Cardinals fall to Mets 3-2; Wacha wicked, wild in windy NY

In the air tonight

Michael Wacha lost his hat and the game, but he gave a glimpse of a beautiful future in tonight's exciting, frustrating, exhilirating, irritating tilt.

There's the old saying about seeing something you've never seen before in every ballgame, no matter how many games you've watched. I saw a good half-dozen tonight.

Wacha

Any discussion of what transpired this evening needs to start with Michael Wacha's final line:

4 IP, 3H, 2ER, 5BB, 10K

Each of the first 9 outs Wacha recorded were via strikeout. He joined Aaron Harang (who had a better peak than you probably think), Dan Haren, Tim Lincecum, Sid Fernanez, and Ron Guidry as the only pitchers in history to have 9 K's through 3 IP.

He managed the feat in spite of some of the windiest conditions I've seen in a ballgame since the Giants left Candlestick in 2000 (gif)

Wacha had good command of his fastball and cutter, and his curve was probably the sharpest I've seen it. He made David Wright look foolish with the curve multiple times. He walked Jon Niese to start the 3rd inning, but finished it off with 3 straight dominating K's. After watching Jose Fernandez' 14K 8IP performance last night, I couldn't help but think Wacha could do something just as memorable if Mets hitters would start making a little bit of poor contact to keep the pitch count down.

It was not to be. Wacha's control abandoned him in the 4th inning. A pair of singles by Daniel Murphy and Travis d'Arnaud sandwiched a Lucas Duda walk, loading the bases. The previously brilliant Wacha walked in a pair or runs. He finished the inning on a Curtis Granderson pop-out, but due up to lead-off the 5th, Michael was lifted after 93 pitches.

Also

The Mets added a run in the 6th when Lucas Duda did to a bad Seth Maness pitch what bad Seth Maness pitches beg to be done to them (video).

Down 3-1, the Cardinals threatened in each of the last 2 frames. In the 8th, Matt Adams pinch-hit with Allen Craig and Yadier Molina in scoring position. He narrowly missed tying the game on a liner Curtis Granderson snagged in right.

The 9th inning saw Jon Jay and Matt Carpenter hit back to back singles with 1 out against Kyle Farnsworth. Daniel Descalso pinch-hit for Mark Ellis and doubled to deep left-center. Jay scored, Matt Carpenter was narrowly thrown-out at home, Matt Holliday flied-out, and the game was lost.


Source: FanGraphs

Given the early promise of Wacha's dominance and the general sluggishness of the Cardinals' offense of late, this was a frustrating game in many ways, but it was heartening to see Wacha's curve so sharp, and the 11 hits for the redbirds in the ledger aren't bad. It was just one of those days.



And

  • Matt Carpenter hit his 1st double of the season in a 4 for 5 night.
  • Yadi was 3 for 3 with a walk.

  • The run Matt Carpenter scored in the 1st occurred after the inning should have ended. Carpenter escaped a run-down on the prior play when Ruben Tejada failed to cover the bag after making a throw.
  • In challenging Carpenter's play at the plate in the 9th, Mike Matheny became the 30th and final manager to use a challenge.
  • Peter Bourjos popped-up to shallow left-field in the 3rd. The gusting wind blew the ball back into the infield, where it was not caught, but a force out resulted anyhow with Yadi stuck at 1st.
  • Seth Maness did this, which also serves as a pithy synopsis of the entire game.
  • Strangest of all, Kyle Farnsworth threw 9 straight off-speed pitches tonight.


In Sum

Silly? Weird? Yes. Frustrating? Yes. But, also this: Entering 2014, I had some concerns about how high Wacha's ceiling ultimately would be. As good as he looked last year, he really only threw his fastball and his changeup, and I didn't think that would be enough to maintain excellence. Well, tonight he pitched just 2 change-ups while flashing utter dominance with a heavy mix of cutters and curves. After this frustrating game, it's easier for me to imagine Michael Wacha as an annual all-star quality pitcher, and that's a hell of a happy takeaway from an otherwise rough affair. I'm glad to have watched it, frustrations and all. There's another game tomorrow, and I'm glad about that too.

Lance Lynn and Bartolo Colon finish the series tomorrow starting at 12:10.

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