Cabrera’s exit raises eyebrows, but Cardinals hang on to beat Reds amid eventful ninth inning

St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Genesis Cabrera, left, is removed by manager Oliver Marmol...
St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Genesis Cabrera, left, is removed by manager Oliver Marmol as catcher Austin Romine, right, stands by during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds Friday, July 15, 2022, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)(Jeff Roberson | AP)
Published: Jul. 16, 2022 at 2:42 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - As Dylan Carlson drifted to the base of the center field wall to corral a long fly ball off the bat of Reds’ first baseman Brandon Drury in the ninth inning Friday night, the vibe surrounding the Cardinals was downright Shakespearean. All’s well that ends well.

The journey to Friday’s 7-3 Cardinals win at Busch Stadium was more circuitous than anticipated as closer Ryan Helsley was summoned out of desperation to clean up the top of the ninth before it got out of hand. And circuitous only begins to describe the mound-to-dugout route taken by the relief pitcher Helsley replaced.

For a moment there, Genesis Cabrera found himself stuck in a roundabout.

The Cardinals’ fiery left-hander had settled into the action nicely in the eighth inning by striking out Joey Votto and getting Kyle Farmer to line out on the first pitch he saw. Things began to unravel in the ninth of a four-run game, however, as Cabrera permitted a pair of singles to Reds hitters to lead off the inning.

Given that his team already lost one heartbreaker this week while leaving his best horse in the stable, Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol decided this was the moment to deploy an aggressive approach and ride with closer Ryan Helsley to the handshake line.

Cabrera, to put it delicately, wasn’t fond of the choice.

Before Marmol could reach the mound to remove his pitcher, Cabrera spiked the baseball off of it in frustration. The ball bounced straight back up, chest-level in front of the reliever. Marmol snatched it out of the air and refused to allow Cabrera to turn him into a turnstile on his way off the mound.

It’s the kind of moment you rarely see in professional baseball and one that Marmol knew had to be addressed.

“He’s a little frustrated with how the last couple of days have gone,” Marmol said postgame. “At the same time, your ego can’t get in the way of being a professional. I’ve known him a long time. He’ll be just fine.”

Asked for more insight into what he said to Cabrera after wrangling the young pitcher back onto the mound, Marmol was less than forthcoming regarding the transcript.

“He’ll be just fine,” Marmol repeated with a soft grin.

Friday’s meme-worthy moment comes one appearance after Cabrera was a contributing factor to the Cardinals’ gut-wrenching loss to the Dodgers on Wednesday. After the team carried a 6-0 lead into the seventh inning, the bullpen let it slip away. The typically reliable Cabrera was one of the culprits, allowing as many earned runs as outs recorded (two).

Friday’s follow-up outing was winding down that same familiar path. That’s when Marmol stepped in—and Cabrera attempted to step around his manager.

“The kid’s a competitor,” Marmol said. “He wants to be in there. You can’t fault him for that. I want him to have the mentality of having the ball there and not coming out. But there’s a way you go about it.

“We have a good veteran group that will address it. And we’ll handle it internally. But it’ll be okay.”

The Cardinals got good production from their lineup Friday against Reds rookie Hunter Greene, tagging him for four runs across five innings, including fellow rookie Nolan Gorman’s ninth home run of the season. In all, St. Louis compiled eight hits and eight walks, showing appropriate discipline against Greene and a Cincinnati bullpen that has struggled to execute pitches on a widespread scale this year.

Andre Pallante started for the Cardinals and gritted through a five-inning performance following a rough beginning that saw his team down 2-0 before its lead-off hitter picked up a bat. The rookie recovered after his shaky top of the first to allow just one run over his subsequent four innings, calming things down and allowing the offense ample time to go to work. With the win, Pallante improved to 3-4 on the season.