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Sierra Shines, Cards Crawl Back for Fifth Straight

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Four in the eighth, one in the ninth was the recipe for a comeback in the Redbirds’ 6-5 win versus the reeling Miami Marlins.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

fThere is no better feeling than a comeback victory on the road. Down 5-1 with six outs to spare, the Cardinals squeezed out four runs to tie in the top of the eighth, saving their final, game deciding tally for the ninth. This 6-5 comeback marks the fifth straight victory for the Cardinals after sweeping the Braves over the weekend.

Most impressive part of this evolving streak? How about all five wins coming on the road. The club now has a 9-6 record away from St. Louis this season, and Lance Lynn will do his best to make it six straight tomorrow night before heading back to Busch for a series with the rival Cubs.

Sierra, Pham

Baseball is weird.

Stephen Piscotty and Jose Martinez both hit the DL, and the somber veil that briefly existed over Cardinal Nation was torn off as quickly as the two went down. With the injuries coming the first legitimate offensive and, I’d argue, clubhouse spark of the 2017 season. Matheny’s bats haven’t scored less than five runs in a game since last Thursday and the performance of Tommy Pham (2-for-4, 2 2B, R, RBI) and Magneuris Sierra (2-for-3, 2 R) have been key reasons why.

Sierra put a classic ‘speedster’ mark on this comeback, showing his maturity and the impact legitimate game speed can have (see Billy Hamilton). One would never guess the 21 year old had experience of only 89 PAs at the High-A level after watching this game. His late inning performance was particularly intriguing due to the rough start to the game (caught stealing in second, three pitch K in fifth).

Rally time started in the eighth inning, conveniently after Dan Straily exited with 92 pitches and a seven inning gem to his name. After Pham led off the eighth with his second hard hit double of the game, Sierra fought off an inside fastball to left field and advanced to second on a lazy return throw to the infield by Marcell Ozuna.

Randal Girchuk smacked a deep sacrifice fly to left field a few pitches later, followed up by a great, albeit anxiety-provoking walk by the red hot Matt Carpenter.

Another scorching bat in Jedd Gyorko smacked a two run single on the first pitch out of the pen from the veteran Brad Ziegler (see notes below), shortly after Kyle Barraclough (former Cardinal) labored in his third of an inning.

Sierra’s speed came to the forefront again in the ninth inning after an infield poke with a routine throw to first evolved into a debacle by Marlins’ closer A.J. Ramos. Hustling as he did the whole game, Sierra raced down the line and scampered to second on the errant throw.

Our most impressive Sierra moment came on Dexter Fowler’s go-ahead RBI single, as the read Sierra got from second on the line drive, anticipating it would fall in front of right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, allowed him to hustle home and beat a fantastic throw from the big man in right (see featured photo).

Waino, Cecil

Wainwright’s line is deceptive.

Although this wasn’t the best start from Mr. 12-6 himself, he did not look nearly as bad as the box score conveys. Waino was essentially 5.1 innings with six baserunners, three strikeouts, and one earned run before Cecil came in and decided to make things much more interesting. While we can’t assume Waino would’ve stranded those runners, the odds are in favor of saying he wouldn’t have given up four more runs.

Waino’s fourth walk was intentional, and 75% of the earned runs on his record for the night were inherited runners Cecil failed to strand.

There is definitely cause for concern in the southpaw we paid $30.5m for in the offseason. After limiting left handed bats to a .254 average and a .297 wOBA in 2016, Cecil is up to a .364 average against for left handed bats, combined with a grotesque .487 wOBA. That was before he allowed two consecutive hard hit balls and a deep sac fly to three left handed bats in tonight’s game.

Matheny cannot trust Cecil to get big out against left handed bats moving forward. The $30 million dollar man should be relegated to a mop-up role until substantial improvement is seen.

Negatives aside, it is encouraging to see Seung Hwan Oh, a player I have harped on a lot this season, convert a save on 14 pitches (his 8th). Even more encouraging is that two of his final three pitches sat 95mph+. This is something, according to Brooks Baseball, Oh hasn’t done since late last season. Now we just need the swinging strikes to climb back up as well.

With Rosenthal impressive once again, the eighth and ninth innings seem to be rounding into form, coincidentally with this offensive stretch right in front of it.

Notes

  • Don Mattingly was quickly tossed in the first inning of this game after defending Christian Yelich for arguing a strike three call on a Wainwright curve off the plate. This was the second game in a row the Marlins’ manager was ejected from before the third inning came to a conclusion. Tension in Miami seems to be at a season high, and it’s tangible in these two ejections (MIA last 10 games, 3-7).
  • Grichuk’s sacrifice fly in the eighth had all the makings of a grand slam. As I enjoy listening to other broadcasts around the league, I hopped over the Marlins for this inning (blasphemy!) and their crew pointed out when the roof is open in Marlins Park, the windows beyond right field also remain open. This creates a draft into the stadium from left field, causing a lot of deep fly balls to hang up on the warning track, exactly as this long fly ball did. Even though the park has a relatively neutral park factor, I would imagine this may dampen some of their right handed power (not named Ozuna, Stanton). Some more digging into this fact may prove insightful for righty bats heading into the park on a nice, roof-open kind of night.
  • Gyorko’s line drive single that scored the two tying runs in the eighth inning was a hard hit ball, but in a ‘revisionist history’ manner, I would be very tempted to think Adeiny Hechavarria makes a play on that ball. I conducted Marlins game recaps last season for fellow SB Nation sub-site ‘Fish Stripes,’ and saying that Hech is a superb defender is an understatement. The Marlins’ shortstop was removed in the third inning after laboring on his way to first base after a groundout (speculated oblique injury). J.T. Riddle, the replacement shortstop, dove to his right on the play, but Gyorko’s liner snuck right by him. It’s for the better we don’t find out what would’ve happened in an alternate universe.