ST. LOUIS -- Though consistent in his petitions for aggressiveness on the bases, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny watched his club twice run itself out of late-inning scoring opportunities by trying to snag an extra base, while also not taking the one it should have.
The collection of curious baserunning decisions left the Cardinals with a 4-3 loss to the Tigers on Saturday, when they should have taken a seventh-inning lead, could have captured an eighth-inning lead and may have tied the game in the 10th had things gone more crisply on the basepaths.
The most egregious of the blunders came in the seventh, when Jason Heyward, who had stung Tigers starter David Price for a pinch-hit double, advanced only 90 feet on Randal Grichuk's double to the warning track in left-center. Acknowledging afterward that he misread the trajectory of the fly ball, Heyward retreated in case he needed to tag up instead of readying himself to race home as the go-ahead run.
"Apparently, I had the worst seat in the house for it at second base," Heyward said. "My initial thought wasn't to go back and tag. That's not the name of the game. With one out, you're supposed to go halfway [to third], but as I saw [left fielder Yoenis Cespedes] get closer and closer to the ball and he pulled up, I was thinking with how high it was, that it was either gone or he was going to make the catch."
The Cardinals couldn't massage the snafu either, as Price struck out Matt Carpenter and induced an inning-ending popup from Matt Holliday to strand Heyward at third.
"Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday coming up with second and third, you like your odds there," Heyward said. "But for me, in my situation, I wish I had been able to read it easier."
The Cardinals positioned the go-ahead run in scoring position again an inning later after Jhonny Peralta drew a walk and moved up on a wild pitch. With none out in the inning, Matheny sent Pete Kozma, arguably the team's best baserunner, to take Peralta's place.
When Mark Reynolds followed with a popup near the railing along the first-base line, Kozma tagged and tried for third. With a fluid spin and laser throw to third, Detroit's Miguel Cabrera threw Kozma out by several steps.
"The direction he was going, where the ball was going, I didn't think he had enough room," Kozma said. "I thought he was on the rail. I looked at the video and he wasn't. Either way, he's going away from the bag. ... He had to make a perfect throw, and he did."
Holliday, who was not available for comment after the game, was then thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double to lead off the 10th against closer Joakim Soria. He represented the potential tying run.
In the case of the latter two plays, despite the outcome, Matheny praised the push.
"We have to push it," Matheny said. "We have to keep going. We want them going strong."