The last few years - and I say this without checking and based on memory so it's probably wrong - the Cardinals have been worse than they should be against bad teams and better than you'd expect against the good teams in the league. Baseball is weird like that sometimes. So it's kind of a strange and fun experience to be on the other end of it. Except when the Cards play good teams, but there seems to be enough bad teams in the majors to get the Cardinals to 90 wins. Seriously.
And the Brewers are pretty bad. Like "how did they managed to go 23-27 before they faced us" bad. But judging any team only by games they've lost 6-0 and 10-3 is definitely unfair. Plus, it helps not to run into the force known as Matt Carpenter. Put a pitcher with spotty control - and that applies to pretty much every pitcher he faced tonight - and it's a losing battle. He shockingly didn't get walked once, but he did have three plate appearances with 6 or more pitches, two of which started out 0-2. So you know a Matt Carpenter specialty.
One of those times was the first plate appearance of the game. With two strikes on him, he fouled off three pitches and when pitch #9 came across the plate, Carpenter deemed it worthy to be hit and thus a leadoff double happened. Aledmys Diaz then got his third infield hit in two games. Matt Holliday drove in Carpenter and then Stephen Piscotty drove in Diaz. Alas, the next three batters failed to get any hits so that was all the scoring for the first.
Mike Leake cruised through the first thanks to the help of Angel Hernandez who had an interesting strike three call to leadoff batter Jonathan Villar. He had a lot of interesting calls. In the second, Jonathan Lucroy crushed a solo home run to put the Brewers on the board. I'm not sure Mike Leake is capable of giving up a weak home run. Just make sure no one is on base when you decide to throw a batting practice pitch Mike.
In the 4th, the Cardinals ran themselves out of an inning. Randal Grichuk led off with a single, but got thrown out trying to advance on a pitch that got away from Lucroy. In Grichuk's defense, Lucroy made a great play to throw him out. After Yadier Molina struck out, Jedd Gyorko singled, but for some reason thought he could get a double and it wasn't close with Ryan Braun's arm. So congratulations Wily Peralta. You got a 1-2-3 inning while allowing two hits.
The Cardinals tacked on a third run in the fifth when the rally was started by - who else - Carpenter. He singled. Diaz followed with his fourth infield hit in two games, this one coming on a really bad swing on a pitch in the other batter's box that he was only safe on because the pitcher got his glove on the chopper. Nobody is happier about Carpenter's last two games than Holliday, who drove in him in again for his second RBI of the game. Piscotty walked, but Matt Adams hit into a double play that - let's just that I have no idea how he wasn't safe and the play wasn't even close. It was hit to Chris Carter's right side, he had to move a little to get to it, and it wasn't hit that hard. My only explanation is that he didn't run hard immediately because he was sure it was going to be a single.
The Brewers threatened to come back in the 6th. Villar led off with a leadoff walk and immediately took second base on a good jump. Braun doubled him home and all of a sudden it was 3-2 with a man on second and Lucroy up to the plate, who had homered and doubled against Leake. But two straight flyouts from both him and Carter ended the threat and ended Leake's day after just 82 pitches.
That's because Leake's spot in the order came first and also Matheny is pretty good about this so long as his pitcher is in line for the win. Greg Garcia led off with a walk, because the man is incapable of getting outs apparently. Carpenter tried to bunt his way on (I hope that's what he was doing), but luckily he just tripled instead. I'm not sure if this will get overturned, but it should have been a three base error. It wasn't an easy play, but the centerfielder pretty clearly got under it, saw it, and it just hit his glove and fell out. Nonetheless, Carpenter was now one home run away from the cycle. Diaz worked a long plate appearance that ended up becoming a walk. Holliday ended the rally by hitting into a double play to empty the bases, but since there was nobody out, it did score Carpenter for a 5-2 lead.
The game blew open in the 8th. Adams led off with a double that hit the left-field wall - I still don't really know why teams shift on him. After Grichuk struck out, Molina walked. Gyorko then hit a bomb of his own, hitting his 6th home run of the year. Jeremy Hazelbaker, who had come in as a defensive replacement for Holliday, almost hit a home run of his own. In fact, he ran around the bases and everything. But it was pretty clearly not a home run so it was called back. Then he hit an infield single that was originally called an out. So two reviews in one plate appearance. Pretty sure that's a record. Congrats? Carpenter, going for the home run to get the cycle, only managed a measly triple. This one was legitimate and made it 9-2. Diaz then grounded out to third, and if it wasn't for a fantastic defensive play, it would have been a double, but it did manage to drive Carpenter home. Also he was very close to being safe and making it his fifth infield hit in two games.
The bullpen didn't have a lot of pressure at this point. With a 5-2 lead, Seung Oh had a rough inning - for him at least - walking one, allowing one hit, and only striking out one. But he left the inning without having allowed a run. Kevin Siegrist gave up a leadoff double, and then next two hitters moved him over for the Brewers' third run. Jonathan Broxton had a clean and easy 1-2-3 9th inning.
- Leake line: 6 IP, 5 hits allowed, 4 Ks, BB, 2 ER, HR - Again, it's exactly what you imagine a good Mike Leake start is - far from dominant, but effective. He went 0-2 with the bat and I'm wondering when that's going to show up if it ever will.
- Carpenter went 4-5; Diaz went 2-4 with a BB; Holliday went 2-4; Piscotty went 1-3 with 2 BBs; I mean you're gonna win when your 1-4 hitters do that unless your pitching sucks.
- I don't know why Gyorko started over two lefties against a pitcher who struggles against lefties, but it worked out obviously. His 2-4 day with a HR puts gives him a season wRC+ of 111, which is pretty good.
Tomorrow, the Cardinals go for the sweep with Jaime Garcia facing Zach Davies. Based off the pitching matchup, they should, but baseball likes to be funny sometimes.