This is one of those times where I feel vindicated that I do not write my recaps before the game is over. I wait until the final pitch to even begin the recap. This is important because the Cardinals were one pitch away from losing the game. Matt Carpenter came to the plate with 2 outs and quickly got behind in the count 0-2. The Cardinals were losing 6-5. And then Watson delivered a mistake pitch up in the zone that Carpenter destroyed. Tie game. Ok let's get the win in extras, except...
Watson, apparently rattled, then allowed a line drive double to Yadier Molina (4 hit game today), another bomb to Randal Grichuk, and for good measure, Jhonny Peralta wanted to join in on the fun and got a cheap homer in the right field seats. Carpenter came to the plate one strike away from losing the game and four batters later, it was 9-6 and all of sudden, the Cardinals had a three-run lead in a game they should have lost.
The narrative changed a few times this game. The Cardinals loaded the bases in the 1st, bringing up Molina, who deposited a pitch into the right field seats for a grand slam. In the 3rd, Matt Adams hit a ball so far that it landed in the water behind the stadium. Meanwhile, Luke Weaver had pitched two perfect innings, striking out three and allowing no baserunners. The Pirates tacked on a run in the 3rd, but it seemed like Weaver had the game under control and it would be a relatively easy win.
Pirates had other plans. Cardinal killer Jung Ho Kang hit a one-out home run in the 4th to bring the score to 5-2. He then allowed two singles and had trouble getting out of the inning. With 2nd and 3rd and Josh Bell up, he got him to ground out to end the threat. But he needed 83 pitches to pitch those four innings. He also didn't look particularly good in those last two innings, leaving pitches over the middle of the plate and just generally getting hit hard. Mike Matheny will and has gotten criticized by some for taking Weaver out after 4, but it was absolutely the right decision.
But then Mike Matheny had the longest hook a manager could possibly have when Matt Bowman came into the game and he ruined it all. He also of course double switched Bowman into the game, taking out Adams, thus putting a pitcher in the cleanup spot because of course he did. If you feel the need to double switch out Adams, here's a thought: PUT HIM SOMEWHERE ELSE IN THE ORDER. I mean he doesn't even belong in the cleanup spot, he's just there because he plays 1B so it's not even like you'd be ruining the order.
Obviously the narrative changed here too. It went from an easy win to an obvious Mike Matheny loss. To give you an idea of how long he left Bowman in the game, I'll list every outcome that happened. First-pitch leadoff single by Josh Harrison on essentially a swinging bunt. Four-pitch flyout by John Jaso. Andrew McCutchen hit it back to the pitcher on a 2-2 count and Bowman tried to get a double play, but threw it wild. This is about the time where Bowman was losing it and it was obvious to everyone but Matheny. Single by Polanco brought the score to 5-3. Kang singled to make it 5-4. Matt Joyce worked a 6 pitch at-bat and lined out to Brandon Moss, except that Moss somehow dropped it. The bases were loaded. Jordy Mercer doubled scoring 2 and finally, after 28 pitches, Bowman was taken out after giving up 4 runs. Zach Duke walked the first guy he faced and then got a double play because Kolten Wong is good at defense.
At this point, the game settled down again. Neither bullpen was perfect, but neither allowed a run for the next three innings. Antonio Bastardo pitched a scoreless 6th despite allowing two baserunners. Duke pitched a scoreless bottom half of the inning. Recently acquired via the Mark Melancon trade Felipe Rivero pitched two good innings to bridge the gap from the 6th to the 9th. Kevin Siegrist pitched a good inning and Mike Mayers pitched a perfect 8th. Oh yeah. Still a one-run game and Matheny brought in Mayers, who you'll remember allowed a ton of runs in his major league debut. Alex Reyes not being used at all this game is a little scary since this was the type of game you should use him in. Anyway, Mayers was perfect because of course he was. Baseball has a way of laughing at you.
Speaking of laughing, how about that 9th inning? The Cardinals homered three times in the 9th inning and despite both coming to the plate in that inning, none of them were by team home run leader Jedd Gyorko or the runner-up in HRs, Moss. Because the home runs were hit by 20 HR hitter Grichuk, eventual 20 HR hitter Carpenter, and if he wasn't injured for the first half of the year, he'd be a 20 HR hitter Peralta. I love this team.
It's so *wipes tear away* beautiful. Dreams can come true.
- So best win of the year right? I love that the Cardinals have multiple wins when down with 2 outs in the 9th inning, one of which was when they were behind by four runs. Baseball is great.
- Luke Weaver line: 4 IP, 6 hits, 2 ER, 5 Ks, HR - I love that he is striking people out, but he definitely left quite a few pitches over the plate tonight.
- Molina: 4-5 with a HR, 2 doubles (one of them would have been a triple if Molina had any speed at all so we'd be seeing a cycle here). His one out was a lineout. I did not ever think Molina was going to be a good hitter again to be honest.
- HR tally: Molina with his 7th of the year; Adams with his 14th; Carpenter with his 18th, Grichuk with his 22nd, and Peralta with his 7th. As a person who thinks Peralta should mostly sit from now on, I would love to see him get to 10 HRs somehow. I WANT EVERYONE ON THIS TEAM TO HIT 10 HRs. You too Molina!
- Seriously, how awesome was that? The Pirates came back from a 5-run deficit, were feeling good about themselves, and then the Cardinals laughed at their happiness and said "LOL just kidding we really want this win actually"
Tomorrow the Cardinals go for the sweep with Mike Leake returning from injury and getting his first start back from the DL. He faces the youngster Jameson Taillon has been really good in the start to his career and I could see tomorrow's game going in just about any direction with the pitchers involved.