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Jaime Garcia pitches a gem and Matt Carpenter is back! Cards win 3-2.

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It is sure nice to have Matt Carpenter back in the lineup, and even nicer to have a really good Jaime Garcia starting again. Seung Hwan Oh finalizes the deal & the Cards win a baseball series!

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Lineups

CINCINNATI REDS ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
Billy Hamilton - CF Matt Carpenter - 1B
Zack Cozart - SS Kolten Wong - 2B
Joey Votto - 1B Brandon Moss - RF
Adam Duvall - LF Matt Holliday - LF
Eugenio Suarez - 3B Yadier Molina - C
Tony Renda - 2B Jhonny Peralta - 3B
Tyler Holt - RF Jeremy Hazelbaker - CF
Tucker Barnhart - C Greg Garcia - SS
Anthony DeSclafani - RHP Jaime Garcia - LHP


Pregame

Jaime Garcia had a great outing last time but he is still off his usual pace in 2016 with a 3.87 SIERA and a 3.73 FIP. Last year he had a 3.00 FIP, for example. So that is a bit of a letdown, so far, but I have a good feeling about the rest of the season from Jaime. His BB/9 is up and his BABIP has normalized, so watch for any improvement on walks or some regression towards the lucky side of BABIP just to be on the optimistic side.

His K/9 is up so I think if he can get his stuff more under control going forward he will be a definite asset to the starting rotation. DeSclafani, tonight's other starter, meanwhile has a 4.00 SIERA and a 3.65 FIP. So this matchup seems pretty even as far as the starters go.

The Cardinals are a top 10 team by fWAR, and remain at the top of the NL in wRC+ with the Cubbies. They do this with raw power and are at the top in the major leagues in isolated power. They lead the NL in home runs. Their defense leaves something to be desired but home runs are more fun anyway. Well, at least until you start jonesing for defense again, but we have had a lot of good defense in the past, and it is nice to see the long ball back in the house.

What Happened

First!

Garcia looked pretty good in the first inning, then right off the bat in the bottom of the first Matt Carpenter hit his 15th home run of the season. 1-0 Cards. Holliday got a single but the rest of the team struck out, so just one RBI.

Second!

Blink and you would've missed it. Garcia threw 5 pitches. Cardinals went 1-2-3.

Third!

The Reds tried to string something together against Garcia but luckily Holliday made a running-backwards awkward looking catch that he probably got a little lucky on to keep their run total at zero. Jaime Garcia almost got a hit but Billy Hamilton made a leap into the air and was able to catch the ball with a skillful play. Garcia really got a piece of it and Hamilton was a bit surprised, but it worked out to Billy's favor.

Matt Carpenter picked up where he left off in the first inning and jacked the ball again, this time just inside the park. It ricocheted off the wall to Carpenter's favor and he ended up with a triple! With one out Kolten Wong was at the plate, batting 2nd in the lineup. Wong struck out and it was not on a good pitch. But luckily Brandon Moss was up to the task and he clobbered the ball yet again this year, knocking in the runner at third. 2-0! That was Brandon's 18th double of the year, matching his home run total. 47th RBI.

Fourth!

The Reds halved the lead with a line drive screaming home run by Eugenio Suarez, but that's all they could get. Jaime has had worse luck on home runs this season. The Reds had only a handful of hits at that point but unfortunately one of them was a homer. At least it was a solo shot.

Jhonny Peralta answered Suarez's solo shot with one of his own, his 200th career home run and 6th this year. It was crushed. Then Hazelbaker walked... but was picked off of first base because he was going to steal a base, or try anyway. Do or do not, there is no try, Jeremy. Greg Garcia was the shortstop this game, and he was up and worked it against Desclafani, but he ended up flying out. Not a bad plate appearance though, I like that guy.

Fifth!

Jaime Garcia continued his good outing and retired the side, no problem. This game became mostly about the kid who caught the Jhonny Peralta 200th home run ball at some point. He was a lucky guy, got to get some benefits out of it. Like after game autographs and meetings and stuff! Pretty cool. The Cardinals tried to put something together this inning and had a runner on third but they were robbed by a defensive gem type play by the Reds middle infield.

