ST. LOUIS – Struggling Cardinals infielder Tyler Greene had another unfortunate night Wednesday when he went 0-for-3 and was booed loudly by the home crowd for committing an error on a routine double-play ball.
Greene, who entered the game hitting just .222 in 76 games, was greeted with a mixed reaction and even some boos when the starting lineup was announced before the game. And things only got worse during it.
Getting a rare start due to injuries to infielders Skip Schumaker and Rafael Furcal, Greene struck out swinging in the second inning and went down looking in the fifth inning. He later grounded out to third in the eighth.
But the usually sure-fielding Greene also had issues in the field, committing a key error in the top of the sixth inning that opened the flood gates in San Francisco’s eventual 15-0 win over the Cardinals.
With rookie Joe Kelly stuck in a bases-loaded, no-out jam and the Cardinals trailing 3-0, former Cardinal Ryan Theriot grounded what appeared to be a perfect double-play grounder right at Greene. But the second baseman pulled his glove up too quickly and the ball went between his legs and into the outfield.
“It wasn’t hit very hard,” Greene said. “I just tried to be too quick with it to get that double play. That was the only thing, just trying to be too quick.
“I feel like I’ve been steady all year. It was a bad ground ball at a bad time. That’s all it is. It’s not the end of the world. I was trying to make a slow ground ball quicker and when you do that, that’s usually what happens.”
Said manager Mike Matheny, “The error didn’t help things out at all. … That’s two outs right there. That’s a big play.”
The usually courteous St. Louis fans showered Greene with a chorus of loud boos as he stood near second base following the play. Asked about their negative reaction, Greene said, “Then don’t come to the game. Just cheer for your team. That’s all I can say about that.”
The Giants scored five runs in the inning to open up a 7-0 lead. They eventually added four in the eighth and four more in the ninth to hand the Cardinals one of their worst shutout losses in franchise history.
Greene has been an easy target for Cardinals fans in recent weeks. The former first round draft pick has seen his playing time diminish significantly due to his inconsistent play at the plate.
But recently his struggles have spread to other areas of his game. The speedster entered a tie game as a pinch-runner in the 10th inning on July 25 and was promptly picked off first base.
Greene finds himself in a tough spot. His playing time has become sparse – he made just his seventh start Wednesday since July 1 – because his play has warranted more chances. But without the chances, he’s had a tough time working out of his struggles.
“It’s not easy,” Greene said. “You’re trying to stay as sharp as possible in the cage or with the machine, but it’s hard to emulate exactly what’s going on out there. But that’s my role. I need to be ready to come out there and be ready to go. Of course early on it’s going to be a little feel at first just to get back into the groove and timing of everything but that’s no excuse for what happened tonight.”
Greene has spent parts of four seasons with the Cardinals but has yet to get it going offensively. He entered the game a career .220 hitter (108-492) and has yet to show the potential that many have seen in him for years.
And the fans appear to have reached a boiling point.
“It was just a bad night,” Greene said. “But the fortunate thing is it’s just one night. We’ll forget about what happened today and come back tomorrow fresh and do what we can do tomorrow.”
Greene and the Cardinals have little time to think about Wednesday’s drubbing. They play the finale of a four-game set against the Giants at 12:45 p.m. Thursday afternoon.