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5.9.15 Cardinals @ Pirates Recap: Cards Fall to Pirates 7-5

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Despite a huge 5-run comeback in the fourth inning, the Cardinals couldn't hold on. Key extra base hits against Martinez and Maness led the Pirates to a 7-5 victory.

Amid flashes of dominance, Martinez struggled in the Cardinals' 7-5 loss to the Pirates.
Amid flashes of dominance, Martinez struggled in the Cardinals' 7-5 loss to the Pirates.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There once was a pitcher we called Carlos M.

With fastballs and curve balls, he could throw a gem

But tonight was a defeat

To Neil Walker and his fleet

Still, next time, I know El Gallo will get them

Some Tidbits to Start

- Coming into tonight's game, Matt Holliday was leading the league in OBP (he actually leads MLB in this one) and batting average with RISP.

- Kolten Wong began the game with a .340 average, tied with Holliday for 6th in the league.

- With Matt Carpenter out for this series, we see another...interesting batting lineup of Jay, Wong, Holliday, Adams, Peralta, Heyward, Molina, Reynolds, and Martinez.  Despite playing basically to his ceiling recently, Peter Bourjos sits tonight.

The Game

Matt Holliday kept his on-base streak alive in the first inning with a double down the right field line.  Although he was unfortunately stranded out there, that brings his streak to 28 straight games of reaching base.

Carlos Martinez was a bit shaky tonight, especially at the beginning of the game.  The theme tonight, at least during the FSM broadcast, was whether Martinez would be able to "keep his emotions in check" during the game.  I thought he did a fine job of that - especially considering he faced some tough situations throughout the evening.  More on that in a bit.

In the bottom of the second, Peralta walked, followed by a Heyward double.  Yadier Molina came to the plate with runners on second and third with nobody out.  He lined out - hard - to the second baseman.  Both runners were caught off the base and the Pirates managed to turn an elusive triple play.  That unfortunate turn of events would come back to haunt to Cardinals in this game.

In the third, Martinez walked Pedro Alvarez and gave up an infield single to Jung Ho Kang.  Francisco Cervelli grounded out, but allowed the runners to advance.  In the next at-bat, Martinez threw a wild pitch that bounced about three feet in front of the plate and got away from Yadi, allowing the runner at third to score.  Jordy Mercer grounded out next, but another run crossed the plate.  Martinez gave up a double to the pitcher, Vance Worley, then another to Gregory Polanco.  After 2, the score was 3-0 Pittsburgh.  Martinez was throwing his fastball with good velocity (up to 97 MPH several times), but seemed to be missing his spots quite a bit, especially in the early innings.

The 'Rats' lead did not last long.  In the top of the 4th inning, Wong led off with a base hit, followed by another from Holliday.  Adams grounded into a fielder's choice, leaving runners on 1st and 3rd with one out.  Jhonny Peralta's base hit scored Wong, a double from Jason Heyward (he had two on the night) scored Adams, and a double down the right field line from Molina scored Peralta and Heyward.  4-3 Cardinals.  Martinez came up to bat and after two attempted bunts went foul, he hit a ball into play that was basically a swinging bunt.  But no one was covering first, and El Gallo was on base with an infield hit.  Jon Jay came up to bat with the bases loaded and hit a sac fly to center field to score Molina.  5-3 Cardinals.

That was, I'm sorry to say, all of the scoring the Cardinals did this evening.  I will admit that after that inning, I expected that we would win the game.  Perhaps I jinxed it.  The Pirates scored in the 5th on a solo home run by Neil Walker.  In the 6th, Martinez gave up a base hit to Sean Rodriguez, a walk to Pedro Alvarez, and a walk to Cervelli.  With the bases loaded, Seth Maness came in, ostensibly to induce the double play ball.  Instead, he gave up a double to Jordy Mercer, which gave the Pirates a 6-5 lead.  Corey Hart hit a sac fly the next at bat to make the score 7-5.  Regression is a fickle bitch.  Martinez's final line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 4 BB, 7 SO.

A combination of Choate, Socolovich, and Harris held the Pirates scoreless after the 6th, but the Cardinals' offense couldn't get anything going.  Pirates win, 7-5.

Additional Notes

1. This was a strange outing for Carlos Martinez.  At times, his slider and his breaking ball both looked unhittable.  He got a TON of first pitch strikes (18, to be exact), but was simply unable to finish off many hitters.  Take a look at the bottom of the third inning, for example.  Martinez carved up Alvarez and Marte on three pitches each.  He only threw seven pitches all inning.  He looked like EL GALLO, you know?  But compare that to the bottom of the second - I don't know, he doesn't even seem like the same pitcher.  The "emotions" narrative is already getting old, though, and I'd really rather not hear about it any more.  I don't think that was the reason he pitched poorly at times tonight.

2. Kolten Wong rolled over his left shoulder on a ground ball up the middle in the second inning.  He looked like he was in a bit of pain after the play, pulling and stretching on his arm and shoulder for the remainder of the inning.  I was about to freak out; PLEASE NO MORE INJURIES, GOBS.  But he singled in the fourth inning, and I didn't really see any other disconcerting movements from him, so (fingers crossed) it was probably - hopefully - nothing.

3. Don't look now, but since April 28, when Matheny first moved Heyward to 6th in the order (ARBITRARY ENDPOINT ALERT), he is batting .314 with a .429 OBP and a 121 wRC+.  Personally, I don't think it matters where Heyward hits in the lineup; he's going to hit, as he has already started to do.  Here's hoping we see a Carpenter-Heyward one-two punch in the very near future.

4. The Pirates' triple play was the first 4-5-4 triple play in major league history.  Seems like the Cardinals are always on the wrong side of these things.  (3000 strike outs, 300th win, first franchise no-hitter all come to mind....)

5. The Cardinals will try to keep their series-win streak alive tomorrow as Tyler Lyons faces Jeff Locke tomorrow at 12:35 pm CT.