So no one told you what this game was gonna bring
At the start, you're sharp, they're missing everything
It's like you're finally back to your old form
But the hits start coming and you're left wondering
Can I still perform? So,
I would take you out
(When Cozart got that hit)
I would take you out
(For sure after the fifth)
I would take you out
('Cause pitcher wins are dumb....)
The Cardinals looked good out of the gate, scoring quickly and early. In the second inning, Brandon Moss went the other way for a line drive single to left field, Aledmys Diaz reached on an error, and Matt Carpenter singled to drive in Moss, who scored the game's first run. With two on and two out, noted scholar Stephen Piscotty parked one in the centerfield grass. 4-0 Cardinals.
I was feeling preeeetty good at this point. Early lead against a bad team, with our so-called ace on the mound? We got this. Adam Wainwright, for his part, was sharp through the first three innings. Three up, three down in the first and second; in the third, he gave up a soft liner to the pitcher, Brandon Finnegan, and a seeing-eye single to Zack Cozart. But the curveball was working and his fastball velocity was there. I thought nothing of it.
Then the Reds scored twice in the next two innings to tie the game. And it wasn't a fluke anymore. It wasn't well-placed hits or bloop singles; Wainwright gave up four doubles, including one to the pitcher (if you're keeping score at home, that's two hits for the supposed automatic out in the lineup). The game was tied at 4 after five innings.
Inexplicably, Wainwright came out to pitch the sixth inning. Now, to play devil's advocate, his pitch count was really low. If my math is right, he'd thrown just 69 pitches through five innings - in part, because the Reds were largely jumping on pitches early. Still, low pitch count doesn't translate to a good outing, and it seemed clear, at least to me, that Wainwright was fading fast. He hung a couple of breaking balls and was getting lucky until he wasn't. His fastball went from having a bit of movement to having basically none. Anyway, I'm not an expert on this stuff. I'm just someone who watched the game and saw our pitcher give up four hard doubles in two innings and thought to myself, "hey, whaddya say we give someone else a shot out there?" Alas, Waino stayed in through yet another double, a single, a sacrifice, and another single. It was 5-4 when he left the game. More hits happened and by the end of the sixth, the Reds had an 8-4 lead.
The Cardinals tried real hard to come back in this one, and they almost pulled it off. But they didn't. I could go into detail about it, but I'd really rather not. One of the most depressing baseball things to me is when your team is down by several in the bottom of the ninth and they manage to score a few runs, and maybe they even have the tying run at second base, and then you have hope again for a game you've pretty much given up on....and then they still lose.
So let's focus on the positives, shall we?
1. Randal Grichuk walked twice again. I mean, it's only eight walks on the year, but it really seems like his approach has changed for the better.
In his first 155 games in the majors, Grichuk's single-game high was ONE walk. He has a 3-BB and two 2-BB games this past week. #Cardinals— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) April 16, 2016
Caleb Cotham didn't even give Grichuk a chance to swing. Grichuk got his eighth walk last year on July 2.— viva el birdos (@vivaelbirdos) April 16, 2016
2. Brandon Moss hit another home run - his fourth of the year. He also had a nice line drive the other way early in the game to beat the shift. I think this is the Brandon Moss we were hoping we would get in the trade last year. If he keeps it up, he's going to be a great bench piece/spot starter.
3. Aledmys Diaz had a two-hit game. Ruben Tejada may be back as early as tomorrow. Dan and Rick discussed the tough decisions Matheny and the front office may have to make when this happens. My two cents? Diaz has to stay with the big club, and he should probably be starting until he does something to suggest he can't handle the starting role. FWIW (and I know, I know, it's early, so take it with a grain of salt), he's already accumulated more fWAR than Tejada is even projected for (0.6 and 0.3, respectively).
4. The offensive production was still strong today. Piscotty and Moss both homered, and when it was all said and done, the Redbirds drove in eight runs. In my opinion, we lost because a) Wainwright was left in at least one inning too long, and b) Seth Maness was not the right pitcher to come out of the bullpen with runners on, only one out, and the Reds' top of the order coming to the plate.
The rubber match of the series starts tomorrow at 1:15 CT. Michael Wacha takes on Jon Moscot, who will make his first major league start after suffering from an intercostal strain during spring training.