04/25/12 1:45 AM ET
Matheny puts plenty of faith in relief corps
By Cash Kruth / MLB.com
The day before, Matheny lifted left-hander Jaime Garcia after 7 2/3 innings -- the longest outing by a Cardinals starter this season. Matheny said while he's partly taking it easy on his starters during the early season, another reason for taking them out early is his trust in his relieving corps.
"A lot of it has to do with your confidence in your bullpen," Matheny said prior to a 3-2 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday. "We haven't been killing these guys, and they've been doing a great job. [Until] we get to that spot where they may be getting, one, tired and, two, overexposed to certain hitters, I don't see that changing."
The Cardinals bullpen once again blew a lead in Tuesday's extra-inning loss. After outfielder Matt Holliday's two-run homer gave St. Louis the lead in the top of the eighth, Cardinals left-hander Marc Rzepczynski allowed a game-tying solo home run to Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair. Adam Wainwright started the game with six one-run innings.
Matheny said he had Rzepczynski in the game because of matchups and closer Jason Motte's high pitch count from the previous day.
"Two out of three batters going up to the plate were going to be lefties," Matheny said. "Motte threw a lot of pitches yesterday. Zep is very good at getting lefties out."
Like his move Tuesday, Matheny said removing Garcia on Monday was "a pretty easy call," especially with Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney -- who already had two hits -- coming to the plate. Matheny added that, had the Cardinals' one-run lead been greater -- Garcia likely would have finished the eighth.
"The whole though process is, 'Where is he? How does his stuff look? Who is he facing and how have they looked against him? When he typically gets to this spot, how does he continue and what kind of shape is our bullpen in?'" Matheny said. "All of those questions led me to a very comfortable decision to go with [Mitchell] Boggs and right where we wanted to go after that with Motte."
Skip's next up in Cards' second-base shuffle
CHICAGO -- With manager Mike Matheny looking for offense from his second basemen, Skip Schumaker on Tuesday became the third different Cardinal to start at the position this season.
"Just trying to get some offense going here and Skip seems to be putting together some pretty good at-bats right now," Matheny said. "[I decided to] give him a chance to play second base, which he did for a world championship team last year, so we know that fits OK."
Schumaker had five at-bats before he was double-switched from the game, with Tyler Greene replacing him. The Cardinals lost to the Cubs, 3-2.
Greene and Daniel Descalso have split time at second to open the year, while Schumaker began the season on the disabled list before sustaining an injury while running into the outfield wall. Matheny said he's confident Greene (.206 average) and Descalso (.205) will rebound from their rough starts.
"I know Daniel's going to get it put together. Between he and Tyler both, we've seen some really good things from both of them," Matheny said. "It's just going to be trying to give them enough appearances to stay hot when they get hot."
Matheny admitted it will be a "balancing act" to juggle three guys at one position should more than one of them get hot, but said he expected such a situation heading into the season.
Outfielder Jon Jay (right shoulder) took another day off from swinging Tuesday.
"No reason to push it," Matheny said.
Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal scored run No. 1,000 in his career on Holliday's homer.
Cardinals third baseman David Freese finished Tuesday one hit away from No. 200.