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Cardinals @ Cubs recap 9.20 - Whoa.

Martinez solid; Piscotty and Pham homer; Heyward shows why he's the best right fielder in the game. Cards pull out emotional win.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals @ Chicago Cubs

Carlos Martinez vs. Jon Lester
12:10 p.m. CT 
Wrigley Field - Chicago, Illinois

Today's Lineups -

Matt Carpenter - 3B Dexter Fowler - CF
Tommy Pham - CF Kyle Schwarber - LF
Jason Heyward - RF Chris Coghlan - RF
Jhonny Peralta - SS Anthony Rizzo - 1B
Stephen Piscotty - LF Kris Bryant - 3B
Kolten Wong - 2B Tommy La Stella - 2B
Yadier Molina - C Addison Russell - SS
Brandon Moss - 1B David Ross - C
Carlos Martinez - RHP Jon Lester - LHP

Some News -

  • Cincinnati falls to Milwaukee 8-4 -
  • Pittsburgh currently lead Los Angeles 4-2 -

Things we were looking for -

Things have been tense, huh?  A win yesterday after Rondon's ejection would have been nice.  Lester and Martinez are both coming off stellar starts, Lester's a complete game with one run given up while Martinez coughed up one run through eight innings.

Things that happened -

Top halves -

Things started quick.  Tommy Pham smoked a Jon Lester fastball into the stands to quickly put the Cards in the lead.  Addison Russell made a nice diving stop on a Jason Heyward grounder, but threw it wide of first.  On the next play, Heyward broke up a would-be double play sliding hard through Tommy LaStella's turn to extend the inning.  Stephen Piscotty took advantage of the extra out.  Lester hung a curveball, and Piscotty deposited it into the seats, putting the Cardinals up 3-0.

In the second, Yadier Molina led off with a single.  When Moss grounded into a fielder's choice, Yadi went in hard to break up a possible double play turn.  Addison Russell looked perturbed about it and the fans weren't pleased.  Intense stuff!  Martinez struck out looking, and Brandon Moss got thrown out trying to steal second base.  Russell made a hell of a tag to nab him.

Matt Carpenter stretched a bloop-single into a bloop-double leading off the third, aided by the new diamond dry at first base (see note below).  Jhonny Peralta singled him home.  Then Jhonny got caught by pick-off master Jon Lester by straying too far.  Oops.  Cards up 4-0.

In the fourth, Stephen Piscotty fell victim to the straying too far on Lester.  After walking, David Ross threw behind Piscotty's big lead and caught him for the out.  Lester made quick work of the other outs in the inning.

The fifth was an easy one for Lester as well, working through Moss, Martinez, and Carpenter with relative ease, although Carpenter battled Lester for a 8-pitch AB, breaking two different bats.

Lester had issues of his own with the strikezone of home plate umpire Alfonzo Marquez.  Ball four to Pham probably should have been strike three.  Poor Pham took off on four different full-count offerings to Heyward, and Heyward fouled off three of them.  On the last one (ninth pitch of the AB), Heyward struck out swinging, but Pham stole second easily.  Peralta struck out swinging, and Wong flew out to end the inning.

That was it for Lester.  His line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 110 pitches thrown.

Tommy Hunter mowed through the seventh.

Neil Ramirez did the same in the eighth.

Hector Rondon pitched the ninth.  Jhonny Peralta reached on an error by LaStella.  Maddon challenged the play, but the call on the field was upheld.  Matt Adams pinch hit for Yadier - not a good sign.  Rondon kept the Cubs within one run going into the bottom of the ninth.

Bottom halves -

Carlos looked good early.  He issued a full-count walk to Kyle Schwarber in the first, but had a completely clean second inning using only 8 pitches.

