|ST. LOUIS CARDINALS||SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS|
|Matt Carpenter - 3B||Angel Pagan - LF|
|Aledmys Diaz - SS||Joe Panik - 2B|
|Brandon Moss - LF||Buster Posey - C|
|Stephen Piscotty - RF||Hunter Pence - RF|
|Matt Adams - 1B||Brandon Belt - 1B|
|Yadier Molina - C||Brandon Crawford - SS|
|Randal Grichuk - CF||Eduardo Nunez - 3B|
|Kolten Wong - 2B||Denard Span - CF|
|Mike Leake - RHP||Jeff Samardzija - RHP|
Tonight I get to write about Mike Leake again. For a while there I wasn't writing about Mike Leake, and the Cardinals were winning every game. Now, like the start of the season, I am writing about Mike Leake again, and, well, there are some losses when Mike Leake pitches.
His 3.90 SIERA is about what we were expecting, since Mike earns his keep from not getting injured. I.e. Prototypical Innings Eater, or P.I.E. for short. You can gripe about Mike Leake, but he is worth 2.1 fWAR so far, which is not too shabby. He is a well rounded athlete and his fielding and hitting are a bit better than an average pitcher.
The Giants threw Jeff Something-or-other at the Cardinals tonight. Samardzija, or Sam Zija for short, has not had a very good year. Significantly worse than Mike Leake at 4.29 SIERA. An aged Jeff-zija is just an average pitcher. So the Cardinals may have the edge tonight. Speaking of innings eaters, that's what Jeff Z is in 2016, having pitched well over 180 innings so far.
It probably goes without saying that the remaining 15 games are very important to the Cardinals. Every win they get is a necessity and every loss means that each win means more. Let's see...
What Happened Tonight
The first inning went by uneventfully except for a Brandon Moss solo home run. The Cardinals offense remains powerful with an ISO of .188! However, their on-base percentage has fallen down to .324, which is probably more average than great. Good maybe? C+ or B-? Anyways, the pesky Giants (Brandon Belt in this case) notched a run vs Mike Leake.
While it must be said that the Giants can field circles around the Cardinals, the 2nd inning had Matt Adams flashing the glove on a nifty double play. He got to a tough sinking line drive, preventing it from escaping the infield... then scrambled to first to tag the base and force the runner out, creating a very helpful double play. Leake looked like he was about to become a sinking ship but Matt Adams saved him.
The third inning also escaped without much of anything noteworthy, while the top of the 4th had the Cardinals threatening to score. But Randal Grichuk did what he often does and struck out during this opportune time.
My mlb.tv got messed up and I missed the Giants 2nd RBI. The Great Sam-zija or whatever actually hit a sac fly to garner an RBI. How boring, and lame. Glad I didn't see all that. But when consulting the WPA graph, the game was starting to look bleak by this point in the 6th inning. Mike Leake was still pitching, eating his innings, bleakly.
The pesky Giants made Mike L. work quite a bit in the 6th. He had gotten to 2 outs, but allowed runners on first and second. He did his escape artist thing though. Meanwhile, Jeff S. was looking more like his old self tonight, at least in the aspect of there being some nice pop to his pitches.
96 mph up and away to Grichuk, fouled off. Yadi Molina had singled before. Randal fought, more fouls... and then the worst, a ground into double play. Sad emoticon face.
Needing a dinger again. That's the story of 2016. The Odyssey. Jeff Somebody finally left the game with 2 outs in the 6th, With Yadier Molina lurking at first base, the wheels of Giants managing were turning. A white guy named Will Smith replaced Mr. Somebody as pitcher. He didn't seem like a great pitcher, and was handed the challenge of getting Jhonny Peralta out.
Hopes up... but the deed was done, and Peralta was out... on to the bottom of the 7th, Giants up 2-1.
