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5/6/2016 Recap: Cardinals Lose, Martinez Injured, Everything Is Awful

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El Gallo Day turns sour as Martinez leaves with a mysterious injury. Cardinals still try to win, but in a metaphor for this season, fail.

When Carlos Martinez is sad, the world cries.
When Carlos Martinez is sad, the world cries.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Pregame

Starting pitchers:  Carlos Martinez (Cardinals ace, cupstacker, water thrower, philanthropist) vs. Francisco Liriano (Pirates veteran, crafty lefty, Cardinal killer, irritating to watch)

Carlos had a pretty good outing with a terrible ending last time out. Apparently was suffering from distraction and flu according to Goold. Keep an eye on him today. Liriano has struggled this season but struck out 10 to dominate the Cardinals in the season opener.

Visitors lineup:

Good Guys lineup:

YAY IT'S EL GALLO DAY!!!!

Cardinals (15-14) are half a game behind the Pirates (15-13) for second place in the division. (Both are already an order of magnitude behind the MLB-best Cubs.) This is an incredibly important series for this point in the season. Much of the Cardinals' success in the Great Ratrace of NL Central Dominance circa 2015 depended on their head-to-head performance against division opponents. Barring some disaster for the Cubbies, the Pirates are the real enemy in the division this season. The Cards need to make a statement after getting swept by the Pirates to open the season and generally performing terribly against "good" teams so far this season. Let's hang an L on the dreaded sea dogs, El Birdos.

Jung Ho Kang, an essential ingredient to the Pirates' success last year, had his season ended by a dumb dirty Chris Coghlan takeout slide late last seaon. This will be his first game back. Remember, if not for Chase Utley breaking Ruben Tejada's leg last postseason, we would probably call the new slide rule the Coghlan rule. Just something to think about.

Also relevant, it's this guy's first time back in town, though he's not starting tonight:

Welcome home, David Freese.

The Game

1st Inning: El Gallo carved up the side, setting them down in order with Ks to John Jaso and Gregory Polanco.

Matt Carpenter battled Liriano and came up with a hit to lead off the bottom of the frame, but Liriano buckled down and struck out Piscotty, Holliday, and Moss.

2nd Inning: Starling Marte singled to right to lead off the inning, then stole second. Martinez walked Cervelli, then waved his double play wand on Jung Ho Kang (welcome back, Mr. Kang!) Josh Harrison continued his hot streak, driving in Marte on an infield hit to honorary second baseman Jedd Gyorko. Bad guys lead, 1-0.

Molina beat out an infield single to Kang, but was promptly erased in a 1-4-3 double play courtesy of Randal Grichuk. Jedd Gyorko walked and Diaz singled, continuing his torrid start. Martinez struck out on an awkward-looking swing, a portent of dark things to come.

3rd Inning: 7 up, 6 down.

4th Inning: Martinez loaded the bases with a single sandwich on BB bread. He finally got an out on a pop-up from Kang, then left the game with a mysterious injury. He did not look anywhere near comfortable.

Tyler Lyons (certified swingman, dreamy-eyed hunk, trouble with dingers this year and others) came in and seemed destined to give up a grand slam. Instead, he struck out Harrison and Jordy Mercer.

NOT TODAY.

Grichuk singled through the shift, but nothing else good happened. Liriano is just terrible, terrible kryptonite to this team and I hate hate HATE it.

5th inning: 6 up, 6 down.

6th Inning: Lyons gave up a single to Polanco, then continued cruising, striking out Marte and Cervelli. Kang hit an oppo bomb to clear the bases, then Lyons struck out Harrison.

Cards went down in order with 2 Ks and a flyout. Bad guys lead, 3-0.

7th Inning: GRICHUK WALKED to lead off the bottom of the frame. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. Gyorko flied out to the RF warning track. Diaz put the ball in play to third and Kang attempted to get the lead runner at second, but Grichuk was #HUSTLIN' and beat the throw. Diaz's hit was scored an infield single, FWIW. Tejada came in to hit for Lyons (final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 1 dinger surrendered). Liriano threw a wild pitch that squirted away from Cervelli and Grichuk SCORED FROM SECOND with an incredible, tricky, fun slide. #HUSTLIN' indeed. Witness:

Grichuk was flat-out booking and did the old left-right switcheroo with his hands to sneak around Liriano, who had the ball in plenty of time to make the tag. It was a hell of a slide and a spectacular display of baseball skill.

Ruben Tejada did his contact move and hit a deep sac fly, scoring Diaz. Marp struck out to end the inning. Bad guys lead, but only 3-2 now.

8th Inning: Kevin "the win vulture" Siegrist in to pitch. Siggy induced two quick comebacker groundouts, then served up Kang's second dinger of the game. Harrison grounded to Marp, who barehanded the ball and threw a bullet to get Harrison. Bad guys lead, 4-2.

Tony Watson came in to pitch for the salty sea dogs. Liriano put up an irritating line tonight: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 10 K. Piscotty reached via HBP and Holliday hit a laser single, but the Birds squandered the golden opportunity with a Moss K, a Molina groundout, and a Grichuk groundout.

9th Inning: Mike Matheny decided he didn't want to win at this point, because Seth Maness came in to pitch, and he has been terrible this year. I did not understand this move. Maness set the bad guys down in order, but it was bad process and Mike should feel bad.

Mark Melancon (led the league in a useless stat called "saves" last year, I think. Also a ginger) came in to close out the game. Aside from an Aledmys double, nothing good happened. El Birdos lose, 4-2.

Final Thoughts

Jung Ho Kang could have waited a few more games to come back. You know, rest up. Without his dingers, the Cards win this game 2-1.

Media reported that Martinez left with fatigue, but I'm not buying it. He'll be reevaluated tomorrow and I expect we'll hear something about a strain.

Grichuk scoring from second on a wild pitch was the highlight of the game.

Other than that one dinger, Lyons looked hella sharp, as you millennials say. His curve was downright unfair.

Francisco Liriano should be banned by the government. As should injuries to my good friend Carlos Martinez.

The Cardinals' Season, So Far:

Come back tomorrow if you want. Cardinals host Pirates for Game 2, 1:15 PM. Jeff "I'm Really Bad" Locke vs. Adam "Maybe I'm Good Again" Wainwright.