Rosenthal tosses strong frame in return

Rosenthal tosses strong frame in return

SAN FRANCISCO -- The timing of Trevor Rosenthal's appearance Friday was mostly meaningless, but the results hardly so for a reliever trying to finish a tumultuous season at his best.

Pitching the seventh inning of an eventual 8-2 loss, Rosenthal retired the Giants in order and garnered strikeouts of Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. It was Rosenthal's first appearance since a shoulder and forearm injury sidelined him after a July 24 appearance. The Cardinals had activated him at the start of this four-game series.

"I felt like my command was better. I felt good," Rosenthal said afterward. "Just from the injury standpoint, I don't have the pain in my forearm, the tearing sensation I was getting with the muscle. It's night and day. Having that out of the way is a lot different."

Rosenthal threw 15 pitches, 12 of which were fastballs, as he eased through the inning. His fastball averaged 97 mph and touched 99. He generated three swing-and-misses on the pitch.

The performance is likely to earn Rosenthal enhanced opportunities, too. Friday's clean inning only added to the strong impression Rosenthal made while wrapping up his rehab work over the last week with a pair of simulated innings. Rosenthal won't be reclaiming his closer's job anytime soon, but he could again fit as a late-inning option.

"I see kind of what we're working with, and we need to have some clean innings," Rosenthal said of his undefined role. "It kind of reminds me of my role in 2012 when I just kind of filled in. We need our bullpen to really step up."

Though Rosenthal had three scoreless appearances just before landing on the disabled list in late July, his reliability had waned as the season went on. By late June, Rosenthal had been replaced as closer. He went on the DL with a 5.13 ERA and career-high walk rate of 7.3.

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.