Fresh off their sweep of the (truly abysmal) Angels, the Cardinals travel across town to take on the NL West-leading Dodgers. Michael Wacha (putting together a pretty good season, somewhere between his 2013 CAMPAIGN OF DEVASTATION and his relatively disappointing 2015) takes on Ross Stripling, a pretty decent pitcher you've maybe not heard of. Stripling is young and pretty good, but has thus far received the least run support of any starter in the league. This according to Vin Scully, the most delightful announcer still in baseball. I am listening to Scully despite Jim Edmonds' wonderful presence on FSMW.
Tonight’s Dodger lineup vs. Cardinals: pic.twitter.com/LVRCQ5Ja6r— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) May 13, 2016
In case you can't identify the Dodgers by tiny animated face pictures, that's
The Dodgers are a "good team," so a good performance against them could be a step in the right direction to breaking this awful narrative about how we are terrible against "good teams." Let's do this, Birdos.
1st Inning: El Birdos struck first. Matt Carpenter reached, then Piscotty jumped all over one and drove it to... a foot and a half from the wall. It was okay though. Matt Holliday hit a signature single, and Adams hit to third base. Rookie phenom SS Corey Seager tried to turn two, but the eldest Matt was bearing down on him, and he understandably threw it wide of first base. Carpenter scored on the play (does that count as a Matt Matted In?) and Adams advanced to second. Yadier Molina continued his good-hitting ways, stinging an oppo single, but Grichuk grounded into a fielder's choice, 6-4. Fear not dear reader, as Grichuk would soon redeem himself. Cardinals lead, 1-0.
Howie Kendrick led off for the Dodgers, tattooing one over the CF wall. Thankfully for the St. Louis faithful, the jaguar god happened to be patrolling CF at the time:
Stealing hearts and home runs smh pic.twitter.com/YEfooInYHC— Dan Doelling (@daniel_doelling) May 14, 2016
The other two Dodgers went quietly.
2nd Inning: Wong jumped all over the first pitch of the inning, hitting a laser off the top of the CF wall. Yung Joc Pederson misplayed it off the wall, and Yasiel Puig launched a missile to third, but Wong beat the throw for a triple. All for naught though, dear reader, as Aledmys Diaz hit the next pitch back to Stripling and Wong frustratingly got caught in a rundown, negating the good vibes his monster triple had generated. Diaz advanced to second during the rundown and third on a Wacha groundout. Carpenter worked a walk, but Piscotty swung at his first pitch and grounded out or something. What a waste.
Wacha got into trouble in the bottom of the frame. Diaz misplayed an Adrian Gonzalez grounder up the middle,
and Wacha misplayed a Puig comebacker (it was scored an infield single, which was generous),
then Wacha walked Joc Pederson to load the bases. (Joc totally swung at strike 3, but I guess check swing calls aren't challengeable.) Trace Thompson hit a single to drive in AGon and Puig. A.J. Ellis lined out to Diaz, who made a heads up double play to nail Pederson, who was standing off second with his thumb up his ass. Stripling and Kendrick singled, driving in Thompson. Corey Seager mercifully struck out to stop the bleeding. Bad guys lead, 3-1. (Worth noting: the Dodgers scored all their runs after three missed outs, two courtesy of our defense and the third a missed call by the 3B ump.)
3rd Inning: Cardinals went quietly in the top. Diaz made a scintillating play on a Justin Turner grounder that caromed off the mound, playing it on the weird high hop and spinning to get Turner by a full three steps. Diaz's defense is feast or famine 60% of the time, all the time. AGon hit an opposite field double that probably would have been a triple if he wasn't old and slow now. After a Puig groundout, Joc Pederson's forearms bounced a middle-middle fastball off the top of the left-center wall for an RBI double. Thompson walked and A.J. Ellis lined out. Bad guys lead, 4-1.
4th Inning: 8-hole hitter extraordinaire Aledmys Diaz hit what I lovingly refer to as a HAVANA SLAMMAH.
Stripling led off the bottom of the frame by making Diaz E6, charging a grounder too hard:
Kendrick poked a single, Seager flied out, then Turner forced Carpenter to make a terrible throw to 2B which Wong barely saved from going into right, scoring Stripling.
Gonzalez flied out then Puig singled, driving in Kendrick. Wacha loaded the bases then induced a sweet, merciful groundout. Eventual victors lead, 6-2.
