Tonight, because of mlb's outdated model of blacking out a service you pay for a full season of games as advertised, I am watching the game through cable television on CSN instead of MLB.tv. This uproots me from my usual office/den setting which probably really should be a dining room, but in a big city this sort of random utilization of living spaces is more the usual.
So I watch this game a little freer from distractions, no music, just the bipolar duo of Steve Stone and Hawk Harrelson announcing the game to me, my ire raised at nearly every comment and intonation of words that Hawk spits to the wind. Steve Stone on the other hand is one of the more underrated announcers of the past few decades.
This is one of the rare years that the Cardinals play the White Sox; in a couple weeks I'll be able to go see the Cards live here in Chicago. The last time these teams squared off was in 2012.
Tonight's game saw John Lackey facing off against Jose Quintana. While Lackey's xFIP and SIERA are not all that great being both above 4.0, his FIP and ERA are actually quite nice. At this point, I don't really know what to expect from a John Lackey start. Could be a near-ace level performance, or he could get shelled. Quintana has the edge in SIERA and xFIP, so pick your poison... both pitchers are cromulent. Lackey has had the better results thus far.
This game was delayed for a couple hours, then when it started, it was delayed again in the bottom of the first. This delay didn't last too long though, the second time. Kolten Wong resoundingly singled into the outfield between the right fielder and center fielder once play resumed. He really connects, and his batting stance is the coolest looking stance I can remember in recent times. In aggressive fashion, Jhonny Peralta dhoubled and Kolten Wong scored on a risky play, but his speed persevered and his slide was very good to avoid getting tagged out at the plate.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="und" dir="ltr">1-0. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/STLCards?src=hash">#STLCards</a> <a href="http://t.co/msjsUyXgFg">pic.twitter.com/msjsUyXgFg</a></p>— FOX Sports Midwest (@FSMidwest) <a href="https://twitter.com/FSMidwest/status/616435113530818560">July 2, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Just as in the bottom of the first, the bottom of the second inning was also rain delayed, with the rain really pouring down. This was also a short delay, and the groundscrew was commendable in the rapidity of their covering up of the field. As much as it was pouring, one would expect the field to be a big sloppy mess... but the conditions were not too shabby or dangerous, albeit still quite wet.
With one out, Jason Heyward hit an echoing double sharply to the outfield, much like Kolten Wong did earlier. The ball seemed a little more wet this time, as it died out a little sooner than Wong's did, but still, sharply hit. This brought up the stripe-legged gazelle, Peter Bourjos. Many have argued that Bourjos has been unfairly benched over Jon Jay, and rightly so. Jay has been not as good as Bourjos this year hitting-wise, and has been injured. One might think that since Matheny sees Bourjos in the role of stealer, and he has not done well stealing this year, that Mike has been disappointed and has not quite warmed up to the rangey center fielder yet.
Unfortunately Bourjos struck out here, but then again any momentum he had earlier in the season has been effectively squandered by Matheny. The good news is that this team is so ridiculously good that it hasn't really mattered much. With a man on second with two out, John Lackey had a decent at bat, but didn't prevail.
To start the third, Lackey was greeted with a hit again. However, he threw salt on the White Sox wounds after that, rolling easily to two outs after the leadoff single. Abreu then was up, the sole force of the Sox offense, usually. Abreu gave Lackey more trouble, but he wasn't able to survive the Morton Factory. When it rains, it pours.
The Cardinals didn't do much in the bottom of the third, and neither did the White Sox in the top of the fourth. In the bottom, Yadier Molina almost took the head off the pitcher. With two outs Yadi scampered over to second base on a pitch in the dirt that bounced off Flowers inconveniently (for the White Sox). This didn't matter though because Bourjos didn't get on base.
During the fifth, Mark Reynolds bobbled a double play in the field, to go along with the terrible night at the plate he was having. This time the Cards were punished by Adam Eaton, who got himself an RBI single. That was all the ChiSox were able to do, and the Cardinals did even less by not doing anything in the bottom of the fifth.
Lackey gave up a home run to Melky Cabrera to kick off the sixth. Great. His third of the year! At this point it appeared that all the delays took the wind out of Lackey's sails. Alexei Ramirez ripped one down the third base line that was barely fair. Luckily, all they did was score one run.
In the bottom of the sixth, Mark Reynolds most hilariously got a triple on a ball that Hawk Harrelson called as an amazing catch by the center fielder... where he was shown quite wrong when the center fielder was sliding on the wet grass, not able to make the catch. This meant the ball rolled out of control for a while, while Mark Reynolds surprisingly made it to third base. A Mark Reynolds triple! Randal Grichuk was up, but struck out. Quintana looked pretty good tonight and The Grich was overmatched. The Cards could not get Yadi home this inning.
Hawk Harrelson is one of the biggest purveyors of disinformation in the game. He claims that Quintana is one of the best lefties around, but his rate stats do not really support this. He's good, but not among the best. I guess if you just thought about tonight, he was amazing. Anyway, Lackey had no problem with the southsiders in the seventh, despite the pesky Adam Eaton... he was able to get out Abreu again. As for the Cardinals, Bourjos got on base this time. He wasn't able to steal as he was held at first quite well. Then Greg Garcia plinked out a fielder's choice. With 2 out, Kolten Wong stepped to the plate. His at bat was a battle, but eventually he was popped up and retired.
Siegrist was deployed to continue his onslaught on opposing hitters. He has a 1.57 ERA, which is pretty good. The Cards team ERA is the best in the majors, in case you hadn't noticed. Siegrist almost had his head taken off by a line drive this inning, but still he allowed no runs. The Cardinals went quietly in the 8th.
In the ninth, Maness finally cracked and gave up a home run to the annoyingly named Tyler Flowers. The Cardinals sure were not playing like the best team in baseball tonight, and the White Sox didn't seem like one of the worst. Such is the long season, if you focus on a game or a series or two, you won't see the bigger picture. Choate was brought in since Maness promptly gave up a double after the home run. Randy was pretty terrible with no command. He walked a batter, and hit a batter, and just generally sucked up the place. Prolonging this tiresome contest in the most boring fashion.
The wheels truly fell off by the time Hatley was involved, and he didn't do well either.
Going into the bottom of the ninth, the Cards were down 7-1. It didn't take long to get to two outs, with Jason Heyward at the plate. As I expected for whatever reason, Heyward got a hit, but it was just a routine single. Bourjos was then up again, but wasn't able to do anything.
So the Cards fell 7-1 to a pretty bad team, and lost the series at home to said team. This was not fun, it was unfun. But we are very spoiled at this point. It would've been a better experience if it were rained out, but I guess it's good they got the game in given busy schedules and whatnot. Between the offense taking the night off, the lengthy delays, and enduring the pure idiocy of Hawk Harrelson, it was a rough night. The only silver lining for me is that I didn't watch last night's game and Heyward continued to do well at the plate.
The next game is at 6:15 tomorrow night vs the Padres, another team that is not very good. Hopefully the offense will awaken from its hibernation! Because it's pretty boring watching a team score 1 run a game.
I leave you with this terrible graph:
<iframe src="http://www.fangraphs.com/graphframe.aspx?config=0&static=0&type=livewins&num=0&h=450&w=450&date=2015-07-01&team=Cardinals&dh=0" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" height="450" width = "450" style="border:1px solid black;"></iframe><br /><span style="font-size:9pt;">Source: <a href="http://www.fangraphs.com/livewins.aspx?date=2015-07-01&team=Cardinals&dh=0&season=2015">FanGraphs</a></span>