The St. Louis Cardinals began the day in a 3-way tie for the NL Wild Card with the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants. (Speaking of, if you are curious what would happen in a 3-way tie for the wild card at the end of the regular season, take a peek here.)
On their slate this afternoon was the series finale with the Colorado Rockies in Denver.
Luke Weaver (1-3, 3.21 ERA entering Wednesday) started for the Cardinals, while Rockies rookie right-hander German Marquez (0-0, 5.06) was making his first Major League start. The 21-year-old Marquez had previously thrown in three relief appearances.
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The starting lineups were as follows:
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The game started off rather humorously, as rookies Jose Martinez and Carlos Estevez had a national anthem standoff, similar to the standoff between Joe Kelly and Scott Van Slyke in the 2013 playoffs. (Amusing coincidence, perhaps: Martinez - the eventual winner of the standoff - sports jersey No. 58, which Kelly wore during his Cardinal tenure.)
Unfortunately, things were no laughing matter for the Cardinals after the game began.
While each team exchanged runs - in the bottom of the 1st and top of the 2nd, respectively - it was the bottom half of the 2nd where the game quickly turned to Colorado's favor.
Following two singles to start the frame - which had runners on the corners - Marquez attempted to bunt former Redbird Daniel Descalso to 2nd. Rookie outfielder Jordan Patterson broke for home and was tagged out by Carson Kelly.
Descalso would score on a single by leadoff hitter Charlie Blackmon, giving the Rockies a 2-1 lead. Three batters later, Nolan Arenado unloaded for a grand slam, extending the lead to 6-1.
Weaver's day ended after just two innings; he allowed seven hits and struck out just one batter while throwing 41 pitches. Over the last two outings, Weaver has thrown just 4 2/3 innings.
Marquez' day was finished after five innings; he allowed four hits and struck out three Cardinals over 82 pitches.
Jaime Garcia was dominant in four innings of relief, striking out five and allowing just one hit.
Dean Kiekhefer and Jonathan Broxton each made relief appearances for St. Louis in the 7th. Kiekhefer struggled mightily, allowing three hits and four runs, lasting just a third of the inning; Broxton allowed a run over the final two-thirds, the run coming via a solo home run.
For the Rockies, ex-Cub lefty Chris Rusin struck out five Cardinal batters over his two innings of relief (6th and 7th) and right-hander Jordan Lyles struck out the side in the 8th.
In all, the Cardinals struck out 11 times, and Jeremy Hazelbaker was the only starting position player to not have at least one strikeout.
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The Mets square off against Atlanta at 7:10 pm Eastern, with Bartolo Colon taking the mound for New York; right-hander Ryan Weber takes the hill for Atlanta.
The Giants and Dodgers play their series finale tonight at 10 pm; Matt Moore and Kenta Maeda are the scheduled starting pitchers.
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Up next: The Cardinals have an off day on Thursday, their first since September 1. They begin a 3-game set in the Windy City against the Cubs on Friday (which is also the last road trip of the regular season).
Mike Leake and Jake Arrieta will face off in the opener, with Alex Reyes squaring off against Jason Hammel on Saturday, and Carlos Martinez opposing Jon Lester on Sunday.
Friday's contest is set to begin at 2:20 pm Eastern, 1:20 pm Central.
Each game will be broadcast on national TV; the opener is on ESPN, Saturday (a 12:05 pm CT start) is on FOX, and coverage returns to the Worldwide Leader on Sunday (7:08 PM CT).
Elsewhere, the Giants travel to San Diego for a four-game set, while the Mets stay at home for a four-game series against the Phillies.