Okay, sure. This works.
The Cardinals beat up on the Miami Marlins tonight to pull ahead in the wild-card race for what feels like the first time in a while. The game was never really close, even if (due to unspecified recent bullpen shenanigans) it kinda felt like it a couple times.
Fifth starters Mike Leake and Jose Urena faced off tonight. Urena's job is at risk after the Marlins acquired Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea today. Really, he was probably only on the hill tonight because those guys weren't on schedule to start yet.
As it turns out, Jeremy Hazelbaker and Urena got in a fight a month ago in AAA, after Urena threw a pitch over Hazelbaker's head. This added some fun color when Hazelbaker took him deep in the second inning to put St. Louis up 2-0. It was a sloooow trot around the bases for Jeremy; I thoroughly approve.
In the same inning, Kolten Wong doubled in Tommy Pham after a HBP -- raise your hand if you are surprised Pham got hit in the wrist without breaking anything; now raise your hand if you're a liar; good, now everybody's hands are up -- to make it 3-0. The Cardinals ended up loading the bases with two outs, but Matt Adams lined out to left to end it.
Urena got in big trouble, again, in the 5th. With one run already home and runners on second and third, Marlins manager Don Mattingly made a curious call: he called for an IBB to Hazelbaker to load the bases, despite Urena showing poor control. Pham made them pay with a RBI single, and Mattingly went to the pen. A Wong single, bases-loaded Leake walk (yessss), Greg Garcia single, and Aledmys Diaz sac fly later, it was 9-1.
As it turns out, the nice thing about an eight-run lead is that if the pitcher gives up five the next inning you're still up three! Because that happened in the bottom of the 5th. It was a bummer, as Leake nearly got out of it with only two runs allowed -- but his throw to first after a Dee Gordon tapper hit Gordon in the back. An interference call would have ended the inning, but the umps didn't agree. Then Martin Prado hit a two-out, three-run homer to close the gap to 9-6.
But again, the neat thing about an eight-run lead is, well, just look at the WE% graph down there. A terrible horrible five-run inning is bad, but when you're up eight it's actually not that bad. Three's not as big as nine, but three's still a pretty big lead in the 6th inning.
And five's even bigger! Tommy Pham dingered the hell out of one with a man on second in the top of the 6th, to extend the lead to 11-6.
Matt Bowman came on in relief of Leake (who maybe could have soaked up another inning with Jaime Garcia going on short rest tomorrow, but whatever), and basically did the Matt Bowman thing: two scoreless innings, yawn. Dean Kiekhefer and Seth Maness took care of the rest for the Cardinals, and 11-6 was how it ended.
The Cardinals are now a game ahead of the Marlins for the second wild-card spot, although still 6.5 back of the Cubs (who also won) in the division. As many wise people have reminded the many panicky people who declared as early as May and June that the Cardinals should be sellers this year, the trade deadline is not until August 1. That's now three days away, and the Cardinals will not, as it turns out, be sellers.
Things that get bullet points
- Wong had a good night: he ended up 3-5, and a homer away from the cycle. He was swinging for it by the end of the game, too, but no such luck.
- GREG GARCIA OBP MONSTER: 2-5 with a HBP.
- Ichiro, you guys... he nailed Wong at home on a would-be sac fly in the 3rd, and I wasn't even mad. I didn't know he could do that any more, but yep, he can. And, of course, everybody's watching him these days because he came in with 2,998 career hits. He left with the same number. Love you buddy, but I hope you get your milestones off some other chumps.
- Aledmys Diaz made the first two outs in the 5th: he struck out to start the inning, then the next eight guys reached. Diaz lined out to right for out #2 (but he did get a RBI).
- Whoa, Dustin McGowan! Remember him? I remember him. If you got a great half-season of fantasy pitching out of McGowan in 2007, welcome to the club, we'll be over here listening to Sound of Silver and being generally irresponsible.