Matt Carpenter returns from the DL tonight and will man the keystone. Having conquered his rebellious oblique muscle (where is one's oblique?), the real test will be whether he can also defeat the dreaded Barves.
Taking the hill for the Cardinals tonight is Jaime Garcia. Garcia pitched on short rest his last time out and got absolutely shitcanned by the Marlins last Saturday. Hoping for better returns today since Mike Matheny has not erected any stupid obstacles to success for this particular start. I searched the internet for pictures of Garcia (one of three similarly surnamed men to start tonight - the other two are Greg "OBP Monster" Garcia and Adonis "Nice Name, Bro" Garcia) and found this:
Seems like a nice guy.
Toeing the rubber for the Barves is some fool named Jor-El De La Rosa. At first my thought process was something like, "hmm. Barves pitcher I've never heard of. This fool is probably bad," but then, I searched for pictures of him on the internet and I started to get worried.
OH DEAR GOD GUYS SOMEHOW THE BARVES HAVE BROUGHT A KRYPTONIAN DOWN TO PITCH AND HE INEXPLICABLY LOOKS LIKE RUSSELL CROWE. THIS IS WHERE ALL THEIR RESOURCES HAVE BEEN GOING.
(If you're wondering why they give full names, it's because nobody knows who 2/3 of the roster is. Seriously, if it had just been last names, you'd have thought the Barves were employing David Beckham and Wreck-It Ralph. This AA team is the definitive work in the annals of MLB tanking and corporate ownership, and I certainly don't mind playing baseball against them.)
To quote baseball luminary Mike Shannon, damn it feels good to see Carpenter back in the lineup. So, uh, play ball! I guess.
On the Barves side -- Jor-El was less intimidating a pitcher than his homeworld would suggest, but he was mostly effective despite leaving a lot of pitches up over the plate and walking a ton. He gave up one run but walked two in a row in the sixth, leading the Barves' interim manager to pull out his pitcher hook. His final line: 5.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 2 K, 1 L.
The Barves sole bright spot (other than the Cardinals' inability to hit) was the fact that their lights-out bullpen was... well, lights out. Guys named Ramirez, Cervenka, and Cabrera combined for 2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 K, and much frustration.
For the beloved Birdos -- apparently a day of Sabbath rest makes all the difference for Jaime, because he jumped out of the gate spitting hotter fireballs than Charizard eating Taco Bell and subbing in for Eminem in a rap battle. (My kids assure me that all of these are things.) Garcia was downright filthy, mowing down bad guys like it was his job. He only got into serious trouble once, in the top of the fourth. He put runners on the corners with no outs, but came back to strike out the next two bad guys and induced a weak groundout from the third bad guy. His final line: 8.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 K, Power Level >9000. Behold:
Jaime Garcia was p good last night. pic.twitter.com/P5jTCWWd2g— Roguish Behavior (@VanHicklestein) August 6, 2016
Seung Hwan Oh took over to close her out in the top of the ninth. He did so without incident. Yawn. 1 K and no cardiac episodes.
The Barves did not hit much tonight. But who can blame them? To date they've won 39 games, and it's not because they have a bunch of good hitters on the team. One thing of note: Ender Inciarte jumped all over the otherwise devastating Jaime in the first at-bat of the game to extend his hitting streak to sixteen (16) games.
Frankly, the victorious Cardinals did not hit much better. They scratched out but a single run in the bottom of the second, when the earlier-walked Matt Holliday scored after (1) a Jeremy Hazelbaker walk and (2) a Jaime Garcia single. Side note: You nerds with your DH arguments may have perfectly sound logic, but you cannot beat the human drama of a pitcher defending his performance on the mound with grit clutchness at the plate. The protagonists threatened again in the bottom of the sixth when they loaded the bases with walks with one out (good eye(s) Moss, Holliday, Yadi), but famed Mountaineer Jedd Gyorko flied out to shallow right and washed-up former Philly Jeff Francoeur gunned down Brandon Moss at the plate for a double play to end the threat. So, a solitary run on a pair of hits. But it was enough!
One thing that happened in the top of the seventh - Jaime Garcia pitched to Adonis Garcia. Adonis Garcia made contact, hitting the ball up the middle. The ball caromed off Jaime Garcia's glove and continued up the middle, but Greg Garcia fielded it and threw it to -- you guessed it -- Brandon Moss for the out.
In a few ways, this game shattered stupid narratives.
Narrative 1: Jaime Garcia's best days are behind him. Garcia was hot, hot fire. He's still got a lot in his tank, for as long as he can stay healthy. Those who write him off do so at their own peril.
Narrative 2: The Cardinals can't win at home. When they're playing the Barves, you bet your juicy sweet ass they can.
Narrative 3: The Cardinals can't win one-run games. Scoreboard.
Honorary mister_manager Gamethread Comment o' the Game
Next up, Game 2. El Gallo vs. TBD. Here's to hoping this TBD guy is as awesome as Jor-El and the Birdos are better at baseball.