5th Inning: Piscotty worked a walk, then Holliday induced a little Keystone Kops action of his own with a grounder past Seager, who fell over breaking to cover second base. Piscotty advanced to third on the play. Holliday advanced to second on a wild pitch. Stripling worked Adams up the ladder, inducing a silly-looking K on a really high pitch. Molina grounded into a sacrifice FC, scoring Piscotty. Mighty Gunrick stepped in and... grounded out 6-3.
The bottom of the 5th brought good news and bad news. The good news was that Mike pulled Wacha, who got hammered to the tune of 8 H, 6 R, 3 BB, and 2 K over 92 pitches. The bad news was that Matt Bowman replaced Wacha (defensibly - he is our long man, after all) and he's been hit-and-miss lately. Bowman did alright, and had runners on first and second with two outs when Turner hit a hard grounder to Diaz, which he of course booted for his third error of the night. I'm done with the gifs, this is stupid. Kendrick scored and Bowman had to cowboy up (or whatever Princeton men do) and strike out the formidable AGon to end the inning. Bad guys lead, 7-3.
6th Inning: Wong hit his second triple of the night to lead off the frame, then scored on a wild pitch that scooted past Ellis. Diaz hit a laser double to left on the next pitch. Jeremy Hazelbaker stepped in for Bowman, and that was it for Stripling. His final line: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HR on 89 pitches. Stripling actually put up a worse line than Wacha, but because he had a non-little league defense behind him, gave up fewer runs. Snaps for Ross.
Something called an Adam Liberatore came in to pitch, and Mike pulled back Hazelbaker in favor of Jedd Gyorko, who grounded out. Marp popped out, and Liberatore's night was over. Louis Coleman took the hill against Piscotty, who apparently was originally drafted by the Dodgers in 2009 but snubbed them. Thanks for that nugget, Vin. Anyhow, Piscotty K'd looking and tried his level best to get thrown out for arguing about it. For what it's worth, he was absolutely right.
Lyons replaced Bowman and gave up a first-pitch dinger to Puig, barely over the RF wall. Piscotty fought some fans for the ball and lost. He looked pissed, which is out of the ordinary for Biscuits. Lyons had an otherwise tranquil inning. Dogers lead, 8-4.
7th Inning: Nothing good happened in the top of the frame, but nothing bad happened in the bottom.
8th Inning: The Birds (which tonight were doing their best to pretend to be upraised middle fingers) went down in order. Broxton's big pants carried Jonathan Broxton onto the field to face his first MLB employer. He retired the bad guys in order.
9th Inning: Joe Blanton in to pitch. Marp drew his third walk of the night with 1 out. Angry Biscuits dropped a flare single into right field, putting runners on the corners. Blanton out, Kenley Jansen in. The mightiest Matt stepped in to bat and immediately crushed a foul dinger (which unfortunately just counts for a strike). He followed this up with a 6-4-3 GIDP, which was considerably less inspiring. Game over, Doges win 8-4.
Vin Scully is an absolute delight to listen to. It's a damn shame that he's hanging up his... vocal cords?... after this season. He is a gift to baseball fans everywhere and it's a real treat to hear him talk about my favorite team. Also nice to hear him talk about the Cardinals, who were my favorite team before tonight.
Wacha had a rough night, but the real story was the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad defense. With no errors, even with Wacha shitting the place up, the Birdos probably win this game. (With this many errors, it's tough to say, because innings get extended and batters wind up in different situations, and it compounds with every new error.) But this was an absolute shitshow. And yeah, Wacha was bad, too. And despite having a lot of baserunners, we were 2-14 with RISP. That's bad.
That said, Diaz's first and third errors were really tough plays. But, welcome to the big leagues, kid. Hopefully his bat stays hot and he gets a chance to figure out these yips.
Speaking of Diaz's bat, he is still on an absolute tear. He was 2-4 tonight with a double and a dinger, bringing his season line to .387/.415/.685. We still don't know where that scar came from, but if his hitting is any indication, it was a violent event that probably resulted in a dead mutant predator and/or dictator. And then he booted a routine grounder, probably. Honestly I love this kid and he's making a legit case for ROY (in the year of Trevor Story and Corey Seager, no less), but he has got to get this defensive stuff under control.
Tune in tomorrow night at 8:10 CDT for Carlos Martinez's first start since his injury scare last week, this time against Scott Kazmir. El Gallo got some extra rest this week to try and feel better, and the party line is still that he was fatigued last week. Fingers crossed.
This is gonna be a long season, I think. We are tied for 2nd in the NL Central with the Pirates, so... yay? Stay cool, St. Louis.