Everyone has a day they’d just rather forget. And baseball players — yes, even the first-place, 31-game winning St. Louis Cardinals — have days they’d rather forget too.
But you know what? It was one game.
Let me repeat: one game, which happened to be game 48 of a 162-game season.
Sure, it was ugly — and the ugliness started early on. Leaving the bases loaded in the top of the first inning, for example, although the Cards did score one run thanks to an error on Nick Punto. (He more than up for that with his 3-for-4, one walk night.)
That Punto walk came courtesy of John Gast to lead off the bottom of the first, and he scored on a double by another guy the Cards pitchers were very kind to: Adrian Gonzalez, who was 3-for-3 with a fifth inning homer.
After Gast walked Scott Van Slyke to start the second inning, he was gone. Left shoulder tightness.
In came Joe Kelly. Not all was ugly — he struck out six in three innings pitched. Unfortunately he gave up two runs, an RBI single to Gonzalez to score Punto (those two were constantly on base) and the Gonzalez homer. After walking Matt Kemp following the homer — Cards pitchers walked seven total on the night — Carlos Martinez relieved him. Nothing ugly there, as he retired three in a row to end in the inning and received plenty of praise on national TV.
Plus the Cards got their offense going in the top of the sixth, once Ted Lilly left the game, tying it on an RBI-double by David Freese and single by Pete Kozma.
But Seth Maness was not Seth Maness, and Matt Carpenter at second base wasn’t Matt Carpenter at second base. Carpenter made his first error of the season (pretty amazing when you think about it, but it figures it would happen in a game like this) and Maness wasn’t able to get the usual double play behind him. Result: a 4-3 Dodgers lead on a Mark Ellis double.
The Cards bats went cold after that against the Dodgers bullpen. And while Randy Choate did fine, Mitchell Boggs did not. Only one run allowed, but it was an ugly inning.
But, again, one game — over and done. A positive way to look at it: there’s another one this afternoon, and it should be a very good one with Shelby Miller and Clayton Kershaw starting.
Or you can panic. Even though the Cardinals are 14 games over .500, the Reds are only half a game back of them in first now.
Take your pick. Remember there are still four full months of the season ahead, but take your pick regardless.
And, true, it’s not all sunshine and sparkles right now necessarily. Jake Westbrook is going to see Dr. James Andrews on Tuesday for a second opinion on his elbow, and Chris Carpenter’s throwing program has been slowed down — more details are on both of those here. Blame Sports Illustrated, right?
Anyway, as mentioned above, this afternoon’s match-up could be great. Game time is 4:10 p.m. Central.
Christine Coleman is the lead 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.