Life. Life is good. Baseball. Baseball is bad. Words. Just a meaningless set of symbols that our brain has made into something meaningful. Drugs. You want them when watching this Cardinals team. Win. Who can really know what a win is anymore? Loss. That’s what happens when a team plays a baseball game right? Lead. Something that is possible to have, but it’s more theoretical to end the game with a lead than reality.
40-year-old Bronson Arroyo pitched for the Reds. He was not good. Lance Lynn pitched for the Cardinals. He was good. I say these things as if they matter at all. The starting pitchers have become irrelevant in the nightmare known as Cardinals baseball. Arroyo used dark magic to get through the first part of the Cards order, striking out three batters and allowing only one hit.
But since Arroyo is not a reliever and is in fact a major league starter somehow in the year 2017, the Cardinals became wise to his dark magic and hit the softballs down the middle. Matt Carpenter was first. He hit it long and he hit it hard. It actually started with Lance Lynn, one of the worst hitting pitchers I’ve ever seen, and Arroyo had trouble putting him away, needing nine pitches to strike out Lynn. Congrats to Stephen Piscotty, Jedd Gyorko and Paul Dejong for getting shown up by Lance freaking Lynn (Arroyo’s other three strikeout recipients).
Tommy Pham walked because Arroyo cannot throw a pitch in the strike zone without the threat that it will get crushed. Piscotty lined a double to left to score Pham. Gyorko lined a single to center to score Piscotty. 3-0 Cardinals. Life made sense at that moment. When life starts making sense, expect to be roundly kicked in the private region.
Lynn looked good, though not great through four innings. He had struck out only two and had also walked two batters. He only allowed one hit thus far though. That changed in the fifth. He allowed a home run to “somehow not the most infuriating Cardinals killer on this damn Reds team” Scott Schebler. He also allowed a single to Arroyo. He did manage to strike out two batters that inning. He had 78 pitches through five and could have gone longer, but was pinch-hit for the next inning.
It’s usually in this spot, the spot where a manager’s influence is felt for the first time, that I end up criticizing something Matheny does that is suboptimal or lacks logic or... well you get the idea. Not this game. This game is not on Matheny. He managed a pretty damn good game. You, reader, are probably dumbfounded. Let me explain why.
The Cardinals got runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 outs when Lynn’s spot game up. Let me be clear that the following Reds were due up: Zack Cozart, Joey Votto, Adam Duvall. Their wRCs+ this year: 175, 154, 119. As mentioned before, Lynn had given up a homer and a hit to the pitcher, not to mention 4 Ks, 2 BBs and a home run allowed is not really all that great. In normal circumstances, he should have pitched the 6th. But runs were on the table.
And it worked! Sort of. Dexter Fowler pinch-hit and hit a double. One run scored. The second run was thrown out and it wasn’t that close. Also Eric Fryer was running. This is getting ridiculous. Chris Maloney is terrible at his job. That’s not the most egregious example of his “when you have any doubt whatsoever - in fact if I think he might be thrown out, send him every time” philosophy but constantly giving up outs on the basepaths is costing the team. Anyway what could have been 2nd and 3rd with Carpenter up was instead the end of the inning.
The bullpen failing is not on Matheny. Besides, the 6th was a scoreless inning. The most likely outcomes for Lynn staying in are 1) a 3-1 score 2) Lynn only pitches one more inning and given who was coming up, it’s not all that unrealistic to say he probably gives up a run or 3) he pitches the 6th, needs a ton of pitches to do it, and comes back out for the 7th; lets a runner or two on and the bullpen lets them score anyway. Pretending keeping Lynn in means we don’t allow any more runs is foolish. Lynn probably gives up more runs himself in fact. (Again look who was coming up; A fresh reliever against those guys is better) And hey if you have so little faith in the bullpen that you think Lynn is a better bet, they probably still give up the lead in the 8th or 9th, no?
Anyway, Brett Cecil came in and allow two dribblers up the middle. And then a home run to Patrick checks notes Kivl - wait hold on this isn’t a real person; the Cardinals just lost to a made up video game player. Well he’s real according to some sources, most of them on the internet and his name is apparently Patrick Kivlehan. Sure. Whatever. I’m onto you internet. After Cecil gave up another hit - this one looked foul, but we can’t review that so awesome MLB - Trevor Rosenthal came in and allowed a home run to Votto. Nothing interesting happened the rest of the game. Important part of it: the Cardinals lost.
- Lance Lynn line: 5 IP, 4 Ks, 2 BBs, HR, 3 hits - THIS is the line the entire Cardinals fanbase is mad got taken out. To be fair, they were mad at the time too. But this was a no-brainer. You need to go for the runs. Who knows how this game turns out if Carpenter actually got to bat with runners on 2nd and 3rd.
- Scooter Gennet went 1-4 with a strikeout and two double plays so I guess we have that going for us.
- I mean really what else is there to say?
Tomorrow the Cardinals have Mike Leake facing Scott Feldman. Again the starting pitchers don’t matter, that is unless Leake decides to throw a complete game shutout. (I’m taking credit for it if he does it. Fair?)