[The following is a part of the United Cardinal Bloggers’ progressive game blog for May 4, 2013, focusing on the seventh inning of the Mets-Brewers game. For more posts, including the sixth and eighth innings, please visit the main entry.]
After the Cardinals surrendered their lead in the previous inning, Mike Matheny thought ahead to the seventh inning when he double-switched Daniel Descalso into the game in the pitcher’s spot in the order, due up third. But now with two of the first three batters due up for the Cardinals being left-handed, Brewer manager Ron Roenicke had the opportunity to relieve starter Yovani Gallardo with southpaw Tom Gorzelanny, against whom left-handed batters have hit .291 wOBA in his career.
Gorzelanny failed in his first assignment, though, walking Jon Jay on four straight. Credit Matheny for not ordering the next batter, Pete Kozma, to sacrifice bunt. Trailing 5-4 in Milwaukee, perhaps Matheny was following the adage “play for the win on the road, and the tie at home,” but we’ll take the outcome, regardless of the reasoning. Thus freed, Kozma followed with a looping single to right. But for the second consecutive game, Jay ran into a careless, unnecessary out, blindly running to third with his head down as he crossed second.
As we noted Saturday, the Cardinals lead the league in outs on the bases, and Jay’s boner cost the team significantly. Instead of none out, runners on first and second, including the tying run in scoring position, and a 47% win expectancy, the Cardinals had merely a runner on first with one out and a win expectancy of 30%.
With right-handed batters Ty Wigginton, Shane Robinson, Tony Cruz and Jermaine Curtis on the bench, Matheny left Descalso in to hit against the lefty, who has a career .344 wOBA against facing righties. Thankfully for Matheny and Jay, and the rest of the team, Descalso came through, socking a two-run home run to right to put the Cardinals ahead again, 6-5. The lost run would come back to haunt the team.
In the bottom half, Joe Kelly, on in relief of Adam Wainwright in the sixth, returned to the mound to face Ryan Braun, whom he had struck out five times in 10 previous plate appearances. But the Brewer left fielder ripped a leadoff single. Kelly quickly erased him by inducing a double play from
first baseman shortstop third baseman Yuniesky Betancourt. Kelly, whose scoreless outing belied a 5.25 FIP (and expected FIP), got into more trouble, walking Rickie Weeks, before Matheny pulled him. Rather than call for his most-reliable reliever, Edward Mujica, with the tying run on base and a 1.83 leverage index, Matheny opted for Fernando Salas. Salas retired Spaz Gomez to end the threat.