought to share them with you.
1. Jaime Garcia is a potential All-Star in the making. After throwing a no-no through five innings and out-pitching Mets ace Johan Santana through seven, I can't even express how impressed I am. As a fifth starter in the Cardinals pitching rotation, he has allowed one run through 13 innings and is tied for fourth in ERA in the NL (.69). I was hesitant to say anything after just one start, but I shouldn't have been. This kid is for real.
2. The leaders on this team excel when they need to. If only that was all it took. I guess it depends who you believe are the leaders for this ball club. But to me, the decision is easy. Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina, both of whom played all 20 innings for the Cardinals.
Late in the game, Albert got walked four straight times, then came away with a double even though he had a rough start. The fear he strikes into the souls of opposing pitchers is amazing. And I don't blame them, he is one of the most clutch hitters, and the best overall hitter in the game today.
Yadi, on the other hand, remains one of the best all-around catchers in the game. He has helped settle the nerves of young pitcher Jaime Garcia, and he came up with many hits to get on base late in the game (including the only RBI) to give the Cardinals every opportunity they needed to win the game.
3. Versatility is something I admire, and Felipe Lopez has it. This can prove to be one of the best additions to the Cardinals roster in the off season. I believe Brad Penny would fight for that title, but we still have a lot of baseball to play.
Lopez can play virtually any infield position, he can hit (which was proven by his grand slam on Friday night to raise the Cardinals to victory over the Mets in Game One), AND Lopez was asked to pitch in the 18th inning...Which he did surprisingly well. He threw 21 pitches, 12 of which were for strikes. And above all, he only allowed one hit and no runs. I love me some Felipe Lopez.
1. The Bullpen pitched well but... We need to be able to rely on them for more than a single inning. Mitchell Boggs, Trevor Miller, Jason Motte, Dennys Reyes, and Ryan Franklin were all asked to contribute just a single innings worth of work, yet we asked Joe Mather (third baseman) to go two full?
I don't know what the thinking was on that one, but there will be more on that later. We should be able to rely on our bullpen for more than a single inning if it comes to that. If we can't, we could be in trouble.
2. Run Support is so inconsistent that it makes me ill. Brad Penny has thrown two amazing games, yet both outings finished ended with the winner being ahead by a single run, one of which was a loss. On Saturday, Jaime Garcia pitched like an NL All-Star, outdueling pitching ace Johan Santana.
Yet the Cardinals couldn't put up a single run until it was too late. Garcia deserved the victory, but our lineup stole it from him. With as many great hitters as this lineup has, they are awfully inconsistent...
1. I love Tony LaRussa and all, but I didn't imagine things would end so... painfully. Multiple times at the end of the game, Albert would either get walked or find his way on base by means of a base hit, none of which were leadoffs. And multiple times there was already at least one other player on base, twice bases were loaded.
So who do we get to hit cleanup for The Machine? Oh yeah, that's right...a pitcher. Why? Why do we have a pitcher coming to the plate with two outs in the 18th with bases loaded? The announcers couldn't believe it either. They were led to believe that Tony was just going to have them take pitches and pray for a walk.
That never happened, as the pitchers were trying to rake for the fences every pitch. I attribute these to flat out flaws in managing style.
2. I still love Tony, but he tends to think too much. Awww, he likes to be cute. Well, guess what? Cute doesn't win you baseball games. Oh look, Kyle Lohse is lost out in left field! You don't say...Could that be because he is a pitcher? Is that Joe Mather on the pitchers mound? You bet it is!
Actually, Joe Mather was technically the "losing pitcher" in this one, as he gave up both of the Mets scored runs. But I can't blame Mather in the slightest, there is a reason he doesn't pitch anymore. He is far too tall, and he isn't able to get the ball down far enough to get strikes on a consistent basis.
Tony learned that the hard way. Oh, and why in the world did he come out for a second inning of work? The pitchers who received the "Win" and "Loss" were Francisco Rodriguez and Joe Mather respectively, and you wonder why the Cardinals lost? Cut the cute stuff Tony, there are no style points in baseball.
That is what I saw and got from the Cardinals 20th inning loss to the New York Mets on Saturday. As you can see, some of the things left me in utter shock, yet others left me happier than a fish in the sea. Let me know what YOU think.
Agree? Disagree? Let me hear it by leaving a comment below. I will respond to every single one of them! Questions? Comments? Leave a comment below! I will answer every single one of them! Any other concerns or positives you took from this game that I didn't mention? Well.. you get the idea by now.
Thanks for reading and cheers,