A split home/away Cardinals-Royals series came to a close on a cloudy night in St Louis, with the cross-state rivals taking the game, and the series, mainly by virtue of not playing the field as though they had plump polish sausages taped to their fingers.
Kansas City got the scoring started early off of starter Mike Leake. In the top of the 1st, Whit Merrifield (who is apparently the Royals' second baseman and not their CPA) reached on an error by Jhonny Peralta. After stealing third, Merrifield scored on a throwing error by Brayan Pena in his first start in a Cardinal uniform.
The defensive woes continued in the second, as Peralta deflected a fly ball off the bat of Jarrod Dyson, leading to a double which scored Alcides Escobar. Dyson was then caught in a run-down, issuing a brief reprieve to the Cardinals. Coming into this game, a person who assumed that the defensive weak spot would be the outfield patrolled by a second baseman, a first baseman, and Matt Holliday would have been in for a surprise this evening.
Hey, did I mention the defensive woes? In the sixth inning, a failed pickoff attempt by Mike Leake allowed Alex Gordon to advance into scoring position, where he was quickly doubled in by Kendrys Morales in his 11th (!!!) hit of the series.
And did you think Kendrys Morales was done? NOPE. Morales took Tyler Lyons (he of the perfectly square jaw and 15.9% HR/FB rate) deep in the 8th inning to make it 12 hits this series, lifting the Royals to a 4-2 lead.
On the offensive side, the game was bursting at the seams with missed opportunities. Despite 6 walks issued by starter Chris Young over his 4 innings of work, the Cardinals lone run off Young came from a home run off the bat of Brandon Moss. And, oh, what a home run it was. The second longest HR in baseball this season at a TOWERING 477 feet (and 112 mph off the bat), it was also the longest home run in the history of Busch III by a full 8 feet. Feel the boom:
The Cardinals only managed one other hit over the next 4 innings, but it also happened to be a home run, off the bat of Jhonny Peralta. At a mere 397 feet, however, it was but a pale shadow of the massive Moss blast.
In the 7th, the Cardinals briefly flirted with the idea of scoring by other means, with another walk by Greg Garcia and a sac fly by Matt Carpenter, but the threat was quickly defused when Kolten Wong popped up gently to center field.
Mike Matheny was ejected in the 6th inning arguing over whether Ned Yost should be allowed to challenge whether Salvador Perez was, in fact, out at first. Matheny's beef was not whether Perez was out or safe (he was safe), but whether Yost should even have been allowed to challenge - the rules state that the manager must come out of the dugout within 10 seconds to inform the crew that they intend to look at the play further. They then have an additional 20 seconds to make a determination as to whether they challenge. Yost...did not do that, which led to a fired-up Matheny screaming a bunch of "by golly" and "dagnabbit" at the crew chief and being swiftly ejected.
A measly single by Peralta off of closer Wade Davis would be all the Cardinals managed for the rest of the game, otherwise being shut down by the Royals pen.
Bright spots: Trevor Rosenthal appeared in the 9th inning and retired the side in order. Greg Garcia continued to make the case that he exists by making a couple nice defensive snags and walking twice. Matt Carpenter was 0 for 2, but didn't forget that he is Matt Freaking Carpenter, and so reached twice on walks. Mike Leake only walked a single batter against 4 strikeouts.
Here's the WPA graph, which never crossed the 50% mark after the first inning:
Cardinals try to right the ship against the Milwaukee Brewers tomorrow night at Busch Stadium.