ST. LOUIS -- A day after Trevor Rosenthal walked all three batters he faced in the Cardinals' loss to the Giants, manager Mike Matheny offered a vote of confidence in Rosenthal, stating emphatically that "there's not going to be a new closer." He needed to wait only a few more hours to prove it.
As promised, Matheny summoned Rosenthal in when the Cardinals opened the ninth Saturday night with a three-run lead. And this time Rosenthal rolled through the inning, retiring all three batters he faced on 11 pitches to seal the 7-4 victory.
"I was extremely glad an opportunity presented itself for Trevor tonight," Matheny said. "Just to encourage him and let him know what we think of him. He's our closer. Our team is best when he's out there doing what he does. … Trevor needs to know without a doubt the faith we have in him. Today, he came in and pitched like Trevor."
The Cardinals believe Rosenthal's command issues can be traced to the lack of save opportunities he's had this season. Entering Saturday, the Cardinals have had 12 save chances this season, the fewest of any club in the Majors. Nine other teams have had at least twice as many.
The irregular work means that one-third of the way through the team's season, Rosenthal has pitched on back-to-back days twice. Fourteen of his 20 appearances have come after at least two days off. At this point last season, Rosenthal had already made 26 outings. He finished the year by setting the franchise saves record with 48.
Most concerning for Rosenthal is the elevated walk rate, which now sits at 20 percent.
Starter Adam Wainwright offered some mechanical advice to Rosenthal after Friday's tumultuous appearance, and Rosenthal acknowledged that he felt it helped a day later. His perfect inning on Saturday also ensured his ERA in save spots remained at zero.
"I tried to do a god job of making adjustments, getting back in the zone and making some quality pitches," Rosenthal said. "[Wainwright] is great about analyzing video and picking up things. It's amazing how he can look at video and pick out the things that I'm feeling without even knowing what I'm feeling. I'm trying to continue to make adjustments. I wouldn't say that I'm 100 percent. Just continue to learn."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.