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Poor pitching produces pitiful performance in 9-5 loss

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The Cardinals used seven pitchers, all trying to fight for a spot on the postseason roster (or rotation). Most of them, based off tonight, probably aren't making it. The bats showed some life nearly coming back from a 7-1 deficit.

This is Sam Tuivailala.  You'll probably see him a lot in the coming years.
This is Sam Tuivailala. You'll probably see him a lot in the coming years.
Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Today was a weird game.  All's one has to do is look at the pitchers for the Cards in the eight innings they worked.  Six of the seven pitchers were either recently ineffective, recently injured, or too young to be here (probably).  And if you're wondering, the exception is Nick Greenwood, who pitched to one batter, so there's the story on how the Reds scored nine runs.

The first inning did not bode well for the Cardinals.  Matt Carpenter had the most Matt Carpenter of at-bats, working Mike Leake for 10 pitches before hitting a line drive double past a Billy Hamilton who catches it if he gets a good jump or takes a good route. (Though I would argue not many CFs would catch it with a good jump)  Jon Jay then got hit by a pitch after just two pitches.  Three pitches later, Leake was out of the inning. (From a double play and a flyout)

In the bottom half of the inning, Hamilton worked a seven pitch walk.  After a groundout and popout, Devin Mesoraco hit a hanging curve for a two-run home run.  Michael Wacha's curveball was not working tonight.  Not even a little.  He seemed to recover in the next inning though with two strikeouts (and one single).  In the third he ran into some trouble, allowing a single and walking another batter, but he struck out Mesoraco this time and allowed a lineout to Brandon Phillips.

After the Cards' bats shortened the lead to 2-1 (more on that later), Wacha gave that run back up after a Zack Cozart triple (with an ill-advised dive from Jay) and a double from... Leake.  He almost gave up another run, but Kolten Wong made a spectacular catch to save a run going backwards on a pop fly.  Wacha came back out for the fifth, which quickly became clear was a bad idea.  He walked the first batter Brayan Pena (who Cards walked THREE times for some reason).  Then Wong tried to do too much on a grounder right to him by attempting to tag Pena on his way to second and ended up getting nobody out.  Mesoraco won round three with a double and Wacha's day was done.

As Craig Edwards said on twitter, Matheny appeared to prioritize getting Wacha to 70 pitches (which he was scheduled to do) over actually winning the game.  Not to be outdone, Matheny then brought in Jason Motte to clean up Wacha's mess, presumably to get Motte's confidence back or something.  Well, it failed.  Phillips doubled home both runners and the Reds had a 6-1 lead.  Motte gave up two more hits and one more run before getting out of the inning.  Motte's career as a Cardinal should probably be over, but I doubt this is the last time Matheny brings him in.

Marco Gonzales threw a scoreless, albeit very shaky inning with two walks and one strikeout.  Justin Masterson came in for the 7th, and he walked two guys before being taken out.  Kevin Siegrist replaced him and absolutely dominated the Reds, reaching 96 and striking out both batters he faced.  Sam Tuivailala made his major league debut and was not great, but he's 21.  His fastball was fast and his curveball was lovely so no reason to not expect great things for him in the future.

It's easy to imagine the Cardinals somehow pulling out a win today if Matheny doesn't keep a clearly ineffective Wacha out just to get 70 pitches and puts in someone other than Jason Motte in with runners on 2nd and 3rd.  After that, I won't complain about his pitching decisions because in a losing game, those are the pitchers you want to check out to see if they should make the playoff bullpen (Everyone failed except Siegrist)

The Cardinals offense showed up, but left 10 runners on base.  In the 4th, Yadier Molina hit a sac fly to score Matt Adams, who had singled and reached third from a Jhonny Peralta double.  In the 6th, Matt Holliday singled and Adams doubled with one out, but neither scored after strikeouts from Peralta and Molina.  The 7th inning was the big inning though.  Leake, who was still in the game, gave up a leadoff opposite field double to Taveras and a single to Wong.  Jumbo Diaz replaced Leake and gave up a single to Tony Cruz (who replaced Molina), scoring Taveras.  Carpenter then worked another long at-bat before hitting a rope to center.  This time Hamilton reached it, advancing Wong to third.  Jay and Holliday followed with singles, loading the bases for Matt Adams.  Adams flew out to center, but Jose Oquendo held Cruz at third because Cruz was at third.  Peralta then worked a walk after starting off 0-2 to get the score to 7-4.  AJ Piersyznki pinch-hit and hit a line drive to the right side, but Pena made a diving catch to save two runs.

The Cards did put up a fight in the 9th.  Greg Garcia, Peter Bourjos, and Thomas Pham all had seven-pitch at-bats with only Bourjos getting on base via a throwing error.  Xavier Scruggs then hit his first major league hit and in the process his first major league RBI.  Daniel Descalso (all of these guys are pinch-hitting by the way) hit a single to keep the game alive, but then Matheny made the mistake of bringing in Mark Ellis instead of Pete Kozma.  No comeback is complete without the warlock.  Ellis did make Aroldis Chapman (who had come into the game to finish things off after Descalso singled) throw 11 pitches, although he also swung at quite a few balls that would have granted him first base.

WPA Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Notes

- Cardinals pitching line today excluding Kevin Siegrist: 7 1/3 IP, 8 BBs, 5 Ks, 9 hits, 8 ER - If you're wondering Wacha walked three of them, Gonzales and Masterson both walked two, and Tuivailala walked one.

- Speaking of Wacha, he genuinely had an awful game.  He walked three batters, four of the six hits were of the extra base variety, and he forced groundballs on a measly 25% of his balls in play.

- Carpenter's chances at walking 100 times in a season appear to be slim as he did not walk in this game.  But he did hit a double and almost hit another one.

- Every regular got a hit.  But the Reds pitchers only walked one batter (with the bases loaded no less) whereas the Cards walked EIGHT batters.  (It's a stat that's worth repeating honestly)

Tomorrow, the Cardinals will try to take a series lead as John Lackey faces off against the man who should probably be in prison, Alfredo Simon.