That was a painful loss — about as painful as a moth flying deep inside your ear, which is exactly what happened to Matt Holliday in the eighth inning and forced him from the game.
Now there’s something you don’t see every day.
Take your pick of which ninth inning moment was most painful:
- Chris Carpenter being taken out of the game he’d dominated after he hit Juan Rivera. Andre Ethier was on deck at the time. CC had only thrown 99 pitches, 69 of which were strikes, and he’d gotten Ethier to ground out the three times he’d been up.
- Arthur Rhodes entering the game and striking out Ethier.
- Fernando Salas then coming on to face Miles, who was 0 for 3. He hit a long fly deep to right-center that rolled to the wall. Those little legs ran all the way to third for a triple, with pinch-runner Justin Sellers scoring. Tie game, no win for CC.
- That was all for Salas — Jason Motte took over next. Rod Barajas, the first batter he faced, grounded to Rafael Furcal at short. He fielded it a little awkwardly — he does have a sprained thumb — and threw home, but Miles scored the go-ahead run safely.
Then again, it’s also painful that the Cardinals only had six hits all night and left five runners on base. The only run came on a second inning Lance Berkman homer, and they only had two hits after that the rest of the game.
So, as with most Cardinals losses, there is once again plenty of blame to go around.
One person I’m not going to blame is Tony La Russa. (Although it seems I’m one of the few.) Did I like the fact he removed CC from the game? Absolutely not. But had Salas been able to retire Aaron Miles and then Barajas, the Cardinals and CC would have won and … well, all those people would still be bitching. Tony La Russa is still the Cardinals manager and the season is disappointing.
I watched “Tony TV” on Fox Sports Midwest after the game and heard La Russa’s explanation for removing CC.
“I sent him out there for the ninth, and then you watch the way the inning goes. He hits the first guy, and you’ve got Ethier on deck. If there’s somebody else on deck, maybe you play it differently. But it’s Ethier, who’s a pull hitter and can do a lot of things in the hole. You have an answer for Ethier. If [Rivera] bloops it in, maybe I leave him in there. Maybe I don’t. Even then I don’t do it with Ethier on deck.”
As I said, I didn’t like it, but he had a reason — like that or not.
Carpenter wasn’t blaming anyone but himself for what happened when he was interviewed after the game: “It’s my bad for hitting Rivera. If I get him out, I don’t have to worry about it.”
As for the most painful moment, for me it was the game-tying triple. Aaron Miles hitting a triple? You know it’s a bad season when his scrappiness comes back to beat you.
Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.