It may not seem like it but Michael Wacha and Yordano Ventura are a lot alike at this point in the season. Both had debuts that maybe raised expectations too high for that team's fanbase. Both have had relatively disappointing seasons. Both have been strong in recent starts. Admittedly, I'm forcing this comparison because Wacha has been decent and Ventura has been bad overall. But it was reasonable to expect anything to happen from today's matchup.
In the end though, the most likely result happened: the better pitcher this season ended up winning. I suppose this is an unlikely result if you are playing the Royals. (I mean, I can't imagine they have the more favorable starting pitching matchup in many games this season and they are over .500). Considering Ventura had 15 strikeouts to 1 walk in his last 13.1 IP, it did not seem like it was going to go this way at first. Ventura struck out both MVP candidate Matt Carpenter and "I only get extra-base hits" Brandon Moss (amazing, but true). Matt Holliday also weakly grounded out back to Ventura. So he looked more like his last two starts than... well his season stats.
For whatever reason, this immediately changed. In the 2nd, Stephen Piscotty hit a leadoff double on the first pitch. Matt Adams singled, and Jhonny Peralta walked and the bases were loaded with nobody out. I don't think I'll ever be able to understand pitchers who are that dominant one inning and that hittable the next. Pitching is hard is the best answer I can come up with (and it is really hard). Yadier Molina was at the plate and he chopped a pitch towards shortstop. It was too slow to throw out Piscotty at home or go for the double play (even with Yadi running) so he got the slow-running Adams out at third for the forceout. Kolten Wong singled and they sent Peralta home on the play. It was a strong throw, but was too strong and he may have been safe anyway. Both Molina and Wong advanced to second and third, which was important because Greg Garcia grounded into a possible - though not probable - double play ball to second that just ended up being an RBI groundout. See Cards? Baserunning is more than just getting thrown out at key spots!
Unfortunately, Wacha didn't appear to have his best stuff and the Cardinals' defense didn't help him out at all. Eric Hosmer led off with a double. Kendrys Morales followed with a soft line drive that fell between Carpenter and Piscotty. It should have been caught by Piscotty but the weird shift on Morales caused Carpenter to be way farther in the outfield than Piscotty expected so both just kind of stood there and watched it drop. Both runners ended up scoring bringing the score to 3-2.
In the 3rd, the Royals threatened again. With out out, the Royals hit three straight singles, but held the runner at third. It was hit towards Piscotty and it was hit hard, so it's tough to say it was the wrong decision. But that decision shaped the rest of the inning. Morales hit a ball towards first and the Cardinals got the force out at home plate. Carpenter didn't cover first or it was probably going to be a double play ball. No matter, Paulo Orlando flied out to right to end the inning.
In the 4th, I don't really know what happened, but somehow Edinson Volquez got thrown out of the game. I think he was mad at a ball call on Whit Merrifield to end the inning - or maybe the strike zone in general - but he got thrown out for some reason. Anyway, Ventura and Wacha traded scoreless innings in the 4th. In the 5th, Carpenter hit a home run to lead off the inning. It was Carpenter's 14th home run of the season. Moss followed with a double (see? Told you it was true) and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Adams.
In the 6th, Wong led off with a 4-pitch walk and Greg Garcia laced an opposite field single to bring runners at the corner. Ventura was down, Brian Flynn was in. He pitched Carpenter basically like Randy Choate would pitch Jay Bruce. Nothing but off-speed junk low and outside. The problem was that he was pitching to Carpenter. He quickly got into a 3-1 count and I don't think he threw him a bad pitch, but Carpenter hit a double to score Wong. Moss then hit it hard to "Gold-Glover" Eric Hosmer. I guess that shouldn't be in quotes because he literally is a Gold Glover. Twice. He of the -5.5 UZR/150 at 1B. Look sometimes I use these recaps to start beefs. COME AT ME ERIC.
With an 8-2 lead, the Royals again responded. Two straight singles and a first-pitch double and there was a man on 2nd with nobody out and an 8-4 game just like that. At this point you may be wondering why Wacha remained in the game and the answer is that nobody was warming up to start the inning and it happened so fast that Mike didn't have time to respond. Should he have had someone warming up? Yes. Wacha had close to 90 pitches and didn't exactly look great with 6 hits, 1 walk, and 2 strikeouts at that point. It didn't matter. Wacha finished the inning and his game strong with two strikeouts and a groundout.
Nothing of importance happened again until the 9th when Sueng Oh came in to finish the game. It's safe to say that the closer by committee talk was just words and not what will actually happen. Oh well. Oh struggled, giving up a leadoff walk and allowing two singles to make the bases loaded with 1 out (thank god Bo Hart clone Merrifield was leading off). Alex Gordon pinch-hit. He popped out in foul territory. Hosmer then ended the game by hitting it to Garcia, who tagged 2nd to end the game.
- This recap is a little late, because I was distracted by my sister, who was sharing a group message of her and her friends, which apparently included a trade proposal of Aledmys Diaz, Wong, and Trevor Rosenthal for Andrew McCcutchen. So yeah.
- Matt Carpenter, aka Catt Marpenter, aka MVP candidate, aka 56th best player in baseball, aka we all sexually identify as him, went 2-3 with 2 BBs, a 2B, and a homer. His season wRC+ is up to 169. That is nice.
- Wacha final line: 6 IP, 4 Ks, BB, 9 hits, 3 ER (4 runs) - He didn't pitch that great, but his defense also let him down and he could have easily ended up with a better line.
- Diaz, who if you'll remember fouled a pitch off of his head yesterday, evidently got hit in the back by a line drive while he was in the dugout. I mean how? What are the odds? Seriously, that doesn't seem possible.
- Both Jonathan Broxton and Kevin Siegrist threw 1-2-3 innings. Combined, they threw 20 pitches.
Tomorrow, a new series starts. Technically. This 2 at home, 2 away thing confuses me as to how to define a series. I'd just call it a regular 4 game series personally. Carlos Martinez faces off against Edinson Volquez. In Martinez's last time out, he pitch 7 innings of one-run ball. For Volquez... he gave up 12 runs in 1 inning of work. Holy... Let's win that game please.