The Cardinals enter this game trailing the evil San Francisco Giants in the WC1 race by half of a game and leading the Marlins for WC2 by a game and a half (the next closest team is Pittsburgh at 3.5 back from the second wild card, and the hapless Mets are a game behind the Bucs). If 2016 is an even year, then the Giants' chances for a playoff berth are horcruxes containing the pieces of their soul. If the Dodgers agree to take the NL West and we can secure the first wildcard, then all it takes is Miami or Pittsburgh or the Mets taking the second berth to banish the stupid Giants to whatever purgatory there is for devil magic teams that fail to fulfill their narratives.
But I digress. The Mets are the enemy tonight. I honestly don't recognize their roster any more; injuries have taken their toll on their rotation and lineup alike. Instead of David Wright at third I see recent-domestic-violence-perpetrator Jose Reyes. There's an old man with a cane in center field with De Aza on his jersey. Somebody named James Loney is playing first base. For a rare treat, Asdrubal Cabrera actually isn't injured, but is manning shortstop. And pitching for the Metropolitans is the definition of the AAAA organizational guy that you bring up when half of your incredibly talented rotation has had Tommy John and the other half is Bartolo Colon -- a man with a name that won't be important, but that you might still want to know. His name is Seth Lugo. (I had to look that up every time I typed it, thank you.)
The Cardinals have about what you'd expect if you've been paying attention this season. Wainwright pitching, Moss in LF, Grichuk in CF, Carpenter at 1B, Wong on the bench, Gyorko on 2B, Peralta at 3B, Garcia at SS, Piscotty in RF, in no particular order. The Cardinals look to win the 3-game series while the Mets are trying to make their road trip end at .500.
AW Hanging curve count: 1
Jose Reyes drove the hanger into right-center, but Asdrubal Cabrera flied out and Yoenis Cespedes hit into a double play.
Matt Carpenter, benefiting from whatever voodoo makes him a good-leadoff-terrible-anything-else-hitter, drove one to the wall and it might have gone out, but Old Man River hopped up and guided it into his mitt. We'll never know if it had enough to go out, but it was close.
AW Hanging curve count: 3
The Mets' first three batters got behind in their respective counts, then pounced on hanging curves. This process yielded a run and an out on a deep fly ball. Then, Waino struck a guy out and intentionally walked the #8 guy in the order to face the pitcher. Lugo struck the ball well, but jaguar god Randal Grichuk was prowling the outfield, and the ball never. had. a. chance.
With one out, Yadi continued his second-half tear with a nice opposite-field single. Jhonny Peralta stupidly struck out, but Randal Grichuk saved the day with a double driven to the left-center wall. Yadier "Wheels" Molina moved to third on the play, Lugo gave Greg Garcia an IBB to jam the sacks, and Adam Wainwright stepped to the plate. For once in my life, I wished for a DH. Waino struck out. Mets lead, 1-0. [But fear not, intrepid reader -- the Cardinals will come back. And if they don't and I forget to delete this, let it be evidence of my undying faith, however misplaced, in our beloved Fredbirds. I even have a tattoo!]
This is not my tattoo.
The Mets achieved nothing, proving the utter futility of human existence when you live in Queens.
Ditto for the Cardinals, except they did it on two strikeouts without any baserunners, and they live in St. Louis.
Hanging sinker count: 1
So says Edmonds. I didn't even know that Waino threw a sinker, but whatever. The Mets hit a single, a double (on the hanger whatever), and a single on a meatball changeup to score a couple runs. Then Adam got out of the top of the inning. Mets lead, 3-0.
Waino walked Yoenis and then something very interesting happened. James Loney hit a fly ball into shallow left field and neither Greg Garcia nor Brandon Moss could field it. Cespedes tried to take third and Wainwright covered. He tagged Yoenis' cleat, but his glove caught between the cleat and the bag and pulled off his hand when he moved away from the bag. Yoenis was called safe. Matheny asked why the hell that was the case, and the nice umpires in New York said that Cespedes was indeed safe but James Loney had to go back to first (????). Oh well. One out, runners at first and third. No worries though - Waino struck out Curtis Granderson (twice!) and Wilmer Flores grounded out to Greg Garcia EXCEPT GARCIA BOOTED IT AND YOENIS SCORED. Then Old Man River (Alejandro De Aza) hit a three-run dinger. Mets lead, 7-0.
