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Cardinals walk-off for second straight night in 5-4 win

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The Cardinals played a weird game that was frustrating for most of it, but was ultimately one of the best games of the year.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

I thought about just writing 450 words of alternating Hs and As, because I have been laughing for most of the previous half-hour since the Cardinals won.  It is now definitely confirmed that the Cardinals have devil magic and I for one welcome it with open arms.  The dark side is so much more fun.  It is also confirmed that the entire Reds major league roster will be going on the DL before tomorrow's game after getting their hearts ripped out for the third consecutive day.

The game started off innocuously enough for the Reds.  The Cardinals took an early lead in the 3rd inning with singles from John Lackey (who went 2-2!), Matt Carpenter, and Matt Holliday.  They intentionally walked Matt Adams to load the bases for Jhonny Peralta for some reason.  Peralta drew a walk, but the umpire's eyes went blank when the ball crossed the plate, well inside.  Panicked, he called strike two thinking it was a safer bet because the other option was a run. (Peralta ended up flying out to end the inning)

But the Reds quickly took the lead away in the next half-inning.  Billy Hamilton reached base on an infield single - a valiant diving attempt by Wong, but Billy Hamilton was running.  After Lackey threw it wild to allow Hamilton to reach third base, he allowed a home run to deep center to Todd Frazier.  Thus, despite 5 Ks and 0 BBs through four innings, he had two earned runs.  To say this was frustrating is an understatement as he clearly was out-pitching Alfredo Simon.

In the 6th inning, Matt Holliday ran down a ball and it hit off his glove near the foul line.  Unlike Jay Bruce, Holliday received an error for his troubles.  With one out, Lackey then walked Frazier, perhaps in fear of allowing another homer to him.  Devin Mesorasco then hit a bullet right to Carpenter.  Carpenter bobbled it and threw a strike to first, but not in time.  He also was awarded an error for his troubles.  With the bases loaded, Ryan Ludwick doubled and gave the Reds a 4-1 lead.  The Reds did not score any more runs on the positive note despite having men on 2nd and 3rd with one out.

Simon, who at this point had improbably only allowed one run despite pitching pretty awful, had his luck run out in the 6th.  Jhonny Peralta hit a solo home run to put the game at 4-2.  Jon Jay then singled, to which Bryan Price responded by taking Simon out.  Oscar Taveras hit a single off new pitcher Sam Lecure to make it first and second with one out.  After Tony Cruz struck out, Mike Matheny looked at his stable of bench options.  He somehow resisted the opportunity to put in Daniel Descalso, but Shane Robinson was a worthy second option.  Robinson delivered, scoring Jay from second, but Taveras was thrown out trying to make it to third on the play.  It was a TOOTBLAN.

The score remained 4-3 until the 8th inning when Price brought in Jumbo Diaz, which is not me making fun of his weight but an actual name.  He walked Jon Jay and allowed a single to AJ Pierzynski (who had hit for Cruz).  It was time.  Dan Descalso came to the plate to work his magic.  Descalso wasted no time, swinging at the first pitch.  It was the most Descalso hit of all Descalso hits - a somewhat weakly hit soft liner over the third baseman's head, perfectly placed in between both the left fielder and the third baseman.  Upon the ball hitting his bat, there was no doubt it would fall.  And once that became clear, I laughed for the next five minutes non-stop.  Baseball is a beautiful game in its unpredictable nature from game-to-game.

So I guess after the Cardinals scored because of the likes of Robinson, Descalso, and Pierzynski, the 9th could be called a bit of a disappointment.  Except the Reds, bless their soul, decided not to lose in any sort of conventional way.  No they wanted to get creative in their loss.  "How can we lose in a new, exciting and different way?!" they asked themselves I'm guessing.  Matt Holliday worked a walk to lead off the inning.  No, that's not quite wacky enough.  Matt Adams didn't even give them time to think about an alternate strategy as he lined a hit.  With Jhonny Peralta up and refusing to get out, the idea hit JJ Hoover.  But wait... first thing's first: so he walked Peralta to load the bases.  Jon Jay came to the plate and was immediately hit by a pitch.  Hoover was pleased.  So pleased in fact that I urge none of you tell him that we have actually have had a walk-off hit by pitch this year.

This game was the perfect distillation of the Cardinals: they wait until the last second to win and they do it in the most improbable of fashions.  So, embrace that devil magic.  Being evil has its benefits such as winning, destroying the souls of your rival fans, and winning.  Basically there's a lot of winning involved.  And winning is really fun.

WPA Graph


Source: FanGraphs

The Cardinals statistically had an 8.3 percent chance of winning this game in the 6th inning.  Sometimes I really love baseball.  (I would like to apologize to opposing fans who are probably REALLY pissed at me right now and the Cards in general, except I'm supposed to be evil so I'm not sure that's allowed)

Notes

- It's appropriate that WWII war hero Descalso was one of the heroes of tonight's game, a game dedicated to the troops.

- For a game dedicated to the troops, Fox Sports Midwest sure wanted to give themselves a lot of credit.  I don't want to comment about it anymore for fear that Dan McLaughlin will come to my house tonight.

- John Lackey night: 6 IP, 7 Ks, BB, 4 hits, 2 ER (4 Rs); Alfredo Simon - 5.1 IP, 2 Ks, BB, 8 hits, 3 ER - The numbers show Lackey pitched way better than Simon and it sure as hell looked that way too.

- Extra-base hit watch: Only two of them tonight - one by Peralta who homered, and the other by Descalso, a double.  I was completely unaware Descalso made it to second until now.

- This review did not give enough credit to Jon Jay, who had a fantastic game.  He went 2-3 with a walk and a hit by pitch.  Jay scored the third and fourth runs and received an RBI for getting hit.

- That was probably one of the most fun wins of the year.  The suffering in the early goings apparently made the win so much greater.

Tomorrow, Lance Lynn faces off against Johnny Cueto.  Technically the Reds should be the favorite (although Lynn is no slouch), but you'd be a fool to count the Cardinals out tomorrow after these last two games.