Not much beats a baseball game against a divisional foe on a cool, comfortable April evening. If you are lucky no one was in the seat in front of you so you were able to put your feet up as you sat feverishly charting Michael Wacha pitches in the empty space on your score card and waited for the man selling cotton candy to bring you peanuts like he promised he would. That man never came back, so you sat hungry for the remaining four innings of the game and pocketed that ten dollar bill you planned on giving him for the peanuts and the trouble. But even the broken promise of yet another man could not dampen your enthusiasm on this beautiful spring evening.
After trading runs in the first inning, Joey Votto depositing a Michael Wacha fastball into the right field bleachers, and Matt Carpenter front-flipping over Reds catcher Brayan Pena to score on Matt Holliday flyout, the game settled into a good, old-fashioned pitchers' duel, a duel, from my vantage point in the first base terrace, it appeared Wacha would lose. Reds' starter Johnny Cueto looked to be cruising while Michael looked as if he was struggling to put hitters away, going into a lot of deep counts. Jay Bruce went 0-2 with a walk in three at bats against Wacha and saw 17 pitches. Michael was on the ropes, and at 97 pitches midway through the seventh with a runner on second and one out, the situation looked bleak.
And then all the glorious stupid happened.
Reds manager, Bryan Price, left in Cueto in the top of the seventh to bunt that runner, Zack Kozart, over to third. This put Billy Hamilton up with a runner on third and two outs. After a pretty gnarly fastball-changeup-slower fastball-fastball-fastball combination, Wacha coaxed a flyout to end the inning and the threat.
The bottom of the seventh began with Matt Holliday slapping a grounder the other way for a base hit. After a Matt Adams strikeout and what was generously ruled a Jhonny Peralta double (Bryd, who was having a rough night at the plate as it was, misplaced a flared single and allowed the runners to advance a base as the ball bounced over his head), the Reds made the bold choice of intentionally walking the left-handed Jon Jay to get to right-handed-hitting Yadier Molina.
It back-fired. The baseball gods do exist!
Yadi cleared the bases with a double to left, giving the Cardinals a 4-1 lead and sending the crowd into a frenzy. Kevin Siegrist pitched the rest of the game and the Cardinals tacked on some insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth, cruising to a 6-1 win.
- What is that pitch that Michael is throwing at around 88-90 mph? Is that his change-up or is he throwing a cutter or some slower fastball?
- Wacha had Bryd in knots all night, throwing an amazing curveball-curveball-changeup-fastball combo to strike him out in the fourth and five straght fastballs followed by that slightly slower fastball to induce a flyout in the sixth.
- Matt Carpenter changed his walkup music and I am very displeased.
- Looks like every one of the Cardinals lefties was jobbed on that bogus outside strike at least once.
- Michael batted for himself in the bottom of the sixth at 87 pitches, which probably wasn't ideal, but I am just too tired to care anymore.
- $.50 drinks tomorrow!
- Tonight was Red Schoendienst 70th anniversary in a Cardinals uniform. Congrats Albert!
LIL SCOOTER'S PLAYER OF THE GAME
Statistically, I would say Matt Carpenter had the best night, momentally I would say Yadier Molina had the best night, but by WPA and room taken up in my heart, Michael Wacha bests all. I was pleasantly surprised to see his WPA for the night at .258. He wasn't dominant, in fact, I thought he struggled a bit (although, maybe I need to see his pitches from a better angle), but he was still able to put together a strong outing and get outs. I am so proud. *sheds tear
Don't miss tomorrow afternoon's game as the series continues. Carlos Martinez will take the hill against Homer Bailey at 1:15pm.