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7.9.16 Cardinals @ Brewers Recap: Late Offensive Spark Fuels 8-1 Victory

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Oh, and Carlos Martinez had an 11-strikeout game, too.

Man, he struck me out AGAIN.
Man, he struck me out AGAIN.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Bees out on the fence

An omen for the Brewers

Their loss still stinging

The Game

The last week has been kind of a nightmare for the Cardinals.  Already a fringe wildcard team, the loss of Kevin Siegrist to mono, Brandon Moss to an ankle injury, and Matt Carpenter to an oblique strain put this team in a precarious situation.   After last night, Matt Holliday, Michael Wacha,and Trevor Rosenthal are all in questionable health themselves.  The All-Star Game seriously could not come at a better time.  In this context, today's win was very much needed, both from a practical standpoint and likely a symbolic one for the boys in red.  And what a sweet win it was.

The Cardinals scored first in the second inning off a solo home run by Jhonny Peralta, whose thumb appears to be okay.  Yadier Molina and Jedd Gyorko followed with a walk and a double, respectively, but even with runners on second and third and nobody out, the Cardinals couldn't push another run across.  It felt defeating.  But worry not, because Carlos Martinez was keeping things tight.  In the bottom of that inning, he went ahead and struck out the side for good measure.

In the third, Stephen Piscotty tripled. (Side note: seriously, how good is Piscotty?!  We are halfway through the season, he is the real deal, and he has turned into a far better player than I ever expected he would be.  He's Matt Carpenter 2.0, right?)  Randal Grichuk, recently recalled from AAA, drove in Piscotty with a base hit.  2-0 Cardinals.  Peralta then grounded into a double play to end the inning.....   OR SO WE THOUGHT.  We come back from commercial break only to discover that Mike Matheny has challenged the out call at second base.  The Cardinals were already out on the field, the Brewers were in the dugout, ready to hit.  The replay showed that Scooter Gennett did not, in fact, touch second base on the turn.  Grichuk was called safe, everyone changed spots again, and the Neighborhood Play officially died.  It was all for nought, however, as the Cardinals weren't able to bring Grichuk home and the inning ended with the score still 2-0.

The Brewers scored their lone run in the bottom of the third.  Jonathan Villar led off with a base hit and promptly stole second base.  After back-to-back strikeouts to follow, Martinez walked Chris Carter (he had four on the day, which was not great, but the strike zone was pretty tight) and gave up a base hit to Kirk Nieuwenhuis, scoring Villar who, by the way, also stole third.  2-1 Brewers.  Then Nieuwenhuis stole second!  The Brew Crew ran like mad against Yadi today, tallying four stolen bases.  This has only happened two other times in Molina's career, which is a fun statistic.  Incidentally, when the Brewers tried to make it five in the fourth, Molina gunned that fool down.  There is only so much a man can take.  Anyway, a defensive gem from Greg Garcia saved a base hit that would have scored two more to preserve the lead.

Martinez's day ended after the fifth inning.  A funky strike zone plus a LOT of strike outs had his pitch count at 103.  I think pulling him was the right move, even though my fantasy team got screwed out of a quality start.  His final line: 5 IP, 1 R, 11 Ks (tying a career high), 4 H, 4 BB.  Tyler Lyons succeeded Martinez, throwing 2 1/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts.  He got into a bit of trouble in the eighth, but Matt Bowman was able to save him and keep the lead.  Thank GOB for Tyler Lyons, though, right?  (On so many levels....but I digress.)  Oh yeah, it was also 3-1 at that point because Molina doubled in the top of the inning and Jedd Gyorko drove him in on a base hit up the middle.

Then, you guys, THEN the Cardinals went absolutely gangbusters in the ninth inning.  Tommy Pham led off with a home run, pinch-hitter Kolten Wong and Garcia drew consecutive walks, and Aledmys Diaz drove a ball over the fence in left field for his 13th home run of the year.  7-1 Cardinals.  Still nobody out.  The Brewers changed pitchers, but that didn't matter too much.  Piscotty doubled then advanced on a wild pitch.  Alberto Rosario pinch-hit for Molina, getting his first major-league at bat after 11 years in the minor leagues and his first major league hit!  Congrats to Rosario!  Piscotty scored, 8-1 Cardinals.  Seth Maness closed out the game without incident.

Notes

1. Due to all of the injuries, this was the first Matt-less starting lineup of the season.  Yet we still won.  Very confusing.

2. The game started late because an enormous swarm of bees overtook the right field wall.  For reasons I can't really understand, they didn't actually get rid of the bees and although the swarm was smaller, they were chilling there all game.  NOPE.

3. Al wants you to know that Villar is "a selfish player" for attempting to steal third with two outs.  What.

4. Not kidding about that tight strike zone.  Here's the plot map for Martinez.  I count five balls that should have been called strikes and another couple that were darn close.  What this means, by the way, is that Carlos was getting strikeouts based on pure stuff, and that is awesome.

5. The rubber game, and last game before the All-Star break, starts at 1:10 CT tomorrow.  Mike Leake faces Junior Guerra.  I would love a win to end the first half on a high note.