Ok, the Rick Ankiel Pitcher-turned-Outfielder experiment was outstanding by the Cardinals. The latest experiment at position switchero didn’t start as well as a former catcher, now closer, ended with a loss, blown save and a 36 ERA.
The World Champion of Blown Saves with 31 last year, the Cardinals, managed by known genius, Tony LaRussa, had a trick up his sleeve to correct this mind blowing statistic. In 2006 he took a catcher that had been injured and transformed him into a closer.
The experiment was effective last year, as Jason Motte had four holds, and a microscopic ERA. He definently has the looks of a closer with the weird glasses and the way he pulled down his hat to make the glasses almost disappear. He has a delivery motion that makes it hard for the batters to pick up the ball (well last year anyway.)
Motte, who was never told he was the closer (hell no wonder) by LaRussa, trotted out to the bump in the Cards-Pirates sno-pener with a two run lead last night.
Motte has a lively fastball. He threw it a lot last evening. Unfortunately for Motte, Tony LaRussa had the look of Dr Frankenstein when this game and his experiment went haywire in its first go. Here is the breakdown:
The first pitch to Freddy Sanchez was 96 miles per hour and CRACK! Sanchez welcomed Motte to the closer role by absolutely drilling the ball to the base of the fancy signage on the left field wall between 2 Schdendiest and 6 Musial, who were both on hand for the festivities I was told.
Stand up double.
The first pitch to Nate McLouth was a 96mph heater which was high– ball one, followed by a 95 mph heater which was fouled off behind home plate, a 94 mph heater split the plate for strike two, then a 95 mph high hard one caused Nate to jump up and down as he backed out of the box. 2-2 pitch was 89mph and outside…Nate struck out swinging. One out.
The first pitch to Ryan Doumit, who is 0 for 4 on the night, was an 84mph slider which was pulled foul behind first base followed by a 93mph heater up high, then a 92mph heater fouled off behind home plate, a 96mph heater was crushed… high and deep, but into foul territory way up in the seats. This prompted the Cardinals Gold Glove catcher, Yadier Molina to come out to the mound. It worked. Doumit hit an 84mph slider. Slow roller to second. Doumit 0-for-5. Two outs.
The crowd shivered–not sure if it was from the 30 degree weather or the thought of watching Motte continue to challenge the core of the Pirates lineup–and some begin to cheer. Others were observed to be yawning, folding blankets, and congratulating each other…
The first pitch to 1B LaRoche was a 91mph heater up high, followed by another one, this time 96mph and nearly over the catcher’s head. Like tenors in a symphony, the crowd sang OHHHHHH. (I swear I saw one guy sitting behind home plate say to his buddy, ”please not again this year.”) The next pitch was (guess what) a 94mph heater which was pulled for an RBI single to right field. (I swear the same guys head was now firmly buried in his hands.)
The first pitch to Eric Hinske was a 95mph heater which was hit neatly into left field and ended up rolling by the ball boys stool. LaRoche rounded third and was running hard until Beasley put up the stop sign. LaRoche dives head first back into the bag.
(I notice several other fans with heads in their hands at this point)
Pitching Coach Dave Duncan came out to the mound. Perhaps he said, “you know what monster man, I need you here, this was my silly idea not Dr. Frankenstein LaRussa’s.” Motte pulled his hat further down (perhaps hiding the bolts?), nodded his head, pushed his glasses tighter onto his nose and Dr Frankenstein’s assistant Duncan headed back to the dugout.
The first pitch to Brandon Moss was 96mph and high, followed by an 83mph slider in the dirt and another 83mph slider this one for the first strike which brought some mocking cheers from the St. Louis faithful. The monster, err Motte didn’t like that and the next pitch was 93mph and hit Moss squarely in the right bicep.
Motte took off his hat, which perhaps he pulled too tight when speaking with Duncan. The hat doesn’t stay off long though, just long enough that everyone noticed Motte is balding right before our eyes. He put the hat back on and again fixed his glasses as he looked at LaRoche on third, Hinske on second, and Moss on first. Two outs.
He took a deep breath.
The first pitch to the 0 for 4 Jack Wilson was 95mph and Wilson swung and missed. The second pitch was an 88mph slider which was fouled back behind the plate.
The crowd cheered again.
With the count NO BALLS and TWO STRIKES. Motte looked in at the catcher Molina’s sign. He licked his lips and then did the unthinkable. The former catcher shook off his catcher. On an 0-2 count, he shook off the sign. He then gave a quick nod and delivered a 96mph fastball which Wilson and his new swing drilled into the power alley.
6-4 Pirates. The first bite of the elephant had been digested.
From CardinalsClubhouse Blog during the game…
*yeah, don’t like seein waino get hit around this hard by the lowly pirates
**Agreed. It being the first official game of the season, on top of the cold temperature, Wainwright threw about as good as could be expected.
94 pitches total, 54 strikes, 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 7 SO
Now let’s see how this retooled bullpen looks. They’ve got 3+ innings to hold on to this lead.
no_1cardinalfan– Now ABoyNamedSooie
***So much for holding the lead….Wainright BB’s 2….lifted for Kinney who walks the pitcher to load the bases (after getting Wilson to FO to SS.)….lifted for Miller who gives up a game tying single to LCF to tie the game at 2-2….finally Malholm thrown out at home….
Still have 3 innings for the pen to impress….time to get some runs….
****I think they will be fine. The left side of the pen and the closer is where we needed the most work and i don’t see how it can be any worse then last year
*****I’m not knockin Duncan, but you gotta believe this game would have been tied right now if he was still in there instead of Skip