MIAMI -- It was essentially a do-over for the Cardinals, a second chance to find a way to overcome the wrinkle a doubleheader added to their schedule. Differing decisions, however, led to the same outcome.
Six days after Mike Mayers bungled a spot-start opportunity in his Major League debut, the Cardinals watched another game get out of hand as Jaime Garcia struggled on short rest. He allowed a double on his first pitch and a homer on his 15th, putting the Cardinals in an instant four-run hole that the Marlins only deepened en route to an 11-0 rout at Marlins Park on Saturday.
Garcia's ineffective 3 1/3-inning start left the Cardinals open to questions about whether starting the lefty on short rest was a prudent move. They were questions that manager Mike Matheny took exception to and characterized as convenient second-guessing.
"Easy to say now," Matheny retorted. "Anytime somebody doesn't perform like we know they can, you usually use the variables that you have, and that's an obvious variable. We made a decision early on. We have five guys that we like to start. We take everything into consideration, and when there's a short start, we talk to guys and get their input, whether that's something they'd like to do or not.
"It's just easy, man. It's easy to look at it now. Our back is against the wall. We start Tyler [Lyons] and it doesn't look good, then we're talking right now why we didn't short rest Jaime and start him, you know? It's how it goes. It didn't go the way we wanted it to right from the beginning, and then it was just a matter of trying to survive."
The Cardinals approached Garcia about starting on three days' rest for the first time in his career on Wednesday, a day after the lefty threw 77 pitches in the nightcap of a doubleheader. He became the preferred choice because of reservations Matheny had in holding either Lyons or Jerome Williams back for a spot start and then not having either reliever available out of the 'pen for several days before and after the outing.
As it turned out, both were summoned behind Garcia on Saturday, and Williams actually covered the most innings among the three.
"No excuse," Garcia said of pitching under new circumstances. "I think, overall, I didn't execute pitches the way I wanted to. I made mistakes in the middle of the plate against a really good lineup and paid the consequences. It didn't go the way I wanted it to. No excuse."
Dee Gordon lined Garcia's first pitch to center for the first of four hits the Marlins tallied within a five-batter span. The last, a two-run blast by Marcell Ozuna, gave the Marlins a four-run lead.
Garcia's night then came to an end after he allowed another two doubles and a successful sacrifice in the fourth. He allowed seven hits and six runs on 59 pitches while failing to finish four innings for the second time this year. Over his last five starts, Garcia has finished six innings once.
"My mentality the last couple years has just been to go out there and compete with what you have," Garcia said. "They asked me if I was willing to do that. I made a decision to go out there and take the ball. [My stuff] was good enough to compete. No excuse again. I just didn't execute the pitches the way I wanted it to."
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.