I haven't recapped a win since... Spring Training, I think. Please win, guys. I'm firmly of the conviction that it's bad luck to be superstitious, but this has been rough.
After dropping the series/homestand opener, the Cardinals came back and beat the Rockies last night. Tonight they try for the series win. Wacha, exciting again after a lackluster 2015 with a terrible final two months, takes on scintillating rookie Jonathan Gray. Rockies pitchers have got to be excited to get out of Coors. I feel bad for those guys. This has all the makings of a good old-fashioned pitcher's duel. [Post-game note: ha, ha.]
Anybody putting odds on old friends Daniel Descalso or Mark Reynolds getting standing ovations from the Busch faithful? I'll take Descalso, but Reynolds was just here for a year. He's basically just a golden-haired Heyward, except he's not good at baseball and we didn't pursue him when he left. Oh well. LET'S GO BIRDOS!
1st Inning: Wacha came out of the gates hot, mowing down Charlie "Beardo" Blackmon and Trevorending Story on strikes and inducing a flyout from Carlos Gonzalez. The Birds struck quickly in the bottom of the inning. After a Marp lineout, Diaz worked his OBP magic and convinced Jon Gray to plunk him. Take your base, Havana Slammah. Eldest Matt hit a single, Piscotty a ground rule double (scoring Diaz), and Adams another single (driving in Holliday and Biscuits). Cardinals lead, 3-0.
2nd Inning: Wacha continued dominating the Rockies, inducing groundouts from Arenado and Parra. I'm frankly not sure what happened to Old Friend Mark Reynolds because I stepped away and ESPN says he a) was the last batter of the top of the frame, and b) hit an infield single. So maybe he was picked off? I don't really care.
In the bottom of the frame, Randal Grichuk walked, bad things happened twice, and Matthew Martin Carpenter did his Marp thing, doubling to drive in Grichuk. After a Diaz groundout, the good guys lead, 4-0.
3rd Inning: Wacha gave up a quick single to Old Friend Dirty Dan Descalso, but came back and struck out the next two guys. Pesky Charlie Blackmon singled, setting up a 2-run double by Trevor F. Story. Other than an infield single by Piscotty, nothing good happened. Seriously, even on the infield single, Piscotty ran into Reynolds, who was following an errant throw by Arenado into the baseline, causing an injury scare. Piscotty did his penance though, getting caught stealing a couple pitches later. Cardinals continue winning, but by a lesser margin, merely 4-2.
4th Inning: Hazelbaker came in for Grichuk in CF. Early report was the jaguar god experienced back tightness, but we all know he just wanted to give Hazelbaker a chance to get his mojo back, for the jaguar does not get hurt.
The biscuit wheels really started to fall off the gravy train here. Wacha committed the cardinal sin of walking the leadoff guy, Arenado. Parra reached on a spicy bunt and old friend Mark Reynolds singled to load the bases. Dirty Dan Descalso drove in Arenado and Parra, tying the game. Gray drove in Reynolds and Blackmon hit into what looked like a double play until it wasn't, scoring Descalso. By the time the bleeding had stopped, the bad guys were up 6-4.
But fear not dear reader, for the bottom of the fourth held its own surprises for our brave heroes. Gray walked Yadi, J-Haze bunted for a single, and Moss walked on a full count to load the bases. Wong struck out somewhere in there. Then the laser show started. Marp doubled off the bottom of the left center wall, scoring Molina and Hazelwalker. Diaz singled to right, scoring Moss the Boss. Christian Bergman replaced Jon Gray at this point and got Holliday to foul out to the right side, but his luck had run out rather too soon. Biscuits doubled to left, scoring Marp. Matt Adams singled, scoring Aledmys and Biscuits. Molina showed off some more WTP (Warning Track Power), hitting a fly ball that was exciting off the bat but disappointing into the glove. But notice that? This was the second time Molina batted this inning. Good job, boys. Good guys lead, 10-6. The bad guys would not sniff the lead again tonight.
5th Inning: Mike wisely used his quick hook on Wacha (I didn't know he had one of those!), electing to send in the homer-prone Tyler Lyons (he of the piercing blue eyes and the sometimes exciting repertoire) rather than endanger the team win in favor of hoping for a pitcher win. Wacha's final line: not good. With a little help from Wong, Lyons worked a 3-up, 3-down inning, striking out Reynolds. Justin Miller came in for Bergman in the bottom of the frame and also had a 3-up, 3-down inning, with a little help from Descalso.
6th Inning: Lyons mowed down the bad guys in order, striking out two. Miller, not to be outdone, plagiarized Lyons' work once more, down to the pair of Ks.
