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5/26/2016 Recap: Leake Puts Self to Sleep on Mound, Cards Lose Dinger Contest

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In a contest of boring pitchers and solo dingers, the Cardinals drop the series opener against the quite-good Nationals.

So boring, he puts himself to sleep.
So boring, he puts himself to sleep.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

Today, the Cardinals take on the NL East-leading Nationals in our nation's cesspool capital. I can say that, because I live here. Mike Leake takes the hill for the middling Cards, while Joe Ross twirls for the 29-19 Nationals. Leake vs. Ross is the pitching equivalent of watching competitive grass growing on ESPN 10. Both are low-velocity control artists with that special quality that makes anybody that watches them pitch fall asleep. Whatever unfortunate coincidence or capricious deity made them face off against one another tonight desired to punish us for our long enjoyment of the Cardinals' success, or at the very least test our resolve to continue even when it becomes less enjoyable.

Let's go, Birdos.

The Game

All I ever really needed to know about tonight's game, I learned by looking at this:

And, that's pretty much it. Aledmys Diaz hit a liner solo shot in the top of the fourth to propel the Cardinals to an early lead, but in the sixth, Bryce Harper made baseball not-fun again with a solo dinger of his own to knot things up. Then, in the seventh, Danny Espinosa hit the clinching solo dinger. The beloved Birdos never really tried to get anything going after that. Felipe Rivero came out to pitch the top of the eighth and faced the minimum, striking out one. Seung Hwan Oh pitched the bottom of the frame, mirroring Rivero's line (right down to the pitch count and number of strikes - 17 and 12, respectively). Noted scumbag and unlovable old fart Jonathan Papelbon got the save, tossing a mere 8 pitches. Cardinals lose and go back to .500 on the season, 24-24.

But you know what? The Cardinals may be stumbling, but we did this fun thing:

And our jersey people never did this:

And you know what? We also never had something like this pass (much less with nary a substantive comment from the organization):

But all that said, we also don't have this guy:

So maybe this extreme detour is all just sour grapes. (It is definitely sour grapes.)

Final Thoughts

Aside from the profound tedium of watching a pitcher's duel between two fervently prosaic pitchers like Leake and Ross, both guys got pretty great results, aside from one big mistake to Espinosa. (When Bryce Harper hits a dinger, I just figure he's going to do that from time to time, since he is Bryce F. Harper, second-best position player in baseball and reigning MVP.) Both went 7 innings and gave up one walk. Leake's 5 Ks edged Ross' 4, but Ross made up for that by giving up one hit fewer than Leake (I am pretty sure that hit was a dinger) and by not having to pitch to Bryce Harper.

Neither team generated much offense, keeping the hits in the single digits and drawing only one walk apiece. And neither team struck out much either. It was just one of those days, I guess.

Oh well, fellas. We'll get them tomorrow. Jaime Garcia, the de facto ace of the Cardinals' disappointing rotation (this is not meant as a dig at Jaime, by the way) takes the road start against Max Scherzer. (Did you know that Scherzer is from St. Louis?) It should be another low-scoring affair, so it probably won't be. The game starts at 7:05 EDT, which for most of you is annoying because you're on CDT and you'll be driving home when the game starts. Sorry, I don't set the times -- I just report them.

[It's a unique privilege to write these, so thank you for reading!]