ST. LOUIS -- Reality didn't entirely measure up to the dream for lefty Tim Cooney, whose presence in the Cardinals' 9-3 win over the Phillies turned out to be rather brief. In covering only 2 1/3 innings, Cooney posted the shortest start by a Cardinals pitcher making his debut since Donovan Osborne in 1992.
An opportunity to stick a while longer as a rotation replacement for Adam Wainwright may have slipped through Cooney's fingers about as quickly as the three-run lead he was staked to in the first inning on Thursday. Afterward, manager Mike Matheny acknowledged the possibility that the Cardinals might make a roster move before Friday's game. If so, Cooney would likely be the one on the way out.
"I know I can pitch a lot better than I did," said Cooney, who allowed eight of the 15 batters he faced to reach. "I know that deep down. I also know my stuff is a lot better than it is. Maybe my timing was a little off. Obviously, I wasn't commanding the ball great. I know I can command the ball well."
Command issues led Cooney to fall behind 10 of the first 11 batters he faced. A sprinting catch by center fielder Jon Jay helped Cooney avoid first-inning damage, but the Phillies struck for one in the second and another on a leadoff homer by Darin Ruf in the third.
After two more hits, Matheny made the aggressive move to unplug the rookie lefty.
"I always say there is an urgency for every one of these wins," Matheny said. "You could see it slipping there a little bit. Obviously we got the tying run and the go-ahead run on base and [the Phillies are] working the counts to the point that it was obvious to me. Now, if our whole goal was to save and conserve our bullpen, yeah, we just let him try to fight his way through this. But when our offense comes out and gives us three quick runs, we have to find a way to win this game."
Cooney flashed a few good curveballs, but his fastball was often too high and over the plate. Cooney's success in the Minors had been largely predicated on his ability to keep the ball down.
The Cardinals never stated that Cooney's place on the Major League roster would be re-evaluated after every five starts, but there was also never a promise beyond the first one. If the club looks for another spot start, Tyler Lyons, Carlos Villanueva and Zach Petrick would likely be candidates.