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Local baseball team makes life worthwhile: A 6/16 recap

The Baltimore Orioles played baseball on Friday night. The St. Louis Cardinals played baseball better.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Baltimore Orioles Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Following the 1953 season, the American League’s St. Louis Browns moved to the East Coast and became the Baltimore Orioles. This was before I was born—heck, it was before either of my parents were born—and there doesn’t seem to be much of a prevailing hostility against the Orioles, in the way that one exists in St. Louis against the Los Angeles Rams, to a lesser extent the Arizona Cardinals, or to a much lesser extent the Atlanta Hawks.

But for this series, I will learn to be angry. It won’t last longer than a weekend, and I won’t be laughing about how the Orioles mortgaged their entire future for whoever the baseball equivalent to Jared Goff is, but that just means I have to channel my faux-frustration over a shorter period of time. I’m the boss I’m the boss I’m the boss I’m the boss.

Anyway, here were the lineups.

For the Cardinals...

  1. Matt Carpenter, 1B
  2. Dexter Fowler, DH
  3. Stephen Piscotty, RF
  4. Jedd Gyorko, 3B
  5. Yadier Molina, C
  6. Aledmys Diaz, SS
  7. Tommy Pham, CF
  8. Jose Martinez, LF
  9. Paul DeJong, 2B

Carlos Martinez, SP

And for the Orioles...

  1. Seth Smith, RF
  2. Manny Machado, 3B
  3. Adam Jones, CF
  4. Mark Trumbo, DH
  5. Trey Mancini, 1B
  6. Jonathan Schoop, 2B
  7. Welington Castillo, C
  8. Hyun Soo Kim, LF
  9. J.J. Hardy, SS

Kevin Gausman, SP

First of all, did you know the Orioles entered Friday below .500? They got off to an incredible start—like, best team in baseball-level start. What happened? Is this team just terrible? Well, if tonight was any indication, yes. Extremely so. But this was a game which exaggerated the effect. The Orioles aren’t actually as bad as tonight suggested, nor are the Cardinals actually as good. This doesn’t make resounding, unsustainable success less fun; rather, the silliness of it becomes even more enjoyable. It won’t maintain, so enjoy it while you can.

First two innings—eh

It’s not that nothing happened in the first two innings. Like, they were played out. I even watched part of them (in my defense, I wasn’t supposed to be recapping this game tonight). But nothing too important. Yadier Molina and Trey Mancini got a single each; Matt Carpenter and Mark Trumbo each walked; generally, though, whatever. Let’s get to the parts of the game where things happened.

The third inning—it begins

Jose Martinez and Paul DeJong led off the inning with singles, a sentence I did not forecast writing before the season for a mid-June game. Matt Carpenter got a single, a less surprising outcome in the grand scheme of things but nevertheless a pleasant one. Dexter Fowler discontinued the parade of singles by merely drawing a walk, bringing home the first run of the game (I’ll take it). A second run scored on a Stephen Piscotty sac-fly, and the Cardinals finished the inning with two runs. It’s weird—I know enough about run expectancy to know that this is slightly below the expected total runs from a based loaded, nobody out situation, but two runs are two runs. Especially with Carlos Martinez pitching.

With runners on second and third and one out in the bottom of the inning, Manny Machado hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Hyun Soo Kim, who led the inning off with a single and was advanced to third base following a Seth Smith double. At the end of the inning, 2-1 Cardinals.

The fourth inning—it continues

Aledmys Diaz led the inning off with a single, but because this is the Cardinals and even the best games will include you becoming very frustrated about something, he was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. Baseball warrior poet Tommy Pham got a single, and following a Jose Martinez strikeout, a Kevin Gausman pitch, courtesy of Paul DeJong, came sailing away into the left field bleachers.

In the bottom half, Martinez went into lockdown mode, striking out two in a 1-2-3 inning. 4-1 Birdos.

The sixth inning—it gets silly

The first two batters made outs. Things looked—not great, but manageable for the Orioles. And then Jose Martinez doubled, and Gabriel Ynoa came in to relieve Gausman. Then DeJong got a RBI single. Then Matt Carpenter hit a two-run home run. Then Dexter Fowler hit a home run. The score became 8-1, and drinks at Mobil On the Runs in the Greater St. Louis area will be extremely cheap tomorrow.

(I don’t know why, psychologically, I care so much about 50 cent sodas, as though sodas at gas stations are typically a great financial burden. Heather and I reference them, like, every other podcast episode, and it’s stupid, but they’re so wonderful and down with the haters)

The seventh inning—stop, stop, they’re already dead

Any time the Cardinals play in an AL park, a bunch of boring arguments about the DH arise. “The DH is great because pitchers are bad hitters (duh)!” “The DH is bad because it’s just not right (that’s, like, your opinion, man)!” But in the current situation for the Cardinals, it’s ideal, because they have four outfielders who are hitting awesome.

And it was Tommy Pham, the Cardinals’ perfect utility outfielder (and tonight’s center fielder), who hit a two-run home run in the top of the seventh.

The ninth inning—overkill

Jedd Gyorko hit a home run, which was wildly unnecessary. Trey Mancini hit a home run, which was, in the words of, I don’t know, Bob Dylan or something, too little too late. The final score was 11-2.

The big story, of course, is DINGERS, but Carlos Martinez had a good outing, allowing just one run in six innings (he perhaps could have gone longer, but following a complete game in his previous outing, why risk it?) and striking out eight. Brett Cecil had a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout in the seventh. Sam Tuivailala went two innings, and looked strong as well before allowing a home run to Mancini that he wouldn’t have given up had the Cardinals had much motivation to suppress Baltimore runs at that point since, you know, they were up by ten runs.

The Cardinals play again tomorrow. May that game be as not nerve-wracking (Un-nerve wracking? Nerve un-wracking?) as this one.