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Cardinals' Rosenthal leads majors with 34 saves

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 4, 2014 at 3:12 pm •  Published: August 4, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Trevor Rosenthal's fastball tickles the triple digits, he has developed a nasty change-up and keeps his cool.

The 24-year-old right-hander leads the major leagues with 34 saves in his first season as the closer is a perfect fit for the St. Louis Cardinals.

"You guys have seen his demeanor, whether it's on the mound or in the clubhouse afterward, it's pretty consistent when he shuts the door and when he's had struggles," manager Mike Matheny told reporters. "I think that's one of those key characteristics of a guy who can do that job."

That's been the profile of most of the team's successful closers over the years. Jason Motte, who's regaining his footing coming off reconstructive elbow surgery, is more of a happy-go-lucky sort. Jason Isringhausen had a matter-of-fact demeanor and made it a point to be at his locker stall and face the music after the blown saves. Lee Smith, Tom Henke and Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter, too.

"It's fun, being the last guy out there," Rosenthal said. "Getting these wins is not something that I take for granted. It's definitely special."

The former 21st-round draft pick out of Lee's Summit, Missouri, took charge last September when Edward Mujica faltered. He has been a key piece ever since for the defending National League champions, who were a game back in the Central Division entering Monday after taking two of three from first-place Milwaukee over the weekend.

He saved both victories. On Sunday, he gave up a hit and walk but struck out Scooter Gennett and Carlos Gomez to end it. More impressive, he finished off Saturday's win by freezing Gerardo Parra with an off-speed delivery.

"Even last year, he had a good one," catcher Tony Cruz said. "We figured it out that's his second-best pitch."

Cruz didn't hesitate to call for the change-up, which keeps hitters from timing even the best fastball over an extended at-bat.

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