7th Inning: Lyons got a quick groundout out of Blackmon, but his next breaking ball failed to break and Trevor Story put it into the Rockies bullpen, where a bullpen catcher caught it and taunted Holliday a little bit. Lyons, unfazed (he has to be used to it by now), struck out CarGo. After a walk to Arenado, Parra grounded into a fielder's choice.
Scott Oberg took the hill for the Purpleshirts. Piscotty worked a full count, and it must have pissed Oberg off, because he plunked him for having the audacity to not swing at ball 3. [I don't really think it was intentional.] Jedd Gyorko stepped in and struck out, as he is wont to do. Ryan Raburn robbed Yadi of another WTP double with an awkward but admirable catch at the wall. Blackmon made a swell sliding catch to similarly rob Hazelbaker. [Hazelbaker's cool nickname privileges have been suspended pending better performance.]
8th Inning: Seung Hwan Oh took the mound for the Cardinals, and there was a collective "Oh, shit" from the Rockies hitters.
Oh made short work of them, striking out 2. The Oh signing was the best pickup of the offseason, easily. Seriously, think about it. 2 great nicknames? Check. Easy name puns? Check. Pitching at a star level in his third country, partly because of weird puritanical Korean gambling laws? Check. Seriously, I wouldn't want to see Oh at my table if I was playing hold 'em. I have got a feeling that dude's a shark. Oh has no tell. But maybe I digress too far.
Wong beat out an infield single to the left side to lead off the bottom of the frame. Moss worked a solid walk. Matt F. Carpenter decided not to let the team rest on its laurels, working a long at-bat that ended in a 3-run MARP SLAM to right field on a full count.
Carpenter did NOT know that was out. When the fireworks went off, he looked startled as hell.— Gail Luscombe (@grVanSlyke) May 20, 2016
The dinger hit a kid's glove in the stands but got away, and the broadcasting crew had a heap of fun with his reactions to having nearly missed getting a great souvenir. The kid was livid, then incredulous, then on the phone for like five minutes. Damn millennials. Diaz fouled out, and Holliday struck out. Piscotty, ever the fan-oriented player, tried his damnedest to give the aforementioned millennial a souvenir of his own, but fell about thirty feet short. Nice try though, Biscuits. Cardinals lead, a lot to a little.
9th Inning: Dean Kiekhefer came in to get the not-save. He did well, failing to save the game with a 3 up, 3 down performance featuring deceptive delivery! and weak contact! and cool name!
Cardinals win, 13-7.
Are the Rockies running a monument company? Because that gravestone they put on their fourth-inning hopes for this game is tasteful, but innovative.
This game was a metaphor for the share of pitching success between the rotation and the bullpen this season. Wacha started off strong and faded fast. In the fourth inning everybody was hitting him hard, and his pitches just weren't working even when they were well-placed. Lyons had a solid outing save for the dinger (I feel like I say that a lot), earning the coveted Pitching Win and putting up a good line - 3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 Dinger. Oh K'd 2 and Kiekhefer got good results with what looked to my eye like good process.
I joke about Grichuk not being able to be injured, as his "armless wonder" phase last season will confirm.
So, let's hope his back tightness isn't bad.
What a slugfest, eh? Who knows with this team. Diaz did alright in the 2 spot (as you might expect - he's hitting well in his debut MLB season), going 1 for 4 with a single, a HBP, two runs scored, and lots of contact. This kid's bat-to-ball skill just seems off the charts, especially when he's not contending with offspeed stuff. Keep raking, Aledmys! Marp and Piscotty had themselves a night, going 3 for 5 and 3 for 4, respectively. In particular, Carpenter was responsible for 6 RBI, which as Grant Brisbee will tell you, though RBI is a useless stat in the abstract, when a guy gets 6 RBI in a night, he was a hell of a lot of fun to watch that night. And Big Mayo wasn't far behind him, with a nice 2-for-3 night with 4 RBI.
Easily my favorite stat of the night:
Nice to see the good guys win this one. Tune in tomorrow as the Cardinals kick off a weekend series against the disappointing D-Backs. Hopefully the Birdos will continue their feasting ways against Old Friend Tony La Russa's #bad #winnow club. Carlos Martinez (maybe he's really not hurt? Surely not, or he wouldn't be pitching, right?) takes the hill against Patrick Corbin and Tony's shocking lack of a minor league system because yup, we traded 'em all for Shelby. Tune in at 7:15 CDT to watch the festivities.
Until next time, I remain cordially yours, and cautiously excited about El Gallo Day.