Ah, friends! The Cardinals lost again. A loss feels a little worse when it occurs in the midst of many other losses, and indeed tonight marked three consecutive series defeats. However, taken on its own, this evening's contest was simply one of those games. Both teams played well, exhibiting good pitching, good defense, and actually probably more good hitting than the final score indicated.
I was looking forward to tonight's matchup between young star pitchers Michael Wacha and Yordano Ventura as soon as I saw it on the schedule. While they didn't live up to their electric potentials, neither did they entirely disappoint. Ventura allowed just a pair of runs in six innings, though his 7 hit 2 BB 1K in 6IP line isn't all that pretty. Most importantly, he looked exactly like he did before his valgus stress overload diagnosis, averaging over 97 on his fastball, and topping out over 101 per Brooks Baseball. Wacha was dominant through the first five innings before running into enough trouble in the sixth to pickup the loss. He had a line remarkably similar to Ventura's: 3 runs, 7 hits, 1 BB, 1K in 6IP.
The Cardinals had at least one baserunner in every inning but Ventura's last, but were never able to come up with a hit big enough to blow the game open.
How they scored
With two outs in the 2nd, a Jon Jay single was followed by a Peter Bourjos stand-up triple to right center for the first run of the game. However, Matt Carpenter was unable to drive in Peter. Matt made up for it by driving in Jay from second base in the 4th inning with two outs.
All of the Royals runs were scored in the 6th inning. Alcides Escobar doubled off the left-field wall, and Norichika Aoki followed that by slashing a double of his own down the left-field line. Aoki moved to third on a ground-out, and Eric Hosmer singed a grounder through the right side to tie the game. Alex Gordon singled on a broken bat flare, and Hosmer scored the game's final run on a Salvador Perez seeing eye single through the middle.
In the end, the Cardinals scattered their hits while the Royals clustered theirs. There were some flares and lucky grounders involved, but plenty of hard hit outs as well. In a word, it was baseball.
That last run was scored as the ball scooted past an ineffectually flopping Daniel Descalso. Kolten Wong was removed in the bottom of the 5th inning after clearly not enjoying his last swing in the top of that inning. I can't find the video, but he grimaced and appeared to be bothered by the shoulder injury he suffered in the field two games ago.
Wong says his left shoulder is still inflamed and he might have to sit a game or two till it calms down. Says it was an issue in his last AB— Jim Hayes (@TheCatOnFox) June 6, 2014
Matheny chose to replace Wong with Daniel Descalso instead of Mark Ellis. Ellis is not a young guy and will likely be counted on to start a bit more until Wong his healthy, but it's difficult to fathom why Descalso was called on here. His left-handed bat sliding into the 2-spot broke up the righties at the top of the order, but he's a terrible hitter, so who cares? Ventura was gone by the next time the spot came up, and so was the lead. It's difficult to get a read on range from a television broadcast, but I sure am curious whether Mark Ellis would have been able to keep Perez' ball in the infield. The run scored from second on that play, not third.
Mike also removed Oscar Taveras from the game by bringing Randal Grichuk in to pinch run for Oscar after a lead-off single. Grichuk is certainly a little faster, but Oscar isn't slow, and had the Cardinals tied the game, Oscar's bat would be missing from the lineup and Grichuk's from the bench. I found it curious.
- Gordon robbed Carpenter in the first AB of the game
- Matt Carpenter saved his own face in the 4th.
- Craig grabbed a liner from Moustakas for one double play
- Oscar made a diving catch in the bottom of the 7th and turned another
- Jarrod Dyson in the top of the 8th nabbed a sinking liner from Yadi
- Norichika Aoki was beaned in the helmet in the 1st inning. By Yadi. Fortunately, everyone was ok.
- It was not Yadi's best game. He ran into an out in the 5th trying to stretch a single into a double. Friends don't let friends try run on Alex Gordon, and Yadi needed a friend tonight.
- After the end of the 5th inning, Michael Wacha briefly had a lower ERA than Adam Wainwright. He gave the title back in the 6th, but it's awfully exciting seeing Michael bloom like this.
- Wacha threw his curve nearly as often as his change tonight. There were a few poor pitches, but he also got a lot of balls rolled over on the curve.
- Carlos Martinez pitched the 7th and 8th innings. His command wasn't great in the 7th, but he breezed through the 8th, even throwing a couple of change-ups. It was interesting seeing him pitch after Yordano. With Martinez throwing more four-seamers, there are a lot of similarities between the fireballers.
- The low K total isn't too surprising despite the excellent pitchers. The Royals strike out by far the least in the league, and the Cardinals are in the bottom third as well.
- Oscar's single in the 9th was on a grounder up the middle. A strong play by Omar Infante made it a fairly close play and the ump called him out. Matheny asked for a crew review, which was granted, and the play was overturned.
- Greg Holland is phenomenal. After Taveras' hit, Holland struck out three in a row to end the game.
In-flight thought: watching Al Hrabosky play angry birds is a delight.— Jim Hayes (@TheCatOnFox) June 6, 2014
In what is both a treat and a punishment, the Cardinals move from Yordano Ventura to Marcus Stroman tomorrow.