Sixth!

Garcia continued to roll with his gem of a start, pitching only 60 pitches or 10 pitches per inning. Yadi guided one down the third base line, fair, resulting in a single. Greg Garcia was up again with 2 outs and was not able to produce, maybe not his night.

Seventh!

Moss covered some ground in right field this inning running down fly balls. Not bad, Mossman. A man got on, but not much else, as Garcia struck out the last batter for the third out. He was an efficient out machine tonight.

Jaime Garcia was still in this game, and he made himself valuable by getting on base and taking a walk from the other pitcher. The Cardinals threatened this inning but the Reds utilized good bullpen management to get out of the situation.

Eighth!

So, part of the story of this game is not only Garcia's pitching, but the Cardinals offense leaving guys on base. Good thing he was great tonight! Only 3 hits allowed, 4 Ks, etc. Would he still be good in the 8th?

With the help of Jhonny Peralta's sparkling defense at third base, yes. That and Greg Garcia and Matt Carpenter completed an outstanding play as well. The gamethread was like, woh, good defense! That is new!

Blake Wood, the impressive unknown Reds relief pitcher, pitched again tonight. Yadi swung right through a ball down the middle of the plate somehow. Peralta tried to hit him, but had difficulty as well. Hazelbaker figured him out though by going the other way, hitting it where no one was positioned always works. Greg Garcia again didn't hit, so that was that. Is he coming back down to earth?

Ninth!

Jaime gave up a double to start the ninth, which made things a little on edge. The Cards did not have a whole lot of breathing room. Final Boss was warming... Duvall seemed to be figuring something out... and he got a hit. No runs scored but nobody out, runners were at the corners.

Matheny emerged from the dugout to let Garcia off the hook. What a great night by Jaime, it's too bad things didn't work out in the 9th inning, but the Final Boss was summoned.

On the very first pitch he threw, Seung Hwan Oh induced a double play ball. His uncanny abilities have been most welcome in 2016. He struck out the last guy efficiently and bailed out Jaime's 9th inning stumble, both pitchers being about as efficient as could be. The Cards won the series!

+Pluses+

  • Seung Hwan Oh finished the Reds off with his 10th save of the season after replacing Rosenthal. He has been really, really good this year, no matter what rate stat you look at. I am particularly impressed by his K/9 well north of 11.
  • Matt Carpenter was the offensive hero tonight with a home run, a triple, and a walk of course. His wRC+ is at 163! To put this into context, this is better than Josh Donaldson and not much worse than Mike Trout. Surprisingly, Carpenter's ISO is much higher than Trout's this season.
  • Jaime Garcia was third in WPA tonight with another incredible outing, 2 in a row now. If he can do this down the stretch, that would totally rock! Jaime only walked one guy tonight. It is most comforting to see him doing better as of late.
  • Jhonny Peralta's 200th career home run was crushed tonight. Couple of solo shots and a Brandon Moss double knocking in a run is fun.
  • Duvall was a plus for the Reds in this game by WPA and Suarez had an RBI.
  • This sort of flew under the radar but Jaime Garcia was 1 for 2 with a walk tonight...
  • The Cardinals played great defense tonight for a change

-Minuses-

  • Speaking of Suarez, WPA thinks he should have won the game but instead he got the most negative WPA tonight, oddly enough providing their only run while being very unclutch. Weird.
  • DeSclafani struck out more guys than Garcia, but he gave up 2 home runs and walked 2 batters for the loss.
  • Bill Hamilton 0 for 4 in the leadoff spot
  • Cozart and Renda also 0 for 4
  • Votto got hits at the wrong time
  • Wong and Holliday 1 for 4, not bad but they were the only ones who had somewhat negative WPAs for the Cards in this game.

Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Tune in tomorrow night for the first game of a pretty big series! It is Carlos Martinez vs Jon Lester at Wrigley Field. I will be playing a show at a punk dive bar called the Mutiny but it will be on tv there I'm sure. The game begins at 7:05pm. Friday and Saturday are day games, and then the 4th game of the series will be on ESPN Sunday night baseball.