As often as the Cardinals were striking out in a 3-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night, the Cardinals didn’t need any help from the umpire adding to their K total.
A mistake made on the count when St. Louis center fielder Jon Jay was batting in the seventh inning gave the Cardinals one more strikeout than they should have had.
When the scoreboard said the count was 2-2, Jay backed out of the box because he thought — correctly — that the count should have been 3-2. He questioned umpire Mark Ripperger about the count, but it stayed 2-2.
Jay then took another ball — at which point he should have been awarded first base — but instead the count was 3-2. He fouled off the next pitch before taking strike three to end the inning.
"When it was 3-2, I looked back and asked what the count was because the board said 2-2," Jay said.
Perhaps not wanting to point a finger at the umpire, Jay said he didn’t remember what the umpire told him.
"I was so focused on the at-bat," Jay said. "I knew we needed to get a guy on."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny took responsibility for not catching the ump’s error.
"(Jay) stepped back and asked the umpire what he had and the umpire was going along with the board, which said 2-2," Matheny said. "I didn’t have it (3-2). That’s on me. I missed it."
At the time, the Rays led 2-0 and Rays starter Alex Cobb had gone over 100 pitches for just the third time this season. If Jay gets first base, the Cardinals bring the tying run to the plate in Matt Holliday. Instead, the inning was over and the Cardinals were six outs from their third consecutive loss.
If Jay had argued longer or if someone in the dugout had noticed the 2-2 count should have been 3-2, Matheny could have asked for a replay. But once the next pitch was made, it was too late.
The strikeout was Cobb’s 10th of the night and the Rays bullpen would strike out five more, including the side in the ninth, as the Cardinals finished with 13-plus strikeouts for the second game in a row. Add 10 strikeouts against the Dodgers on Sunday night and the Cardinals have reached double-digit K’s in three consecutive games — for the first time in this offensively challenged season.
Featuring a nasty split-fingered fastball and a fastball that touched 94 mph, Cobb allowed five hits and did not walk a batter.
"He dominated us," Jay said.
Matt Carpenter and Oscar Taveras were the only Cardinals starters who did not strike out at least once and both also had a hit.
The Cardinals, shut out for the 10th time, still had struck out less than any team in the NL entering the game.