Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal own the late innings for Cardinals

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Even as Michael Wacha was through five scoreless, one thing seemed pretty clear: his pitch count up to 90, the sixth would be his final inning.

That sixth inning didn’t go as planned, but the seventh through ninth innings sure did. The Cardinals rallied from 2-1 down beat the Red Sox 4-2 in Game 2, with Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal striking out six in three scoreless innings of relief.

Martinez, who initially signed with the Red Sox out of the Dominican Republic, only to land with the Cardinals after MLB voided the deal, got six outs. After a clean seventh, he got into trouble by giving up a pair of groundball singles in the eighth. However, he was able to get Mike Napoli to pop out to end the rally.

Rosenthal got the bottom of the Boston’s order, which has produced nothing in October, and made quick work of Jonny Gomes, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and pinch-hitter Daniel Nava, striking out all three.

As good as Edward Mujica was for the Cardinals for most of the season, the team probably caught a break when he was injured down the stretch, rendering him ineffective and resulting in Rosenthal going into the closer’s role. It’s possible — perhaps not likely, but possible — that Martinez wouldn’t have even made the postseason roster if not for Mujica’s injury. He was only handed his first late lead with 10 days to go in the regular season. Mujica was far more likely to have a Joaquin Benoit moment against these Red Sox than either of the young gunslingers are. Rosenthal and Martinez have combined to allow five homers in 121 1/3 innings this season.

At least the Red Sox have had a look at both now. They actually got a run off Martinez in Game 1. Rosenthal is nothing if not predictable; it’s nothing but high-90s fastballs and hit them if you can. Few do. The Red Sox will certainly see Martinez again, and probably Rosenthal, too, if the Cardinals can continue taking leads into the ninth. Against the Tigers, the Red Sox’s best hope was to outlast the starters and prey on the pen. Versus these Cardinals, especially the next two games with Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn starting, they’re going to have to feast on the starters some in order to prevail.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.