Yesterday, the greatest moment of the baseball season happened when Dee Gordon hit a home run in the first plate appearance of the first game that the Marlins had after Jose Fernandez died. He began it by mimicking Fernandez at the plate batting right-handed for the first pitch and then was visibly crying while running the bases. It's about as touching and magical as baseball gets.
Tonight we had another one of those moments. Aledmys Diaz, who returned to the lineup after flying to Florida for a private memorial for his childhood friend, came to the plate with the bases loaded and the Cardinals down 2-1. He blasted a home run for his first career grand slam. He got a standing ovation and he came out for a curtain call. His 'tip of the cap' was less for the curtain call and more for Fernandez as he stared straight up in the sky when holding his helmet. He then retreated in the dugout, followed by Yadier Molina and a few others, for reasons that you can probably guess.
In case you hadn't cried by now, the Marlins twitter account sent this in response to the Cardinals team account mentioning the Diaz homer:
@Cardinals pic.twitter.com/73egbeEhhT— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) September 28, 2016
Diaz did not hit the only home run of the night. In fact, of the 12 runs the Cardinals scored, 11 of them came because of a home run. Carpenter began the homering with a solo shot in the 3rd inning. It kind of came out of nowhere from this writer's perspective as he looked absolutely awful in his first PA of the game, swinging at a ball well out of the zone on a 3-2 count.
The Diaz homer happened in the 4th, and aside from it being a great moment, it literally felt like it swung the pendulum from not making the playoffs to making the playoffs. It's one game obviously and the Cardinals have had several "momentum" changing games that ultimately did not end up being that. But they needed to win this game. Anthony DeSclafani is pitching tomorrow and he's actually pretty good. Suddenly, everything looks rosier with a win tonight whereas a loss tonight would surely have me convinced they'd lose tomorrow.
In the 5th, the Cardinals added to their lead. It was nearly all ruined by a terrible - what else - baserunning decision. Carpenter walked and Randal Grichuk singled to start the inning. Molina was up 2-0 and then.. Molina swung at a ball and Carpenter was halfway between 2nd and 3rd looking like an idiot. The only explanation is that a hit-and-run was called. A hit-and-run was called. I just wanted to repeat that because there was nobody out, the pitcher couldn't throw a strike, and Carpenter was already in scoring position. I have an aversion to hit-and-runs naturally, but I get it with a man on first. But this made absolutely no sense. Anyway, Molina popped out. Then Piscotty walked on five pitches. Because the pitcher had no control. Sure, let's hit-and-run off that guy. Thankfully, Peralta hit it to dead center and got a three-run homer.
You're probably noticing that the Reds scored five runs. I'll be brief because this part is less fun. Three batters into the game, Joey Votto drove in Eugenio Suarez for the first run of the game. In the 3rd, the Reds loaded the bases, but only managed to get one run from a Brandon Phillips sacrifice fly. Adam Wainwright did not pitch well. If you wanted to feel confidence in any starter not named Carlos Martinez, tonight did not provide you with any. Wainwright ended up re-loading the bases after the sac fly and got out of it from a soft lineout.
After the Diaz home run when it was 5-2 Cards, Wainwright allowed a solo shot to... Votto. After the Cardinals scored three more runs in the 5th, the Reds got a two-run homer from Scott Schebler in the 6th. Wainwright was not able to make it out of the 6th after allowing a single to Suarez and bringing up Votto. Zach Duke replaced him and Votto lined out. Even his outs are hard hits. Duke deserves the win for getting Votto out.
In response to the two-run homer, the Cardinals hit a couple more homers. Matt Adams pinch-hit and got the 16th pinch-hit home run of the year for the Cardinals. It was a 2-run shot. Grichuk hit a solo shot. For the first non-home run of the game, Peralta drove in Molina for the 12th run of the game. The scoring was done for both teams at this point. Matt Bowman replaced Duke and pitched a scoreless inning. Trevor Rosenthal pitched the 8th and despite two hits, didn't walk anybody or allow anyone to score, and struck out a guy. Dean Kiekheifer threw 5 pitches to finish the 9th.
- Other notes on that Diaz' homer: After touching the plate, Molina gave him an extended hug and you can see Lance Lynn tearing up in the dugout.
- Wainwright line: 5.2 IP, 5 ER, 6 Ks, 2 BBs, 10 hits, 2 HRs; Overall not great. His ERA is now 4.67, but he's 13-9 because he's a winner. Mike brought him back out for the 6th when he had 88 pitches so let's make sure not to do that if the Cardinals make the playoffs.
- Peralta wants to squash the rumors that he can't hit anymore: He went 3-4 with a HR, BB, and 4 RBIs.
- Every regular got a hit except for Wainwright, though he did hit a rope right at the left fielder.
- Cards: let's not make this the last recap I do this year. That would be great.
Tomorrow as mentioned, DeSclafani of the 3.39 ERA (3.99 FIP) faces Mike Leake of the (omitted) ERA. Maybe Leake wants to crush his former team and dominates. It's baseball. Anything can happen.