The Cardinals lost the rubber match of their series in Detroit this afternoon by the score of 2-1 in extra innings. The loss is their thirty-fifth on the season, which equals the club's win total. 70 games into the 2012 season and the Cardinals are a .500 baseball team.
Over the course of a 162-game season, there are all kinds of ways to lose a baseball game. When the hometown team is second in the National League in runs scored, managing one measly run over the span of ten innings is one of the more frustrating ways to lose. That it was the second rubber match loss in a row during bonus baseball gives the game's outcome a particularly salty sting.
Kyle Lohse was excellent on the day. The man with the winged-baseball tattoo allowed one run over seven innings while striking out four and issuing but one walk. The start lowered his club-leading ERA to 2.85 on the year even as it raised his FIP to 3.58, which ranks third amongst the healthy members of the rotation and is barely ahead of Jake Westbrook's 3.61.
The offense did not do much to back Lohse. The Cards managed just six hits against rookie starter Jake Turner and the Detroit relievers. The six hits were matched by working six walks. 12 Cardinals reached first base but only one scored.
In the fifth inning, Daniel Descalso led off with a walk from the nine hole. With leadoff man Rafael Furcal up, manager Mike Matheny ordered Descalso to take off. Tigers catcher Alex Avila's throw cut down the St. Louis second baseman by two Altuve units. It was perhaps the biggest play of the first nine innings.
After Descalso was thrown out attempting to swipe second, Furcal walked. Skip Schumaker followed with a double to the left-center gap that would have tied the game at one had Descalso not run into an out at Matheny's behest. As it was, the Cards had runners at first and second. Matt Holliday drove a fly to right field foul territory that scored Furcal. Tigers manager Jim Leyland then ordered his young righty to intentionally walk Carlos Beltran. The decision to face Allen Craig instead of the National League home run leader paid off when Craig flew out to right field to end the inning.
Descalso again attempted to start a rally in the seventh, leading off with a double. However, his teammates were unable to bring him home. Furcal flew out to right, but not deeply enough to advance the runner. Schumaker then grounded to shortstop for the second out. Holliday stranded Descalso at third with a strikeout.
In the top of the tenth, Furcal led things off with a single. Schumaker advanced him to second with a sacrifice bunt. Holliday followed with a fly out to center for the half-inning's second out. Leyland again ordered the intentional walking of Beltran and it again worked. Craig ended the inning with a pop out to shortstop, stranding his ninth and tenth runners on base of the series.
Victor Marte held down the Tigers in the ninth inning and Matheny elected to stick with the one-dollar acquisition in the tenth. It seemed like a good decision when Marte struck out Avila, the inning's leadoff man, but things quickly spun out of control. Ramon Santiago singled to center. Jhonny Peralta floated a dying quail to left field. With runners at first and second, Marte hit Austin Jackson with a pitch. With the bases juiced, Quintin Berry wasted little driving a grounder threw the drawn-in infield for the decisive run of the game and series.
The Cardinals travel to Kansas City for the second installment of the I-70 series. Game 1 is tomorrow night. Sinkerballer Joe Kelly will start for St. Louis against Vin Mazarro.