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Cardinals complete season sweep of Diamondbacks in 5-3 win

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The Cardinals won every game they played against the Diamondbacks this season. That's kind of amazing. Seth Maness is also amazing.

I just like this picture.
I just like this picture.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Since I will try to write this as fast as possible or lose all of the readership - that's right ALL of it - I will start at the most important part of the game.  To provide an ending, Seth Maness won player of the game with one inning pitched and it was completely deserved.  In the 8th inning of a 5-3 Cardinals lead, Steve Cishek came in to preserve the lead.  He was given the almighty setup man role for the night.  It didn't matter that Kevin Siegrist was unavailable.  Cishek had the chance to lock down the backup to the setup man.  (I know how important roles are to Mike Matheny)

He failed.  Miserably.  The only way he could have failed more would be to have given up three straight homers.  He walked the first guy.  Then the second guy.  And you know when you walk the first two guys and Paul Goldschmidt is up, well you might as well walk him too.  So Matheny, who probably should have taken Cishek out before he walked Goldschmidt, because two walks in a row is usually a good sign the pitcher just doesn't have it, decided to go with Seth Maness, a man who strikes hardly anybody out.

Funny thing about baseball though: it's not predictable.  And Seth Maness was READY.  He pitched ball one to David Peralta.  He threw a few pitches on the fringe of the strike zone that Peralta only managed to hit in foul territory.  Then he dropped a beautiful changeup that was closer to the ground than the strike zone and Peralta missed it.  He didn't even need to throw a ball for Welington Castillo.  He missed the first pitch, fouled off the next two pitches, and then missed on a nearly identical changeup.  Two batters, two strikeouts and the hard part was over.  Jake Lamb received two pitches on the fringe of the strike zone that he could only weakly foul towards the first base side.  And then Seth pitched three balls not particularly close to the strike zone to make it 3-2.  No matter.  His next pitch was a sinker that was maybe a tad bit too high ideally speaking, but Lamb could only weakly ground out to first base.  So to recap, bases loaded with the Diamondbacks 4-5-6 hitters coming up and Seth shut the door.  The only way it could be more impressive is if Paul Goldschmidt was involved.

Oh yeah I guess other stuff happened in the game too.  Rubby De La Rosa had little control and that's a bit of an understatement.  He walked Matt Carpenter on four straight pitches to begin the game.  He followed that with a five-pitch walk to Tommy Pham.  Then the Cardinals seem to follow Ricky Horton's advice to be aggressive against a pitcher with poor control as they started swinging at pitches.  None were particularly egregious, but not all of them seemed to be strikes.  Jason Heyward struck out.  Jhonny Peralta struck out.  Kolten Wong saved the inning with a two-out softly hit line drive on the left field foul line that scored Carpenter.  Brandon Moss ended the inning with a groundout.  In the bottom half of the inning, it was clear Carlos Martinez was suffering similar problems.  He walked the leadoff batter as well, but he was removed from a double play from the next batter AJ Pollock.

In the second, something shocking happened.  Tony Cruz hit a 441 foot HR over the left field wall.  He did get a meatball as it was 2-0 and the pitcher was probably thinking it would not be ideal to walk Tony Cruz to start the second inning.  He then walked Greg Garcia on four pitches.  Martinez bunted over Garcia and De La Rosa tried to throw out the lead man.  He was called safe and replays reveal that he might have been out, but it was definitely not conclusive from this biased Cardinals fan's perspective.  Carpenter then doubled, scoring Garcia.  Then the Cardinals did something that could have come back to haunt them.  Both Pham and Heyward hit flyballs that possibly could have scored Martinez from third.  Martinez is a pitcher, but he's also not your typical pitcher so I think they should have sent him.  He's not slow.

The Diamondbacks responded by scoring what would be all of their runs for the game.  Peralta and Castillo both singled to lead off the inning.  Lamb followed with a single of his own, scoring Peralta.  After getting Aaron Hill to ground into a fielder's choice, the runners were at the corner.  He walked Chris Owings on four straight pitches, which brought up the opposing pitcher.  The opposing pitcher did what pitchers do and struck out.  Ender Inciarte hit a bullet at Kolten Wong that hit off his glove.  It was a tough play and while he could have made it, I certainly don't begrudge him for not making the play.  Pollock finished the inning with a line drive towards Garcia at 3B, who made a diving catch to save more runs.

Both pitchers flirted with losing control, but both seemed to find control and not a lot of scoring happened until the 5th.  It started the same as most innings.  With two outs, Wong hit a single up the middle.  Brandon Moss then hit his first career home run as a Cardinal.  It was long delayed and much needed.

Martinez ended up going six innings when it looked like he wouldn't even get to the 5th inning.  Not only that but he received a quality start which somewhat tells you how dumb a quality start is, but it is still impressive he recovered enough to pitch 6 innings of 3 run ball without his best control.  The highlight - at least to me - was in the 6th when he started 3-0 on Goldschmidt.  He threw a pitch on the outside corner for strike one and then blew two fastballs by him to strike him out.  It's not the kind of thing many pitchers can do, but Carlos Martinez is not like most pitchers.

To skip forward towards the end, Trevor Rosenthal didn't have the easiest 9th inning.  He began the inning with a walk to Aaron Hill.  I probably wouldn't feel too bad walking the 2012-2013 version of Hill, but walking the current version is not preferable to winning.  Owings then hit what looked like a sure double and the frightening prospect of a man on second with nobody out and a one run lead with Goldschmidt on the horizon.  But thankfully, we have Jason Heyward, a man of many talents, the best of which is his ability to prevent baseballs from hitting the ground.  He covered some serious distance to catch the ball near the foul line.  Rosenthal then had enough of this shit and struck out the helpless Nick Ahmed.  Seriously, that matchup shouldn't be legal in some states.  Inciarte then hit it where the Cardinals weren't on a groundball not hit particularly hard but perfectly placed in between the first and second baseman.  Again, because Heyward was the RF, Hill did not even dare to try to go to third.  He finished off poor Pollock, who really had a rough game, by striking him out.

WPA Graph


Source: FanGraphs

- Apologies for any mistakes I make but I really just wrote this as quickly as possible - which is pretty slow for me - but I wanted to post this online as early as I could.

- The Cardinals scored five runs when their top four hitters combined to go 3-17.  They walked three times, which is a .300 OBP, but that doesn't usually lead to victory when the other members of your offense include Tony Cruz, the Cardinal version of Brandon Moss, and the pitcher.

- Speaking of Moss, he had his first truly great day as a Cardinal.  He went 1-2 with a HR and 2 BBs.  He also had the pivotal 2 RBI HR that ended up being the game-winning RBIs.

- Carlos Martinez final line: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BBs, 6 Ks - It really is quite remarkable that he only walked two guys with how much he seemed to be starting behind in the count against everybody.

Tomorrow, the Cardinals start a new series against the San Francisco Giants at their own place unfortunately.  Mercifully, tomorrow night is the only game that starts past 9 pm as the other two are day games.  Mike Leake takes the hill for the Giants, which is somewhat unfortunate, because I'm sure it'll be a night of feeling like the Cardinals should be crushing him but aren't.  He faces Michael Wacha which is more fortunate.