Cardinals pitcher wouldn't leave the field after game-ending mistake

The St. Louis Cardinals’ up-and-down season reached an unfortunate low point on Thursday.

Not only did they lose 7-6 to the rebuilding, 20-games-under-.500 Miami Marlins at Busch Stadium. They lost in one of the most frustrating and painful ways a team could possibly lose a baseball game.

Pitcher Jack Flaherty, who was brought in as an 11th-inning pinch runner, was picked off at second base as the game-tying run to end the game.

That’s right, the dreaded walk-off pickoff.

As we saw after the game, Flaherty was crushed by his mistake. Even after the umpires reviewed the play and confirmed the call, and even after the Marlins finished celebrating, he remained crouched at second base.

You have to feel for Flaherty.

A walk-off pickoff on its own isn’t necessarily rare. For example, on April 20 of this season, Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez picked off Tampa Bay Rays runner Tommy Pham to end a one-run win for Boston.

That, too, was a painful way to lose. But the circumstances surrounding the Cardinals’ loss trumps that.

The Cardinals were resilient most of the evening, battling back from multiple deficits to force extra frames. They again trailed by two runs in the bottom of the 11th inning, but ended up with the tying run on second base after Yadier Molina doubled home Jose Martinez.

Of course, everyone knows Molina isn't the fastest guy around. That's why manager Mike Shildt summoned Flaherty in hopes that the speed upgrade would allow them to tie it again on a simple single.

Before Marlins closer Sergio Romo even threw a pitch to pinch-hitter Matt Wieters, he spun around and picked off a completely stunned Flaherty. He did not see it coming. He turned to check out the defense, and that brief distraction was all Romo needed to find an opening.

Adding to Flaherty’s pain, it’s the second time he’s made the final out on the bases in St. Louis’ last six games. On Saturday, he was thrown out at the plate in the ninth inning of a loss to the New York Mets.

Shildt took responsibility for Wednesday’s decision, but it probably won’t make Cardinals fans feel much better.

At 38-36, the Cardinals really can’t afford too many more crushing defeats. And the truth is, they should probably find a different pinch runner.

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