Game Recap for 7/11/14: Cardinals Rally With Dingers And More Dingers, Bullpen Shuts Down Brewers

REDBIRDS FLYING HIGH - Mike McGinnis

One of the best games of the year just occurred on a Friday night, as the Cardinals bashed out 4 home runs in a dramatic comeback win to bail out Joe Kelly.

Oh my... oh my goodness... this is the game recap I've been waiting to write. All the others were "meh" in comparison, at best. The Cardinals did not give up tonight, fighting their way slowly throughout the game, utilizing home runs and a staunch bullpen to accrue a win.

It didn't look good from the beginning, with the Brewers scoring runs pretty easily off of the now returned Joe Kelly. Scooter Gennett was the sparkplug of the Brewers pesky offense tonight, going a gritty 3 for 5 with 2 RBI and posting the highest WPA for the Brewers' offense. Khris Davis was also rather annoying tonight, with 2 RBI as well.

When Gallardo singled in the 2nd, Gomez got a hit, and then Scooter Gennett (that name! gah!) tripled. I was dismayed, just like most Cardinal fans. And then Ryan Braun also tripled off of Joe Kelly. It didn't look good and some fans gave up on the game. The Redbirds were down 6-0 after all, and I certainly probably would have headed out of my modest apartment into the wily night if it weren't for this recap that needed to be written.

However, this game was a near perfect illustration of why not to give up, whatever it may be (well, within reason, I suppose). Tides will change, it is a fact of life. They may not always change, but there's always a chance. The ebb and flow of this particular baseball game allowed for no more runs by the Brewers, and 7 more for the Cardinals before the completion of the 9th inning.

The man that got it started was Big City Matt. Quickly becoming one of, if not my favorite Cardinals (at least on the position player side). Matt Adams went to the plate looking for a home run, it appeared to me. This may not always be the best idea, but when down by 6 runs, it is not a bad idea at all. He hit a foul ball with a nice and smooth upper cut swing, foreshadowing what was to come.

He crushed a Gallardo pitch over 450 feet in that at bat, this time fair, scoring Matt Holliday, who had doubled earlier. It is nice to see 2nd Half Matt is in effect now. The dinger parade was far from over though. Kolten Wong's solo shot made it a 3 run game in the 5th. Then Matt Holliday walked, inching the WPA graph closer to center... at which point, the sole HR force of the Cardinals so far, shortstop Jhonny Peralta, hit his 14th home run of the season. He is my other favorite position player this year.

A little later, the Cardinals were threatening on offense again. A high leverage walk by Tony Cruz set the table for a pinch hit Oscar Taveras ground out RBI, which tied the game at 6 in the 6th. Here's the graph illustrating this phenomenon:


Source: FanGraphs

The Brewers threatened, but could not get through the tenuous grip of the St. Louis bullpen. They were not dominant, but they got the job done. Nick Greenwood did some kind of tightrope walk but got through 2 innings of work unscathed. Seth Maness with his 3.23 FIP (1.92 for the night) also dispatched the Brewers hitters in an inning and two-thirds. And the greatest of all time, Pat Neshek, picked up the W tonight with an inning and a third of work, scoring the 2nd highest WPA for the Cards' pitchers. Closer Trevor Rosenthal shut the door in the Brewers face with a save that featured no walks and one hit.

The hero of the night, arguably, was Matt Holliday, who was visibly relieved in a post-game interview. I think the guy maybe worries too much about what people think of his hitting. I am sure he would love to hit a lot more home runs. I neglected to mention earlier that he hit a home run tonight, a searing, scorching line drive that was such an archetypal Matt Holliday home run that I can't really think of what else to say other than that is kind of the embodiment of what type of hitter he really is. It's just that this one actually left the ballpark.

Peralta was the other hero on offense, and I don't want to think where the team would be without him this season. His 2 RBI on the home run was good for the 2nd highest WPA on the offense for this game.  Best part is that the team appeared to really gel tonight and find some identity, or at least, garnered a morale boost out of a rough start. They did not give up! There's something to be said for that.

The bullpen might be the hidden hero though... their WPA was .194 (Rosenthal), .168 (Neshek), and .097 (Maness). They needed to stop the Brewers in their tracks, and they did. What a great win! The Cardinals are now just 1 game back with one of the best records in the NL.

Tune in tomorrow at 3:10pm for the next installment of this cliffhanger that is baseball. Did I mention that the Cardinals hit 4 home runs tonight?? WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Music selection for tonight:

Cheatahs debut full length which is here on youtube, you can hear the whole thing. It is fun, beautiful, and interesting, listen to it and be moved. It is quite likely my soundtrack for the summer... it's that good. Genre-wise, it's about the closest thing to pop that I listen to, many call it "shoegaze".

Notes

Yadier Molina and Jaime Garcia both had successful surgeries today. Peralta hit his 14th home run of the season, Adams hit his 11th, Holliday his 6th, and Wong his 5th! The guy even missed playing time twice due to reasons outside of his control, so he'd perhaps be tied with Holliday in home runs (he was briefly tonight). What a rookie second baseman! Matt Adams leads the team with a robust .888 OPS and .333 batting average.

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