The Reds field a team of Peraza at shortstop, Iribarren in center field, Votto at first, Duvall in left field, Suarez at third base, Selsky in right field, Renda at second base, and Cabrera in the catcher's role. Meanwhile, our suspenseful gang of sluggers field Carpenter at first, Grichuk in center field, Molina at catcher, Piscotty in right field, Peralta at third base, Moss in left field, Diaz at shorstop, and lastly Garcia at second base.
Cardinals pitcher Mike Leake hasn't had a horrible season, but it is not an inspiring one either. DeSclafani is practically Leake's equal this season, so we have ourselves a game. Not many other similarities as the Reds are really good at defense and cannot hit, which is the opposite of our favorite crew of bashers that we've witnessed in 2016.
Leake allowed a hit right away. Greg Garcia made a really good play at second base to pick up an out. Leake was working on walking Joey Votto, as many have... this lulled Joey into a sense of security and he ended up grounding out. Despite the runner making it to third base, the Reds didn't get through to Mike Leake.
Cards offense was ineffective in the first inning, so our Leaker was out there again (i must recap many Leake outings this season, because I was against the signing... thanks GoB). But Mike was up to the task of dispatching the red ruffians and he seems like a nice, shy guy, and props to that. He was sulking a bit in the dugout while the Cards hit next, worried about the next inning probably.
A bit more tension in the air tonight, watching the Cardinals players' faces. The announcers commented on the playoff feel of this game, with autumn in the air. With a runner on, Brandon Moss was up. Would he be able to redeem his hitting somewhat? Nope. He struck out. He looked so good and over the injury earlier this year... it is appearing that he has run out of gas, or at the very least he is mired in a very bad streak.
And then the Cards offense failed at scoring again. So the Reds smelled some blood in the water and went after Mike Leake, chipping away, gnawing... to 2 runs. 2-0 bad guys! Luckily it stayed at that...
But the offense couldn't do much again, I guess DeSclafani realized he could do better than what he did this season. He was not sucking. Or maybe the Cardinals offense was starting to go into hibernation. I hope not! This is the end of the season, after all. Come on, guys.
Mike Leake did us a favor again and pitched a scoreless inning. Could the offense wake the what what up? Piscotty got a hit, but that was it. So Mike Leake was put to the test again: and actually, passed with flying colors.
So by this point the focus rested squarely on the offense... it was one of the best in the major leagues for a while, then all the sudden September sapped them of their force. But in the fifth, Diaz got on, Cardinals went first to third, then Adams sliced the lead in half. Aledmys really created this run with his speed and wherewithal.
Being it now 2-1 Reds, things seemed a bit less dire... but then again, the Reds offense seems to be a bit on fire right now. Great. Would contemporary times or history be the theme of the night?
I must admit my brain was wandering a lot this game, even more than usual. Thinking of the near future. Must stay in the moment. Must win. Bowman was in. 2 outs. Bowman was a success and kept it at 2-1 Redlegs.
The Cardinals still fought the evil DeSclafani in the sixth inning. They were not able to get to him much. I suppose he could be a foil. But uh, Piscotty was on first base, and Peralta jacked one over the outfielder's head. He fielded the ball on a quick bounce of the wall and made a strong throw in, so this prevented the good baserunning Stephen Piscotty from scoring. Runners at 2nd and 3rd...
Ugh. 2-1 Reds still. One of those games that will torture us. Siegrist was brought in next. Joey Votto was set to be the villain again. But with no one on and 2 outs. Votto was de-villainized again by the Cardinals tonight. Again the offense didn't accomplish anything. Very anxious indeed.
Stone Buddha was brought in to face the eighth. The Reds were really making the Cardinals work for their postseason berth aspirations. He shredded the side despite their comeuppance. He pitched his 100th strikeout of the year this inning.
Matt Carpenter was up at the plate in the 8th for the Cardinals. I was getting the feeling it would be up to Matt C to get this game in the win column. He lead off the inning with a walk. Grichuk gave Dan McLaughlin a rush and flied out to right field. Just got under it. Yadier Molina was then summarily hit by the pitch. Piscotty was up!
Then there was a wild pitch, and both Carpenter and Molina were allowed to advance by the GoB, the fates, the winds, what have you. Stephen Piscotty then tried to hit a ball to the moon but he whiffed. One of the 3 key players of the season, the other 2 on base... would he lead with a hit, lucky or not? Or would it be up to the cast?
Piscotty was fooled and it was up to the oft injured in 2016, Jhonny Peralta... who also has seemed like possible candidate for the current hot hand lately. After all that hope though, well, nothing happened. 2-1 Reds going into the 9th...
Final Boss was allowed to dice up the Reds lineup again in different ways. But then Oh he couldn't quite push it far enough. He was relieved for, well hell, that doesn't matter. Seung Hwan Oh may be hurt. I guess we'll find out.
That's the season, right?
I don't know, I personally didn't notice he was hurt, but the gamethread speculation... was killing me. Cannot lose Mr. Oh. There was still some sort of chance. Zach Duke was the relief guy. Which of course brought up Villainous Votto, which Ricky Horton has been preparing us for all game. Again, Joey not so villainous. Shut up Ricky.
An unexpected hero emerged: Kolten Wong. He lead off with a triple. !!! His 7th. Then Aledmys about had his finger broken again, but he was able to dodge the atrocity of a pitch that was hurled. Then another inside pitch but this one was much closer, and the ump called it a strike. Aledmys was scheduled for a groundout that time. Who would walk this thing off with a dinger?
Jedd Gyorko was summoned. Would he be the hero we all deserved? Well, I guess? He grounded out and the Cardinals lost. Lame! Live and die by the dinger I guess.
That was a brutal game. Baseball will brutalize you. Especially at the end of the season and the postseason. To top it off, the ump didn't seem real great. Silver lining is, I guess they have to win every game now?
Argh, as possibly my last recap of the year, I'd like to point out one oddity about this team other than the home runs and pinch hitting, and bad defense, baserunning, etc. It is that there were only 3 really full time starting players: Matt Carpenter (who did miss some playing time), Yadier Molina (who also missed playing time because of injury), and Stephen Piscotty.
Piscotty emerged as a cornerstone of the team this year, which was sort of expected of him but not demanded of him. He could have won the game tonight, but still great year.
Yadier Molina... wow, what more is there to say about this guy? I am still amazed by his competitive nature and natural ability to play the game, instincts, etc. One of my favorite players of all time.
And Matt Carpenter... this is the prototype for the next wave of players like Piscotty, Diaz, etc. Great contact hitters with some patience. But especially Carpenter. The guy is so patient he often makes the umps look like cavemen, demanding more swings even though the ball was read accurately by Matt Carpenter.
Tomorrow's game is earlier at night, 6:15pm CST. Alex Reyes is super fun to watch, so this may be your last chance for a while. Or maybe he is the guy that will somehow lead us to improbable victory. It is 5 years from 2011, and another 5 years from 2006... you know that anything is possible.