Late-inning chaos struck yet again on Tuesday night, as the bullpen cost Chris Carpenter what would have been his first win since September 2006. The Cardinals lost a 4-0 lead in the ninth, and, although they beat the Dodgers, 6-4, in 11 innings, an ongoing problem was once again exposed.
Jason Isringhausen, who officially received a hold, but not a blown save or a loss on Tuesday, nonetheless was the recipient of the brunt of the damage. Recently reinstalled as the Cards' closer, he struggled in only his second night back on the job. Now the Cardinals are left pondering their options once again.
General manager John Mozeliak minced no words following the game on Tuesday.
"It's disappointing," Mozeliak said. "To get a game pitched so well up until the ninth and then to have the outcome the way it did in terms of a home run, hit, walk, it's tough. I think it's something that [manager Tony La Russa], [pitching coach Dave Duncan] and I will talk about tomorrow, strategize and see what makes the most sense. We can't just keep giving games away like that.
"Obviously we're not in a situation where we can really go out and necessarily find someone to close. We're very supportive of Izzy and we've stood by him, but at some point we've got to get some results."
By now, Cardinals fans can recite the statistics like a mantra. St. Louis' 24 bullpen losses are tied for the most in the Major Leagues. The Cards' 27 blown saves are far and away the most in the bigs, and though it stings every time, few of those missed chances have smarted quite like the one on Tuesday, when Carpenter pitched beautifully but was deprived of career win No. 101.
Asked whether the possibilities included roster moves or merely different ways to use the current roster, Mozeliak left things wide open.
"I think everything is an option right now," he said. "We have to be open-minded and just try to make the best decision for this club. You look at how Carpenter pitched today, how outstanding he was ... he gave this team more than a chance to win, and it got down to the ninth and we just couldn't put it away."
Isringhausen left Busch Stadium without speaking to reporters after the game. La Russa seemed baffled by the latest pothole.
"I just have to stop and digest it," La Russa said. "One bad break, the roller that would have been two outs, that was a tough break. But there's no doubt they got some base hits before and after that. So I don't know. Got to think about it. But I guarantee there's nobody more disappointed than Izzy right now. He didn't get the save, Carp didn't get the win. There's nothing to be [gained] by piling on."
So in the light of day on Wednesday, they'll ponder.
"I just want to listen to Tony and Dunc about what all our available options are," Mozeliak said. "Someone brought up [rookie] Chris Perez. What's a change of strategy, with maybe a different formula, that might work? We're not going to be able to go out and necessarily trade for someone to be that closer.
"And Izzy may get that opportunity. That's for Tony and Dunc to let me know. I'm not ruling that out at all right now. I think right now people are answering things with more emotion than real thought. But it's something that, regardless of how you look at it, it's a frustrating situation when you think of how we've lost a lot of these games late in the game. A lot of them come to mind. It's unfortunate."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.