The Cardinals' offense amassed 10 hits Tuesday, and St. Louis emerged with a seemingly comfortable 6-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. However, the game might have been won through the still understated strength of the team -- the bullpen.
Left-hander Jaime Garcia, brilliant for five innings, walked three men in a row with two out in the sixth. Manager Mike Matheny was hoping to save right-hander Edward Mujica for the seventh but brought him on in the sixth, even knowing that Arizona would switch to dangerous left-handed-hitting Jason Kubel off the bench.
"That's the game," said Matheny. "He came in in the biggest situation in the game and did a terrific job."
Mujica caught Kubel looking at an outside-corner fastball for strike three, the Cardinals preserved their 3-1 lead, and momentum changed. St. Louis scored three runs in the seventh to pull away.
Mujica followed by throwing another scoreless inning. The Cardinals then got two eighth-inning strikeouts by rookie right-hander Trevor Rosenthal, who whiffed first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and catcher Miguel Montero, twice reaching 100 mph with his fastball.
Right-hander Mitchell Boggs, the eighth-inning specialist who has become the closer with right-hander Jason Motte sidelined due to a flexor tendon injury, breezed through the ninth.
Motte, who had all 42 of the Cardinals' saves last year, is uncertain when he'll return. However, the Cardinals may have the coverage to sustain a lengthy absence if Rosenthal moves comfortably into the eighth-inning spot and then perhaps the ninth if Boggs needs a day off or stumbles in that role.
The Cardinals' left-handed relief may still be a work in progress, but the bullpen seem very strong from the right side.