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Game 49 Recap: Cards Slam Scherzer, Nats

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in which two bearded Garcias and some fancy college boys journey to our nation's capital to upend the system

Stephen Piscotty, your new favorite guy, after hitting a grand slam
Stephen Piscotty, your new favorite guy, after hitting a grand slam
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Hello sports fans. If you're feeling restless, it may be because the Cardinals fell to .500 last night. This is the latest in a season the Cardinals have not been above .500 since the Eisenhower administration.* Tonight, they tried to avoid falling below .500 against Chesterfield native and weird-eye-haver Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals. Here are the men they sent out in that effort:

Jaime Garcia's been pretty excellent overall this year, but is coming off his worst start of the year. He and Scherzer traded zeroes until the top of the 3rd, when Matt Holliday drew a bases-loaded walk and Stanford man Stephen Piscotty calmly and scientifically JACKED ONE THE HELL OUT OF THE PARK GRAND SLAM 5-0 CARDINALS. Scherzer knew it right away, as captured by VEB hero VanHickelstein:

And just like that, the Cards were 90% favorites to beat Scherzer, with (thus far in 2016) their ace on the mound.

And Jaime was good -- just a nice, solid start. The Nats' best threat came in the 6th, when a smashed Bryce Harper single was followed by a ducksnort over short by Daniel Murphy, which gave the Nats runners on 1st and 3rd with nobody out. But Greg Garcia made a slick play to start a 5-4-3 double play on a hard Ryan Zimmerman grounder in the hole, and Jaime escaped with just one run allowed. Eyebrows may have been raised when Jaime came out to hit in the 7th after that shaky 6th, but he glided smoothly through the bottom of the 7th to preserve a three-run lead.

On the night, Garcia went 7 IP with 1 walk and 4 strikeouts and 2 runs allowed. He did allow a homer to Danny Espinosa, but it was on a pretty good curveball outside and at the knees; Espinosa managed to stay back and run into it, so you just tip your cap to the hitter. Overall, this was a rock-solid start for a team that needed one. Thank god Jaime's arm has stayed attached for a while here.

Greg "The Other One" Garcia popped an insurance homer to the deepest part of the park in the 8th (second one of 2016 at any level! [EDIT: thanks to alert reader LeeVing, this is his 2nd of the year, both in MLB]), Kevin Siegrist was awesome in the 8th, and Princeton lad/Miles Teller impersonator Zach Bowman (wait, is it Matt Bowman? I'll let the autotagger decide) pitched a scoreless 9th to nail down the win.

For a game with a grand slam in it, this was actually kind of boring -- the Cards got almost all their runs at once, good pitchers on both sides kept it quiet after that, and the Nats never seriously threatened the lead. Cardinals win 6-2; the rubber game of the series is tomorrow night at 6:15 CST, with Adam Wainwright and Gio Gonzalez facing off.

Other Things

  • Scherzer was wild and ultimately not very good (4 walks, 6 strikeouts, 1 HR in 7 IP), although give some credit to the Cards for taking good at-bats against him and letting the early wildness turn into walks. It could've been a lot worse for him if more of the Cards' balls in play had dropped in (they only got two hits outside of that grand slam). Anyway, his game was a case in point for a guy having poor command but still not giving up very many hits, because baseball is weird and so is BABIP.
  • Matt Carpenter's still out after his wife gave birth to a baby girl on Wednesday (congrats Carpenter family!). This made room for GREG GARCIA OBP MONSTER to have a night: 2 BB, the aforementioned HR, and some nice defense in his first career start in the leadoff spot. This was the best game by a first-time Cardinals leadoff hitter since Enos Slaughter hit four triples against the Boston Bees in nineteen dickety eight.* Heck of a temp worker.
  • Home plate ump Alan Porter gave an exceptionally unnecessary warning to Jaime in the 5th on a curveball that slipped out of his hand and nearly hit Ben Revere on the head. I mean okay, I guess (Garcia had hit Daniel Murphy in the shoulder earlier in the game), but Porter and some drunk fans in the stands must've been the only people who thought there was any intent there. And then Jaime did it again to Revere in the 7th (no kidding), but everybody was more chill this time.
  • Aledmys Diaz got another hit, and had a solid-looking game defensively. After some a lot of hiccups on defense to start his 2016, I'm more and more convinced that he's fine. What a find/development job he might turn out to have been.
  • Okay, Jeremy, just between us: I know you want to stay but you're not* actually helping yourself out by manufacturing diving catches. Please go ahead and just catch them normally.
  • Win expectancy graph (not complaining, but see how boring?):

Source: FanGraphs

*all facts possibly made up