The Cardinals kicked off the second half of the season against the Marlins at home tonight, behind southpaw Jaime Garcia. They lost.
Marlins starter Wei-Yin Chen is basically the left-handed version of Mike Leake, right down to the five-year, $80M contract he signed over the winter. He's shown a pronounced platoon split in his career, so Mike Matheny stacked righties against him:
This led to some... oddities, most notably Randal Grichuk leading off. But you know what, whatever -- pressing a platoon advantage is smart, and if it comes attached to a weird-ass lineup, so be it.
(Seriously though, Gunrick himself led off. I have no idea, either. Matheny's tendency to start a fast, low-OBP guy in that spot when slow, high-OBP Matt Carpenter isn't available is just another of those things that makes Matheny who he is. But anyway! I was going to not complain!)
The first inning was interrupted when Matt Holliday fouled a ball straight back and it caught home-plate ump Chad Fairchild squarely on the forearm; he was hurt badly enough that he actually left the game. Jim Joyce took over home plate duties, and our thoughts go out to Fairchild's soft tissue. Holliday hit one to the warning track after play resumed (Danny Mac reacted like it was going to land 10 rows deep, and this time I'll forgive him because I kinda did, too), and Jhonny Peralta grounded out sharply to end the inning with a couple of men stranded.
The Cards' defense has let them down many times this year, and more of the same allowed the Marlins to take an early lead. After a leadoff single in the top of the 4th, Jaime got a tailor-made double play ball from Marcel Ozuna. But Aledmys Diaz (who had plenty of time) bounced the throw to first, Holliday couldn't scoop it, and the next batter doubled in Ozuna from first.
But the Marlins' lead was short-lived, because the Dinger Patrol rolled through in the bottom of the inning. Stephen Piscotty kicked it off with a solo homer, and after a couple of singles, Tommy Pham drilled a three-run shot (112 mph off the bat) just inside the LF foul pole to give the Birdos a 4-1 lead.
The Marlins chipped away a bit with another run, but Jaime mostly held firm. He left with one out in the 7th and a couple of guys on base -- final line: 6.1 IP, 2 K, 2 BB, 8 H, 2 R -- and gave way to (dun da da dunnnnnn) Trevor Rosenthal, with the Cards up 4-2.
Strikeout, walk (to load the bases), HBP (to push a run in), no call to the bullpen, two-run single, 5-4 Marlins.
Kevin Siegrist is back off the DL, and he stopped the bleeding. But the way the year's been, it's pretty hard to look at a Rosenthal implosion in the late innings and a one-run deficit and feel anything but bad feelings. Certainly not a lot of hope.
But I'd forgotten about the Dinger Patrol. When things are at their darkest, when you've got nowhere else to go, when nobody else will take the case: that's when you call the Dinger Patrol. Pham led off the bottom of the 7th with a shot over the wall in right center to tie it up, and I swear to god I was sitting here waiting to write this right as it happened:
Two batters later, leadoff hitter extraordinaire Randal Grichuk banged another solo shot out to give the Cardinals a lead. DINGER PATROL.
Unfortunately, these guys can be a little one-note at times.
Pinch-hitter Ichiro Suzuki singled off Siegrist in the 8th (and I wish he hadn't got on, but, Ichiro! neat!) and advanced to second on a throwing error by Siegrist on a pickoff attempt. Jonathan Broxton (yeah) came in to pitch to Martin Prado with two out and Ichiro on second, and despite Broxton's vast closing experience Prado promptly singled him in to tie the game.
Then Seung Hwan Oh came in for the 9th, Grichuk let a fliner just go over his head for a "double" (I don't want to talk about it), Oh battled but the Marlins got a grounder through to score the run, and we were back to 2016 square one: down one run in the 9th.
The Bottom of the 9th
Did you think this header meant there was drama to describe? Or is it just a Danny Mac warning-track fly ball call? You presumably read the headline of this recap and already know the answer, but: it was the latter. Pham and Diaz singled, but Matt Adams
pinch hit for Holliday with two outs had entered as a defensive sub for Holliday, and he struck out, as the Marlins held on for a 7-6 win.
Things that get a bulletpoint
- Defense matters. It's been a (weird, because it seems obvious) point of contention in some quarters over the last few years, but: defense matters. Two or three of the Marlins' runs came as the direct result of defensive misplays, and the Marlins won by one, so, there you go.
- In honor of the 2016 Cardinals, I'm no longer proof-reading these. We'll just have to hope their high points are sufficient to distract you from the underlying chaos.
- Yadier Molina went first to third on Giancarlo Stanton in the 4th, because baseball is hilarious.
- Other than the missed scoop in the 4th, Holliday's night on the infield went pretty okay! See?
- You can't just stop using Rosenthal entirely, but putting him in with two guys already on is definitely not the spot. Sigh.
- In related news, the bullpen's not in such good shape, what with Broxton pitching in big spots and Rosenthal just... whatevering. Make of this what you will.
- Matt Adams is bad and I don't like him one bit.
- A rabbit thinking a couple times that it has evaded the fox but then nope, I'm dead, in graph form: