162 games in a season, and here we are, running out of time. Entering play tonight the Cardinals are tied with the Mets for WC2, and both are half of a game behind the Giants for WC1. Almost a third of the way through September, and our playoff chances are sitting a tad over 50/50 according to Fangraphs.
Jaime Garcia toes the rubber for the home team. He's been bad lately, but he threw a 13 K complete game shutout against the Brewers on April 14, so maybe he'll find his groove again tonight. Meanwhile, the oldest rookie phenom in history, Junior Guerra, will take the mound for the NL Central's second most hapless tenants.
It was a blowout.
Garcia got shelled, primarily because he left a lot of pitches out over the plate and up in the zone. This has been a troubling trend lately. He didn't make it out of the top of the fourth, after giving up: 8 hits (2 of those solo bombs in the second), 5 runs, 1 walk, and one very sad me. Socolovich struck a guy out to end the top of the fourth.
Mike Mayers took over in the fifth and gave up a run, but didn't totally crap the bed.
Mayers began the sixth and gave up a two-run dinger to Martin Maldonado. He then loaded the bases before being pulled. His line: 5 hits, 6 runs, 1 walk, 1 dinger. I know ERA isn't the best stat, but Mike Mayers' ERA for the outing was 40.50. That's fun. Heh.
Then, Matheny brought in Dean Kiekhefer to face Ryan Braun, and again, the bases are loaded and the score is 8-3. It's hard for me to get too exorcised over this decision, but it's just sort of a head scratcher. Everybody in the Brewers' lineup is a righty, so why bring in a LOOGY? Oh well - maybe Mike will address that in his autobiography. At any rate, a sac fly, a double, and a single later, the Brewers had four more runs -- all they would score on this night -- and the top of the sixth was over.
Tuivailala gave up no runs or hits in the seventh. Jerome Williams pitched two scoreless innings (never thought I'd say that, not ever!)
The Cardinals scored five runs to the Brewers' twelve. One of them came off of a Piscotty sac fly in the first. Two came from a Wong dinger in the fourth. (That was fun - the umpire called a balk, then the pitch was already coming home, then Wong just hit it out of the park! Heh.) In the eighth, one of the Cardinals' carefully curated collection of Jose Martinezes got his first MLB hit in his debut, driving in OBP MONSTER GREG GARCIA. And Carson Kelly made his MLB debut tonight as well. He capped the scoring for the Cardinals in the ninth, when he drove in Kolten Wong on a groundout to short.
Brewers win, 12-5.
Jaime appears to be done. Who knows what's causing this, but his last few starts have been #bad. By xFIP his first and second halves are almost identical - 3.77 vs. 3.78 - but by plain old FIP he's sporting a second-half 4.68 to his first-half 3.90. His HR/FB rate seems to be the biggest driver - it has spiked from 14.5% in the first half to 21.7% since the break. Anecdotally though (and maybe Joe will do something on this - maybe he has - I don't know), Jaime has been making more mistakes than I remember. As a junkball guy who relies on filthy movement and adequate command, when your pitches stop moving, that seems... bad.
Also, the Cardinals quietly slipped out of the WC2 berth tonight.
It's a tight race at the top with some breathing room behind us. We have a four-game series against San Francisco later this month, so hopefully we can keep it tight and then beat them head-to-head. (I don't understand how the Mets are winning games with the loss of the UCLs of their entire pitching staff, but there they are.)
Despite the outcome, there were bright spots. For instance, Kolten Wong turned a couple of really snazzy double plays! And for another instance, Kolten Wong hit that dinger. Oh, and another thing - Kolten Wong ran down a deep popup that would've dropped in front of Grichuk otherwise. Looks like Kolten might be back, guys! And yeah, that's about it.
So this was an ugly, ugly game, but there are still a couple dozen games in the regular season, and we're right there on the edge of a postseason spot. Next game is tomorrow at 7:15 CT. Jimmy Nelson vs. El Gallo. Be there.