This game had the makings of a pitcher's duel, but unfortunately Jason Kipnis began the game with a 12-pitch double to begin the game. Starter Michael Wacha did not allow him to score, but ended the inning with 35 pitches. Indians starter Trevor Bauer had no such problems as he lasted into the eighth inning. For the second straight game, the Cardinals batters looked hopeless against a pitcher who simply dominated.
Wacha threw a lot of pitches which forced him out of the game early, but the umpire was squeezing him and the Indians hitters were patient. In a first inning where he faced five hitters, every batter saw at least five pitches. He walked Michael Brantley later in the inning, but was able to escape with the help of two strikeouts. The second inning was much the same with Wacha trying to work around an early triple. He was helped by a poor bunt with runners on the corner and one out. Jose Ramirez tried a safety squeeze and hit it too hard at Wacha, who threw out Michael Bourn at home.
At this point, Wacha settled down and retired nine of the next ten hitters after five. This game was more promising than other Wacha starts, at least in my opinion, because he actually struck hitters out. Interesting stat: He struck out seven Indians which comprises 26.9% of his strikeouts on the season. That's how little he's managed to miss bats this year. Unfortunately, despite having 99 pitches, Wacha went out in the 6th. This is likely because the game was scoreless at this point and he was not in line for the win. Kill the win. Anyway, he allowed a homer and then a double before Matheny took him out for Kevin Siegrist. In all, Wacha went five innings with seven strikeouts, two walks, and five hits allowed. I will take that every time out even if I would like to see more innings.
With the help of a poor decision to bunt by Lonnie Chisenhall that resulted in Brandon Moss being thrown out at third, Siegrist got out of the inning without allowing another run. He struck out the next batter and allowed a single to Bourn to make the runners on the corner. Yadier Molina then fooled Chisenhall and threw him out on the basepaths before any other damage could be done. The story of this game was the Indians shooting themselves in the foot the whole game, which kept the game close.
The less said about the Cardinals bats in the early innings, the better. Besides a walk by Matt Holliday and hits from Mark Reynolds and Yadier Molina in the first two innings, the Cardinals didn't do anything. In the fourth, Reynolds doubled and Wong walked. Reynolds went to third on a wild pitch so the Cardinals had runners on the corner with one out. At this point, the Cardinals decided they want to shoot themselves in the foot. Wong tried to steal second and was thrown out. Well, he was called safe and a QUICK review reversed that decision. Molina ended the inning with a strikeout.
Like Wacha, Bauer simply got stronger as the game went on. He retired nine of the ten batters he faced after the fourth inning, including striking out six of them. Also like Wacha, he was possibly left in too long and started the eighth. He responded by walking Peter Bourjos on five pitches after getting out Pete Kozma. Former Cardinal Mark Rzepczynski came in to face Matt Carpenter. You know how this story ends. Partly because you read the headline, but also because you have watched a Cardinal game this year. Carpenter homered and gave the Cardinals the lead.
The bullpen was able to keep the lead. They weren't dominant - they allowed a baserunner in every inning - but they did prevent the Indians from scoring. Siegrist pitched a second inning, Randy Choate got his one batter out, and Seth Maness made Ryan Rayburn ground out. Then Maness allowed a hard hit ball to Chisenhall, who hit a double. Trevor Rosenthal came in an inning early and struck out Swisher. Rosenthal had some control problems in the 9th, but somehow didn't actually walk anybody. David Murphy singled with one out and Rosenthal threw three straight balls to Zach Walters. In a flash, he seemed to gain control and threw three straight strikes to strike him out. He finished the game with a strikeout of Kipnis.
- Carpenter struck out three times today before homering so he is possibly human?
- Kolten Wong went 2-3 with a walk. Reynolds had two hits including a double. Molina also had two hits. Other than them, everybody not named Matt Carpenter went hitless. So the Cardinals were fortunate to win.
- The Cardinals set a record for the series with 40 strikeouts. The Indians bullpen only had one strikeout over the last two innings so it could have been worse.
Tomorrow the Cardinals begin a three-game series with the dominant Detroit Tigers. Carlos Martinez tries to get his season back on track with the also struggling Shane Greene.