Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bullpen Caves in on Cards

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bullpen Caves in on Cards

Article excerpt

Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia held Milwaukee scoreless for seven innings Sunday to put his club close to a series sweep and on the brink of history with 39 consecutive shutout innings.

Both vanished when the bullpen could not contribute one zero, let alone a string of them.

The Cardinals' season-opening home stand ended as it began, with a late-game crater. Milwaukee rallied for a 4-3 victory in 10 innings at Busch Stadium. The longest shutout streak for the Cardinals since World War II ended when Ryan Braun connected for a two-run homer in the eighth inning off righty Trevor Rosenthal. The Cardinals' bid to sweep the reeling Brewers burst the next inning when interim closer Mitchell Boggs mishandled a one-run lead. Three Cardinals relievers allowed as many runs in three innings Sunday as the starting rotation has in the past seven days.

"This win was there for us to take," Boggs said. "Bottom line: I had a chance to get the win for us and I didn't get the job done. Until I start going out there and doing the job it's not good enough."

"It's tough to see it end that way," manager Mike Matheny said.

It is similar to how the home stand started. Last Monday, Cincinnati upended the Cardinals with a nine-run ninth inning that included seven runs off Boggs, who is filling in for the injured Jason Motte. Rosenthal took the blown save in that loss and started the fissure Sunday with a fastball former MVP Braun tagged for his first hit of the series. Milwaukee tied the score when Boggs failed to retire a batter in the ninth, giving up a game-tying double to Yuniesky Betancourt, and won it with Jonathan Lucroy's solo homer off Fernando Salas (0-2) in the 10th. The game ended with the tying run rounding third base as Carlos Beltran's hard grounder up the middle what would have been a base hit was fielded by shortstop Jean Segura, who had shifted closer to second base.

Whether a bullpen shift is imminent for the Cardinals is the question.

Pitching coach Derek Lilliquist said the team has "flexibility in whatever we want to do" when it comes to rearranging late-game roles. Matheny has resisted snap decisions after losses. He's twice in the past week pledged his support for Boggs, who is two for four in save opportunities, and Rosenthal as his answers to hold leads. Veteran Edward Mujica, who usually pitches the seventh, rescued the Cardinals from the ninth Sunday by retiring both batters he faced. He could be the immediate alternative in save situations.

"Mitchell's been in the eighth and been very good there, so you can see why it would be a natural transition," Matheny said. "(We're) not getting too far ahead of ourselves. See what happens next time we get there. I don't think you can just throw that it's a young guy or it's a veteran. Right now, Mujica's making good pitches and getting the big outs when we need them. …

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