The Cardinals opener left a lot to be desired. Yes, they were playing the always difficult Padres, but throwing Chris Carpenter on the mound gave me confidence that they could walk away with the W. Carp did his part, but shoddy defense and a faulty closer led to a devastating 11th inning loss.
If you’re on the Padres side, it’s the stuff that dreams are made of. Your team is down to their last out and of your guys jacks a home run to tie the game up and you go on to win in extras. But as a Cardinal fan, it was more than heartbreaking.
Normally, I hate the 2nd day off day right after Opening Day. You gear up for baseball and then you have to wait. But in this case, I think it’s probably the best thing for the team. Gives them an extra day to forget this mess, forget the errors, forget giving up the game tying and winning home runs. It’s a fresh start. Almost like a second opening day.
But in order for there to be a better outcome, these are the things that will need to happen:
- Better defense
ESPECIALLY the middle infield. Yes, errors happen. But to have two routine plays bobbled that lead to runs is unacceptable. The up the middle guys have got to get their timing down, both individually and working with each other. Theriot’s miscue was especially bad, since it was just pretty much taking the ball from his glove. Come on. I know we didn’t trade Brendan to see that happen.
- More running
Or about just running in general, since it’s basically been non-existent in St. Louis since the 80’s. The Cardinals hit into four double plays in their last game. Granted, three of them were by Pujols, which is a rare thing that is not likely to reoccur. Nevetheless, double plays are a part of the game. Something that would be eliminated somewhat by the running game. With guys like Theriot, Rasmus, Schumaker, etc in the lineup, there’s no reason we can’t run more. Heck, even Holliday and Pujols have the ability to steal bases in the right situation. LaRussa has never been a big base stealing manager and I don’t understand why not. This team is equipped for speed in certain places and we need to see that happen.
Here’s a breakdown of Pujols’ 3 double plays
- 1st – Theriot on 2nd and Rasmus on 1st
- 2nd – Rasmus on 1st
- 3rd – Rasmus on 1st
In any of these situations, if the run was on, at least the double play would have been avoided and who knows what that leads to. You score one more run and the Padres don’t tie it up in the 9th. If LaRussa refuses to run with these guys this year, it will be completely ridiculous.
- Franklin to show he is capable of closing
A lot of people have been down on Franklin. I have not been one of those people. Unless you have a guy like Mariano Rivera closing your games, people tend to think that a closer is lousy unless he is closing at 100%. Still, Franklin is not the easiest guy to watch in the 9th. He will often make it more interesting than I would care for. Bottom line is you want the kind of guy closing your games that you don’t question it. He comes in, he closes the game, end of story. I hope Franklin is able to be that kind of guy in ’11. If this is just one hiccup in a great year of closing games, fine. This game will soon be forgotten. But if this is just a prequel of what’s to come, it’s time we start looking elsewhere for someone to lock it down in the 9th.
Being .500 to start the season isn’t so bad. Now being down 0-2 is pretty cringe worthy. Especially since the Reds are enjoying the walk off kind of wins. It’s time to prove to everyone that St. Louis is in it to win it in 2011.
11 in ’11,