Going in to this game, it was arguably the most predictable chance to see a pitcher's duel. Sure, Strasburg vs Miller is exciting, but Gio Gonzalez vs Michael Wacha is the more safe bet for a real duel. And the first few innings of the game proved the point, at least to some extent, as I am writing this...
Allen Craig continued his resurgence, what there is of it so far, with 2 hits to start the game. Yadier Molina also continued his torrid hitting, and Mark Ellis stepped up with an RBI in his first Cardinal hit. Also, a pretty quick game in terms of pace. Two-thirds of the way through the contest, there were a total of 7 hits, one of them being a solo home run off of Wacha by 3B Rendon.
Michael Wacha gets himself into trouble in the 7th inning. He comes up with a big strikeout against McLouth with the bases loaded. He then shows much poise in making a great play on a force out at home which could just as easily been misplayed since the runner was close to a chopped ball near the plate, and the way the play played out could have easily forced a bad throw to home.
But then, all the work that Wacha put in was erased on a passed ball/wild pitch due to a rare Yadier Molina error, which allowed two runs to score in a very frustrating moment. Nats went up 3 to 1.
In the 8th, the Cards' answer was a Jon Jay double and a Matt Carpenter walk vs Tyler Clippard, leaving Gio Gonzalez's duel performance in the first 7 innings. After an epic at bat by Jhonny Peralta, Clippard was able to retire the batter on a ground out despite a ton of fouled off pitches and Peralta seeming to have his number.
Manager Matt Williams then went to his bullpen again, summoning Matt Storen to face Matt Holliday. Unfortunately for us Cardinal fans, Holliday popped out on the first pitch. This resulted in Allen Craig getting an opportunity to resume his magical RISP role from 2013 with 2 outs. In this particular occurrence though, the magic wasn't there.
Not much else happened in the game. In the 9th inning, Shane Robinson unfortunately hits into a double play, despite Matt Adams being on deck. If Matheny would have pinch hit Big City for Sugar Shane, who knows maybe the game goes into extra innings. But instead it hinged upon the wild pitch/passed ball error by Yadi. Perhaps if that wouldn't have happened, it would have went into extra innings at 1-1?
Guess we'll never know. Despite a loss, it was a much better game than the last two Friday night games. Next week, I'm taking a week off and The Continental is going to fill in for Friday night. I'll then meet the dude at VEB Day...
- Cardinals standout performances: Jay .089 WPA; Ellis .078; Wacha -.088; Robinson -.174; Holliday -.206
- Nationals standout performances: Gonzalez .290 WPA; Desmond .258; Storen .218; Espinosa .105; McLouth -.144; Clippard -.150; Lobaton -.168
- The Big Play: Yadi's error; or, alternately, the unclutchness of Holliday
Small sample size caveat... but I think it is fun to look at some single game stat lines beyond WPA. Allen Craig had a .543 wOBA for the night, but a slightly negative WPA. He actually scored the Cardinals only run for the night. Anthony Rendon's home run hardly gave him any WPA, but his wOBA for the night was .530 for his only hit. Laroche, Desmond, and Espinosa all had .297 wOBA. Jon Jay's pinch hit resulted in a hilariously skewed 1.279 wOBA for the night. But really, it was a pretty light night for both offenses with 5 hits a piece.
Gonzalez faced 26 batters, and Wacha 27. Each starter gave up 1 earned run. Rosenthal had the lowest FIP of the night, followed by Gonzalez who was at 1.48. Tyler Clippard's was the worst pitching performance of the night.
- Good: It was nice to see Allen Craig continue his resurgence. Keep it up, Master Allen. Wacha also was just fine, it's just that he was out-dueled by the great Gio Gonzalez and loaded the bases one inning.
- Bad: Matt Holliday popping up and getting out in a jiffy in a high leverage situation! And the offense in general not quite putting it all together. See also: Tyler Clippard's performance.
- Ugly: a rare Yadier Molina passed ball resulting in 2 runs during a high leverage situation.
- Gone: Rendon cranked one out, it was gone.
It was not the most active gamethread tonight, with well under 500 comments. There was a short exchange at the end though that touched upon some (albeit not too egregious) mathenaging:
For some late night tunes, here is an entire collection of Ennio Morricone compositions on the wonder that is youtube.