Well that was a lot of baseball, baseball fans. Punctuated by sweet, surprising dingers that turned a loss into a win. After walking it off against the Padres last night, the Cardinals stepped up the drama another notch: they came back against Kenley Jansen in the 9th, then won on a walk off homer in the 16th. Game of the year? My god I'm tired and pleased.
Tommy Pham, Kolten Wong, and automated Padre elimination unit Jedd Gyorko got the nods in their respective timeshares, and the other guys are the guys you'd expect. They backed Michael Wacha, making his 20th start of 2016.
On the other side, the Dodgers started Brandon McCarthy. Savvy baseball fans will recognize McCarthy as several things:
1. a very talented journeyman pitcher who has had trouble staying on the mound
2. a smart and funny guy with a must-follow Twitter account (I am not on Twitter, and even I know this)
3. nobody's fool
So basically, if you want to use Brandon McCarthy as a guide to just life generally and baseball stuff in particular, you're making a good choice. I was hoping for the Cardinals to beat him 1-0, with the 1 not being his fault.
The Dodgers scored right away -- Chase Utley hit a ball about as weakly as you can hit one that goes for a double, and Corey Seager singled him in before Wacha got anybody out. But Wacha kept his cool and kept it to one run.
The Cards came back with two in the 3rd. McCarthy's been on limited pitch counts since recently returning from Tommy John surgery, and a great PA from Gyorko to lead off the 3rd helped run it up a bit -- he drew an 11 pitch walk. After Kolten Wong grounded into a fielder's choice and Wacha made an out, Tommy Pham worked another nice walk after a long PA. Then with two outs, Aledmys Diaz roped one into short left-center, and Joc Pederson mishandled it, allowing both runners to score.
It was pretty quiet (the Dodgers got a lot of guys on but stranded them, while the Cards didn't really get anybody on) until Howie Kendrick hit a solo homer to tie the game against Wacha in the 6th. A few batters later Wacha was in real trouble -- second and third with one out -- but Dodgers manager Dave Roberts did the Cards a tremendous favor by letting Brandon McCarthy hit for himself. He chopped one weakly back to Wacha (albeit after an uncomfortably long battle). Matheny chess-moved right back with a classic "here, you take it, I insist" managerial maneuver: he left Wacha in to pitch to Utley, despite having LHP Tyler Lyons warming in the bullpen. Wacha got Utley to fly out, so that was good, but:
McCarthy cruised after that, but finally came out in the 7th with a leg cramp (is there a mechanical fix for those? no? okay). The Cardinals loaded the bases off his replacement, thanks in part to some hinky Dodgers defense, but pinch hitter Greg Garcia couldn't come through with two outs.
Meanwhile, Kevin Siegrist and former Dodger Jonathan "Jon-Jon" Broxton kept L.A. off the board through the 7th and 8th.
Heading into the bottom of the 8th, the Cardinals had three hits, and only one of them had reached the outfield. Last night's hero Aledmys Diaz added to the hit total (but not the hit-to-the-outfield total) by bunting his way on. Then last night's other hero Stephen Piscotty juuuuuust about hit another clutch homer -- but it died at the wall. Diaz was able to move up to second, but Matt Holliday lined out to center to end the inning, still tied 2-2.
Seung Hwan Oh came on for the 9th, and outside of a home run allowed to Justin Turner, he did great! Unfortunately, on a home run the batter is allowed to run all the way around the bases and score unimpeded, so this meant the Dodgers were up 3-2. This especially sucked in this case, because Kenley Jansen is the Dodgers' closer and he's one of those unhittable guys who you're just not going to beat in the 9th.
Unhittable, that is, unless...
...unless you are Jedd Lindon Gyorko, certified
lefty NL West masher, and 100% definitely a human man and not a giant thumb wearing a baseball player costume. Gyorko's had himself a hell of a week, and he continued it by hitting a two-out solo bomb into the bleachers in left to keep the Birdos alive. Lookit!
Yeahhhh, Dinger Patrol.
Rule 5 guy Matt Bowman kept on being just fine with a scoreless 9th and we were on to free baseball.
[edit: Bowman pitched the 10th]
[So, I missed the 10th through top of the 11th. I think Matheny made people mad bunting; you can imagine that, I'm sure. Let's assume that was the only relevant event.]
The Dodgers narrowly avoided Gyorko coming up again in the 11th. You could see the sweat beading on their brows as the stolid West Virginian loomed on deck. But they escaped ungyorked, and only a cretin would fail to acknowledge that with Gyorko set to lead off the bottom of the 12th, the Dodgers needed to do damage in the top of the inning or else.
But Tyler Lyons mowed them down, and here came trouble. Noted adrenaline junky Dave Roberts left a left-handed rookie in to pitch to Gyorko, which we must assume aroused in our hero a faint feeling of pity -- even remorse -- for what he was about to do. No doubt confused by these new emotions, Gyorko struck out swinging. And worse yet, his confusion extended to the rest of his plate appearances, during which he also did not end the game with a slammer.
So Gyorko was unmanned and unable to end it, and no other Cardinals were ending the game... but Lyons was awesome while they took time to gather up their courage. He threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings -- he was set to pitch Sunday, but not anymore, and it was well worth it. Meanwhile the Cards were sort of flopping around waiting for Gyorko to take care of it until the bottom of the 15th, whereupon:
OH NO BUD NORRIS
The Dodgers have Bud Norris now. I mean, he's not very good, but Bud Norris! He's a soft-tossing lefty who actually is right handed and throws kinda hard, and it is known as a matter of first principles that every Cardinals player spends a week every February studying up on how to be useless against Bud Norris, specifically. And for the 15th, he lived up to his reputation. But then the 16th came.
Do you recall Matt Adams' comments about the shift?
Matt Adams has similar comments about Bud Norris, Cards kryptonite:
(see also: sweet VHS gif)
Matt Adams, the pride of Philipsburg PA, picking up Gyorko's slack.
- Has Dan McLaughlin always been this bad at judging fly balls, or is it new? He is absolutely losing his mind for balls that barely make it to the track at this point. Be cool, Dan, be cool.
- h/t to VEB sage Lynnelot for tipping us off to the Gyorko trollface. Not since Grichuk trollface has there been such an appropriate Cardinal trollface.
- Lost in all the extra innings: Wacha finished with 6 IP, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, and 10 hits allowed (on the back of a 400-something BABIP against). Kind of a standard not-bad-or-was-it-or-wasn't-it Wacha 2016 start, really.
- These gentlemen played all the innings and got no hits: Tommy Pham, Stephen Piscotty, Matt Holliday (aka the Cards' leadoff and 3-4 hitters), Adrian Gonzalez, Joc Pederson. Baseball is mean.
- You guys hear these Blanton rumors?
- WE% graph: