That very well may have been the worst game of the year.
Now, I know that it's only the ninth game of this young season. I don't mean it was the worst so far. I mean that if we actually see a worse game all season, it's going to shock the living shit out of me, because honestly, I just don't see how a game could actually suck more than that contest we witnessed last night. On the upside, the Cards are still playing very well, with a 6-3 record. On the downside, well, that's sort of what I wanted to talk about here.
So how bad is it, losing Chris Carpenter in his second start of the season? Well, honestly, we don't know just yet how bad it is. Something with his ribs, he hurt the area while at bat last night against the Diamondbacks. It's one hell of a kick in the balls no matter what, but until we have some more concrete data on just how long he'll be out, it's tough to really make any sort of accurate judgment on how much this hurts the Cardinals' chances.
What we do have enough information to make a judgment on, though, is the actual game last night, and I'll tell you exactly how that went: that was the single worst managed game I believe I've ever had the misfortune to witness.
First off, let's talk about the way that the bullpen was deployed. Now, I'm well aware that when your ace pitcher has to leave the game in the fourth inning, it puts a pretty significant strain on the 'pen, and on the manager who has to figure out how to make up all those innings. That's fine. It's a tough situation. But what about this: at the beginning of the season, we heard how the Cards just had to carry a long man
, for just these sorts of situations. "Oh no, we just couldn't possibly keep Chris Perez
up with the big club, no matter how talented he might be; we need the innings that Brad Thompson
can provide," was the mantra.
Okay, so if Brad Thompson is with this team to eat up all those extra innings, then why in the hell wasn't he in the game when Carpenter went down? Why wasn't Thompson tossing his repertoire of slow fastballs, rising sinkers, and hanging breaking balls up there in the fourth and fifth and sixth innings? Isn't that just the sort of situation that a long man is supposed to handle?
But instead, we get the Tony La Russa Special, of half-dozen pitching changes that somehow manage to eventually cancel themselves out. We got Kyle McClellan, ostensibly the team's setup man, both of the team's left-handed specialists, and Jason Motte, all before the seventh inning was over. Then, in the ninth and tenth, who do we get? That's right, ladies and gentlemen, one of the only two relievers La Russa had left, and the only one he hasn't decided he wants to close: Brad Thompson!
So the bullpen is completely eaten through, with four relievers throwing a combined four innings, even though those four innings were numbers 4-7. Again, if you're not going to use your long man to soak up those middle innings, what the fuck was the point of carrying one in the first place.
Or what about this? What if maybe Tony just flat out didn't trust Thompson not to get shelled? What if he was totally convinced that if he put Thompson in the game, Arizona was just going to bomb him out of the park? After all, considering how Brad looked when we did finally see him, I wouldn't be surprised if a rational person were to question his ability to get little leaguers out, much less real life major league ballplayers.
There's no way around it: that was an awful job of managing the bullpen last night. But, in true Tony fashion, he couldn't possibly just make it as simple as second-guessing just one aspect of the game. No, Tony just had to one up himself.