Oh downplays exit after notching 100th K

Matheny opts to play it safe for final out of 9th inning

Oh downplays exit after notching 100th K

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh downplayed the severity of the groin tightness that bumped him from Wednesday's 2-1 loss to the Reds, insisting that he expects to be available for the final four games of the regular season.

Oh, who sat for seven days this month due to the groin issue, aggravated the area when he came off the mound trying to make a play. After a short conference on the mound with manager Mike Matheny, interpreter Eugene Koo and a team athletic trainer, Matheny decided to bring in lefty Zach Duke to notch the final out of the ninth inning.

"He had already thrown a lot of pitches," Matheny said of Oh, who threw 25 over 1 1/3 innings. "I was going to be careful with him anyhow, going too far. We get to the lefties [in the Reds' lineup], and Duke is ready. All that pointed in the direction of getting him off the field and making sure we didn't push him any further."

Early tests by the medical staff corroborated Oh's assessment that the issue is not serious.

"If they [hadn't] come out to the mound, I would have kept going," Oh said. "I could have pitched to the end."

Before leaving, Oh notched some of the biggest outs of the night. With the Cardinals trying to keep the deficit at one, Matheny aggressively called on Oh with one out and a runner at third in the eighth. Oh answered with consecutive strikeouts, boosting his season total to 100.

Oh fans Renda

He joins Mark Littrell and Trevor Rosenthal as the only Cardinals relievers to secure a 100-strikeout season. Littrell struck out 120 in 1978, while Rosenthal fanned 108 three years ago.

"Doesn't really mean much for me," said Oh, whose season strikeout rate of 11.58 per nine innings ranks third in franchise history among relievers. "I want the team to win, obviously, and that's my primary focus right now."

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.