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6/27/2017 Recap: Bullpen Gets Lost in the Desert

Martinez turns in another solid performance and the offense produces plenty of runs, but the potent Diamondbacks lineup rolled the hapless Cardinals bullpen

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Arizona Diamondbacks
“I hope they show up soon....”
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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Last night’s game opened a 3-game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks, beginning a West Coast roadtrip for the Cardinals. The D’Backs started the night in second place in the NL West at 49-28, while El Birdos sat five games below .500 at 35-40. We’re not really this bad—Pythag thinks we should be right about .500, and our third order win percentage (“A team’s projected winning percentage, based on underlying statistics and adjusted for quality of opponents,” per Baseball Prospectus) is second-best in the NL Central at .515. But many unlikely good things have happened for us over the last decade or so, and this had to happen eventually.

Anyway, to the game. I’m going to break this down a little bit different than normal by explaining who won the various contests comprising the baseball game. This may or may not be because I’m desperate to write about the Cardinals winning something.

Starting Pitchers

Carlos Martinez turned in a solid, flashy performance, striking out 10 snakes and giving up only 4 hits over 6 innings of work. It wasn’t all spectacular, as he surrendered 3 walks and 2 runs, but it was a very, very good start, good for a game score of 66. Taijuan Walker was no match, walking 5 (2 of them intentional) and giving up 6 hits while failing to strike out a single Cardinal. This performance was good for 5 Redbird runs. Here is my main man Carlos taking it to the slithering serpents:

Verdict: Very satisfying to behold. The Cardinals Starting Pitcher Destroyed the Diamondbacks.


There was a lot going on for you defensive aficionados, too. Tommy Pham started things off in the 2nd. To set the stage, Chris Iannetta is up with 2 on and 1 out. Pham is playing shallow because Iannetta is not a great power threat. Iannetta kind of got ahold of it, though.

Hot damn, Tommy Pham tracked it down. A year ago, I’d have said something mean and unwarranted about Pham exploding when he hit the wall. Today, I have seen the error of my ways and recognize the difficulty of that catch and the ease with which Tommy tracked it down. Pham is a gift, and he’s playing angry, and I am very much enjoying every start. But that wasn’t all!

In the 4th, Randal Grichuk did his Grichuk thing and ripped one into the right-center gap, good for a base hit. OR WAS IT?

You’ve just got to tip your cap to Blanco on that one. The DBacks’ defense wasn’t all good though:

First, Daniel Descalso! Hi. Why are they playing you in left field? Oh, yes, very bad. Sorry to see that, bud. Good luck out there! Then, Nick Ahmed. Not much to say about that. The D’Backs were charged with three errors in that inning.

David Peralta wasn’t going to let that be the last word on the Diamondbacks’ defense, though. Matt Carpenter got most of this one, but Peralta answered with a web gem of his own:

Then in the 8th inning, Chris Herrmann laced one the opposite way into pretty far left field with the bases loaded. Grichuk saved a potentially base-clearing extra base hit with this effort, limiting the damage to a single run:

The Lamborghini is back out of the shop, and the stallion is roaming, and we are all Churchills around these parts. Yeehaw.

Verdict: A closer call than the SP duel, but that’s not saying much. Advantage Cardinals.


Believe it or not, the Cardinals stole three bases (two happened together on a double-steal, sort of: Piscotty stole third, and Gyorko got away with “stealing” second while Iannetta was otherwise occupied). We did not lose any baserunners to TOOTBLANs or the Maloney “broken windmill” now that he is not there any more.

Verdict: Huge Advantage Cardinals.


Our offense scored 5 runs off of Taijuan Walker on 6 hits, 2 sac flies, and 5 walks, with a little help from the Snakes’ 7th inning defensive implosion. That was good. I’ll bet that you could already taste your 50 cent beverage at On The Run (It doesn’t take a lot to earn it!).

Our offense struck out 5 times against Andrew Chafin, Braden Shipley, Jose De La Rosa, and 50-year-old Fernando Rodney over 4.2 innings. This isn’t terrible in a vacuum, but when you also don’t walk or get on base otherwise, it starts to look pretty bad. There was a lot of contact - some of it good, like the one Carpenter got robbed on in the 8th, and some of it was less good.

The Snakes’ offense scored 1 run more than ours, and a couple of ours were of the gift variety, so I guess I have to say

Verdict: Slight advantage Diamondbacks

Relief Pitching

Brett Cecil pitched a clean 7th, to the surprise of many. Trevor Rosenthal gave up a walk and 2 hits, good for 2 runs, to the surprise of some. Seung Hwan Oh gave up a game-tying dinger in the 9th, to the actual surprise of nobody. And Matt Bowman gave up 2 hits, the latter of which went to Herrmann and resulted in a walk-off victory for the Snakes.

Verdict: Our bullpen sucks, y’all. D’Backs win 6-5.

The Aftermath

The Diamondbacks are now [checks, double checks] yup, they are 30-10 at home. 50-28 overall. It’s funny to reflect on how this is essentially the same team that Dave Stewart and Tony La Russa were (rightly) fired for creating, and now here they are, chasing the Dodgers for the NL West after leading them for much of the early going. Paul Goldschmidt is back to being the Perfect Baseball Machine, and David Peralta being healthy is a huge boost, but the lineup is just hitting really good, top to bottom. Fernando Rodney is going to spontaneously dessicate and the dust is going to just float away from the mound one of these days, but until then he’s closing out games. Zach Greinke looks like Zach Greinke again sometimes. They are otherwise a pretty ordinary team with pretty ordinary talent which seems to be playing way over their heads, but I guess that’s why we play the games.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals can’t seem to catch a break. Martinez deserved to win this, and none of the relievers were shockingly bad - it was just a steady drip, drip, drip of runs until you look up and that game that was 5-2 going into the eighth is now tied in the ninth. The offense scored five runs despite nary a dinger in the Phoenix air. Again, the randomness devilry that engineered the Braves’ historic 2011 collapse, the RISP monster of 2013, and the strand rate-fueled 2015 run prevention juggernaut was going to swing the other way at some point. And here we are!

Try to enjoy the season for what it is. It is baseball, and baseball is sort of like pizza in that even bad pizza is still pretty good. Even bad baseball is still pretty good. I’m glad that I get the luxury of being irritated when something as inane as grown men hitting a leatherbound ball of string with pieces of wood doesn’t result the way I wanted it to.

Here’s to hoping our grown men hit that ball of string better than the other team tonight!