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Game 35 Recap: Cards Win, Complete the Sweep

"Here, you take it; no, I couldn't possibly" say Matheny, Scioscia to each other

Matt Holliday in the dinger line, FOCUSED
Matt Holliday in the dinger line, FOCUSED
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Cardinals continued their west coast road trip tonight with an attempt to sweep the Angels. This was a very polite game. Both managers made strenuous efforts to convey advantages to the other team in a pretty funny (in hindsight) 5th inning, and the Cardinals did a better job capitalizing and came out on top to complete the sweep.

Starting Lineups

As for the Angels, the Angels have Mike Trout and his sidekick Kole Calhoun, and otherwise are lousy. Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver used to be pretty good, but this year he's going with a bold strategy of leaning heavily on various slowballs: his velo tops out around 85 and is generally a few ticks below that. You almost want to root for the guy, in a "baseball is fun and weird" sense; he struck out the side in the 3rd and I was annoyed but also tickled.

The Game

This was one of those games that was less important or interesting as a baseball game -- i.e. as just one of 162+ games, of which the team will win about 55% and lose the rest -- than it was as the next episode in Season 1 of Uncle Charlie's Travels, the new hit show where the viewer hopes to eventually learn whether Adam Wainwright is still a good pitcher. EPISODE SUMMARY: Halfway through, I thought the writers had lost the thread. We were no closer to resolving the issue, and the same things (poor location, practically no swinging strikes, lots of loud contact against) kept happening as in every prior episode. Where's the character development, you know? So I was thinking, "C+, may wait for the rest of the season to come out on DVD."

But then a cat ran on the field. It was not a black cat, but I don't care: where there's a cat there's a witch. These things don't just happen you guys. It's pretty clear by now that this story is slowly building toward a midseason reveal that Adam Wainwright is hexed. Pretty bold genre move, baseball. I'm in.

Anyway, if you're interested in the TOTALLY IRRELEVANT non-occult details, Wainwright wasn't good. He gave up a couple runs in the 3rd. After the Cards got three in the 4th off Weaver, Waino coughed the lead right back up in the bottom of the 4th (THE CAT INNING). There was a dinger, a bunch of hits... Mike Scioscia gifted Adam an out with an idiotic no-outs bunt, and the Angels still scored three times. I dunno, folks.

Fortunately the wheels came off Weaver in the 5th. Single, single, Matt Carpenter homer, single, visit from the manager pitching coach (LOL oops), Hollidinger (of course), then pulled. No outs recorded. God bless you, Mike Scioscia. The top of the 5th ended with the score 8-5 Cardinals as the Cards batted around, which savvy VEBer mattswithbats foretold.

At that point, the Cards were about 85% favorites to win, per fangraphs' win expectancy chart. Mark that down: 85%.

The Cardinals have a good and (headed into the game) fairly well-rested bullpen, so the important thing moving into the bottom of the 5th was to get the game to the bullpen intact. One way to do this would have been to take Wainwright out as soon as he got into trouble -- which he did -- in the 5th. Instead, Matheny left him in. Left him in to start the inning, and left him in to finish it despite multiple baserunners. Lo and behold, Wainwright allowed two more runs, narrowing the Cards' lead to 8-7.

After the bottom of the 5th the Cards were down to about 60% favorites to win. BUT at least Wainwright was qualified for a made-up statistic that surely made him very happy about his night. He'd probably stop trying without these incentives in place. Or something.

Fortunately, the Angels are lousy. The Cardinals got two more runs in the 6th and two in the 9th, the bullpen was good until Seth Maness came in and gave up three runs, and the Cards coasted (relatively) to a 12-10 win and a three-game series sweep. They now move on to tougher fare, with a weekend series upcoming at the Dodgers.

Comment of the Game(thread)

Okay, not literally true (Weaver was lifted first), but yyyyyep. Tonight we saw two Baseball Leader-Men letting their diminished and struggling pitchers (both highly-paid guys who used to be Cy Young candidates) try to pitch the 5th inning, for no reason that is both discernible and good. They couldn't both lose, but neither can be said to have won.

Stray Notes

  • Holliday hit two homers and reached base five times in six PA, but Seung Hwan Oh was the non-Holliday player of the game -- he threw a clean 6th and 7th to stabilize things. He's awesome.
  • Huge Sabermattrics night: 7 runs Matted in, 6 Matts batted in, 4 Matts Matted in
  • Wainwright got a stupid W. His record is now some number I honestly don't know and will never check, a hyphen, and some other number. 5 IP, 11 hits, 3 K, 1 BB, 1 HR shouldn't earn anybody any sort of anything. Kill the pitcher win.
  • Mike Scioscia's had a long and mostly successful career, but boy does he seem like a fumbling smallball blowhard, tactically. And he cost them DiPoto!
  • Bad Wainwright, bad defense, slugging their way out of it... wonder what the Earth-1 Cardinals are up to.
  • Things got interesting in the 9th, after Maness crapped the bed and then Trevor Rosenthal walked three straight. Kevin Siegrist fixed things though, and earned the save. A more diligent recapper who didn't have most of this thing written before the 9th would say more about this, but this is not a paid position so cram it.
  • Favorite quote from a foggy and sleep-deprived game journal: "why is broxton?" Why indeed, friends.
  • Massive Isringhausen Curve:

Source: FanGraphs