Inside The Historic Ninth-Inning Collapse By The Cardinals Bullpen

Ryan Franklin threw 28 pitches on Tuesday night and recorded one out. Of the 28 pitches, Franklin did manage to toss 18 strikes to 10 balls. Then again, that may have been his undoing in the epic nine-run ninth inning that helped the Rockies beat the Cardinals 12-9. ↵

↵After a double-switch earlier in the game had moved the pitcher's spot in the lineup from Tony La Russa's traditional eighth position all the way up to fifth, the Cardinals had reliever Dennys Reyes hit for himself with two outs in the top of the ninth inning so he could finish off what looked like an easy victory for St. Louis. After grounding out to end the top of the frame, Reyes went back to work on the mound with a 9-3 lead and proceeded to give up two hits – sandwiched around one out – and a four-pitch walk that led to a run for Colorado after All-Star catcher Yadier Molina let one get by him for a passed ball. ↵

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↵Reyes departed the game with the Cards still up 9-4, handing the ball over to Franklin to finish the job. That didn't work out so well, either. ↵

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↵Franklin served up a three-run home run to Chris Ianetta on a 3-2 pitch (after working ahead of the batter 1-2), before surrendering a double to Dexter Fowler (after working ahead in the count, 1-2). Franklin got Brad Hawpe to ground out for the second out of the inning, moving Fowler to third. That's when the wheels really fell off. ↵

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↵Carlos Gonzalez singled on a 1-2 pitch to plate Fowler and make the score 9-8. Jason Giambi then singled an 0-1 fastball to right to plate Gonzalez and tie the game for the Rockies. Miguel Olivo then hit a 1-0 slider to right to put runners on first and third with Seth Smith coming to the plate. Smith smacked a 2-2 slider over the right field fence for the dramatic, amazing, historic walk-off win. (Watch video here.) Franklin – and La Russa – couldn't do much more than apologize. ↵

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↵⇥"We played our butts off for nine innings and then I come in and didn't get the last out," Franklin said after his first loss of the season. "I just didn't get it done. I feel bad for everybody in here who fought so hard for three hours. ↵⇥

↵⇥"There is no way you cannot get three outs with a six-run lead," manager Tony La Russa said. "There's no way to explain it, no excuses you make. It's just a really difficult loss. It's just brutal." ↵⇥

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↵In Franklin's defense, when the Cardinals had a six run lead in the seventh inning he had to figure he'd be getting the game off. When Reyes hit for himself in the top of the ninth, Franklin likely checked out mentally for the night. What are the chances Reyes could blow the lead so badly that they'd need Franklin to save the game? When La Russa went with his closer, the game still wasn't a save situation up five with two men on and one out, so even then Franklin may not have had that "let's close this out" sharpness. ↵

↵Sorry, may not have had is understating the situation. Obviously, he didn't have the sharpness. He told reporters, "I was just trying to make pitches. It seemed like I'd make some, and then I'd hang a splitter, it wouldn't break, wouldn't go down like it was supposed to. Then I'd throw a good one. Pretty weird. But bottom line is I just didn't get it done." ↵

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↵Franklin's ERA ballooned from 2.16 to 3.74 after the outing, and that could actually be worse if not for the two runners who scored on Ianetta's homer being credited to Reyes. Habitually coming in to start the inning, Franklin had inherited just nine runners this season, stranding all but two. He doubled that number last night. ↵

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↵At least Franklin got to be part of history. It turns out, the loss was rather epic: ↵

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↵⇥It wasn't just a gut-wrenching loss, it was historic. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, no Cardinals team had allowed nine runs in the ninth inning since a 10-run ninth in an 18-2 loss to the Pirates on Aug. 6, 1959. Also per Elias, St. Louis hadn't lost a game it led by seven or more runs since June 10, 1998, against the White Sox, and hadn't lost when leading by six or more in the ninth since Aug. 26, 1998, against Florida. ↵
↵With the Reds losing as well, the collapse still has the Cardinals two games back in the NL Central. This could be one of those demoralizing losses for the Cardinals that has them tailspin into a funk that extends through the All-Star break and ruins the rest of the season. Of course, it's baseball, so there's just as good a chance that Jaime Garcia will take the mound today and throw a complete game shut-out.
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↵Avoiding the back end of the bullpen may be the best thing for a day.↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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