Tonight in the City of Brotherly Love
The Phillies were troubled by terrible gloves
The Cards made the most
Of the errors that cost
And after 12 innings, they came out above
Guys, I'm going to give it to you straight: I just got home from a five-hour poker game and had half a leg in bed when I remembered that I needed to write this thing. So, it's going to be a quick-and-dirty recap tonight (or tomorrow, as the case may be).
First, and most importantly, the Cardinals won tonight. In a Shelby Miller start. In a bandbox stadium. In an extra inning game. Not at home. Unlikely and impressive. Who cares if the Phillies aren't that good? The Redbirds scored six runs on 13 hits, and over the last couple of weeks it seems like we do, indeed, have an offense. All good stuff.
The Cardinals scored first in the bottom of the 2nd inning on a solo home rhun off Jhonny Peralta - his 18th of the season. In the bottom of the 4th, the Phils scored two runs on three consecutive hits from Marlon Byrd, Domonic Brown, and Carlos Ruiz. That was really the only trouble Shelby Miller got into all evening. (/Checks to see if Shelbs ran the bases in the top of the 4th, sees that he did not.) I have seen and recapped a LOT of Miller starts this year, and this was one of his better outings, at least in terms of his "stuff." The velocity on his fastball was up - topping out at 96.1 mph, with an average velocity of 94.3 mph, per brooks baseball - and his sinker seemed have a lot more...sink. His final line: 6.0 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 3 SO.
In the top of the 5th, the Cardinals tied the game on consecutive singles from Miller and Matt Carpenter and consecutive ground outs from Kolten Wong and Matt Holliday to push Miller around the bases. Then things got crazy in the 6th. Pierzynski led off with a double, followed by a single from Oscar Taveras (YAY!) to left field that perhaps could have been caught. Pierzynski started to go to third, but then thought the ball would be caught so didn't, but then saw that the ball dropped, then DID, and then drew the throw from Brown, which was just awful. AJ scored and Taveras ended up at third base. Jon Jay - he of the .380 OBP - walked next, and with runners on first and third and the pitcher up, Matheny called for a sweet little safety squeeze that worked beautifully. Miller bunted the ball down the third base line, Taveras broke home on a great jump, and there was no play at the plate. The Phillies' third baseman rushed the throw to first to try to get Miller, but instead threw the ball away, allowing Jay to score.
A Choate/Neshek combo gave the Phils two runs back in the bottom of the 8th, and the game remained tied until the top of the 12th, when the Redbirds managed to manufacture a run on the following sequence: Descalso walk, Jay sacrifice bunt (ARGHHHHH), Bourjos infield single, and Carpenter sacrifice fly. I'll take a run any way I can get one, I suppose. Rosenthal made it through the 12th allowing no hits and no walks to notch his 38th save of the season.
- It is August 24, and I still don't quite know what to make of Shelby Miller. And it occurs to me that maybe he is just what he seems: a middle- to back-end of the rotation guy with an above average fastball who is going to be good for 6 or so innings and 3-4 runs about 75% of the time. 5-10% of the time, he'll be stellar, and the other 15-20% of the time...well, be prepared to have a quick hook.
- WHY WHY WHY WHY did Matheny have Jon Jay bunt in the top of the 12th? Does he even watch the games? Jay now leads the team in on base percentage, and has been the Cardinals' best hitter in the last month - posting a .391/.488/.531 line in 80 PAs during that time. Now, you and I know that hot streaks aren't predictive, but Mike Matheny doesn't know that! This is the exact scenario where a manager like Matheny would want Jay swinging away! Regardless of how you feel about streaks and playing the hot hand and the value of consistent playing time, the truth is that Jay has been a very good, if not great hitter this season, and Peter Bourjos has not (although he has been decent in the last month, also). Calling for the bunt in that situation was not my favorite move. I love and hate that it worked out.
- With the Brewers' loss, the Cardinals are only a 1/2 game out of first place. The Brewers have a somewhat favorable stretch coming up against the Padres, Giants, and Cubs, while the Cardinals have a somewhat less favorable stretch against the Pirates, Cubs, and Pirates. The Brewers will come to St. Louis for a four-game series starting September 4. At this point, I am actually more worried about those Pittsburgh series. The Bucs have McCutchen back and sit just 4 games back of first. The Central is still very much up for grabs, and from what I've seen in the past couple of weeks, it would not surprise me to see the Pirates ahead of the Brew Crew on October 1.
- The Philadelphia series concludes tomorrow at 12:35 p.m. CT.
- This recap really wasn't quick or dirty. Oh well. I do love writing about this team. I'm going to stash my poker winnings in my mattress and go to bed. Enjoy your Sunday, everyone.