Aaron Miles’ Revenge

Back when we appreciated his scrappiness ...

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 aaronmilesfastball@gmail.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.

8 thoughts on “Aaron Miles’ Revenge

  1. I just think that if TLR has paid any attention to this season, you know that even the best bullpen moves tend to blow up. That situation was just ripe for it. I know he had reasons, but that doesn’t mean they were the right reasons or it was the right move.

    I leave Carpenter in there. I feel like even if he gives up a two-run homer to Ethier, I’d like that decision better than bringing in Rhodes (even though Rhodes did his job).

      • I’m not saying that, just making the point that it seems many, many times a decision like that has gone south this year. Eventually you’d think there’d be a step back and maybe rethinking.

        Like that old joke of “whenever I do something right, something wrong happens, so I’ll do something wrong so something right will!”

        • TLR doesn’t seem like the kind of manager to change his ways, even if said ways have blown up in the past. You’re right, Christine — he ALWAYS has a reason. But Daniel, it would seem to make sense that his reasoning change based on results.

          Sometimes I feel like it’s the old “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” kind of thing.

          Is it possible that he OVER strategizes at times, instead of occasionally leaving well enough alone?

          Still, Carp shouldn’t have only had 1 run to work with. Rivera shouldn’t have been hit. Salas should have handled Miles. Furcal should have made the play home. Oh, and the bottom of the ninth shouldn’t have been so uneventful, either.

          The moth in the ear thing seems kind of reminiscent of the entire season — we’re left thinking, “Wait, WHAT just happened?!?”

          • The over-strategizing is for certain. Taking Carp out after one mistake, after he forced Ethier out during every other at-bat, suggests an over analyzing on TLR’s part. Carp was sharp for all of the game and he makes that mistake.

            I also think it’s a lot of the players just not stepping up for whatever reason. And that can not be blamed entirely on TLR. Sure it’s his job to motivate… but they need to be self-motivated too.

            For example, as my Father has pointed out many times lately, Matt Holliday is being paid $120 million. He shouldn’t be striking out as much as he does and he certainly shouldn’t be hanging that far off second base to get picked off.

            To be paid $120 million in this economy should be motivation enough. There are fans who are unemployed or underemployed and you are out there making that much money and you do that? Come on!

            Also, I fully admit that I may have been on that Fernando Salas as closer bandwagon but he is NOT READY at all. I don’t know if he just hasn’t gotten enough work or what… but his last few performances have bordered on Franklin territory. I don’t trust him out there. It really makes you wish that they had gone after Heath Bell a little more. It may have been over-analyzing on the part of Mo, Duncan and TLR that Salas was it. But they have to know they are wrong on this…

            I realize that the Cardinals may in fact need some freshness to the club. But I don’t think TLR walking away and the other potential folks walking away from the club is something those of you who are hating on him are even considering. Some of you are just TLR haters. And that’s fine.

            Some of you think Oquendo will be the natural choice. I don’t think so… I would imagine he’d be a push over. No one listens to him as third base coach. What do you think happens when he’s manager? He automatically grows a pair? Doubt it!

            I would just hate to see them let TLR go and we get stuck with someone like Quade or Dusty Baker or Bobby V. … But for those of you who are hell bent on seeing that change happens next year, you would definitely get your wish. We would have a completely different team.

            If TLR goes, will Pujols follow? And then who else will request their options not be picked up.

            Be careful what you wish for, cause it just might come true folks.

            • Lots of interesting comments here from all of you!

              Over-strategizing — sure, but isn’t that what TLR has always done? It’s just who he is. How can anyone, after all this many years, expect him to suddenly change how he’s always done things. Of course he’s going to do it.

              If it doesn’t work, as it didn’t last night and has many other times this season, is it his fault? Or is it the fault of the player who didn’t do what he was supposed to?

              Tara, good point about the moth just kind of encapsulating the season.

              Miranda, you raise some good points. Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as I’ve watched games, and read/heard reactions from the fans, is accountability — that personal responsibility from the players to do the jobs they’re getting paid to do.

              I am glad they didn’t get Heath Bell, because personally I wasn’t sold on him being the solution. Salas has been good and bad, but he’s also young and gaining experience — and that comes with the territory. And sometimes getting that on-the-job experience at a time when wins are so crucial is not the wisest move to make. But I’m not sure who else would have been better in the closer role. Part of me still wishes Mitchell Boggs would have gotten more of a chance to do it, but Salas has been effective on his good nights.

              • I agree, the players have to take the largest part of the blame. If Salas can get Aaron Miles, who strikes fear into no one’s heart (even if he does inspire a couple of lovely ladies….) then there’s an issue.

                I just think it could have been avoided if Tony would have stayed with Carp, just like he did earlier in the year when Carp was throwing 120+ pitches. But it just as well may not have.

              • Ultimately, I think there’s plenty of “blame” to go around, as there is in any season as rough as this one has become.

                There is a huge issue with guys taking responsibility for the job they are there to do. But it’s not like they have a desk job and they’re not filing papers correctly. Okay, that’s kind of a lame excuse, but any “job” based on performance in unpredictable circumstances, there are always going to be mistakes and struggles. That’s where the coach comes in in the first place. He’s the one who should be attempting to predict the unpredictable. And while TLR does that in a lot of ways, sometimes he goes too far.

                You’re right, Christine — that’s how he is. When his seemingly ridiculous plans work, we love and applaud the brilliance. But, because of the complexity of his strategy, when it fails, it’s often clear that his risky move may have resulted in the loss. I guess that’s the chance he is willing to take.

                I also wasn’t sold on Heath Bell. Although, I’m not entirely sold on Salas RIGHT NOW either. I find myself really wishing Sanchez hadn’t gotten hurt because that could have really changed the look of our bullpen late in games.

                I guess this is the point in the season where we all start looking for answers. Many nights, it seems to me the answer is TLR in one way or another. But other games, it is quite obvious that this team is simply underachieving. They perform poorly more often than they perform brilliantly (and they’re capable of both), which doesn’t leave them in good stead. But we’re all just looking for answers … because watching a team with this kind of talent lose heartbreakers night after night doesn’t seem right!

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