typical early-august pitching pairing: one guy making his first start of the season, the other guy making his 2d. when hanrahan debuted last weekend he became the 13th starter the nats have used this season; piniero will be the 10th to take the ball for st louis.
the p-d says he's on a 75-pitch limit tonight, which is one of two reasons that an obviously fatigued kip wells was sent back out there in the 7th inning last night with 104 pitches already on his arm; tony knows he will need to use the 'pen tonight, so he had to hold something back. the other reason wells stayed in, of course, was the heavy load the bullpen carried in wednesday's blowout loss and thursday's 11-inning defeat. terrible setup for kip, who has a season-long pattern of struggling from the 5th inning on --- roughly after pitch no. 75:
sure enough, last night wells held the nats scoreless through 4 innings, got himself into a groove after a shaky start. but he started missing targets in the 5th inning, and by the 7th he was barely able to heave it all the way to the catcher's mitt. i sympathize w/ tony n dave's predicament --- not their fault they had to use the bullpen so much on wednesday and thursday --- but insofar as they pride themselves on superior preparation, i wonder why contingencies couldn't be laid to keep kip (and the team) out of a situation so adverse to winning. in the 7th inning of a tie game, a tired kip wells is the last guy you want out there; got to avoid it at all costs. so why didn't the cardinals [second-guess alarm trips . . . . ] fly a fresh triple A pitcher to washington after thursday night's game? he wouldn't even have to be activated for friday's game, although he could have been; the guy could just have been at the ready for saturday, when (with piniero on a short pitch count) the bullpen will have its work cut out for it. that'd let tony use his relievers friday night without having to hold anything back. the bullpen was adequately staffed for last night; franklin springer and flores all were available (obviously, since they all pitched), and surely izzy could have pitched too; he did appear thursday, but he only faced 4 batters, and in 6 outings this season on 0 days' rest he hasn't allowed a single run.
so after wells' narrow escape in the 6th inning, which pushed him over the 100-pitch mark, he shouldn't even have batted leading off the 7th inning; tony should have pinch-hit there and tried to get a lead, then turned things over to the bullpen. no matter how the game turned out, this morning the team could have activated the triple A pitcher to prop up the pen for the rest of the weekend. it wouldn't have been convenient; memphis is all the way across the continent in tacoma. but cavazos was fresh; so, for that matter, was chris perez. . . .
i don't want to oversell this complaint; leaving wells in the game was a bad managerial decision, yes, but it alone didn't cost the cardinals the game. however, it was avoidable; that's what bugs me about it. if this team is still trying to win the division (as it claims to be), then it has to maximize its chances at every opportunity. and that means getting kip wells off the mound at the first sign of trouble once he crosses the 75-pitch threshold --- tired bullpen or no.
piniero will wear number 35.
minor-league note: oliver marmol, the cards' 6th rounder in the 2007 draft, got moved up to quad cities and debuted there last night at ss, went 1 for 4. i love the way the cardinals speed their college draftees up the chain. there are now 7 guys at quad cities who are in just their 2d month of pro ball; by this time next year some or all of them might be at double A or higher. 6 players from last year's draft have already gotten that high (perez walters jay hamilton shorey and marti). it's an aggressive approach, and one that seems appropriate for a team that needs to restock in a hurry. challenge the players, sort through them; find the ones who can help.