Thank you for the memories
(And that hit today)
Holy wow. Where do I begin? The Cardinals are in a VERY tight race for the second wild card spot. They entered play today one game back of the Giants with only two games left to play. The good news is, the Giants face Clayton Kershaw today; the bad news is, the Cardinals had Michael Wacha starting. Why, you ask? Well, I have no good answers for you, other than to say "the options were limited." It was Wacha, Jaime Garcia, or Luke Weaver. I have no interest in seeing Jaime in a meaningful game any time this season. I would have preferred Weaver; however, he did give up five earned runs in less than one inning his last time out, and six runs in two innings the outing before that. Still, Wacha gave up seven earned runs in his last outing and hasn't started a game since August 8. There was no good answer here. The only good answer is to let Wacha start and have a quick hook.
...Which is exactly what happened. Wacha was, as expected, bad. He gave up three runs in the first inning. Things were not looking good for the Redbirds. But, we trekked on. Mike Matheny did something good in that he removed Wacha from the game. Miguel Socolovich came in and threw a scoreless second inning. Trevor Rosenthal pitched the third, fourth, and fifth innings really well! He struck out four, allowed only two hits, and - most importantly - walked only one batter. As dayman accurately explained, he was Very Good Rosie today. And this is important, because if...IF the Cardinals make it to the post-season, we will almost certainly need Very Good Rosie to shore up the bullpen.
Matt Bowman followed Rosenthal with a scoreless sixth inning. But while the bullpen was killing it, the offense was decidedly not. You got the feeling that this was a winnable game, that the Cardinals were capable of scoring, and that they just needed a little nudge, a little push....something beyond seeking a wild card spot to really get them motivated. Cue Matt Holliday's Last Plate Appearance as a Cardinal Tour.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Jhonny Peralta started things off with what Gameday describes as a "single on a pop up to first baseman John Jaso." In other words, a lucky-ass bloop hit. Brandon Moss, perhaps finally out of his slump at juuuust the right time, followed with a double. Peralta is slow and only made it to third base. Jedd Gyorko struck out (bad!), but Randal Grichuk walked (good!) on a wild pitch that also scored Peralta. Pirates' lead cut to two. With runners on first and second and nobody out, the pitcher's spot was due up. And folks, when you have a Matt Holliday sitting on your bench, you gotta use him. It would have been really cool to end his Cardinals career with a home run, but it would be even cooler to end it with a go ahead, game winning home run! Okay, so that thing didn't exactly happen, but Holliday DID get a hit, and he DID get an RBI and the crowd DID go fucking wild, as it should have. Matt Carpenter followed with a sacrifice fly to tie the game at three runs apiece.
That's when things got really tense. Jonathan Broxton pitched a scoreless seventh inning; Kevin Siegrist pitched a scoreless eighth. At this point, I was very nervous, because when is the last time the Cardinals' bullpen pitched seven scoreless innings in a row? I don't know! Maybe it's never happened! I expressed my strongly held belief that the Cardinals needed to score multiple runs in the bottom of the inning.
As it turned out, they only got one. But it was a beautiful one. After a quick two outs, it was Jedd Gyorko's turn to hit. He worked the count full before hitting an opposite field blast on a 100-mph four-seam fast ball downish and away:
I don't know how he hit that ball, let alone how he hit it out of the park, but I don't care! Because the Cardinals were winning 4-3 and I was very excited!
Seung Hwan Oh came in to close the game out in the ninth. He got two outs quickly before giving up a single to Alen Hanson. Jacob Stallings followed with another hit. Runners on first and third, two out. I was dying. My nerves were shot. I was quietly assuring Oh that he was, in fact, the Stone Buddha AND the Final Boss and that, indeed, he "had" this. Pedro Florimon was up for the Pirates. He saw seven pitches before finally, mercifully, flying out to Moss to end the game. Cards win 4-3!!!
1. The damn Giants won't lose! It's currently 3-0 Giants in the bottom of the seventh inning in San Francisco. Unbelievable. If the Giants win, then the best the Cardinals can hope for is a tie to force a play-in for the play-in game. This would require the Cardinals to win again tomorrow, and the Giants to lose against Kenta Maeda. The problem is that if the Dodgers lose today and the Nationals win, then the Dodgers have no shot at home field advantage in the division series, so will they even care about tomorrow's game? For this reason, we should be rooting for the Nationals to lose today, though they are currently winning 2-0.
2. All of the games start at roughly the same time tomorrow, between 2:05 and 2:15 pm CT. It is going to be madness. The Cardinals, for their part, have Adam Wainwright on the mound, and their game begins at 2:15. It's been a roller coaster year for Adam, but hopefully he can take a cue from his BFF Matt Holliday and come through in the clutch.
3. I'm exhausted. If we end up playing a play-in for a play-in, and then possibly another play-in game....I will need a lot of vodka.