Hello, dr. howl here for a Moonday night (hopefully resulting in a big WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!). But we'll see. I haven't written a recap for a bit so I am going to make this one more in depth than usual.
Justin Masterson gets the start for the Cardinals. His 4.01 SIERA is good for a fifth starter, so I guess I'll consider him that. Lackey should probably be better going forward. I'm not sure if Shelby Miller will be in the rotation the whole season, so whoever replaces him should probably be a 4th starter level of goodness. Or if it remains Shelby, Masterson could certainly move more towards that if he isn't already at a 4.01 ZiPS projection going forward as well.
Mike Leake has fared much better than Justin Masterson this season and is one of the Reds' best pitchers. He's expected to worsen a tiny bit by the projections systems, but not by much. He will probably remain about as effective as he has been, going forward. Seems like quite a good young pitcher. And handsome too! (doesn't anyone still get that joke?/meme?).
Pitching, however, is one of the reasons the Reds haven't been doing all that well. They are at 8.9 fWAR so far, the Cards at 10.6. Going by ERA though, the Reds have been more successful, as well as by xFIP. So I'm not really sure what to think now that I look up all the stats. Going by SIERA, the Reds pitching has been a tad better than the Cards. And the Reds have been perhaps a little lucky by BABIP... but their K rate as a team is quite good.
Offense is the real reason the Reds have been failing. If you think the Cardinals has been bad, well the Reds has been arguably worse. Much worse by wRC+. They definitely have more power, but that's pretty common since this Cards team has very little pop. The Reds really have struggled with on-base percentage though. And their team batting average is .244 with a .291 BABIP.
One area where the Reds are pretty amazing is at defense. They are arguably the best defense in the NL especially with Zack Cozart at shorstop and Billy Hamilton in center field. Phillips, Heisey, Frazier, and Mesoraco are all superby defenders as well, and the team has very, very little defensive liability with Jay Bruce being the worst at a barely negative UZR. If I were a Reds fan, it's what I would be proud of watching, because there's not much else going their way this year at 61-63. They are not out of it though (meaning the Cubs will probably get yet another high draft pick, ugh).
Billy Hamilton picked up a leadoff single to begin the game. Next, Masterson struck out Jay Bruce on a ball he should have pummeled. Frazier then hammered out a single on a ball right down the middle. Masterson answers with another strikeout vs Mesoraco, this time with better movement. And then he went and struck out Ryan Ludwick to escape the 2 singles. Not a bad first inning.
After 2 outs due to groundouts, the Cardinals scored in the first inning because of a Matt matted in by Matt Adams. Adams doubled in the based on balls Holliday to make the lead 1-0. Then Peralta hit a laser at Jay Bruce, who came this close to catching it, but it was hit too hard and ricocheted out of his glove. This knocked in the fleeter of feet than you think Matt Adams.
Masterson sliced through the lukewarm Reds lineup in inning 2 with not strikeouts but groundouts and a fly ball. In the third, he is helped out by Matt Holliday catching a ball at the wall, which slammed Holliday up against the fence but he didn't falter even though he probably had the wind knocked out of him. The last two outs were less scary, with a Billy Hamilton groundout and another flyball caught by Oscar Taveras.
In the bottom of the 3rd, Matt Carpenter lined one down the first base line which ended up being fair but not by a whole lot. He ended up getting a double out of it. Kolten Wong struck out batting 2nd, then vs Holliday there was a wild pitch, which allowed Matt C. to advance to third. This time the Matt matted in was Holliday matting in Carpenter with a sharply hit low ball from Mike Leake.
In the 4th, Masterson got himself into a little trouble, but Matt Carpenter and Matt Adams both made great plays in a double play; Carpenter scooping the ball towards the third base side, and Adams scooping a poorly thrown ball to salvage the double play. He then gets out of the inning again with a dropped 3rd strike that Pierznyski was able to get to right away and throw out the runner on.
