Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blowing a Save a Painful First for Mathews

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blowing a Save a Painful First for Mathews

Article excerpt

T.J. Mathews had trouble sleeping Tuesday night. Restless ninth innings will do that to a relief pitcher.

He couldn't shake the ringing in his ears - the sound of "ball four" when he walked Colorado's leadoff batter in the inning, the same sound when he walked the next batter on four pitches. The sound of Eric Young's two-run single that gave the Rockies the lead.

The sound of silence in the Cardinals' clubhouse after their 6-5 loss.

Mathews had blown his first save since taking over the closer duties from injured Dennis Eckersley. Afterward, the rookie talked about the need for a short memory.

"I need to forget about this because I might be right back out there again," he said. "And I want the ball again."

He did everything before Wednesday's game the same as he does before any other game at Busch Stadium. He went to the same spot in the clubhouse, sat on the same chair, dressed the same and stretched the same and talked to the same people. He seemed none the worse for wear.

Mathews sat quietly in his chair for a long time after Tuesday's game, though. Longer, and certainly more quietly, than if he had cruised through the ninth inning as easily as he set down the heart of the Rockies' lineup in the eighth.

Mathews acknowledged that losses stick around far longer than the feeling of triumph.

"I had an anger inside," he said Wednesday. "I was frustrated. You walk two guys in the ninth inning, two guys at the bottom of the lineup, and it doesn't get more frustrating. I needed to let them hit it. I think I was trying to be too fine. . . . I was pitching to those two guys like they were Larry Walker and Barry Bonds."

Mathews said the pain of losing a game is far more intense than the joy of getting a save. "It's not even comparable," he said. "I could strike out the side tonight and get the save, and that wouldn't make up for the pain after blowing that game. …

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