(BaseballStL) -- For a team that has struggled to score runs in their recent losses, the St. Louis Cardinals tried the ‘small ball’ approach in hopes of making a late-inning comeback against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday.
The bunt, which has seemingly failed the team all season long, came back to bite the Cardinals when Carlos Beltran, who leads the team with 19 home runs, laid down a sacrifice bunt trailing by two runs in the seventh inning with two runners on base. It was a baffling move considering there were no outs and Greinke had thrown 104 pitches.
The 105th pitch thrown went straight from Beltran’s bat towards Greinke, who won his 100th career game on Monday, for the first out as the runners advanced to second and third base. It would be the last pitch Greinke threw as he was in the midst of showing signs of fatigue.
The Cardinals managed to score only the runner from third base on a ground out by Allen Craig in the next at-bat, which would be the second and final run scored in the game for St. Louis.
“Sometimes we put them on and sometimes we do it on our own,” Matheny said of the team’s decision when choosing to bunt. “We make plays to try and capitalize when we can.”
When asked if he would clarify which call was made for the Beltran bunt attempt, Matheny quickly replied, “no.”
Another bunt attempt was rendered useless after Jon Jay popped his attempt at first baseman Adrian Gonzalez with a runner on first and no outs in the eighth inning. Tony Cruz would ground into a double play in the next at-bat.
“A lot of things could have happened differently for us,” Matheny said. “A lot of little things that could have happened right and could have changed the game. It didn’t so now we move on.”
While the baffling late-inning bunt call and execution stole the headlines, the Cardinals had a chance to score in the fifth inning. Attempting to tie the score from first base on a double hit by David Freese to right-center field, Craig was tagged out at home plate after a strong throw from right fielder Yasiel Puig led to a crisp relay by former Cardinal Nick Punto to end the inning.
“I saw the ball come out of his hand and looked around where he was,” Matheny said. “I thought we had a real good shot of being safe there. It was a great relay, a great tag. That definitely took some momentum out.”
The multiple failed executions throughout the game led to a 3-2 Dodgers win in the series opener. It also continued a streak Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright was hoping to end.
“It was a tough loss,” Wainwright said. “Two good teams going at it. They’re playing great ball, obviously, where they’ve won 15 times in a row on the road. I knew that going in. I wanted to end that streak, but they were opportunists tonight and did some good things when they needed to.”
Wainwright, who failed to reach win No. 14 for the third consecutive start, allowed all three Dodgers runs on seven hits and two walks in seven innings pitched. It was his fourth consecutive start with seven or more innings pitched.
The Cardinals are 4-6 in his last ten starts.
Joe Kelly will get the next shot to end Los Angeles’ streak against Clayton Kershaw at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday.