Tuivailala can't find command in tough spot
NEW YORK -- Summoned from Triple-A on Sunday, Sam Tuivailala already faced the prospect of a short stay. The Cardinals can only retain nine relievers through Wednesday's game, as a roster spot will need to be opened for Jaime Garcia.
But if Tuivailala is to return to Memphis soon, the 22-year-old right-hander would like to leave behind a better impression than the one he offered in Monday's 2-1 loss in 14 innings to the Mets.
Entering in the 14th as the team's seventh pitcher of the night, Tuivailala walked Eric Campbell on five pitches and then lost Lucas Duda on a full-count fastball. The pair of walks drew manager Mike Matheny out of the dugout and forced him to turn to closer Trevor Rosenthal to try to escape from the mess. He couldn't, which left Tuivailala with his first career loss.
"I felt like I was rushing a little bit and couldn't find the feel for it," Tuivailala said. "[I was] just trying to aim it too much, didn't have the command. [That] led to walks, and that's what lost us the game."
It was not the sort of high-leverage spot that the Cardinals had intended for Tuivailala, but the deeper the game got, the fewer the alternatives. In Spring Training, the Cardinals impressed upon Tuivailala the importance of trusting his offspeed pitches. On Monday, the righty never found the fastball command necessary to make those effective.
"He's made good strides," Matheny said. "Today was a tough ask, and it was a tough result. Just like I told him, typically we'd let him sit out there and fight his way through it because we think he would, but ... we needed to get [Rosenthal] in the game and salvage something at that point."