By John Perrotto
ST. LOUIS _ The one thing we have learned about Ian Snell since he first came to the major leagues with the Pirates in 2004 is that you never know what you‚Äôre going to get from the right-hander.
He can be brilliant in one start and awful the next. There is seemingly never any in-between.
Tuesday night, he was awful, getting tagged for eight runs, six earned, and nine hits in four innings of a 9-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
He walked three, uncorked two wild pitches, gave up two home runs and threw just 49 of his 89 pitches for strikes.
‚ÄúI had nothing,‚Äù Snell said.
That was obvious from the outset as he gave up two runs in the first inning by walking his long-time nemesis
Albert Pujols with two outs and then surrendering a two-run home run to Chris Duncan, who lofted a towering fly ball that hit off the base of the right-field foul pole.
It never got any better. The Cardinals added
another run in the second, three in the third and two in the fourth to make it 8-1 before manager John Russell finally went to the bullpen.
Yadier Molina hit just the second triple of his career in the second inning and scored on a double by career minor-leaguer Joe Thurston.
Pujols belted a massive home run to left field in the third, a two-run shot that cleared the Pirates‚Äô bullpen, and
Thurston hit an RBI single later in the inning. Pujols is 15-for-41 with five homers off Snell in his career.
Khalil Greene hit a two-run double in the fourth but both runs were unearned because third baseman Andy LaRoche dropped Pujols‚Äô towering infield fly for a two-base error with two outs.
LaRoche has already made three errors in two games after committing five during the exhibition season.
‚ÄúI couldn‚Äôt locate my pitches,‚Äù Snell said. ‚ÄúI tried my damndest to get the ball inside and I couldn‚Äôt. I had no command and no control.‚Äù
Russell issued those sentiments.
‚ÄúHe never got into any kind of a rhythm the whole time he was out there,‚Äù Russell said.
Snell missed his final start of spring training last Thursday because of the flu but said that had no effect Tuesday.
‚ÄúI lost, no excuses,‚Äù he said
John Perrotto covers the Pirates for Baseball America, Piratesreport.com and Major League Baseball for baseball prospectus