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8.28.16 Recap: Cards fall to As 7-4

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Jaime Garcia struggled early, and the Cardinals' offense couldn't pick him up.

If only his pitching was as sharp as his facial hair.
If only his pitching was as sharp as his facial hair.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Jaime Garcia:

Five runs in seven innings

Won't get the job done

The Game

Welp.  I've been wondering for awhile what the heck is wrong with Jaime Garcia.  Any ideas, guys?  Is he hurt?  Before today, I was thinking that almost had to be it.  Jaime Garcia has been a really frustrating pitcher during most of his career with St. Louis, but one thing I do know - one thing that has always been consistent - is that when Garcia is healthy, he has the best pure "stuff" on the team.  (Alex Reyes may be giving him a run for his money, however.)  He started the season pitching true to this statement.  But his last several starts have been extremely disappointing.  Today, though, today was weird.  Jaime was almost two different pitchers during the course of one game.  I just don't know what to make of him anymore.

After getting the first two batters of the game out, Garcia gave up an infield hit and then a home run to Khris Davis.  2-0 As.  And that home run ball was not something Davis got lucky on; it was a straight fastball, middle-middle, with no movement.  After the home run, Ryon Healy hit a ground rule double, and Garcia hit Stephen Vogt.  He got out of the inning with no more damage, but I cracked open a beer and settled in for a long afternoon (it wasn't quite noon AZ time, but this is what Cardinals games do to me anymore).

The Cardinals got one back in the bottom of the inning on a Matt Carpenter double and a Stephen Piscotty bloop single.  2-1 As.

Garcia's struggles continued in the third.  His own throwing error allowed Marcus Semien to reach base.  After a fielder's choice, he was replaced on the base path by Danny Valencia.  Alberto Rosario, getting the start today as Yadier Molina received a much-needed day of rest, threw out Valencia trying to steal second.  But with two outs, Garcia could not finish off the inning unscathed.  He walked Khris Davis, gave up another double to Healy, and allowed a home run to Stephen Vogt.  Incidentally, it was Vogt's first home run this season off a left-handed pitcher (and his 11th overall). 5-1 As.

Carpenter hit a solo home run in the bottom of the inning.  5-2 As.

And then, Garcia calmed down.  His cutter started cutting; his slider started sliding; his change up starting changing things the eff up.  In the fourth, he gave up another infield single, but promptly induced a double play to end the inning.  Basically the same thing happened in the fifth inning.  I didn't even think Garcia would make it through four innings, but there he was on the mound in the sixth and the seventh.  Seeing as how the bullpen is a bit taxed and we are going right to Milwaukee for a three game series that starts tomorrow, I did see the benefit of keeping Garcia in there as long as possible.  Incidentally, he pitched perfectly clean innings before giving way to that piece of gum stuck to the bottom of your shoe that you just can't manage to scrape off completely, Jonathan Broxton.

Look, I think VEB as a rule hates Broxton disproportionately to how bad he actually is.  He's not really THAT bad.  But when he comes into pitch a game, that feeling of dread washes over me, and it seems like, in most of the games I've been able to watch this season, he's proven me right.  Today was no different.  But before I get to that, the Cardinals staged a bit of a comeback in the sixth and seventh innings.  Carpenter (3-for-4 today with a home run) hit another double.  In classic "get him on, get him over, get him in" fashion, Carpenter advanced to third on a Jedd Gyorko fly out, and scored on a Brandon Moss fly out.  5-3 As.  We got one more in the seventh on a Greg Garcia single and a Rosario double.  5-4 As.

I liked our chances going into the eighth.  Then Broxton gave up a single to Semien and a double to Valencia.  Suddenly it was 6-4 Oakland.  He struck out Davis, then intentionally walked Healy to create a force at each base.  That was it for Broxton, who was relieved by Zach Duke.  Duke induced a ground ball, but couldn't field it cleanly.  Valencia scored.  7-4 As.  He struck out the next two batters, but ugh.

The Redbirds threatened in the bottom of the ninth when Moss and Jhonny Peralta both reached on singles.  But Randal Grichuk lined out (FRIENDS, YOU ALWAYS GOTTA GIVE YOUR ALL, EVEN IF YOU CAN'T WIN 'EM ALL, LOL GOD BLESS), and Greg Garcia flew out to end the game.  Boo.

Notes

1. The Cardinals head to Milwaukee for a three game series that starts tomorrow, followed by a three-game series against the Reds.  Prime opportunity to get some breathing room for a wild card spot.

2. What the heck are we going to do with Jaime Garcia, you guys?  If he's not hurt, then what is it?  He was good outside of the two long balls.  But those were devastating.  His final line, by the way: 7.0 IP, 5 R, 7 H, 6 Ks, 1 BB.  Only 95 pitches.  I just... I don't know about Jaime.  I don't know if I want him pitching in the playoff rotation.  And as much as I'd LOVE to see Alex Reyes in the rotation, I almost think, for playoff purposes, he's stronger in the bullpen - assuming he would be utilized properly, which is a HUGE assumption to make.  But if you imagine Adam Wainwright can pitch a strong 5-6 innings, followed by some combination of Reyes/Weaver, Siegrist/Duke, and Oh.... that's a dang good plan, at least.  We'll see.

3. Tomorrow's game is a 6:20 CT start.  Carlos Martinez faces off against Zach Davies.  The Cardinals should destroy the Brewers.