In the third, Martinez allowed the Cubs' first hit of the day - off the bat of Jon Lester (his third career hit, and third against the Cardinals), and he walked Dexter Fowler and Chris Coghlan.  On the Coghlan walk, the fourth pitch, a curveball, looked very much to be a strike, which would have ended the inning, but the home plate umpire called it ball two.  It was probably the second strike-called-ball in the inning.  Carlos was less than impressed with the call, and made it apparent.  The umpire got after him a bit, and play resumed.  Martinez went on to walk Coghlan, loading the bases for Anthony Rizzo.  Rizzo worked a three ball count, and then grounded a ball up the middle; it went off Jhonny's glove, allowing two to score. Kris Bryant struck out to end the inning.  Cards lead 4-2. Here's the fateful Coghlan pitch:

Carlos worked around a leadoff single by LaStella in the fourth.

Piscotty became one with the ivy as Schwarber's fly ball backed him all the way to the wall, but Stephen gloved it for the second out of the otherwise easy 8-pitch inning for Carlos.

Martinez retired the side in order in the sixth.  Heyward made a very nice sliding play.

Martinez came back out for the seventh.  An eventful at bat involving Starlin Castro had a grounder up the third base line which Carpenter at the last second let go foul, and then some chin music that Castro claimed nicked his elbow (and after a review, was awarded first base).  Fowler singled, chasing Martinez from the game.  Kevin Siegrist came to get the final out of the seventh in Kyle Schwarber.

Martinez' final line: 6 2/3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 101 pitches thrown.

Siegrist again in the eighth.  Coghlan led off with a single, and that brought Rosenthal to the mound in the 'pen, joining Broxton.  Rizzo worked a walk, prompting Matheny to bring in Broxton to pitch to Bryant.  Bryant walked, too, loading the bases with nobody out and Tommy LaStella coming up.  LaStella took 5 pitches in a row, and took yet another walk and cut the lead to one.  That brought in groundballman Seth Maness to try to get out of this mess.  Goold tweeted "Maness in for the mother of all Houdinis".  Seth delivered, if not in the way anyone expected.  With a 1-0 count, Russell flew out to Jason Heyward in medium-depth right field.  Heyward made a perfect throw into Yadier, who threw the tag down on the tagging Anthony Rizzo.  It was truly a game-saving play.  During the play, Yadi seemed to hurt his left hand or wrist, but stayed in the game to catch Trevor Rosenthal, with two outs and runners on the corners.  Trevor brought the heat, throwing Miguel Montero six pitches, with speeds of 97, 100, 99, 100, 100, 100, 100.  Inning over.  Cards lead 4-3.

Trevor Rosenthal threw to Tony Cruz in the ninth.  Castro led off, and worked a full count before singling up the middle. With Jorge Soler batting, pinch runner Quintin Berry tried to steal second base on Yadier Molina Tony Cruz, and, as Tim McCarver said, "Tony Cruz, with the throw of his life" to catch Berry.  It came to light that Quintin Berry was 30-for-30 in stolen base attempts (including postseason), before the unlikeliest of characters threw him out in that spot.  Soler struck out, and Schwarber grounded out to end the thriller.  Cardinals win 4-3.

Final Notes -

  • This game was a microcosm of Jason Heyward's value to a team.  He only had one hit (good for a negative WPA according to fangraphs), but his take-out slide extended the first inning enough for Piscotty to get the two run homer; he made a great diving/sliding play in the sixth, and then his double play in the eighth absolutely saved the game.
  • Broxton's two walks just about cost the game.
  • The word on Yadi's injury at this point is "left thumb strain".  He'll be re-evaluated tomorrow.
  • This was easily Tim McCarver's best game this year.  He threw out a lot of "oh, please"es and "ask him to dinner, already"s and "oh, come on"s.  His old-timey tough guy shtick was amusing for me this game.
  • After the second inning, Matheny went out and complained about the wet ground around first base, which possibly the Cubs ground crew over-watered with Jon Lester on the mound as to help curb good jumps off his reputation for not being able to throw to first base.  The umpires made the grounds crew come and apply some diamond dry to fix the situation.
  • After the early fireworks, Martinez and Lester were both good.  Martinez was especially impressive.
  • Fangraphs
  • Gamenotes: CardinalsCubs

Looking ahead -

Tune in tomorrow.  Jon Lamb and the Reds come to Busch to take on John Lackey and the Cards, starting at 7:15 CT.