Despite tough outing, Cards rookie goes six to save 'pen
ST. LOUIS -- Mitchell Boggs' ERA won't look too pretty in the morning after jumping more than two runs: from 4.37 to 6.59.
For that, he can thank the New York Mets.
Boggs came into Thursday night's game with a 3-0 record in four starts since he joined the rotation to fill in for an injured Adam Wainwright. But against the Mets in the series finale at Busch Stadium, Boggs looked more like a rookie than a candidate for the Rookie of the Month.
Losing 11-1 at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals suffered one of their worst losses of the year and at an incredibly inopportune time. While the Cardinals split their four-game series with New York, they now play host to the Cubs, who come into St. Louis with a 2 1/2 game lead in the National League Central Division.
"My take is I'm disappointed," Boggs said. "I didn't pitch well. I let it get away from us early. Anytime you go out there and put your teammates in a hole like that, it's tough to come back from.
"I'll be all right, but the biggest problem was I let my teammates down. I didn't give us a chance."
It was easily the worst start of Boggs' young career. In his first four starts in the Majors, Boggs showed electrifying stuff and fared well against several tough lineups. What Boggs lacked on Thursday, however, was anything resembling command.
Through six innings, Boggs gave up six walks. Five of them lead to runs. He threw two wild pitches and left balls out over the middle of the plate for the Mets to tee off.
"You walk guys anywhere they're going to score," Boggs said. "You walk guys in Little League, and they're going to score. You can't do that here. You can't do it anywhere."
Rather than pull Boggs after a forgettable third inning -- one which saw him give up six runs and the Mets take a 9-0 lead -- manager Tony La Russa left his young pitcher in to spare the bullpen from what would have been six innings of relief.
La Russa wasn't thinking of Boggs' ERA, with the Cubs coming to town on Friday.
"I would have rather saved him the beating, because it's not his night," La Russa said.
On the other side of the diamond, the Cardinals faced Mike Pelfrey, a pitcher only Jason LaRue had seen before. He walked in his one at-bat. Even though Pedro Martinez pitched the night before, Pelfrey did his best to imitate a young Pedro and dominated the Cardinals' lineup from top to bottom.
Through his seven innings, Pelfrey scattered six hits and gave up one run, which came long after the game was decided.
"His ball, when he throws it in the middle of the plate, it has a lot of run and sink to it on a righty," outfielder Ryan Ludwick said.
The sinker baffled the righties and the fastball kept everyone honest. Averaging more than six runs entering the game, the Cardinals put up a doughnut until the sixth inning.
Even though the Mets took a big lead early, Pelfrey never let down his guard.
"You get out to a big lead, and he wasn't going to let him beat himself," said infielder Aaron Miles, who extended his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games. "That was the key. He threw well."
With Boggs never settling in, the Mets were able to establish an insurmountable lead starting in the first inning.
Boggs loaded the bases on a single and two walks, gave up a sacrifice fly and an RBI single. The final run came when Boggs misplayed a ground ball that rolled in between the mound and third base.
After getting shut down in order in the second, the Mets erupted in the third and batted around to plate six. Boggs gave up two walks, two singles, a double and a triple in the frame.
"When you create that kind of situation, you're asking for trouble," La Russa said.
Once again the Cardinals passed up on an opportunity to cut into the Cubs' first-place lead, making the upcoming three-game set that much more important.
"It was just bad all around game," Ludwick said. "It was just one of those games. We've had a couple this year, but fortunately for us, we haven't had a ton of them. We just have to throw it away like we have in the past and be ready to play tomorrow."