ST. LOUIS -- The balls kept piling up, one after another, intentionally and otherwise. Four batters in, they sunk Greg Holland's debut in St. Louis.Four out of six to Travis Shaw, four out of six to Domingo Santana, four on purpose to Manny Pina. Finally, four wide to Orlando Arcia
ST. LOUIS -- The balls kept piling up, one after another, intentionally and otherwise. Four batters in, they sunk Greg Holland's debut in St. Louis.
Four out of six to Travis Shaw, four out of six to Domingo Santana, four on purpose to Manny Pina. Finally, four wide to Orlando Arcia brought home Shaw with the winning run. Called on to hold a tie in the 10th, Holland's four free passes instead sent the Cardinals to a 5-4 loss to the Brewers, and brought an erratic end to the closer's first night with his new club.
"I don't think it was nerves as much as he was just amped up," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He wanted to introduce himself to us in a hurry."
Consider it an uncharacteristic first impression. Holland's control has been an issue at times over his past two seasons, but not to this degree. The three-time All-Star had never walked four in less than an inning across 370 career appearances. Of the three unintentional walks, Holland had done that just three times total across his last four seasons.
"There's really no excuse for walking four guys in an inning," Holland said. "You hope it's a rarity, but sometimes you just don't have a good feel for the strike zone."
An ominous enough sentiment, coming from the man signed to lock down wins in the late innings. Holland finally arrived at Busch Stadium on Monday, the culmination of a nearly five-month courtship made official when the two sides struck a one-year deal on Opening Day. Because Holland missed Spring Training, he spent the past 10 days revving up at the club's Minor League complex in Florida. Matheny called him the solution to the club's ninth inning vacancy.
His first opportunity came hours later, and in an inning later than planned. There was no lead to protect, but there was a tie after the Cardinals rallied to score off Brewers stand-in closer Matt Albers in the bottom of the ninth. Before that, both offenses sat frozen for much of the chilly night after starters Jhoulys Chacin and Miles Mikolas were pulled.
Chacin left with a lead after Manny Pina's two-run single off Mikolas in the fourth, which countered a two-run Cardinals rally in the third. Jeremy Jeffress, Josh Hader and Jonathan Barnes combined to hold the Cardinals scoreless for 3 1/3 innings afterwards, striking out seven of the 11 batters they faced. Tyler Lyons and Sam Tuivailala combined to throw 2 2/3 innings of shutout relief for St. Louis, setting the stage for Holland's debut in the 10th.
"I was looking forward to getting that first one out of the way," Holland said. "I wish it would've went better, but we'll go from there."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Cardinals come back: The Cardinals' bats awoke in the ninth against Albers. Consecutive singles from Yadier Molina, Paul DeJong and Kolten Wong loaded the bases in front of William Fowler, who tied the game with a sacrifice fly with one out. The rally followed a stretch where 12 of 13 Cardinals were unable to reach against relievers Jeffress, Hader and Barnes.
Out stretching, twice: The Cardinals entered the year intent on improving after a season in which they were one of baseball's most reckless teams on the basepaths, and through nine games, their baserunning decisions have mostly been measured. But they ran into two outs early Monday that halted scoring chances prematurely. Fowler was caught trying to stretch a single in the first, and Ryan Braun threw out Marcell Ozuna trying to turn a double into a triple in the second. Both attempts came with no outs.
"I think that's one he probably would want to do over again," Matheny said of Ozuna's chance. "You look back on a game like this and realize how important every out is."
"I don't know how to look at it. We won't see many cases like this. We threw him into the fire, and it was a tough spot." -- Matheny, on Holland's outing.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Holland became the second pitcher this season, joining Juan Minaya, to walk four batters in less than an inning of work. He's the first Cardinals reliever to do so since Mitchell Boggs on April 8, 2013.
MARTINEZ, CAIN INJURED
Both teams lost impact players after an ugly incident in the ninth, when Lorenzo Cain and Jose Martinez collided at first base following a Cain infield single. Cain's hustle after a tapper to third resulted in a bang-bang play at first, where his left foot made contact with Martinez's right foot. Martinez limped off the field and was diagnosed with a left Achilles contusion. He is considered day to day.
Carlos Martinez nearly went the distance the last time he toed the rubber, last week in Milwaukee. His return to the mound comes against those same Brewers, in Tuesday's 7:15 p.m. CT start.
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Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.