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5.29 Cardinals vs. Dodgers Recap: Best pitching in baseball shuts out baseball's top offense

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Lackey dominates the Dodgers en route to a 3-0 Cardinals victory.

easy, breezy, beautiful
easy, breezy, beautiful
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

pre game

Dodgers Lineup:
Joc Pederson 8
Jimmy Rollins 6
Howie Kendrick 4
Adrian Gonzalez 3
Justin Turner 5
Andre Ethier 9
Alex Guerrero 7
A.J. Ellis 2
Mike Bolsinger 1

Cardinals Lineup:
Kolten Wong 4
Matt Carpenter 5
Jhonny Peralta 6
Randal Grichuk 7
Mark Reynolds 3
Yadier Molina 2
Jason Heyward 9
Peter Bourjos 8
John Lackey 1

game

Throughout the day, storm clouds gathered above the city of St. Louis. By game time, a dark, threatening indigo muddled the sky, intimidating and foreboding, much like the Dodgers offense. Coming into this game, the Dodgers led the league by a large margin with 121 wRC+, led by offensive behemoths Adrian Gonzalez (187 wRC+), Joc Pederson (160 wRC+), and Andre Ethier (165 wRC+). Suffice to say, the Dodger offense has not just been great, it has been historically great. In 2015, the Cardinal pitching staff has been stingiest in baseball, and was expected to be tested tonight and the rest of the series. Fortunately, just as the rain clouds were silenced for nine innings, so too, were the Dodger bats. Those storm clouds were not a omen of impeding doom, but a symbol of something much more frightening:

John Lackey was pitching and things were going to get salty.

Since coming to the Cardinals at the trade deadline in 2014, Lackey has been sort of an after-thought, a bulldog, veteran innings-eater who lacked the brilliance of his youth, but would consistently keep his team in the ball game. Tonight was a different story. Lackey swaggered off the field after the top of the seventh, having brilliantly dominated the Dodgers lineup to that point. He had just escaped his only real jam of the game, making A.J. Ellis his ninth and final strikeout victim, stranding two runners to keep the shutout intact. Lackey's final line was seven innings pitched with five hits, zero runs, one walk, and nine strikeouts.

The Cardinal offense was able to back their pitcher this game, providing three runs, two coming off the bat of Randal Grichuk, who was batting in the cleanup spot for the first time in his major league career. The first run came in the first inning with the bases loaded and no outs when Grichuk hit into a double play. The second came after Grichuk doubled to score Peralta in the third inning. The final and most exiting run of the game was scored in the bottom of the seventh. Peralta doubled to score Wong, who advanced to second after nearly, oh so closely, getting picked off first base. Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal came in for the eighth and ninth innings to secure the win, allowing only one base-runner between the two of them. It was a beautiful evening and beautiful game and shortly after, the clouds opened and the rain fell.

Stray thoughts:

  • I was at tonight's game and it truly was an excellent night for baseball. I had great seats and was able to see Lackey in all his salty glory. Unfortunately, I was a little distracted by the lanky, calloused third baseman next to him, but I was able to hold it together:
  • Guys, Randal Grichuk hit a right-handed breaking ball!!!!
  • This didn't contribute to a Cardinal run, but I just think this at bat taken by Jon Jay coming off the bench in the bottom of the eighth needs to be emphasized:
  • Mark Reynolds, in the TOOTBLAN to end all TOOTBLANs, was caught trying to steal third. Bourjos was up and Heyward was on first and neither of them behaved like a play was on. I can only guess Reynolds missed a sign or tried to steal on his own. Does anyone know for sure?
  • Don Mattingly was wearing fabulous high socks, but was kicked out of the game for arguing balls and strikes.

post game

LIL SCOOTER'S PLAYER OF THE GAME:

Yeah, it is John Lackey. Like not even close. He leads all players with .337 WPA.


Source: FanGraphs

Statcast was featured in this game and will be featured for the rest of the series. Here is a video breaking down Wong's stolen base.

Saturday Michael Wacha will take the hill against Carlos Frias at 6:15pm.

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