Cardinals vs Pirates Recap: Just a Terrible Game, Cards Lose 9-1

Dilip Vishwanat

Cards fail to sweep the Pirates, in first of dozens of games without Yadier Molina.

Consider the state of the St. Louis Cardinals just yesterday. They were coming off three straight victories over the Pirates, two on walkoff home runs, and the offense seemed--for the first time in a long time--to be clicking on all cylinders.

But now?

Into what pit thou seest

From what height fallen--

--now Yadi is out 8-12 weeks, the Cards failed to accomplish a sweep, and the Pirates won in a 9-1 laugher.

The Yadier news is a bitter pill to swallow, and it was an ugly game tonight--but all is not lost. The Phillies beat the Brewers, who are now just two games up on the Cardinals with a three-game series between the two beginning this weekend.

The long season continues.

Shelby Miller

5.0 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 1 K. He threw 67 fastballs and 21 curveballs, getting seven swinging strikes on the fastball and, disappointingly, none on his curveball. His command was not always sharp, but he was missing some bats. The problem was that when he reached two strikes against a batter he was unable either to induce a whiff for the K or to fool the batter and get a backwards K.

A good summary of the night was Pedro Alvarez's second-inning at-bat, which went: curveball for a strike, curveball for a strike, fastball for a ball, fastball hit for a double:

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Not a terrible pitch--a 95mph fastball up in the zone--but again, Alvarez only had to prepare for a fastball and adapt to a curve, with no other options to worry about. (Shelby threw four changeups, only one for a strike.)

Once Alvarez guessed fastball and decided to swing at it, an element of chance entered into the situation, and the swing resulted in a weak flyball to left field which landed less than a foot inside the foul line for a double.

In Alvarez's second at-bat, he guessed a first-pitch curve but got a fastball, which he swung through hilariously. He guessed curveball again on the second pitch, and received it, and hit the curve hard to right field but directly at Oscar Taveras for the third out of the fourth inning. So if there was bad luck for Shelby in Alvarez's first at-bat, the luck was on Shelby's side the second time around.

But luck isn't everything. Just ask Tyler Lyons, who looked terrible tonight, and whom I will pass over in silence.

Yadier's Absence, How It Was Felt

Tony Cruz went 0-3 with a strikeout and also allowed two stolen bases, both to Andrew McCutchen in the first inning. Cutch basically manufactured the Pirates' first run all by himself, as he singled, stole second off Cruz and Shelby, stole third, then scored on a Neil Walker single.

Cruz also allowed a run to score from third on a passed ball in the wretched sixth inning. It was a very poor pitch by Tyler Lyons, it should be noted.

Cardinals' Play of the Game

Cardsbunt58_medium

from Fangraphs. I mean just look at that.

Notes:

  • Jon Jay had a rough game, going 0-3 and grounding into an inning-ending double play in the fourth inning, with a man on third and the game still tied at 1-1. His WPA for the game was -.19, worst of all Cardinals except Shelby. Jay also wasn't able to track down a bases-loaded double to deep centerfield in the sixth, which increased the Pirates' lead to 6-1. Granted, of course, that the game was probably over at that point, and he wasn't alone: Taveras also looked bad going back on Neil Walker's two-run ground-rule double in the fifth inning, which was the most important play of the game by WPA.
  • And yes, the above is probably a passive-aggressive suggestion that Peter Bourjos play more often, especially behind a flyball pitcher such as Shelby, whose groundball percentage tonight was only 5.9%. Which, given that he only struck out one batter, means there were lots of balls in the air.
  • Bourjos singled in the ninth inning after replacing Matt Holliday.
  • Jason Motte pitched the ninth, allowing nothing at all except a home run to Russell Martin.
  • Kolten Wong bunted for a hit in the third inning, just as Matt Carpenter had done Wednesday night. Wong then stole second, his team-leading 11th of the year. He also later reached base on a hit-by-pitch.
  • Allen Craig did not play. Here's a sad factlet: Craig hits tons of ground balls these days, famously, but it turns out there is one silver lining to that dark cloud: Craig ranks up near the top of the league in infield hits, way up there with the absolute fastest players in the game. He has 13 infield hits this year; Dee Gordon leads the majors with 17, with Puig right behind him. Craig is right ahead of Andrelton Simmons and just behind Hunter Pence. I guess that's what happens when you hit lots of ground balls and then hustle in despair and frustration to first base. Come back to us, Wrench.

WPA Graph, which proves that the Cardinals weren't always bound to lose this game:


Source: FanGraphs

The Cards' final series before the All-Star break begins tomorrow, and it's a doozy: Cardinals at Milwaukee, Joe Kelly exiting the DL to start against Yovani Gallardo tomorrow night at 7:10 central.

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