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Bullpen Squanders Solid Wacha Start, Fowler Heroics

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Wacha spins six shutout innings, bullpen coughs it up, Dexter Fowler seals the deal, bullpen coughs it up again

San Francisco Giants v St. Louis Cardinals
THIS SHOULD’VE BEEN THE END OF IT.
Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

Two fairly legendary, widely predicted divisional seconds face off tonight: Cardinals vs. Giants. So far so good for the Cardinals, who true to form, hold second place in the NL Central on the back of devil magic and solid homegrown run prevention. Not so for the Giants though, who are earnestly racing the Padres for fourth place in the NL West, nine full games behind the third-place Diamondbacks. Never mind that Mac Williamson and Eduardo Nunez, who don’t actually exist outside the pretend ballfield in Richmond, Virginia, are now starters for San Francisco. Also disregard that Matt Moore is probably San Francisco’s ace in the wake of Madison Bumgarner’s motorcycle accident and Johnny Cueto’s equally crippling mediocrity. (The latter is plainly untrue, but I do not like Johnny Cueto at all and refuse to recognize that he might do anything well.) Moreover, please ignore the fact that Madison Bumgarner shreds so hard on his dirtbike during the baseball season that he is vulnerable to shoulder-separating wrecks. These ancient foes are facing off, and we must be somber, for we tread hallowed ground.

I’ll be honest, I recognized... Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford... wait, isn’t Matt Moore a Tampa Bay Devil Ray?

WELL, THE CARDINALS TWITTER ACCOUNT LET ME DOWN.

Fowler CF
Pham LF
Carpenter 1B
Gyorko 3B
Molina C
Díaz SS
Grichuk RF
Wong 2B
Wacha P

LAME.

Viva El Game-o

Everything was fairly quiet until the third inning, with both Wacha and Moore executing pretty good pitches. For example, the top of the third consisted of a Denard Span K, a Joe Panik 4-3 groundout, a Brandon Belt single to center, a Buster Posey walk, and a Brandon Crawford strikeout.

The bottom of the inning was when things got interesting. Dexter Fowler started with an honest-to-God triple to deep right. Tommy Pham hit a sac fly to center, scoring Dex easily. Two pedestrian outs later, Cardinals lead, 1-0.

The fourth saw 6 batters; five of them made poor contact and the sixth, Mac Williamson, struck out. The fifth was much the same, with Wacha rolling through a 3-up, 3-down top and Wong’s leadoff single being squandered by a Wacha foul bunt with 2 strikes and a Pham GIDP (Fowler walked somewhere in there).

Brandon Belt led off the sixth inning with a base hit to right, but Posey returned Pham’s GIDP favor. Brandon Crawford put a little flare on the right field grass. Wacha was still rolling at this point, somewhere in the mid 80s on his pitch count. Crawford, apparently concerned that something might interrupt Wacha’s groove, generously tried to steal second base.

Honestly, Crawford might have been safe had he gone straight for the bag, but he got a little too cute trying to anticipate the tag:

In the bottom of the frame, Famous Cardinal Star Jedd Gyorko hit the second triple of the night for the Birdos with a little help from Mac Williamson.

I mean, that’s a tough ball to corral though. Williamson got a pretty poor jump on the ball though:

Molina doubled with authority, and Gyorko found himself sitting with his friends once more. 2-0 Cardinals.

Wacha’s night ended at 86 pitches, after twirling a solid 6.0 innings with 4 H, 3 BB, 5 K, 0 R. Jon Broxton took over, and if you squint and tilt your head a bit, you can almost see a washed-up has-been. True to form, Broxton failed to record an out, giving up 2 hits on 9 guileless, gutless pitches, leaving runners on the corners. Bowman was selected to put out the fire, and he did not have it. Bowman’s selection was indicative of the terrible state of the Cardinals bullpen - two lefties in the next three batters coming up, the pitcher in between, and neither Cecil nor Siegrist trusted to face them.

At any rate, stuff happened and Bowman did exactly what you’d expect - he gave up runs on both Broxton’s runners and one of his own. Mike Matheny came out to argue balls and strikes at some point and got tossed. I like to pretend, however, that it happened a little differently:

Matheny: Hey blue, I’ve got a pitching change. Bringing in my fireman Bowman.

Umpire: Are you kidding me? You’ve got three lefties in a row coming up, you know they’re going to PH for Moore, right?

Matheny: He’s my fireman, and this is a fire. You know I’m into bullpen roles, blue.

Umpire:

Siegrist finally entered to face Brandon Crawford, and induced a flyout to left. Damage done, bad guys lead 3-0.

The stretch lasted the better part of an hour, thanks to a ton of rain. Here is some mood music. Actually the rain delay might have occurred before the official stretch, but whatever. Music still applies.

The Giants bullpen is almost the disaster that ours is, so it contains people that I don’t really remember and also some guys that I think can’t possibly be in baseball any more. Some guy named Okert came in when play resumed. Wong worked a walk and Peralta, apparently recovered from his bout of consumption, hit for the pitcher’s spot and promptly singled, pushing Wong to third. George Kontos is still in baseball, and he took over for Okert.

Dexter Fowler stood in, and through the heavy air and rain, lifted our faltering spirits. I’m sorry, I wish I could embed it, but I couldn’t find anything embeddable. You’ll have to click on this link, but trust me, it’s worth it:

DEXTER FOWLER’S THREE-RUN HOMER LIES HEREIN

Thanks to the irreplaceable VanHicklestein.

Pham, Carpenter, and Gyorko made quick outs after that, but it was okay. Cardinals take lead back, 5-3. Love ya, Dex.

Sam Tuivailala took over setup man duties, and it did not go great. He gave up three singles, scoring Christian Arroyo on a Denard Span single. He also induced a lineout and struck out some guy named Ruggiano. Cecil came in, after having warmed prior to the rain delay, and got a quick comebacker from Joe Panik. Cardinals lead shaved to 5-4.

The top of the ninth involved Oh blowing the save and giving the Giants a 6-5 lead on a Brandon Belt single, a Brandon Belt single, and an Eduardo Nunez double. The bottom of the ninth saw Wong take a leadoff single from Mark Melancon, Matt Adams pop a can of corn into very shallow left, and Fowler ground into a double play. I ain’t even mad though; Dexter already won the stupid game for us once tonight. Cardinals fall 6-5. 3 losses in a row. This bullpen is not what it needs to be.

Tune in tomorrow for El Gallo Day. Coverage starts at 6:00 Central.

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