ST. LOUIS – Just when it looked like the St. Louis Cardinals might escape with a win, a lengthy stretch of losing continues.
The St. Louis Cardinals suffered their fifth straight defeat Wednesday night, dropping 11 of their last 13 contests. They now carry the National League’s worst record (10-21) a little more than a month into the season.
Wednesday’s loss came a little more unusually than most for the Cardinals up to this point. Unlike many teams around the league, St. Louis made some noise against Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani, scoring four times in five innings.
The Cardinals brought a 4-3 lead into the ninth inning. Before that, leading closer candidate Ryan Helsley entered the game in the seventh inning to escape a big jam and preserve a one-run lead. He also tossed one more clean inning, picking up four key late-game outs on just 10 pitches.
Helsley worked efficiently in just his second outing over the past week. Given that, along with 19 saves last season and some experience working two-plus innings in relief, there was an opportunity to let Helsley finish the job in the ninth inning.
Marmol instead opted for Giovanny Gallegos in the ninth inning, who had only allowed one run over nine appearances before Wednesday. It was a move, on paper, that could’ve worked out given Gallegos has vast closing experience in the past.
However, he quickly fell into a tough situation. Jake Lamb, leading off the inning and pinch-hitting for the Angels blasted a game-tying home run just a few pitches into the game. The Angels added on with a go-ahead home run from Mike Trout and more damage before the Cardinals tried to salvage the game, but came up short in the bottom half of the ninth.
Loud boos echoed Busch Stadium after Trout’s home run and the game’s final out, symbolic of the Cardinals prolonged woes to open the 2023 campaign.
Cardinals manager Oli Marmol, when asked about the possibility of Helsley stretching a ninth inning, said he had other plans on his mind to navigate through the game.
“You definitely think about [Helsley] going back up there, but that’s three up-downs. At that point he’s done his job,” said Marmol after 1.1 clean innings from Helsley.
Gallegos was his next option in mind.
“Gio’s done a really nice job. He’s actually been our top reliever if you look at his body of work in April compared to anybody in that bullpen, including Helsley. … There hasn’t been a guy punching out righties and lefties and keeping their OPS down better than Gio, so you trust him there in the ninth.”
Marmol then proceeded with repeated comments about “staying the course” and was asked by one reporter about fan frustrations. This exchange then followed:
Marmol: “You think they’re more frustrated than us?
Reporter: “No, I don’t think so.”
Marmol: “No, I can tell you right now they’re not. That clubhouse is extremely frustrated.”
The second-year manager continued with the following comments, in part: “We want to deliver for this city, that’s what you wake up for every day. … So if you think other people are more frustrated than (those) within these walls, you’re crazy.”
Marmol’s full comments can be heard on Bally Sport Midwest.
The Cardinals wrap up a three-game home series against the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday afternoon.