(BaseballStL) – Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal joined closers Jason Isringhausen, Bruce Sutter, Jason Motte and Lee Smith as the fifth player to reach 40 saves in a season.
As the Redbirds took a 9-6 lead on the Chicago Cubs in the eighth inning Sunday, manager Mike Matheny called upon his troubled closer to secure the ninth. It started rocky as he walked the first batter he saw, Starlin Castro, but he set the next three batters down with two pop flies and a line drive.
When he walked out to the mound at the start of the ninth, Rosenthal said he wasn’t thinking about the number 40.
“I’m just trying to focus and not walk the lead off guy,” Rosenthal laughed, “Trying to take it pitch by pitch and keep it simple. To be the guy they trust in those situations is pretty big and I think that’s where everyone wants to be.”
“It’s a huge number,” Matheny said Sunday, “It’s been a lot of work to get him there, on his part. He comes out and has a nice outing today. He’s been on the shelf awhile and it’s been nice to get him a little time.”
Rosenthal has matched his 2013 blown save total of five this season and ran into some rough patches, but among all MLB pitchers he ranks second in saves. He trails Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel by only one.
“We’re going to have to be careful when we use him,” Matheny added, “I think he’s pitching a little more. He’s smarter with his breaking ball.”
As far as the company he keeps in the Cardinals’ 40 saves club, Rosenthal said he has leaned on all of those former players except Lee Smith.
“I talk to Bruce a lot in Spring Training,” Rosenthal continued, “All those guys have been big in giving their advice when things are good and when things are bad. I think the organization does a good job with older guys helping out.”