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Leake pitches eight strong innings while offense walks to first in 6-1 win

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Leake delivered a great game while the offense walked their way into six runs thanks to an off-night from Rich Hill.

St Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers
Leake dominating
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

With each successive start, Mike Leake makes his hot start look less and less like a hot start and more like the real thing. Ok so, no he’s probably not going to have a 1.91 ERA this year. But that’s not the only stat that points to a career year for Mike Leake. His FIP is a career low 3.00 and his lowest before this year was 3.83. The homer-adjusted xFIP is also at his career best, although barely in this case: 3.47 (3.49 in 2014). For now at least, we can enjoy the ace version of Mike Leake, which I may add I quite enjoy and would like it to continue.

Moving on the game, this is a relatively easy summary, which is probably why I spent the first paragraph talking broadly about Leake’s overall season. He continued his trend of striking out more than you’d expect with 5 strikeouts over 8 innings pitched. He never really approached anything resembling trouble throughout his night. Leake faced the minimum through four, with the only baserunner being a single by Cody Bellinger in the second (who was immediately removed from a double play ball)

After a five pitch first inning (yes five) by Rich Hill, he encountered nothing but trouble. He had no control over his curveball and since his fastball tops at 90, he had no control period. Hill’s renaissance as a pitcher has been from throwing his curve over 50 percent of the time and that’s the danger you face when you rely on literally one pitch. He couldn’t find the strike zone. The zone was a little tight, but honestly he was all over the place.

His trouble started in the 2nd. He walked Jedd Gyorko on five pitches, and after a flyout by Yadier Molina on a 3-1 count, he walked Aledmys Diaz of the 4% BB rate on five pitches. Randal Grichuk, who’s definitely known around these parts as a patient hitter, walked after that to load the bases. Despite that, Kolten Wong jumped at a 2-0 pitch that was literally right down the middle for a single, driving in two runs. Unfortunately that’s all the Cards scored. Hill ended up walking another batter before finishing the inning, and that hitter was Leake.

In the 3rd, he walked two more batters, including walking Diaz for a second time! Seriously, anybody who didn’t walk this game should be ashamed of themselves (if you’re wondering, the only person who didn’t walk was Molina). After a 1-2-3 4th inning from Hill, he ran into problems again in the 5th. Piscotty led off with a four-pitch walk, Carpenter bunted a PERFECT bunt down the third base line with the shift on him, and Gyorko ripped a single to left. Bases loaded. Oh wait! Nope, first baseman Bellinger (who was playing the OF obviously) had a momentary lapse and let the ball get past him. Both runners scored and Gyorko made it to third. Hill was done and replaced by Ross Stripling. Molina hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Gyorko and, although the Cardinals got two more baserunners before the inning was over, they were done scoring for the inning.

Leake allowed his first and only run of the game in the 7th inning when a leadoff double by Corey Seager led to a sacrifice fly two batters later. There was a hint of trouble from a leadoff single by Chris Taylor in the 8th, but the next three batters all got out with relatively little fuss from the Dodgers. (You’ll notice it says Utley lined out, but he had the softest lineout you can hit. Meanwhile Wong hit something categorized as a flyout that could easily have been called a lineout. shrugs)

The Cardinals got serious from a Molina home run! So you’re forgiven for not walking Molina. Tyler Lyons came in and also easily dispatched the Dodgers with a clean 1-2-3 inning. So this was a fun game!

Notes

  • Mike Leake final line: 8 IP, 5 Ks, 4 hits, ER - Interestingly this year parallels Leake’s 2014 quite nicely, but with one exception: the homers. So I guess you’re seeing Leake at his best who doesn’t have to play in Great American Ballpark. Not THIS good, but this was the optimistic way of looking at the Leake signing.
  • The Cardinals lineup collectively walked more than they struck out with nine walks and eight strikeouts. The pitchers meanwhile delivered no free passes and struck out six (one from Lyons). You’re going to win most games that way I imagine.
  • Also a fun fact: the Dodgers pitchers threw 170 pitches. The Cardinals threw 108 pitches.
  • Some good games here: Carpenter went 2-4 with a BB; Gyorko went 3-4 with a BB; Diaz went 1-3 with 2 BBs and a 2B. We mostly won because of the walks though. So thanks Rich Hill!

Tomorrow, the Cardinals go for the series win with Michael Wacha facing Kenta Maeda. I have no predictions for that game because I can honestly see that going any way with those pitchers pitching.