5/21 Recap: Cardinals win 3-2 in extras in spite of Matheny

Jason Motte is back! - Dilip Vishwanat

The Cardinals won in 12 innings thanks to an error by the Diamondbacks, or else we'd still be in front of the television waiting for someone to score.

Baseball is a weird sport.  Managers can be and routinely are awful and it usually doesn't matter at all.  You can physically make your team worse, make terrible decisions, injure the star player, fail to understand what arm fatigue is, and salute Satan in between innings, and it barely affects most games.  Mike Matheny didn't have his worst game on Wednesday night - hell I'm not sure it's top ten - but he refused to take out Dan Descalso in critical situations and the team won anyway (even though Descalso failed miserably)

Speaking of which, Dan Descalso has what I will now call the Michael Young effect.  When Ian Kinsler was traded to Tigers, he claimed that the loss of -1.6 WAR Michael Young was the reason the Rangers had fallen off.  Now, I personally believe Young put a spell over the clubhouse that made himself seem important.  Descalso must have gotten a hold of that potion.  Because someone important in the clubhouse has his back - probably Matheny based off tonight's game - and it makes NO SENSE.  So logically, my best assumption is that Descalso pulled Matheny out of a burning building, won him a lot of money by telling him the numbers to the lottery ticket, and then punched his sister's jackass boyfriend who has since disappeared from the country.

Michael Wacha

The end result of Wacha's game was zero earned runs through six innings.  He unfortunately left the game early because he was hit by a line drive foul ball off the bat of Matt Adams.  He has a right elbow contusion, which I won't pretend to know the severity of.  At this point, I'm assuming he will hit the DL, but that is based off nothing but my pessimistic nature.  This happened AFTER Wacha was the near victim of a line drive hit right back to him on the mound.  He caught it - somehow - but that is some Final Destination freaky stuff right there.

Anyway, Wacha was pretty good.  He allowed no runs, but he was inconsistent with his control, walking three batters.  He only struck out four batters to counteract that high total.  He had a .133 BABIP against for the game, some of which was skill and some of which was luck.  I remember a couple bullets that benefited from being hit right at fielders.  In all, he was probably somewhere between a 3.25 FIP and a 4.35 xFIP, which is perfectly fine.

In addition to his ninja-catching skills on the mound, he made a nice play to save a run.  Brandon McCarthy bunted with a runner on third and Wacha swiftly underhanded the throw to Molina who tagged the runner out.  Molina was kind of blocking the plate, so the Diamondbacks challenged.  Al proceeded to say that if they overturned it, the players might as well put on skirts proving that not only is he awful at announcing, he's sexist.

The Bullpen

Carlos Martinez came in the 8th inning and had arguably one of his worst games this season - at least results-wise.  Eric Chavez hit the first pitch he saw, the ball being perfectly placed between short and third.  Then he missed location on Gerardo Parra pitching it a little high and a little in, but too much in the strike zone.  Parra made him pay by hitting it over the fence giving the Diamondbacks the only runs they would score.  He later walked Miguel Montero on five pitches.  On the bright side, he struck out Aaron Hill in a sequence that reminded us of his potential.

In the 10th, with one out and one man on, Jason Motte returned for the first time since Tommy John surgery.  He had a rough first inning back, pitching three straight balls to begin his outing.  Then he was bailed out on a 3-1 count receiving a gift call.  Owings flew out in a ball that was well-struck.  Paul Goldschmidt then hit a rocket double down the left field line.  Luckily Matt Holliday played it perfectly off the wall, threw a strike to Descalso, who then threw a strike to Molina.  Molina was comfortably at the plate with the ball when Ender Inciarte tried to slide past him.  It probably saved the game.

The Trials of Descalso

If you're like me, you saw Descalso in the lineup and immediately stewed with anger.  Oh, but it was so much worse somehow.  With two on and two out in the 2nd inning, Descalso hit a line drive to center for an out.  Ok, this one wasn't his fault, there were two outs, and he hit the ball pretty hard.  Then in the 4th inning, Descalso came to the plate once again with runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 outs.  He proceeded to strike out looking.

In the 6th inning, Descalso had a man on 1st and 3rd with... two outs and grounded out to the pitcher.  To be fair, Peter Bourjos wasn't much better in these outcomes.  He also hit a bullet to center for an out in the 2nd, and in the 6th he swung at the first pitch and hit a weak pop-up.  It was a horrendous at-bat.  But he did manage to sandwich those results with a walk so Bourjos only really had one bad at-bat.

When Descalso came to the plate in the 8th, he was 0-3 with six men left on base.  The game had recently been tied by Jon Jay and Descalso lined out again to center field.  Lastly and mercifully, he came to the plate AGAIN with men on base in a close game.  This time the bases were loaded, there was somehow two outs for the fifth time, and Jhonny Peralta was fiddling with his thumbs in the dugout.  The count was 2-1 and he swung at a ball.  He then weakly grounded out to the pitcher again.

Finally tally: 0-5, 10 men left on base - Now I'm just guessing Peralta could have done better and we don't have to play 12 innings.

The Winning Inning

Trevor Cahill, recently converted reliever, came into the game to pitch his second inning.  Matt Holliday worked a walk to start off the inning.  Adams crushed a double to bring the runners to 2nd and 3rd.  Then the Diamondbacks curiously intentionally walked Yadier Molina to load the bases with nobody out.

Allen Craig was then up, having previously gotten on base all five times he came to the plate.  He battled the count to 2-2.  Cahill delivered and Craig.... grounded out to short.  But luckily Chris Owings threw it pretty wild and it got past the catcher.  So the Cardinals win by virtue of another team's error.  A win is a win and I'll take one any way I can get it.

Notes

- Allen Craig went 3-4 with two walks.  One of the walks was unintentional intentional and two of the hits were BABIP-aided.  Though really, he could use some BABIP luck.  He raised his wRC+ from 73 to 83 and his BABIP from .256 to .271.

- There was also a controversial warning issued by the umpire after Martinez nearly hit Owings.  I thought it got away from him and was clearly unintentional, but the ump issued a warning.

- Matt Holliday went 1-4, but was hit by a pitch, doubled, and walked.  He had a pretty good game since two of those events happened in extras when the Cards needed it.

- Yadier Molina bunted with nobody out and two men on in extra innings.  I don't know how I feel about this, because Molina is so slow a double play ball could easily happen and a bunt in that situation improves your odds to score a run.  But still, Molina has been our best hitter.  Discuss.

- Matheny made one great move in my opinion.  With right-handed specialist Brad Ziegler in the game, he pinch-hit Jon Jay for Bourjos, knowing the DBacks had no more lefties in the pen.  It paid off when Jay tied the game on a sac fly. (Though later he struck out with the bases loaded and one out, allowing Descalso to also fail) - Still process-wise, it's a great move with Jay being a superior hitter to Bourjos against righties.

WPA Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Tomorrow, the Cardinals face the Diamondbacks looking to sweep them hopefully in a game less stressful than this.  Dan Descalso probably isn't starting tomorrow *furiously knocks on wood* so I can almost guarantee it!  It's Lance Lynn against Wade Miley.  It should be a good pitching matchup.

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