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Cardinals come back from 5-run deficit, lose anyway 7-6 to Reds

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The Reds bullpen is as bad as advertised.

This is just a cool photo.  it's not even from this game.
This is just a cool photo. it's not even from this game.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Matheny kind of gave up on this game.  The Cardinals were losing 4-1 and Mike Leake came back out for the 7th inning.  He didn't look good, but he didn't have a lot of pitches so he stayed in.  Normally, I'd be ok with this.  Losing by three runs is a low leverage situation and sure why not - go ahead and save your bullpen for a probable loss.  But the Cardinals were coming off an off-day and they normally don't face bullpens as bad as the Cincinnati Reds.  So he left him in, Leake gave up two runs, and well look at the final score.  Do not give up on games when the Reds' bullpen is at play.

Mike Leake at Great American Ball Park seems like a disaster, so much so that I actually wonder how he survived playing there for five and a half years.  That was the selling point with him really.  He's finally going to go to a pitchers' park.  Hitters' parks are hitter's parks for more than just home runs but it seems like most of the home runs he's given up would go out in any park.  Well probably not the one he gave up to Billy Hamilton.  Yes, he gave up a home run to Billy Hamilton, an event so rare that I feel the need to repeat his full name in order to understand it.

The Cardinals could not figure out John Lamb or his curveball.  Lamb has been a terrible pitcher this year.  He is in the conversation to get removed from the rotation in favor of Anthony Desclafani's return from the disabled list.  Or was rather.  I'm sure this game will help him keep his spot.  Through three innings, the only baserunners for the Cardinals were a leadoff single by Stephen Piscotty (who got picked off), an infield hit by Matt Adams, and Randal Grichuk reaching base from an error.

In the 4th, the Cardinals finally got on the board.  Piscotty drew a walk and Jhonny Peralta got his first hit of 2016, a double to left-center field.  With second and third, Adams drove in Piscotty with a single to left.  Yadier Molina ended the possible rally with an inning-ending double play.  Then Lamb returned to his dominating again, facing the minimum over the next three innings.  His overall line doesn't quite capture how helpless the Cardinals looked against him.  Strikeout, weakly hit slow roller, jammed fly ball.  Nothing was hit hard.

Leake doesn't strike out people so he kind of relies on the groundball.  He has a 50.2 career GB rate.  Tonight, he could not get the Reds hitters to hit it on the ground.  He allowed two home runs on the evening and "only" had a 16.7 HR/FB% which means he gave up 12 flyballs that could theoretically have become home runs.  12 flyballs in Great American Ball Park is generally not a sound strategy.

Nonetheless, he had managed to get through three innings without allowing a run, but that pesky second time through the order came and conquered.  This time it was started by two singles, both on the ground, by Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce.  Then he gave Adam Duvall a pretty pitch to hit and it was 3-1 Reds just like that.  A double by Eugenio Suarez and a sacrifice fly by Ramon Cabrera and it was 4-1 before the inning was over.

After retiring six straight hitters, he gave up a leadoff home run to Billy Hamilton.  Billy Hamilton.  You give up a home run to Billy Hamilton, you come out of the game.  That's just the rule.  But he left him in to give up a double to Cabrera.  After Lamb tried and failed to get down a bunt, he gave up another hit to Zack Cozart to make it 6-1 and finally he was removed from the game in favor of Dean Kiekhefer, who stymied both Joey Votto and Jay Bruce to end the inning.

Lamb was at 99 pitches, but Bryan Price trusts his bullpen like Manny Machado trusts Yordano Ventura right now.  I don't know it's topical, bare with me here.  He walked Grichuk and stayed in.  Jedd Gyorko pinch-hit and hit into a force out, but advanced to second on an errant throw from Brandon Phillips.  Matt Carpenter hit a groundball to the outfield, where Phillips was stationed and he booted that.  So two straight errors for Phillips and Lamb was finally removed.

Blake Wood replaced him and he's pretty much a replacement reliever.  So he's one of the better relievers they have.  He gave up a deep fly ball to Aledmys Diaz, who drove in Gyorko for the second run.  Back-to-back singles by Matt Holliday and Piscotty made the bases loaded for Peralta.  And Peralta hit a double to left field to drive two runners in.  Tony Cingrani came in to face Adams and he got the job done.

Jonathan Broxton came in to make sure the lead didn't get any worse and an hour later, he exited the game without giving up any runs.  Then the exciting comeback happened.  Molina led off with a single and after a flyout by Grichuk, Gyorko singled as well.  Both were removed for faster runners which set the table for Carpenter.  Carpenter laced a double down the left-field line.  It was badly misplayed by Duvall, but that actually might have helped them since Carpenter ran into the second out.  Carpenter isn't really a good baserunner, you see.  But it tied the game!

And then Joey Votto homered.  The end.

WPA Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Notes

- Mike Leake line: 6.1 IP, 10 hits allowed, 5 Ks, 2 HRs  - Don't let the 5:0 K/BB ratio fool you.  He didn't pitch or look good this game.

- I've given up on trying to figure out why Kevin Siegrist keeps giving up home runs to left-handed hitters.  Trevor Rosenthal probably should have been in here, because he's the best pitcher.  He is probably not actually a worse pitcher in non-save situations, despite what the very tiny sample may have told you so far.  But Siegrist is good so whatever.

- Peralta went 2-4 with two doubles and a strikeout.  Both doubles were loopy line drives so you can probably still worry about his power if you want to be that guy.

Tomorrow Jaime Garcia faces off against Alfredo Simon.  Something something he killed a guy.  That pitching matchup is so lopsided that anything other than a win will be a massive disappointment.  It is also a 6 pm start so eat dinner early or something.