Sometimes a pitcher will make his MLB debut and due to an unfamiliarity with the pitcher's repertoire and style, he'll dominate the opposing offense. That was not the case tonight. Not even close. With an unimpressive 4.59 ERA (4.60 FIP) in AA last year and 17 IP with a 4.58 K/9 in AAA so far this season, Severino Gonzalez probably isn't ready to pitch in the major leagues. He certainly wasn't ready to face the St. Louis Cardinals' offense who obliterated him in 2.2 IP.
The action started early and never really stopped. In the first inning and batting second tonight, Matt Carpenter started the onslaught with a one-out triple. Matt Holliday followed with a rocket double and Matt Adams drove home Holliday to make it 2-0. Even Jhonny Peralta smoked a ball right to the second baseman in his double play ball to end the inning. To begin the second inning, Jason Heyward singled, Yadier Molina walked, and Kolten Wong singled. Unfortunately, Heyward made a poor baserunning decision and tried to score from home on Wong's pop up that dropped for a hit and got thrown out. Didn't matter. With one out and men on second and third, Michael Wacha hit a ground ball to the left side that advanced both runners and made the score 3-0. Jon Jay singled home Wong for the fourth run. (Carpenter hit a long fly ball for an out to end the inning.)
The Cardinals weren't yet done though. Holliday lined a single to start the third. Adams doubled. Peralta worked a nice at-bat and hit a sacrifice fly to drive home Holliday. Heyward walked. Molina hit a sacrifice fly to score Adams. Wong singled. Wacha singled and drove home Heyward. Basically, Gonzalez was throwing batting practice to the Cardinals and it was glorious. Mercifully, that was the end for Gonzalez and for the Cardinals scoring for a little while. (Well an inning)
Meanwhile Wacha pitched an uneven game. Besides an infield hit by Ben Revere to begin the game, he cruised through the first two innings - including a three pitch strikeout of Chase Utley that seemed unfair. In the third, he ran into some problems with two outs and Odebel Herrera (I have no idea who this guy is) at the plate. Herrera doubled and Utley followed with a single to shorten the lead to 4-2.
But the third was a good inning compared to the 5th. After a leadoff single by Freddy Galvis, he walked the next two batters and didn't look particularly close to good in either matchup. Despite having seemingly no control, Matheny did not take Wacha out with the bases loaded, nobody out, and a 7-2 lead. Luckily, Wacha induced two groundouts - both of which drove in runs - and lucked into some batted ball luck when Darin Ruf lined out to short. In all, the Cardinals were fortunate to only have allowed four runs, partially due to Wacha but also due to Matheny's refusal to take out a clearly struggling Wacha.
Wacha picked the right day to struggle though. In the next half inning, Heyward led off with a walk. After two groundouts, Heyward found himself at third base with two outs and Wacha at the plate. Guess what happened? Wacha batted. Need him to throw 90 pitches apparently. Anyway, Jake Diekman had even less of an idea of where his pitches were going than Wacha in the 5th and ended up walking Wacha to extend the inning. He paid dearly for it when Jay hit an infield single with an admirable attempt by Galvis. Then Carpenter, aware of people angry he hadn't hit a double yet, hit a ground-rule double to drive in Wacha.
Wacha came out in the next half inning and promptly struggled. He hit Ryan Howard. Cody Asche singled. And yet Matheny kept Wacha in. Wacha responded by striking out Carlos Ruiz. After Galvis lined out to Holliday, Matheny finally took him out. In his place, he brought in Randy Choate. Instead of going on a long diatribe defending Choate, I'll just let his results tonight speak for himself. He struck out Grady Sizemore to end the sixth. Revere, who apparently hits 100 infield singles a year, hit a slow roller to Carpenter to begin the next inning. Due to his speed, he was going to be safe and also due to his speed, Carpenter rushed the throw and threw it past Adams. Choate then made Herrera look silly. In the hardest hit ball of his outing, Utley hit a ball that went over Holliday's head. Holliday jumped at the last second and somehow caught it. Switch-hitter a.k.a. a right-hander against Choate Andres Blanco hit a soft liner over the right side of the infield to drive in Revere. Howard ended the inning by grounding out to short.
The Cardinals were amazingly not done scoring. Carpenter, apparently aware he was slacking in the BB department, walked. Holliday singled. Bourjos pinch-ran. Bourjos stole second. Adams hit a sacrifice fly and Molina singled home Bourjos to tally the final score to 11 runs for the Cardinals. In eight innings of play, the Cardinals scored 11 runs, 15 hits, and 6 walks. So they got on base 21 times. 22 if you count Peralta getting on base from an error actually.
I like this. I like scoring. I like winning. I like this game.
- Matt Carpenter: legitimate god. He went 2-4 with a double, triple and walk. I seriously wonder how long he will keep hitting like this because this is awesome.
- Heyward walked three times! Adams got three hits including a double! Holliday got three hits! Jay got two hits! YOU GET A HIT AND YOU GET A HIT AND YOU GET A HIT. But not you Peralta. Go home.
- Mitch Harris pitched a scoreless inning, but didn't look good. All were hard hit balls and the three outs were flyballs. Choate's final line by the way: 1.1 IP, R, 2 Ks, 2 hits (no earned)
- Carlos Villanueva pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning with a strikeout. I don't understand why most Cards fans think he's bad. Not a great pitcher, but a really good "last man out of the bullpen."
- Did I mention Carpenter was a god? I did. Worth repeating.
Tomorrow, the Cardinals look to win their second game in the four-game series against the Phillies with Carlos Martinez facing improbably good thus far Aaron Harang.