As first impressions go, Greg Holland’s debut with the St. Louis Cardinals Monday night wasn’t the one for which he hoped.
The team’s new closer made his debut in a tie game in the 10th inning against the Milwaukee Brewers and walked four of the five hitters he faced, including Orlando Arcia to force home the game-winning run in Milwaukee’s 5-4 decision.
Holland hopes to get back on the horse Tuesday night when the Cardinals and Brewers continue their three-game series in Busch Stadium.
“I felt good, but I put us in a tough spot,” he said. “There’s really no excuse for walking four guys in an inning. Sometimes, you don’t have a good feel for the strike zone. I felt good warming up, but when the inning started, I was behind the entire time.”
Some speculated that St. Louis (4-6) rushed Holland into action. It signed him on March 29, just hours after opening its season with a 9-4 loss at the New York Mets and gave him a pair of games at Single-A Palm Beach of the Florida State League before calling him up earlier Monday.
Manager Mike Matheny admitted it was a tough spot for Holland, who led the National League with 41 saves last year for Colorado but said Holland would shrug it off quickly and be ready for the next one.
“You don’t see many cases like this,” Matheny said. “I don’t think it was nerves as much as it was being amped up, wanting to introduce himself to us in a hurry. It was one of those days.”
The case could be made that Holland might not have been thrust into a difficult situation had the Cardinals executed offensively after loading the bases with no outs in the ninth. But all they got was a one-out sacrifice fly from Dexter Fowler.
No matter how it’s parsed, it was the third loss in four games on St. Louis’ season-opening homestand. It will have to win the last two games of the series to gain a 3-3 split. It would appear to have a good chance to rebound Tuesday night with Carlos Martinez (1-1, 2.84) on the mound.
Martinez baffled Milwaukee (6-5) Wednesday night at Miller Park, firing 8 1/3 shutout innings and fanning 10 in a 6-0 win that continued his career-long domination of the Brewers. In 24 career outings, including 13 starts, Martinez is 6-4 with a 1.98 earned run average and 101 strikeouts in 91 innings.
Left-hander Brent Suter (1-1, 6.30) will take the ball for Milwaukee. After winning his first start at San Diego on March 31, he was roughed up by the Chicago Cubs Thursday night in an 8-0 defeat, giving up eight hits and five runs over five innings. He’s 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in six career outings against the Cardinals.
The Brewers’ win Monday night reinforced an early-season trend. They have won five of their six games in their last at-bat.
“We’ve been a little bit of a high-wire act for a little over a year now,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said to MLB.com following a walk-off victory Friday night against the Chicago Cubs.