July 25, 2008

Cards drop first game of road trip, sixth straight

Like La Russa said, it ain't the bullpen. Or, even if he didn't say that, it wasn't the bullpen tonight.

Lack of offense; starter not going deep enough into the game. Bullpen hanging on by a thread.

The Cardinals suffered their sixth loss in a row tonight at the hands of starter Mike Pelfrey, who came right at the Redbirds, allowing them only one run in his seven full innings of work, striking out five. Pelfrey threw 103 pitches in his duration on the mound.

Tony La Russa had a choice between Mitchell Boggs and Brad Thompson to start against the New York Mets in the first game of a three-game series in New York. Shy a starter and with an overworked bullpen, it was six of one, half a dozen of the other, and Boggs got the nod.

It's possible the hope was to get more than five innings out of whomever the starter would be, with anything over five a bonus. Boggs didn't make it five innings, lasting only until he got one out in the fifth before La Russa pulled him, handing the ball over to Randy Flores.

The Mets were first on the board, scoring a run in the third, two in the fourth, and rallying for three runs in the fifth, leading 6-0.

The Cards didn't get on the board until the sixth, Ryan Ludwick scoring on a Troy Glaus single up the middle.

Boggs gave up six runs on eight hits, walking four, but if he failed at anything, it was that he burned up far too many pitches, reaching 95 in a little more than half a game. Whether it was a lack of control or trying to pitch in too precise a manner, neither way will work, and things didn't work out for Boggs. Much easier said than done, Boggs would've been better off pitching to contract, especially considering how good a defense the Cardinals possess. In this way, Boggs would've lasted longer, even if he gave up just as many runs.

Flores cleaned up the rest of the fifth and then threw a scoreless sixth, a good piece of middle relief, which encouraging.

Thompson took over from there, starting the seventh, striking out a couple, but getting touched up for the longball, a solo homer by Argenis Reyes. Thompson continued pitching well in the eighth, a scoreless frame this time.

Meanwhile, the score is 7-1 with an inning of outs left to hit with.

The never-say-die attitude of the Cardinals kicked in, loading the bases on an Adam Kennedy single, a Brendan Ryan walk, and a Joe Mather single. The Mets brought in reliever Pedro Feliciano; Schumaker popped out. The Mets then went with reliever Aaron Heilman to face Ryan Ludwick, who took him a full count, fouled off a bevy of pitches, then flew out to deep right, Kennedy tagging up and scoring to cut the lead to 7-2.

Albert Pujols got a shot at continuing the rally. He had struck out three times in the game. Pujols grounded out to third baseman David Wright, however, and the Cardinals suffered their fifth loss in a row.

Boggs took the loss, now 3-2. Mike Pelfrey took the win for the Mets, his record now 9-6.

The Mets used four relievers, but none of them for more than three outs, and manager Jerry Manuel avoided using his best closer, Billy Wagner.

photo by Alan Penner