Zach Duke, with his odd pitching style, was summoned to replace Mike Leake. He looked great tonight, retiring the side. Which meant the 8th was on its way, and Matt Carpenter was leading off... but was not productive. Then Diaz flied out. Moss the boss was up, could he do it again?
The Giants pitcher was throwing some filth at the Mossman, and it quickly went to 1-2 count. 2-2. Moss was also coaxed into flying out. Sigh. End of the 8th inning chance. There was only one more to go, but the Giants had 2 chances, being that they were the home team. That's ok though, since the Cardinals were able to quickly dispatch the Giants in the 8th.
Sergio Romo was back in the closer role tonight. Piscotty lead off the 9th. Stephen ended up popping up, with infielder Crawford running out into the outfield to make a catch that probably could've been made by Angel Pagan, but whatever. One man down. Jedd Gyorko, however, muscled one into the outfield. This prodded the Giants to bring in a replacement for the aging Romo. Blown-save leader Casilla was given the chance with an out already down.
Molina was up. Tommy Pham pinch running at first base. He ended up stealing second... man in scoring position. None of that really mattered though because it ended up being Yadier Molina at first base anyway. Randal Grichuk almost got hit in the face by a pitch tonight, but he dodged it. He worked the count to 2-2. He really needed to show his worth at the plate here. And he did! Tie game!
Randal had ground the ball up the middle in the choppiest of fashions and it somehow trucked its way out of the infield past the shortstop like a stone skipping across a pond. There were more pinch runners, as Martinez had made it to third.
Poor Casilla was being booed by his own fans tonight. Removed from the game because of Kolten Wong. Ouch.
Not only did the Cardinals tie this inning, they went ahead and sacrificed a run in, with Wong hitting a rope out to center field, far enough to allow the runner to score from 3rd. It was a tight game all night between the 2 teams, and the Cardinals finally scratched their way to the lead. 3-2.
Grichuk tried to steal second, and did, but Buster Posey threw the ball into center field for some reason. Which meant The Grich was at third base! But Oh was allowed to hit, and did not put the bat on the ball.
That's ok because Oh looked every bit like his nickname Final Boss tonight. He quickly got to 2 outs but then Nunez kind of did what Grichuk did and chopped one up the middle, evading the infielders. Then there were 2 runners on. But Seung Oh persevered and got that save.
I was kind of pessimistic and began to think that the Cardinals were going to lose the game, but then Randal and Kolten helped the team put one down in the win column. I suppose I should mention too that the Cardinals only allowed 2 runs all night. Thanks Mike Leake and the bullpen!
+A much needed win to put the team back on track and not fall behind in the Wild Card race to the finish, against one of their competitors no less (not to mention, this makes a deadly sweep impossible for the Giants)
+Jeff Samardzija or whatever owned this game with an intensely high WPA
+Final Boss was the real Oh-ner of the winning side though in WPA
+Randal Grichuk and Kolten Wong both had WPAs well north of .200 tonight, high leverage production!
+Yadier Molina with a hit and 2 walks!
+Matt Adams defensive gem at first base creating a double play to save Mike Leake and the guys from a tough situation, ending the 2nd inning
+The Giants know how to field and manage a bullpen and have 2 great starting pitchers, maybe a pretty good team even without a great offense
+Oh is at 2.5 fWAR! Fueled by a 2.04 FIP with an even better 1.82 ERA (2.35 SIERA on the season!)
-The Cardinals were all about the double play grounding tonight
-Casillo had a -.546 WPA tonight... holy sh*t that is bad!
-Giants bullpen pitcher Reynolds also conspired to throw their game into the trash
-Aledmys Diaz and Stephen Piscotty both 0-4, Cardinals had 7 hits all night as a team
-Giants issued 5 walks to the Cardinals and only walking once while at the plate
-Conor Gillaspie rather negative WPA
Tune in to some playoff chase baseball tomorrow afternoon just after 3pm! Alex Reyes takes the mound. Suarez is San Francisco's starter. They really need to grab this series split. Let there be dingers.