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Cardinals vs Pirates Recap: Waino allows three homers, drives in three runs, as Cards win 6-4

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Cards are now two games up on the Brewers and four on the Pirates.

Dilip Vishwanat

The Cardinals won again, folks. They won again and the Brewers lost again, and now the Cardinals are two games up in the NL Central.

Adam Wainwright

Waino's arm is dead; long live Waino's arm.

6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 100 pitches, 62 strikes

He induced lots of grounders (52%), and very few line drives (9.5%), and a few fly balls (38%). But about those eight fly balls he allowed: three of them ended up in the outfield seats, creating all four runs for the Pirates.

The first was hit out by Russell Martin, on a cutter that was on the outside of the plate but up a little--not a terrible pitch at all, but Martin hit the tar out of it. Strangely,

The next time Martin came to the plate (after Jordy Mercer homered on a 90mph middle-in sinker to lead off the third), Waino and Yadi decided to start him off with the exact same pitch that Martin had just homered on the last time he was up: cutter to the outside edge of the plate. Waino's pitchability and Yadi's pitch-calling are considered to be fantastic, so I'm going to go ahead and assume that this was a brilliant decision.

And it worked out! Martin fouled off the cutter to the first-base seats. The count went to 3-2 and Waino threw that same cutter again--to the outside edge of the plate, slightly up and not down where Yadi wanted it--and Martin again fouled it off to the right. Finally, Wainwright threw an 88-mph cutter down and middle, and it was beautiful: just a bit slower than the previous cutters, in a different area of the zone, the ball starting inside, and in a count where Martin was going to be aggressive. Here's BrooksBaseball:

Numlocation_php_medium

The swing Martin did put on that final cutter was off-balance and defeated, resulting in a groundout to third base. Rejoicing.

Unfortunately, the GOBs are jerks and pitching is hard and the line between a good pitch and a bad pitch is pretty often inscrutable. And so it was that Waino's third and final homer allowed came against his final batter of the night: Starling Marte, in the seventh, on a cutter down but above the plate. Basically the same pitch Wainwright had used to make Martin look so foolish:

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The home run scored two and brought the Pirates to within one run of the Cardinals. So let's say it was a below-average start for Adam Wainwright. And though I'm tempted to try and claim that he was just unlucky with how many of his fly balls ended up as homers--that wouldn't be fair, because the Pirates really hit the tar out of the ball a few times. Like, into Big Mac Land, where balls rarely go. He also struck out only three batters, got only five swings-and-misses on the night, and benefited from great defense behind him.

A disappointing night, then, for Adam, on the mound...

...but in the batter's box Waino acquitted himself *quite* well.

  • In the second inning, with runners on first and second and no outs, he began the at-bat trying to bunt--but after a wild pitch by the small-faced Jeff Locke put the Cardinal runners on second and third, Adam swung away. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, he hit an RBI groundout to the shortstop that Peter Bourjos--the runner at second--sort of did a soft shoe in front of before bolting for third. It was amusing and joyful, for Waino had tied the game at 1-1.
  • After Bourjos--who started the game and went 2-4--gave the Cardinals a 3-2 lead, Wainwright came to the plate again with Daniel Descalso (0-2 with 2 BBs) at third and Bourjos at second. And again Waino came through: he took an inside sinker and muscled it up the middle for a bloopy two-run single, the second run of which ended up being the winning one.
  • And just to be thorough here, in the sixth inning he grounded out to the shortstop, because even Adam Wainwright is not perfect

Defense

Scoring runs is very important, but so is preventing them. Sometimes your all-star pitcher gives up home runs at an alarming rate, and so it becomes very important to take those balls that do stay in the park and convert them into outs.

Randal Grichuk, whose forearms are being touted as Holliday-esque in some parts, batted second and went 3-4 on the night. But more impressive than his 104.3-MPH singles and his woulda-been-a-dinger foul balls was the catch he made in the fourth inning to save a run: tracking a Starling Marte line drive into right and, with wonderful closing speed, he leaped to catch it. Leaping in the air just like a damn jaguar:

Grichukcatch_zps6afc0337_medium

A great play. A great play for sure...BUT, Dan McLaughlin, I'll need you to please reconsider your rash words:

"Does any other outfield wearing the birds on the bat make this play?"

Peter Bourjos does. Still, great play by Randal Grichuk, whose future just gets more and more interesting.

In the top of the fifth inning, with a man on first and two outs, Andrew Lambo hit a grounder past a diving Matt Adams and to a sliding Daniel Descalso. He grabbed it, turned his back to first base, and executed a great contrapposto throw to Wainwright at first base:

Newpicture_zpse4e35c61_medium

It really is fun to root for Descalso when he succeeds.

Seth Maness

Let us now praise Seth Maness: He entered the game in the seventh in relief of Wainwright, with no outs and the Cards having only a one-run lead again. Here's what our Seth did:

  • 7th inning: swinging strikeout; groundout to first base; groundout to third base
  • 8th inning: double to right field by Andrew Lambo; groundout to third base; groundout to first base; swinging strikeout

Both strikeouts came on Maness's changeup, and all but one of the grounders came on his sinker. Which is just about how you'd draw it up. Well done, Seth Maness.

Notes:

  • Bourjos had a good game at the plate, but for the second time this season he slid so late on a steal attempt and with such momentum that he had trouble bringing his left leg upright while keeping it on the bag. Jordy Mercer kept the tag on Bourjos and Bourjos got himself out.
  • With the bases loaded and one out in the first inning, Matt Adams popped out on a first-pitch fastball from Jeff Locke that was way inside. (Yadi then popped out to end the inning, scoreless.) After striking out in the fifth, Matt Adams grimaced and favored his back a little on the walk back to the dugout. He stayed in the game, but finished the night 0-4.
  • On Bourjos's RBI double in the second, Yadier Molina judged the ball's carom, sprinted round third, and slid feet-first to the plate, evading Russell Martin's now baseball-less tag and tapping the plate with his surgically-repaired thumb. He tapped the plate softly, and in so doing gave the Cardinals the lead, and something about that slide represented to me the excitement of a pennant race so perfectly, so thrillingly, that I wrote this cheesy sentence: "It's September, and the Cardinals are again in first place."
  • Which is true.

WPA Graph:


Source: FanGraphs

The Cardinals go for the sweep on Wednesday: Shelby Miller versus Edinson Volquez, 12:45 central.

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editor's note: I don't see anything from RB in the queue yet this morning, so we'll call this the daily thread while we wait.