New Cardinals closer Jason Motte picked a bad time to suddenly lose it.
Up 6-1 after seven against the Mets, the Cards allowed one in the eighth and six in the ninth to lose 8-6 on Thursday.
A win would have left the Cardinals one game back of the idle Braves with both teams having six games left. Now they’re two back as they begin a series against the Cubs on Friday.
The Cardinals got homers from Allen Craig and Albert Pujols in building their lead. Jake Westbrook allowed just one run and three hits in six innings, but he was pulled for a pinch-hitter after a mere 84 pitches.
Things still looked good initially from there. Arthur Rhodes worked a flawless seventh, and Octavio Dotel allowed an unearned run in the eighht, making it 6-2. The Cards turned to their closer then, but Motte walked three of the five hitters he faced and had another reach on a Rafael Furcal error. Marc Rzepczynski took over with the score 6-3 and the bases loaded and gave up an RBI single to Jose Reyes.
Fernando Salas was next in. He gave up a two-run double to Ruben Tejada, tying the game with still just one out in the inning. Left fielder Shane Robinson almost made what would have been an outstanding leaping grab on the play, but he came up a little short. After an intentional walk to Angel Pagan reloaded the bases, Salas was able to strike out David Wright. However, Willie Harris followed with a line drive single to right, plating two more runs. After, Nick Evans flied out to end the inning, the Cards went down in order in the bottom of the ninth.
The Cardinals are going to need some real help from the Nationals and Phillies now if they hope to catch the Braves. They do get to face the Cubs and Astros in their last two series, so a 5-1 or even a 6-0 finish can’t be ruled out. Atlanta is in the driver’s seat, though.
The Kansas City Star has covered the death of Yordano Ventura and its aftermath in a thorough, thoughtful, respectful and admirable fashion and it has all been compelling to read, even if it’s often been difficult to read. Their latest story may be the most difficult, though it is nonetheless essential.
It covers the final year of Ventura’s life which, sadly, was tumultuous. He had become estranged from his family. He was married to a woman who, at the time of the ceremony, was still married to her first husband and whose family, allegedly, later made threats against Ventura that we’re only now learning about. This includes allegations of armed men accosting Ventura at his home near the Royals spring training facility a year ago. An incident which led to him missing time due to “flulike symptoms,” but which, in reality, caused him considerable mental distress. He was again threatened, it is claimed, in Kansas City during the season. There is also an allegation that Ventura attempted suicide via an overdose of Benadryl, though that is disputed.
Beyond that, there is an arc to the end of Ventura’s life which sounds unfortunately familiar. It’s a story of a young man whose life changed dramatically in a very, very short period of time and who struggled at times to process the changes. Were it not for a fateful drive on a dark and winding road one night in late January, they all could’ve been things that, as his career matured, he could look back on as learning experiences. Now that he’s gone, however, they form the final, tragic chapter.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.