Down in the order, Pierzynski flied out, Taveras got a hit, and then Jay in his weird spot tried to get a hit but didn't. The 4th inning ended with Oscar Taveras getting thrown out stealing (which required a Reds challenge).
This seemed to be a bit of a momentum shift for the game. In the fifth, Masterson got into trouble again, with Brayan Pena doubling to right, Zack Cozart doubling too, and eventually Jay Bruce homering to put the Reds ahead 4-3. Wow, that got out of hand really really quick. Justin got a groundout to end the inning.
Matt Adams has been really great at defense. This game was no exception. He saved some hits just based on his defensive prowess. Big Matt doubled in the bottom half of the sixth for his 30th double of the season, after his exceptional defense in the top. Unfortunately, the Cards were unable to get Adams home... moving on to the 7th.
The Return of El Gallo: despite giving up a double to Mike Leake, Carlos Martinez carved through the order and eliminated any chance of the pitcher scoring from second. During the bottom of the 7th, Jon Jay increases his hit streak to 10 games. Then we got to a witness a very gritty Daniel Descalso double! Now that's clutch. Dirty Dan sent the win expectancy for the Cardinals from 34.9% to 62.2%.
Somehow Cardinal pitching got through a rough 8th. Sam Freeman was rather shaky, but Seth Maness was able to bail the Cards out of another sticky situation. In the bottom of the 8th, the Cardinals offense came back to life. Jhonny Peralta hit another double and AJ Pierzynski singled him home to put the Cardinals up 5-4.
Trevor Rosenthal did his usual trick of walking a batter in the 9th. Not sure how often he walks the first batter, but it seems pretty normal to me at this point of the season. His walk rate really has been real bad this year. Ricky Horton made this feel worse by repeatedly saying "you never want to walk Billy Hamilton in the 9th inning". This inevitably lead to Billy Hamilton scoring, of course. Jay Bruce was a major factor for the Reds offense, doubling in Hamilton.
After 9 innings, the game basically was reset, tied 5-5 into the 10th.
Nick Greenwood grounded out the side in the top of the 10th. Then the Cardinals offense went to work and figured out how to win this thing. Matt Holliday singled. Matt Adams singled. Then Jhonny Peralta produced big time with a game whinning double over the left fielder's head.
So the Cardinals won Jon Hamm night in dramatic fashion. It was a really fun game and I'm glad it didn't go past the 10th because it seemed like it could go either way all night. Masterson had another disappointing start, but the offense was able to pick up the slack, and the bullpen was not a total disaster.
WPA is not the most meaningful stat, but it certainly can be used to help illustrate the details and peculiarities of a game. Much of the WPA rested in the hands of the offense tonight, as Matt Adams went 3 for 5 and had the highest WPA with .341.... that is, on the Cardinals. Jay Bruce was actually the biggest factor in this game, as it felt like Cardinals pitching was just trying to get the guy out after he struck out in the first inning (.440). Unsurprisingly, the clutch hit of Descalso was next best at .274. Peralta of course was up there too... but I did find it rather odd that Holliday was barely positive in WPA, as he seemed like a big factor in this game with a 2 for 4 night, walk, and RBI as well as some seemingly clutch plays.
Trevor Rosenthal finally went over the line he often toes tonight, letting the game go into extra innings. He is having a truly weird season, I think we should all remember. His K rate is really really good, and people are not hitting home runs off him. But his BABIP against is freakin' .343 and his walk rate is through the roof. I hope this is a weird anomaly and things balance out soon, because it is getting tiresome, and I'm sure for him mostly it would seem.
The Cards are now 10 games over .500 and 2.5 games back to the 70-55 Brewers of 2014. Despite tonight's performance, Rosenthal is 4th in saves just behind Craig Kimbrel, one short. The Cardinals offense pitched in from all sides with RBI from 5 different players.
Tomorrow, Lackey takes on Simon at 7:15pm, who are both 12-8 just for curiosity's sake. Simon is definitely having the better season, but that didn't stop the team from winning tonight in Masterson vs. Leake.