True or not, some recurring narratives are persistent. The soft-tossing lefty that makes the Cardinals look helpless. The tendency of certain pitchers to give up the big inning. And, of course, the rookie who comes out of nowhere to shut down the Birdos. Narratives hang on because, sometimes, they happen. When they do, it reinforces the narrative more effectively than the instances when they fail to materialize erodes it.
And so it was tonight, as David Buchanan, with 5 fairly mediocre major league starts under his belt, largely shut down the Cardinals offense for 7 2/3 innings. He allowed just 4 hits while striking out 4 and inducing 11 ground ball outs.
The Cardinals had a nice scoring opportunity in the 2nd, with Matt Adams doing that thing he so enjoys doing to that shift for a single to left field. Yadier Molina followed up with a single of his own just off Jimmy Rollins glove. Adams, going on the pitch, motored (!) over to third. Alas Jhonny Peralta struck out and Kolten Wong lined out to Rollins to end the threat.
We were treated to a Thou Shalt Not moment in the 3rd, when Yadi threw out Rollins stealing second. It was a close play, but Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg declined to challenge.
Shelby went through the first 3 innings fairly unscathed, allowing just a walk and a single. The 4th, however, was a different story. Carlos Ruiz started the inning off with a double to right center. A Chase Utley single put runners at the corners with no one out. And then noted St. Louisan Ryan Howard stroked a ground ball just past a diving Wong, driving in Ruiz and keeping runners at first and third. Shelby came back and struck out Marlon Byrd swinging, but Domonic Brown managed to sac fly Utley home. John Mayberry grounded out to get Shelby out of the inning.
An odd and unfortunate play in the 5th. Matt Adams made an excellent play on a Reid Brignac grounder ripped down the 1B line. Adams was well behind the bag, and Shelby, a bit late in going over to cover first (possibly surprised that SMASH! was able to get to the ball at all), took the toss from Matt and slid into first. Brignac tried to slide into first ahead of Shelby, but caught his foot on the bag and badly wrenched his ankle. Reid was helped off the field, and Cesar Hernandez took over at third. Later on the Phillies announced that X-rays of Brignac's ankle were negative.
In the 6th, with Utley already at first, noted St. Louisan Ryan Howard took Shelby DEEEEEEEEEEEP... into the left field camera well. There aren't many places to get a cheapish home run at Busch III, but Ryan found one.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals bats were slumbering. Buchanan had set down 11 batters in a row until Shelby tried to wake the offense with a lead off double in the 6th. Mr. Buchanan would simply take care of the next three batters and restore order. After the game, Matheny described Buchanan as having late movement, later movement than they were expecting based on their video and scouting.
In the 7th, with two out and a runner at third, Shelby suddenly appeared to be in some sort of discomfort. After going up 0-2 on Carlos Ruiz, Miller didn't look quite right. Cardinals trainer Greg Hauck and Matheny came out to check on him, watched a single test pitch, then let him go back to work on Ruiz. Shelby proceeded to throw 4 94mph fastballs out of the zone to put Ruiz on, each pitch looking more painful than the last. That would be the end of the night for Miller. Randy Choate was called upon to close out the inning, striking out Chase Utley.
Highest WPA: Yadi .036, Carpenter .011, Choate .011
Lowest WPA: Shelby -.130, Jay -.126, Wong -.088