(BaseballStL) — In a scene that’s becoming all too familiar, a Cardinal starter once again unraveled several great innings with one poisonous one.
Jaime Garcia moved deftly through four innings of his fourth start, appearing in complete control. The lefty tossed only 49 pitches while striking out two and surrendering two hits. The Royals were scoreless, and the Cardinals were holding a 4-0 lead following a grand slam by Kolten Wong.
Then, the venom crept in.
After beginning the fifth inning with a strikeout of Lorenzo Cain, Garcia lost all mystery to Kansas City hitters.
Three straight hits followed, including two doubles and a triple. One of the two-base shots came from opposing pitcher James Shields on a liner to the warning track. It was his first-ever double.
In a flash the game was down to one run, and the Royals had a man remaining on the bases.
“They’re happening real fast to these guys,” Matheny said of the big-innings that are eating up his starters. “We have to figure out a way to stop them before they get to that point. That sounds simple enough, but it’s a little more difficult in application. These guys, they know. They’ve got too good of stuff for it to happen like that.”
Things went from uncomfortable to downright painful when Garcia hit Eric Hosmer after having him at 2-2.
With two on, Alex Gordon also managed a 2-2 count, and took the next pitch all the way out to right for a three-run bomb.
Matheny said after the game he didn’t want to press his overworked bullpen in the fifth, instead leaning on Garcia to get himself through the inning.
“We’d like to react very quick but we don’t have unlimited pitching,” he said. “We’ve been killing our guys in the pen. We can’t just keep firing them out there. Our starters are going to have to go deeper in the game. They know that. That’s their job, that’s what they want to do.”
Garcia would close the inning but not before throwing 38 pitches and allowing five hits and six runs.
It would be his last inning.
After the game, the lefty was direct, revealing his disappointment in his brevity. Despite several questions examining the disastrous fifth, he repeated a simple message: he has to be better.
“That was [unacceptable]. My teammates did an unbelievable job behind me. They played great defense, and hit the ball well. I just wasn’t able to execute,” he said. “I have to go out there and do a better job than that.”
The Cardinals would eventually fall 8-7, with Trevor Rosenthal taking the loss in the ninth. They are now one game above .500, but remain five games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central following a Brewer loss.