Personally, I’m not a fan of games when the starter of the night clearly doesn’t have it. He struggles all night and you’re just praying he causes the least amount of damage possible before you can take him out. With that said, there are few wins more satisfying and enjoyable than a good comeback win. And usually the starter isn’t very good in those wins.
Before I say my next statement, let me preface it with a few disclaimers. Lance Lynn is one of my favorite pitchers and this is almost certainly a heavy dose of recency bias talking here. Lance Lynn looked about as bad as I’ve ever seen him pitch. This is going to sound ridiculous, but he gave up four runs to the first six batters and didn’t really pitch much better after that, but he got better results cause the hitters didn’t capitalize on his mistakes like Christian Yelich and Justin Bour did.
Weirdly enough, his outing started splendidly! To the first two batters, he located his pitches and kept throwing strikes - or the exact opposite of how the rest of his game went. Derek Dietrich flew out on an 0-2 count and J.T. Realmuto struck out. Then... he just lost it. He got to 3-1 on Christian Yelich and none of the balls were particularly close. Yelich got a pitch in his wheelhouse and hit it nearly 450 feet. He then walked Marcell Ozuna on five pitches. He fell behind on Giancarlo Stanton 2-0 before he hit a ball 115 mph for a single. Justin Bour then hit a ball 390 feet in the right field seats to make it 4-0 just like that. Against all odds, he didn’t give up another run for the rest of the game.
Lynn was battling his control all game. After the first two batters where he threw two first pitch strikes, he threw a first-pitch ball to 9 of the next 13 hitters. He threw a second-pitch ball to SIX of those hitters. Kind of hard to be a good pitcher when you start off plate appearances like that. Right about the time when he had far too many pitches is when he had his first good inning. In the 4th, he struck out the side, but in between he walked Dietrich on four pitches and gave up a single. At the end of it, he needed 104 pitches to finish four innings. Yikes.
Thankfully, the Marlins pitcher isn’t good. I wonder if he would make a good reliever, because he dominated the Cards through the first part of the order. He struck out five guys, allowed one hit, two groundouts, and a walk. But the Cards had apparently figured him out by then, because he didn’t strike out another batter the rest of the game.
The comeback started with none other than Magneuris Sierra, who walked to lead off the 3rd. (As his confirmed nickname, I’m calling him Mags the rest of the recap). Lynn couldn’t get him over, striking out on a failed bunt, but it didn’t matter. Kolten Wong got hit by a pitch to put runners at 1st and 2nd. After Grichuk flied out, Matt Carpenter walked to load the bases. Jedd Gyorko took a pitch on the outside corner and went the other way with it to score two. Yadier Molina then hit an absolute rocket right back up in the middle to score the third run, which would not have scored if Carpenter didn’t make it to third on the previous play.
In the 6th, the Cardinals completed the comeback. Tommy Pham singled with one out, knocking Koehler out of the game. Mags swung at the first pitch he saw from lefty Jarlin Garcia, hitting a liner to right to put runners at 1st and 3rd. Dexter Fowler pinch hit and hit a line drive in the gap. It was the perfect location. As far as I know, Yelich didn’t misplay it at all, but due to where it was hit, Fowler was able to easily triple to score both runs. Kolten Wong got one more run for good measure with a sacrifice fly.
And then... Brett Cecil gave back one of those runs. Given the small sample and his career numbers, I’m still not ready to say Cecil is bad. He has not looked good. With one out, Gordon hit a ball in the gap that was almost caught by Mags Sierra. It would have been an amazing catch. He then gave up back-to-back seeing-eye singles. He struck out Yelich and then was replaced by Jonathan Broxton. Broxton walked Marcell Ozuna to load the bases. That brought up Stanton. Two things can be true here. The first is that Broxton walked a guy in front of Stanton. That’s bad. Stanton looked atrocious in his plate appearance, getting fooled badly by three pitches by Broxton. Inning over, 6-5 Cards.
Cards added another run in the 7th with a walk by Gyorko, a single by Molina, and another single by Aledmys Diaz. Kevin Siegrist looked about as good as he has all year, striking out two and getting the other guy to ground out. In the 8th, an unusual play happened. After Wong singled with one out, Grichuk fell behind 1-2 quickly. Wong attempted to steal second, but after Grichuk swung and missed, he interfered with the throw and Wong was called out as a result.
Rosenthal also had a 1-2-3 inning, but unfortunately that brought up the Marlins 3-4-5 hitters against Seung Hwan-Oh. Things started poorly. Yelich doubled and Ozuna walked. First and second with Stanton up. You can see a version of this game that goes badly pretty easily. Stanton instead hit a hard ball right to the shortstop and like magic, it was two outs with a man on third. After an IBB (will add a section later addressing this so as to not clog up my recap with Matheny complaints), Steve Lombardozzi grounded out to end the game.
After three innings, Lance Lynn had 81 pitches. Pham was on second with one out when his spot in the order came to the plate. With an off-day tomorrow, I feel he should have been pinch-hit for here with the Cards losing 4-3. Of course, because baseball, Lynn went out and had his best inning of the night after this. Go figure.
I would probably not have brought Broxton in to clean up Cecil’s mess. You can complain about Cecil being there, but the Cards bullpen needed to pitch five innings so those have to go to someone. Basically, I couldn’t complain if Broxton had started the 5th inning but I don’t like him with runners on.
So the IBB was a terrible decision. Basically, the Cardinals were winning by two runs. There was a man on third. He didn’t matter. Justin Bour was up. Bour has hit about 26 homers per 600 PAs. He is clearly somewhat of a threat. He hit one earlier in the game. His career wRC+ is 112. He’s basically Matt Adams. Cards chose to put him on base - THE TYING RUN - to face a possible winning run. Lombardozzi is a bad hitter. That’s not the point. He hit a line drive foul down the right field line that was pretty close to tying the game. If Bour homers in his PA, the game is tied, Oh probably gets Lombardozzi out and extra innings begins. Instead, a ball in play could lead to a tie game. Alas, it worked out because I don’t know baseball magic or something.
- Lynn final line: 4 IP, 5 Ks, 4 BBs, 4 ERs, 2 HRs, 33.3 GB% - believe me it’s somewhat of a miracle his line ended up this good - I realize I’m saying that about a 10.01 FIP, 6.01 xFIP but it’s true.
- Sierra went 2-3 with a walk. I hope he doesn’t come back down to Earth before we send him down. Granted, we’re not talking a long time here.
- Gyorko went 3-4 with a BB. @ Padres HOW YOU LIKE GYORKO NOW? STOP TAKING ALL OUR PLAYERS FROM RULE V OR WE’LL DO THIS TO ANOTHER FORMER PLAYER OF YOURS IN DUE TIME
- Everybody in the lineup got on base at least twice except for Randal Grichuk, who went 0-5 with two strikeouts. He shouldn’t be batting 2nd.
Tomorrow, there is no baseball, but after that there’s a weekend series with the Cubs, which is very inconvenient timing for myself, but probably isn’t for most! Mike Leake faces former Rockie Eddie Butler. Eddie Butler is very bad at pitching. So please win Cards!