I don't want to take anything away from Carlos Martinez. The man was a beast tonight. He threw nine shutout innings. His 92nd pitch of the game, in the top of the ninth inning, fell in at 99 mph. He dominated this entire game, and even as I sit here now, even having watched the whole game, I don't believe the box score that says he allowed two hits. He was simply untouchable tonight. I love him and I love watching pitching performances like this. But here's the thing. Bottom of the eighth, in a 0-0 game, a runner on first with no outs, that's the time to take out your starter. Unless he's throwing a perfect game, unless your entire bullpen is on the DL, it's a no-brainer. It's as no-brainer as situations get in baseball. A position player should have been in there to pinch-hit. Instead, Martinez bunted over the runner. A good bunt to be fair, but the inning ended with no one scoring a run.
Incidentally, Carlos' game score tonight was 93 - apparently a top 15 performance in Cardinals' history.
Not just the best start of Martinez's career, in the top 15 Cardinals starts of the modern era by Game Score. https://t.co/wfl0Z2pLFC— Ben Godar (@bengodar) May 21, 2017
El Gallo's final line was 9.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 5 K, 1 BB. An amazing performance, to be sure.
And therein lies the second mistake I want to point out tonight. The Cardinals had a short bench tonight. Matt Adams was traded today, for Juan Yepez, a decent prospect in the Atlanta Braves' organization. Kolten Wong started the game, but had to leave due to shoulder tightness, (hopefully it's nothing serious!) so Greg Garcia took over at second. That left Eric Fryer, Jhonny Peralta, and Tommy Pham on the bench. Tommy Pham would have been an awesome option there! But I can understand, with a short bench, in a tie game, maybe you hesitate to put your best bench piece out there. (Nope, I lied. I don't understand that at all. Pham should have been hitting in that situation, and I will stand by that until my death.)
But imagine - IMAGINE - if we weren't carrying 13 pitchers. Because that is the rub here: we're carrying extra pitchers at the expense of the bench, but then in the 8th inning of a tie game, with a runner on base, we don't remove the starter. This makes no sense to me. We have a deep bullpen for a reason! You can postulate that perhaps the Cardinals don't want to use a valuable bench piece, but the only reason our bench is short is to strengthen the bullpen, which in turn supports the starting rotation. I am at a loss. (I am also at 5.5 beers, so bear with me.)
Mistake #3: Matt Carpenter, leading off in the bottom of the ninth inning. Why, Matt, in a tie game with no outs, would you seek to stretch an obvious double to left field into a maybe triple? I need to understand this. I don't know if he went on his own, I don't know if the third base coach sent him. But, MY MAN (or men), there's no reason to stretch it there! Tie game, no one out, the likelihood of scoring that winning run with a runner on second vs. a runner on third cannot be that different. I could look it up. I don't feel like it, okay? You look it up. No, you.
Fine, there's a damn rain delay now, after the ninth inning. Expected runs with a runner on second and no outs: 1.13. Expected runs with a runner on third and no outs: 1.37. (Source) But so here's the thing: WE ONLY NEEDED ONE! One measly little nothing bullshit run. And the game would be over. And we wouldn't be in a rain delay. And I wouldn't be trying to write this drunk. No, we'd have won the game, I'd have written a happy-go-lucky rah rah review, and I'd be immersed in the last two episodes of 13 Reasons Why. But here we are.
[Fox turns the game to LAA vs. NYM. Joe Buck is announcing. Is this what his career has come to?, I wonder. Calling a game between two runner-up teams from cities that don't care as much about them as they do about their prettier, older sisters? I've clearly had too much to drink. I eat a hot pocket and feel better. What a time to be alive.
The rain delay wasn't long, but it was just long enough for me to lose interest in the outcome of this game. I'd like to apologize to my readers now.]
The tenth, eleventh, and twelfth innings happened. Trevor Rosenthal was good. Matt Bowman was good. Kevin Siegrist...predictably...was not. I wished that Rosie had gone out for another inning, or even Bowman. I don't understand why Siegrist was picked as the guy to pitch multiple innings. Literally, I don't understand this team. So, Siegrirst gave up five hits, loaded the bases for Christian Arroyo, who worked an 11-pitch at-bat that ended in a double off the left field wall. 2-0 Giants. Nick Hundley followed with a sacrifice fly to bring the damage to 3-0.
I can't help but think about the alternate timelines where this game ended 1-0 Cardinals. I can't help but think about how we missed the playoffs by one game last season. I can't help but think about how I should probably chug some water now.
The bottom of the thirteenth inning was promising...this sentence hangs while Piscotty bats. He gets a hit, scoring Dexter Fowler. 3-1 Giants. That Hundley sac fly looms. Piscotty steals second base with Carpenter up to bat. I audibly gasp. Expecting the worst isn't so bad. Every now and then, you're pleasantly surprised. Alas, Carpenter flies out to center field and the Giants win the game. It occurs to me that someone might say that Siegrist's performance is the exact reason why Martinez batted for himself in the bottom of the eighth. Well, I think, let them. I'm all out of energy to argue.
Matt Cain takes on Adam Wainwright tomorrow at 1:15 CT, when the Cardinals will look to salvage a win from this poor, unfortunate series.