It's time to win the rest of the games. The Cardinals are going to need a lot of help from the Dodgers at this point if they don't sweep the Pirates, and tonight was a good start: they took Game 1 behind a shutdown outing from Carlos Martinez. And while they did it, they got a blessed chance to celebrate a guy who has truly earned a place in this storied franchise's history.
Time was your recapper would devote some sort of analysis to Mike Matheny's daily lineups, but you know what, it's kinda hard to do anymore. The Cards have Matt Carpenter and a bunch of other guys with offensive projections falling into a 95-110 wRC+ bucket, so eh. Basically whatever Matheny feels like is about the same as everything else. I'll venture a half-hearted "where is Kolten Wong for the groundball pitcher though?" and leave it there.
Blue-chip rookie Tyler Glasnow took the bump for the Bucs. His MLB debut has been a bit rocky in terms of results albeit fundamentally sound -- picture Alex Reyes with just a bit lower strikeout rate, except running a .370 BABIP against and a low strand rate, instead of Reyes's low BABIP and fluky strand rate -- so it's hard to know quite what to make of him yet.
Jedd Gyorko opened the scoring with a patented Thumb Bomb over the visitors' bullpen in left. As seems to always be the case with young Jedd, it was of the solo variety.
Carlos Martinez, meanwhile, was splendid. Just wonderful. He had one of those starts that tickles all of our "this guy's going to win a Cy Young some day" spots: 7 IP, 9 K, 1 BB, 5 H, 0 R.
El Gallo cruised through five innings, but then in the bottom of the 5th he got visibly mad at himself after he chased ball four while batting and then struck out. OH NO FIERY LATIN EMOTIONS, THAT MEANS TROUBLE! But then he cruised for two more innings, because actually that's a bunch of bullshit. Somewhere out there in a darkened living room, though, you can be sure Al Hrabosky (Jimmy Edmonds got the booth assignment tonight) steered another ribbon candy past his mustache and mumbled something about maturity.
Molina has carried the team down the stretch. He has a 146 wRC+ in the second half, and came in at .372/.409/.547 for September. It's not like you guys haven't already noticed this, but I love Yadi and this has been such a pleasant surprise, so let's all appreciate him a lot. Anyway: we were sitting there in the bottom of the 6th, and it's like hey cool, thanks Carlos, but maybe let's get some more runs? Yadi said yes, okay, and doubled (non-ground-rule variety, for real this time) Aledmys Diaz in from first to make it 2-0. Then Stephen Piscotty doubled him in (3-0) and Brandon Moss emerged from his slumber to line one over the wall in right (5-0).
So Martinez was dominating, they had a big lead, and all was good.
Then Matt Holliday was called on to pinch hit for Martinez to lead off the bottom of the 7th.
Matt Holliday Was And Is Awesome
As you've no doubt already read, the Cardinals announced today -- in order to give both Holliday and the fans notice that this would likely be his farewell series at Busch -- that they're going to decline his 2017 option. The Matt Holliday retrospectives will be written in the coming days, and I will not write one here. Suffice to say that he's had a tremendous (and probably still underappreciated) tenure with the Cards. It's one of the rare mega-contracts that worked out great for the signing team. But time comes for us all, and especially comes for baseball players in their late 30s. So when Holliday stepped up to bat, we all knew this might be the very last time he'd do it wearing the Birds on the Bat.
Here's what he did. Go watch it, please, even if you already did.
I can count the number of times I've teared up watching baseball on one hand. Rick Ankiel's first homer in his MLB comeback. Dee Gordon and Aledmys Diaz both got me, after Jose Fernandez's recent and tragic death. Watching Carlos Martinez's first outing with "OT 18" inscribed on the mound. But man... the hug at the top of the dugout from the old guard... the abbreviated curtain call as he fought not to show his emotions in public... the trip down into the tunnel to collect himself. Whew.
It could still work out that Holliday returns in a diminished role. But it's probably time, and I'll miss Matt Holliday a lot. And though he might yet hit again this season, it's so cool that he did this tonight. Thank you, Matt. We're all big fans.
Honestly, folks, after that I got swept up in some Matt Holliday nostalgia, and when I looked up it had gone from 6-0 to 7-0. Some insurance run scored somehow; if you are coming here for a full report of the facts, well, go watch that Holliday homer again and leave me alone. And then there was a rain delay, and hey the Giants are playing L.A. and we care about that series and jeez, it's Vin Scully's last year and guys I was feeling so nostalgic already, so... I just stayed with that.
- Your lack of A+ gifs in this recap shall be laid at the feet of MLB Advanced Media. For whatever reason, I couldn't rewind MLB.tv all night, which means no gif-making. Let Rob Manfred hear your voices.
- The man undeniably had skills.
- As of hitting publish, the Giants and Dodgers are tied at 2. Good pitching matchup and MLB.tv is free all weekend, so go check it out if you're still watching baseball tonight.