Broxton took over. I'm not going to post Wainwright's line because while he wasn't great, there was a lot of flukey stuff influencing this start, as well. Waino pitched okay - his stuff was off, he left a lot of stuff up in the zone, but he had some good stuff too. Anyhow, Broxton went 1-2-3 because he's kind of a troll like that.
Lugo came out in the bottom of the inning with some kind of injury, leaving with a line much better than his skill level would predict. Hope it's not serious. This Mets team is struggling mightily with all sorts of injury.
Jim Henderson, Canadian native and Expos draftee extraordinaire, came in for the Mets. He walked Greg Garcia and Brandon Moss pulled a bullet down the right field line and bounced it off the foul pole.
h/t VEBer The Big Toe
The Cards went down in order after this. Cardinals trail, 2-7.
Broxton with another 1-2-3 inning.
Cardinals threatened, but nothing came of it.
Kevin Siegrist in to pitch after six days off. He got runners on second and third, then struck the next guy out. IBB to Reyes, loading the bases with one out. Asdrubal Cabrera worked a 1-2 count, then fought back and ultimately singled to score Old Man De Aza. Jerome Williams relieved Mono Siegrist. Cespedes GIDP.
In the bottom of the frame, Moss hit another dinger -- this one a solo shot. He's really, really fun to watch while healthy. (Just so you all know, I was on the Moss bandwagon from the day we bid farewell to Rob Kaminsky.) Piscotty poked a single and Rosario hustled to beat a bobbled ball that pulled Loney off first base. Collins brought some other largely fungible Mets reliever in to pitch. The Cardinals loaded the bases with one out, and Greg Garcia hit into a FC that scored one (he beat out the throw for the double play with an impressive hustle). Wong grounded out to third to end the threat. Mets lead, 8-4.
Sam Tuivailala in to pitch. He gave up two runs. Ho hum.
Human thumb Jedd Gyorko dingered in a pyrrhic effort, solo style in the bottom of the ninth. De Aza vaulted off his walker to nearly steal the homerun, but his replacement hip caught and cost him a couple inches of vertical. Moss lined out. Piscotty said, hey, I like to hit dingers too guys! So he did, again tempting fate over De Aza's glove. That was all the scoring that we could muster. Mets prevail by the shocking margin of 10-6.
This game was never really close, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the score would indicate. It was just a frustrating game. Wainwright didn't melt down, but he wasn't on point either. Had he gotten out of the fifth with just three outs instead of five, the Cardinals might win this game. Had De Aza not suddenly become Willie Mays on defense and Babe Ruth on offense (I wanted to pick players from his era), the Cardinals crush the Mets. Had three of our four dingers not been of the solo variety, we win. Had we not squandered the one-out-bases-juiced opportunity we had in the eighth, maybe things turn out differently. But all of that happened, and we lost.
The Cardinals had a couple of Warning Track Power incidents - Jhonny and Randal - that could have made the game closer, too.
In the end, the Marlins lost, so we kept WC2 at a minimum. As of press time, the Pirates are tied in the bottom of the ninth and the Giants are tied in the top of the third. We're getting toward September, so we'll soon know whether this rather inconsistent, if incredibly talented, Cardinals team has what it takes to make its fiftieth consecutive postseason appearance (or whatever). One thing is for sure though - these guys could do with some consistency.
EDIT: One more thing - the strike zone was a mess tonight. Look at all the black dots in the box.
The Athletics of Oakland visit tomorrow, game starts at 7:15 CDT. If I know Craig, the Cardinals should destroy the Athletics. Be there or be a Cubs fan.