"You're better than this, Jon Jay."
That may not have been what St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said directly after his club's 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 3 of the NLCS. But that's what he meant. Jay, the Cardinals center fielder, misplayed two balls Monday night, one of which allowed the Dodgers to crack the scoreboard first.
It was a rough night for Jay, and this was the moment that hurt his team most: He pulled up early on a fly ball in the fourth inning that ended up falling between him and Carlos Beltran. Mark Ellis, who hit that ball, eventually scoring the game's first run. The Dodgers would score twice in inning, which proved to be all they needed.
After the game, Matheny tip-toed around Jay's rough night:
"That wasn't very characteristic of how we've played all season," Matheny said. "Our team's done a great job of improving on defense. We just had a lot of balls in the air that hit the ground we normally don't. We're a better club than this."
Yes, Jon Jay is better than that. As far as center fielders in MLB go, he's near the top of the list defensively. He only made one error in 2013, the same number as Mike Trout. Only two center fielders (Denard Span and Coco Crisp) had errorless seasons. Though, misplaying balls like Jay did Monday night doesn't necessarily show up in the error category.
Fact is, this Cardinals loss needed a goat and it was Jay. Twitter was full of Jon Jay jokes, our favorite of which came from Matt Sebek, the proprietor of Rookies, the make-your-own-baseball cards app, The Stew told you about last week.
Oof. Better luck in Game 4, Jon Jay.