This game is what happens when skill and luck meet Travis Wood.
St. Louis's resident wagonmaker entered tonight's game with nineteen wins and a newly undead arm. Would he reach twenty wins for the second time in his career? Or would he fall one win short, as he did in 2009 and 2013? Only time would tell...
And here's what time told: Twenty wins! (Pitcher wins don't matter.) Yay yay yay! (They're stupid and pernicious.) It's a pretty neat achievement, so congrats to Waino. (Harrumph.) Here was his line against Chicago:
7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 106 pitches (68 strikes)
He induced six groundballs, 3 line drives, and seven fly balls (one was an infield fly). His curveball was as sharp as razor wire tonight. He got eight whiffs on it, while his four-seamer induced three whiffs, his cutter got four whiffs, and his sinker one. His stuff was dominating, and even more important: his command was excellent, too. It was an absolute joy to see Wainwright attack Javier Baez and Jorge Soler, changing speed and location and wind-up all in the same at-bat. They went a combined 0-6 with 4 Ks against Wainwright.
So it was a great night of pitching for the Cardinals' ace. His ERA is down to 2.38 for the year, and he hasn't allowed a run in over 20 innings. It's a pretty big deal for the Cardinals to have him pitching like a Cy Young candidate again.
Randal Grichuk came to the plate in the top of the fourth and "rifled" the ball past the shortstop for a leadoff single. The word "rifled" was used by the WGN announcer Len Kasper, and it strikes me as particularly apt for what Grichuk does to baseballs. I get a little annoyed that Fox Sports Midwest seems to put up its "MPH Off the Bat" graphic for Grichuk's hits and rarely anyone else's, but I guess there's a good reason for that: Randal Grichuk's forearms are the truth, folks.
---right after I wrote that last sentence, Matt Holliday hit a screaming foul ball to the third base seats that probably decapitated some folks; Matt Holliday's forearms are still the most truth---
After Grichuk's single, Holliday singled on a hard grounder to right, and then the scoring began:
- Jhonny Peralta lined (okay, flined) a double to center that the rightfielder just missed; Grichuk scored, but Oquendo held up Holliday at third.
- Yadier Molina lined a single to right that scored Holliday and moved Peralta to third; Yadi then took off for second when the Cubs' catcher bobbled the throw.
- After Big Mayo struck out on a curveball in the dirt, Jon Jay lined a single to left that scored both Peralta and Molina.
4-0 Cardinals, and the rout was on. They added three runs in the fifth and one more run in the eighth, while Wainwright went through the Chicago lineup like a hot knife through butter.
Sam Freeman pitched a shaky but scoreless eighth. In the ninth, Randy Choate allowed a single to Soler before getting Luis Valbuena to ground into a double play--Descalso to Kozma to Adams, of course--to end the game.
Magic number: 4.
Gooey Butter Doughnuts
Just a quick note to say that I was in St. Louis this past weekend to visit friends and see the Cardinals give up four home runs to the Reds. It was great.
But forget that--because here's my bite-by-bite review of the Gooey Butter Doughnut (TM) from Strange Donuts:
- Best doughnut ever, I mean holy cow this is a perfect doughnut.
- Kinda sweet though! But perfect with coffee.
- Too sweet. My body is vibrating.
- Don't want anymore, guys.
- Painful sweetness. Way beyond saccharine. Fingernails chipping off.
- I am floating above the couch. I have become one with the Gooey Butter.
I also ate a maple long john with bacon (really awesome) and a Mexican chocolate doughnut (sublime) because I am an incredible glutton when it comes to doughnuts.
- Adams laid off a couple of tough breaking balls from the lefty pitcher Wood in the second, and also fouled off some, only to strike out looking on a surprise fastball down and in, which was just good pitching by Wood.
- After I wrote the above praise Adams struck out on a bouncing curveball in the fourth. He later doubled off the ivy and scored.
- Carpenter looked badly fooled in his first two PAs by Wood's breaking ball and offspeed stuff, striking out twice. But he quickly adjusted, walking in the fifth and hitting a double in the sixth, before striking out again in the eighth. Matt Carpenter three-strikeout nights are rare as hen's teeth, so I'll just blame it on the vestigial stomach flu.
- About that walk in the fifth: Carpenter tried to advance to second on a long flyout by Grichuk, but the throw into second from the outfield beat him to the bag, and he was called out. Sexy Mike Matheny then sauntered to second, signaling for a challenge, and the result came up Cardinals: Carpenter was safe, the tag just missing his foot. He then scored on the very next pitch, when Holliday singled to right. Great job, Matheny!
- Pete Kozma hit the ball as hard as anyone tonight, but twice it was right at a fielder.
- Oscar Taveras pinch hit in the eighth and absolutely grichuk'd a ball to deep center field, only for Ryan Kalish to make a nice sprinting grab of it. Good process, Oscar.
- Jhonny Peralta and Kozma turned a wonderful double play to end the eighth: Peralta lunged to his left to snag a Javier Baez shot up the middle, then spun with the ball's momentum and tossed the ball to Kozma with perfect equipoise. Pete threw the ball on to Adams to complete the turn. Defense.
- #vivaelgallo sighting at Wrigley:
WPA Graph of blanking blankness:
Game two is Tuesday night at 7:05 central, Shelby Miller versus Kyle Hendricks.