Here's something that sounds familiar: the Cardinals hit a couple over the fence tonight. Yadier Molina hit one of them in the 2nd, and Randal Grichuk hit the other in the 5th. Both were solo shots.
Here's something else that should, by now, sound familiar: Alex Reyes is already pretty dang good. He looked exactly like himself tonight, really: a guy who still has some work to do to become what he can be, but what he is (four days past his 22nd birthday) is already a good pitcher.
Anyway, they lost, and really shouldn't have. There is nothing and nobody to blame, and we're all annoyed, but this is the sport we chose to care about.
St. Louis played these guys:
Carpenter 1B; Gyorko SS; Moss LF; Piscotty RF; Molina C; Peralta 3B; Grichuk CF; G. Garcia 2B; A. Reyes RHP
The Reds played some other guys, and pitcher Anthony DeSclafani, who has panned out quite well so far (2.56/3.51 ERA/FIP coming into the game).
Things looked promising midway through. The Cards were up 2-0 on those solo shots, and Greg Garcia followed Randal's leadoff homer in the 5th with a double. But after Reyes bunted him to third, DeSclafani struck out Matt Carpenter and Jedd Gyorko to leave Garcia there.
Reyes, again, was very good: 6 IP, 7 K, 2 BB, 0 HR. He gave up 6 hits, but a number of those were weak. He wasn't really threatened until he finally got into trouble in the 6th: Zack Cozart led off the inning with a sharp grounder that Gyorko couldn't corral at short, and Brandon Phillips followed with a grounder that bounced off the third-base bag for a double.
After an Adam Duvall sac fly and a grounder poked up the middle for a single by Scott Schebler (quickly making his way into the Scooter Gennett class of guys I just hate), the game was tied 2-2. Reyes held it there, though. (And to editorialize a bit, these weren't dribblers, but a good defense converts 1-2 of those ground balls into outs and the Reds don't score at all. But that is not the Cardinals' infield defense, especially with Kolten Wong on the bench.)
Pause here: if you're looking for a silver lining tonight, and you can't find the obvious one, what's wrong with you? Alex Reyes just turned 22, only had 100 innings above A-ball, has obvious work left to do with his command, and is already good enough at pitching that 6 IP, 2 R seems like a totally expected line for him. FUN.
Anyway, the Reds threatened again in the 7th, with a dinky pop up into no man's land followed by a dinky single through the left side in off Zach Duke. Duke ended up leaving with the bases loaded and one out, despite giving up no hard contact at all. Mike Matheny called on Matt Bowman, inheritor of the "oh god please get a double play" role previously inhabited by Seth Maness. Bowman didn't quite do that, but he did get a soft lineout and a flyout to end the inning with the score still tied.
Next up after Bowman in the group of unsettlingly ordinary relief pitchers that has become the Cardinals' setup crew was Kevin Siegrist in the 8th. He entered with a 4.55 FIP. He threw 26 pitches, only 11 of which were strikes. He faced six hitters, and only got three of them out. But because baseball is weird and sequencing is pretty much random, he didn't allow a run! So hey, he'll keep being the 8th inning guy because that's the world we live in.
By now we expect this stuff, though. What we don't expect is Seung Hwan Oh walking the leadoff guy on four pitches (which he did) to start the 9th, or pitching with the bases loaded and only one out (which he also did). The Reds had already left the bases loaded three (3) times tonight, and this time they didn't: Eugenio Suarez singled up the middle, and that was that. Reds win 3-2.
- All the Wild Card contenders lost, so that's okay anyway.
- Did you notice how I only discussed the Reds' threats from the 6th on? That's because the Cards didn't really have any. They only struck out four times all night, and hit the ball hard a lot, but this was one of those nights where they just hit everything at people and couldn't string much together. Baseball is excellent but it sucks.
- The infield was drawn in for the walk-off hit. Somebody smarter than me would have to tell you if that pencils out in the long run in situations like this, but for what it's worth, that's a double-play ball to end the inning with the infield at double-play depth.
- Molina's homer made it the 21st straight game the Cardinals have hit at least one, which extends their franchise record. The MLB record is 27.
- I can't verify this with stats because I didn't try to look it up, but the Cardinals seem to have gotten thrown out at home a lot this year. Maybe they've just decided it's smart to be aggressive, I dunno. But Jhonny Peralta got thrown out trying to score from first on a double by literally 25 feet to end the 2nd. There are limits. Might be time for somebody to sit Chris Maloney down for a talk.
- GREG GARCIA OBP MONSTER: on base three times tonight, even though his lack of range compared to Kolten Wong showed up a couple times.
- Hurry back, Aledmys Diaz. The Cardinals don't have a genuine shortstop on the roster right now, and could use one.