ST. LOUIS -- Buried beneath the headlines that gave Busch Stadium a celebratory vibe Tuesday afternoon, a Cardinals player not named Carlos Martinez or Yadier Molina completed a much lower-key return to the big leagues. That was Preston Guilmet, who was promoted from Triple-A Memphis more than two years removed
ST. LOUIS -- Buried beneath the headlines that gave Busch Stadium a celebratory vibe Tuesday afternoon, a Cardinals player not named Carlos Martinez or Yadier Molina completed a much lower-key return to the big leagues. That was Preston Guilmet, who was promoted from Triple-A Memphis more than two years removed from his last Major League appearance. Compared to the return of St. Louis' All-Star battery, after both missed nearly a month due to injuries, Guilmet registered a mere footnote.
At least until a few hours later, when Guilmet pitched during the middle innings of a tied game. The righty allowed three runs in relief of Martinez in a pivotal fifth, his lone inning of work and first since 2015. That proved the difference in a 7-4 loss to the Marlins.
"I was really excited to be here," Guilmet said. "Out there on the mound, maybe a little too excited."
But Guilmet wasn't the only culprit on a night featuring defensive miscues, mental mistakes and baserunning blunders. And held against the parade of sloppy play that followed the two-run homer Guilmet allowed to Brian Anderson, the righty's performance receded into the background.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny spent his postgame press conference tersely responding to a list of other grievances, several of which were already the subject of private reprimandings.
"Some days everything looks right," Matheny said. "And other days, it's a fight."
Cardinals infielders made two errors and committed multiple other misplays. Their pitchers issued nine walks. Martinez combined both problems in the third, when the last of his five walks loaded the bases. Then, after a double play, Martinez struggled to field a softly-hit comebacker from Anderson, lobbing a late throw to first from the seat of his pants. That allowed a preventable run to score, one of the two Martinez allowed over four erratic frames.
"We don't work on that," Matheny said. "Get to your feet, make the throw."
Two innings later, Matheny was again left aghast when Tommy Pham danced too far off third base. Representing the tying run with one out in a one-run game, Pham was picked off by winning pitcher Jose Urena, and the rally ended after Molina bounced out to second. This after RBIs by Pham and Jose Martinez sliced the Marlins' lead to one.
"Very unique pick-off play that caught us off," Matheny said. "It couldn't have come at a bigger time for them."
Miami added two runs off Austin Gomber in the sixth, using a JT Riddle home run and a Derek Dietrich sacrifice fly to stretch their lead back to three. The Cardinals had only two hits against the quartet of Marlins relievers that followed, as their three-game winning streak was snapped.
Admittedly holding back in fear of reaggravating his right lat injury, Martinez maxed out at 95.5 mph with his four-seam fastball, according to Statcast™. He's thrown the heater at an average of 95.4 mph previously this season.
"Today, I didn't want to throw hard, just in case of my arm," Martinez said. "Just trying to be ready for the rest of the season's games."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Hours after general manager Michael Girsch described him as the "face of the franchise," Molina received a welcome worthy of such a designation in the second. He received a standing ovation from the crowd of 40,070 at Busch Stadium prior to his first at-bat since May 5, when he underwent emergency surgery to repair a groin injury with traumatic hematoma.
"Very nice. I wasn't surprised at all," Molina said. "I know what great fans we have and they didn't disappoint me."
HE SAID IT
"I don't know how that play is on me, I'm the wrong guy to talk to. I took a big lead, and I need to be ready for the ball in play. We know this team picks off a lot. All I did was put myself in a position to score. We have Urena pitching, he's a sinker-baller. I have to anticipate. I have to be ready on contact so I can put myself in a position to score. That's all." -- Pham, on being picked off
The Cardinals continue their three-game series vs. the Marlins when they send Jack Flaherty (2-1, 2.62 ERA) to the mound Wednesday, opposite Wei-Yin Chen (1-3, 6.10) at 7:15 p.m. CT at Busch Stadium. Flaherty, a rookie right-hander, is 2-0 with a 2.22 ERA in four starts since rejoining the rotation in mid-May.
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.