Sunday Scorecard: How do you spell relief?
Welcome to Sunday Scorecard. We'll keep this installment brief, because this is a day for paying attention to Mom.
On to the notes...
Closing argument: The embattled closer doomed his team to defeat, trudged off the mound and then stood in the clubhouse to claim responsibility, proclaim embarrassment and express doubt about his suitability for the job.
It happened to Jason Isringhausen on Friday night. Within 12 hours, he was removed as St. Louis' closer.
It happened to Eric Gagne on Saturday afternoon. By today, he could be out of the role as well.
"Closing is an emotional job," Gagne said. "It's a rollercoaster. If you do good, you're a hero. You do bad, you're a zero."
Isringhausen (1-4), who leads the National League with 11 saves, has a 7.47 earned run average.
Though he didn't get a blown save Saturday, Gagne (1-2) has blown five saves in 14 chances and his earned run average is 6.89.
"I'm embarrassed. I'm going to keep going out there, keep fighting, but it's embarrassing," Gagne said. "Every time we get a little momentum, I come out there and kill the rally."
Brewers manager Ned Yost, never one to make rash decisions, showed tepid support for Gagne after the game.
"I don't sit here and make decisions five minutes after a tough loss," Yost said. "I take a long time to analyze things. I give everybody the benefit of the doubt and try to make the decision that's best for everybody. I don't make rash, quick, off-the-handle decisions."
A few minutes later, Gagne may have made the decision for his manager. "I don't deserve that ninth inning right now," Gagne said. "It's that simple."
If Yost was uncertain about what to do, Gagne may have made the decision for him. Closers have to be confident to succeed. Gagne is anything but confident, so the Brewers will have to look elsewhere until he regains his mojo.
Squeezed: Gagne probably would have entered the game with a lead on Saturday, but veteran catcher Jason Kendall missed a squeeze bunt sign and the Brewers squandered a one-out, bases-loaded situation in the eighth.
"I missed the sign," Kendall said. "Completely unacceptable. It can't happen. I lost us the game right there. I missed the sign and I can't do that. I screwed up. It doesn't matter the situation, I missed the sign and that can't happen."
The snafu prompted many fans to question Yost's wisdom in calling for the squeeze in the first place. From our vantage point, it was a perfect call. La Russa uses the squeeze a lot himself and is an expert at sniffing out opponents' attempts to do the same. The Cardinals didn't pitch out. Kendall, a good bunter, got a pitch down the middle and let it go. It was, as he said, inexcusable.
As for Yost's decision, consider the alternative. Kendall hits groundballs at an astonishing rate. His propensity to hit into double plays was a factor in Yost's decision to bat him ninth in the order, behind the pitcher.
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I always hear it is a long season. Every game is important. When a team ends the season one game out of first place all these blown chances for a win are the cause.
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