Quick Links

Cardinals on Game 5: 'We smelled blood'

cardinalsnlds.png

Cardinals on Game 5: 'We smelled blood'

Heading into the Nationals and Cardinals Nationals League Division Series, St. Louis held a distinct advantage in experience. The Cardinals are the most storied franchise in the N.L. and have been in the playoffs three of the last four seasons. Last year they won it all and, despite losing their best player and Hall of Fame manager, remain a deep team full of veterans.

The Cardinals were patient at the plate, took advantage of mistakes by the Nats, and slowly clawed their way back in Game 5. The Nationals on the other hand wasted key at-bats, left men on base, and pitched poorly in relief.

One unnamed Cardinals player said the collapse began with starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez, perhaps even when the Nats had a six-run lead.

Here is what the anonymous player told Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“Gio looked like he didn’t want to be out there. The guy has a 6-0 lead, then 6-1, and he’s panicking out there. We smelled blood.”

Throughout the comeback, Cardinals second baseman Skip Schumaker said you could tell the Nats were panicking as a team.

“Before the series started, I said you really couldn’t put a price tag on experience. A lot of guys had the bright-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights look. And I’m not going to mention names, but we saw them taking a couple of deep breaths between pitches, and they were up four or five runs. When we saw that, we started talking. We weren’t taking any deep breaths. We were the ones trying to push. It felt like we had the momentum, which is crazy to say because we were behind. But it really felt that way.”

It would be hard to corroborate these stories as no Nationals player would admit such a weakness. On the issue of experience, however, one important point needs to be made. The two big hits delivered in the ninth inning - the two RBI single to tie the game and the two RBI single for the go-ahead runs - were by Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma. Descalso, 25, is in his third major league season and Kozma, 24, is a rookie.

Experience may have played a role in the game as a whole, but the four-run swing in the ninth doesn’t happen without the team’s two least tenured players in the Cardinals’ lineup that night.

And with Schumaker commenting on the momentum and such, keep in mind all he did was pinch-hit in Game 5 and saw four total pitches. He can't exactly speak for the team in what it was like to take the momentum from the Nats and ride it to the win.

Thanks to NBC Washington for the link.

Quick Links

Max Scherzer scratched from start against San Diego, heading to DL

Max Scherzer scratched from start against San Diego, heading to DL

Max Scherzer was slated to start against the Padres tonight, but Dusty Baker announced pre-game that Scherzer would be scratched with a neck issue and Matt Grace would take his place on the mound.

Scherzer's neck issue has creeped from one side to the other and it appears to have come out of nowhere. 

Baker later said that he knew something was up with Scherzer when he got to the park earlier than normal. 

Scherzer will head to the 10-day DL, but no corresponding move has been announced.

MORE NATIONALS: RIZZO ON HARPER'S REHAB

Quick Links

Mike Rizzo details the rehabilitation process for Bryce Harper to return for Nationals

Mike Rizzo details the rehabilitation process for Bryce Harper to return for Nationals

When Bryce Harper went down Saturday night during the Nationals' game against the San Francisco Giants, everyone in D.C. stopped breathing for a moment. This was true even for Nats GM Mike Rizzo.

"We've all felt it," Rizzo said. "You get that little pit in your stomach and it's the same feeling I had when [Wilson] Ramos went out."

RELATED: HOW JUDGE COULD HELP NATS KEEP HARPER IN WASHINGTON

The Nats' star right fielder was running out a ground ball to first base when his left leg hit a slippery base, causing his knee to hyperextend. Harper immediately went down and grabbed his knee in agony. He eventually had to be helped off the field.

The team has been plagued with injuries this season, from the bullpen to outfielders.

After the initial shock of seeing one of his best players go down with what could have been a season-ending injury, Rizzo told the Sports Junkies he went in 'GM mode.'

"You immediately go to GM mode. We immediately called our farm director, Doug Harris, and made arrangements to get Michael Taylor on a plane. Pull him out of the game in double A, get him on a plane and bring him here because we knew that we needed a player that next day. You know, you gotta change gears quick."

"Then I went down to see Harp in the clubhouse. When I saw him walking up the stairs from the dugout to the clubhouse, I was a little bit relieved. You never know with those injuries. Until you get the MRIs, until you see maybe a day or two later what transpired in there, you have to be cautiously optimistic, I guess that it wasn't an [Adam] Eaton type of thing where you knew immediately that he was gone for the season."

While everyone was waiting to see the severity of Harper's injury, Mike Rizzo and his team were making a game plan.

"You go into your evaluation mode. You look at the depth of your roster. What's next? You get the cabinet together, we were all in the GM box watching the game, so we were all together and kind of put our heads together to try to come up with a plan.

"If it's a light injury, if it's a year-ending injury, what do we do? What are the plans? And you know, you put plans together. If I'm not mistaken it was like the first inning or second inning or something like that. It was early in the game, so we had three hours to lament over it and think about what we're trying to do and put a game plan together kind of on the fly. We literally had Michael Taylor flying into D.C. later that evening so we kind of had to turn things around pretty quickly."

Now that the GM knows Harper's injury is a significant bone bruise, what steps does the team take to get him back on the diamond as soon as possible?

"If I had a time frame for you, I would give it to you. But there's no sense of putting on a time frame because the injury, the bone bruise, has to heal before he can do any type of rehab, stimulated rehab, baseball activities. He's not doing anything below the waist.

"He's doing his workout programs. He's doing all his weight work, all his cardio, all the things he has to do above the waist. But, we don't want him weight-bearing impacting with running and hitting and spinning, you know when you stick a swing and that type of thing, until he feels much much better and he's asymptomatic with the pain in his knee."

Rizzo said Harper will eventually progress to an AlterG treadmill, an anti-gravity treadmill that speeds up the rehabilitation process by supporting as much or as little body weight as needed.