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Pirates bullpen shuts down Cardinals in 5-2 loss

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Matt Carpenter went 0-5 and the rest of the offense followed his lead.

He has killed us this series
He has killed us this series
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

As a person who does not like spending a lot of time on terrible games, I'll try to make this quick.  You don't want to read about this game either.  The Cardinals offense wasn't good.  Mike Leake was Mike Leake, he just so happened to give up most of his hits in the same innings.  The bullpen was good.  Randal Grichuk got a hit.  Aledmys Diaz walked twice. *fart noise*  That's about it.

The game started well enough for the Cardinals.  Mike Leake's mojo worked for the first 4 innings.  He gave up a hit to Andrew McCutchen in the first, but picked off him off to end the inning.  He allowed a hit to rookie pitcher Steven Brault in his first ever plate appearance at the major league level, because of course he did.   That was all the Pirates were able to do for the first four innings.  It was nice.  It did not last.

Meanwhile, the Cards offense was present.  They weren't what I would call good, but they did score a couple runs.  Matt Carpenter saw 5 pitches and then grounded out.  Diaz worked a 7-pitch walk.   Unfortunately, Matt Holliday lined into a double play.  Holliday has been lining out a lot recently it seems.  In the 2nd, Stephen Piscotty hit a ball to Gregory Polanco, who if you haven't noticed can barely run, and Polanco committed a three-base error to begin the inning.  Jedd Gyorko drove him in with a single and it was 1-0.  In the 3rd, Diaz looked at strike one and then stared at four straight pitches on the outside corner for his second walk.  He then stole second (!) and Holliday hit a grounder up the middle for the 2nd run.

At this point, Brault had thrown 63 pitches, allowed two runs, and Leake was cruising.  For some reason, the Cardinals offense stopped dead in its tracks and failed to do anything over the ensuing six innings.  And Leake ended up allowing five runs.  Well there's no mystery to why Leake allowed five runs.  He's not very good.  He wasn't as bad as his line suggests tonight though.  Also Jhonny Peralta had to leave the game in the top of the 4th.  So yeah pretty much everything sucked after the 3rd inning.

In the 5th, David Freese led off with a double.  Let's just accept that he is going to bat .800 against us and try to work around that.  Josh Harrison singled him home.   Harrison easily stole second.  Brayan Pena is pretty bad at throwing runners out.  Like Randal Grichuk's arm when he didn't have an arm bad.  This will be an issue.  Former Cardinal Eric Fryer hit him home with a single too.  Not sure why the Pirates haven't just tried to get every former Cardinal to face us.  Brendan Ryan is probably easily available!

Then Clint Hurdle did something I honestly can't see Mike Matheny doing.  With only 80 pitches after four and generally laboring through each inning, Hurdle took out his starter in favor of Juan Nicasio for the 5th.  You're allowed to do that?  I'm sure it was more related to a pitch count decided on before the game but let me have this.  Anyway, this was a smart decision regardless of the underlying reason.  The top of the order was up for the third time.  He probably would have given up a run.

Nicasio didn't and ended up pitching two decent innings despite hitting a guy and walking another over the course of those innings.  Holliday took a ball off the forearm and it looked painful since it was bruised up by the time he reached first base.

In the 6th, Leake gave up the rest of his runs.  A single by McCutchen, a horrible passed ball by Pena, and a single by *drumroll please* Freese gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead.  A double by Jordy Mercer and a bloop hit that was barely fair by.... yeah it was Fryer.  Fryer got a double for it and the Pirates got a 5-2 lead.  That was more than enough with the Cardinals offense looking terrible.

Tyler Lyons pitched a spotless 7th inning.  Trevor Rosenthal pitched a harmless 8th - a bloop single was the only damage.  He did good enough that Mike tried him again in the 9th.  He unsurprisingly didn't look as good in the 9th, but the results were the same - a single and a strikeout.  He allowed harder hit balls in this inning though including a lineout by Polanco to end the inning.

The Cardinals failed to get a baserunner off either Arquimedes Caminero or Tony Watson and the only reason the Cardinals didn't end the game with 11 straight outs and fail to record a hit after the 5th inning was because recently called up Grichuk hit a nice opposite field line drive single with two outs to bring up Carpenter, who just flied out to left field to end the game.  Take it away Dan

Yep.  That was this game.

WPA Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Notes

- Mike Leake final line: 6 IP, 5 ER, 9 hits, 3 Ks, 70.8 GB% - For what it's worth, he had a 2.73 xFIP - that's what groundballs and no walks will do for you.  So he didn't pitch anywhere near as bad as the 5 ER suggests.  But that's the price you pay when you never strike anyone out.

- "As Matt Carpenter goes, so goes the offense" was never more true tonight.  Carpenter uncharacteristically went 0-5 with 2 Ks.  Everyone has a bad night now and then.

- Diaz's BB rate is now 8.7%.  Getting pretty excited about this guy.

- Gyorko went 2-4.  So I guess my opening paragraph could have included him.

- Matt Adams went 0-3.  He is batting .100/.140/.175 since June 11 in 43 PAs.  He has struck out in 15 of them.  That is more than a third.  (Why June 11?  Shut up it's a neat trick to emphasize small samples to ambiguously make a point.)

- Here's as good a place as any to share this.  There's no reason to get worked up over the Cardinals losing Fryer.  Fryer is probably not good.  Pena is also probably not good.  They are backup catchers.  Backup catchers do not matter, especially one who plays as little as Yadier Molina's backup plays.  At best in Fryer's case, there's no difference between Fryer and Pena.  It's hard to accept this with Fryer's first 44 PAs - a whole 44 PAs - but it's true.

Tomorrow, the Cardinals will try to not make it guaranteed that they lose the series.  It's Jaime Garcia versus Jeff Locke.  We have the clear better pitcher but that hasn't really mattered thus far.  Please win.