(BaseballStL) — The Cardinals were unable to pull out an encore of Friday’s white-knuckle escape in the rematch with Miami, instead ending up on the losing side of a one-run affair in the series’ second act.
Trevor Rosenthal, coming off of a 31-pitch outing on the Fourth of July, was asked again to close the door, and once more it came down to Casey McGehee.
With a man on and two out, McGehee strode to the plate for his late-game rematch with the Cardinal closer, the tying run standing on first.
Randy Choate opened the inning with an out, then handed things over to Rosenthal for the final two. Donovan Solano singled, and Giancarlo Stanton struck out to put the Marlins down to their last chance.
McGehee fought to a 2-2 count, but when Rosenthal missed with his fifth pitch, Solano was free to start running on the next delivery.
“Getting behind in counts, 3-2 counts, doesn’t work to my advantage so that’s something I could do a little better,” Rosenthal said. “But I felt good and thought I made some quality pitches.”
In fact, his next five were quality pitches, and McGehee fouled off every one of them.
The first four were fastballs, two of which hit 99 on the gun. Then, a change up the Marlins third baseman spoiled to stay alive. Each time Solano was going on the pitch, and on number 11, McGehee connected.
“He’s a good hitter and he did his job,” Rosenthal said flatly afterward. “Just a tough at bat against a good hitter and he won the battle.”
The ball sailed into right center nand Solano was chugging all the way. Jon Jay scooped it up, fired to Mark Ellis, and the 37-year-old turned to throw home. Ellis said afterward he knew the Marlins would send Solano in such a tight game, and expected to have to make a play.
“You’ve got to do that on the road, and there was never a doubt in my mind they were going to run,” he said.
The throw arrived in time, but it short hopped to Yadier Molina, and he was unable to corral it and make a tag. Solano was safe and the game was tied.
Matheny wondered afterward if Ellis was caught in between trying to one-hop it home, or throw it all the way. At his locker, Ellis said it wasn’t that complex.
“I was just trying to get it there,” he said.
The Marlins would later win on another single to the outfield, though Sam Freeman would be on the mound for that. The club was 45-1 when leading after eight innings prior to the loss.
It was the second time in two nights Rosenthal had trouble finishing the game, and it’s something Matheny said is tough to figure out.
“I can’t really get my hands around it. You go through periods where it just doesn’t come as easy. He’s fighting right now,” he said. “It’s the counts. He’s has to stay in those advantage counts.”
Having been in the box against Rosenthal before, Ellis was also quick to give credit to the Miami hitters for surviving until they got a pitch to handle.
“Facing Trevor, I’ve done it in the past, it’s tough. He’s got such an electric fastball and he made great pitches,” he said. “They were just able to foul them off.”
It was Rosenthal’s fourth blown save, and his 26 successful ones are behind just two closers in the majors.
“I always feel bad letting down the team, but it’s part of the game,” he said. “No one’s perfect, so I’ll go out there again and try to do my best.”
The idea of a short memory was echoed by Ellis, who in 11 seasons of work has learned the most important thing about the sport.
“These are tough games, but the good thing about baseball is you get to come back tomorrow,” he said. “Other sports that’s not the case. We have a pretty resilient group in here and we’re going to be fine.”
The Cardinals are now 47-41.