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7/27 Recap: Memphis Redbirds Drop Opener to Arizona Diamondbacks

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In a game that featured equal parts frustration and disappointment, the “Memphis Makeover” Cardinals withered before the unholy onslaught of Zack Godley, with a little help from sequencing luck

Arizona Diamondbacks v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Cardinals begin a 4-game home set tonight against the Diamondbacks, who are all in on a wild card run and who boast an extremely potent offense. We are 1 game under .500, 4.5 back in the Central, a bajillion behind the Rockies for WC2, and NOT QUITE DEAD YET which is either great or kind of irritating, depending on how you look at it.

Tonight’s lineup looks like somebody mixed up the Cardinals’ plane tickets with the Memphis Redbirds:

Remember when the popular criticism was that the Cardinals were getting too old? Most of these guys don’t remember 9/11. Pham, DeJong, Bader, Kelly, and Weaver started the season in Memphis, and Grichuk spent significant time in the minors this year “reworking his swing.” When you consider how young Wong is and that Garcia was still a Memphis regular last year, there is no hyperbole in saying that this is a minor league ball team. Well, a minor league ball team with their cranky uncle Matt hollering at them to cover their base on the play and turn down that damn dubstep shit so I can watch the news in peace as I enjoy my Metamucil.

But lately, it’s been a really good minor league team! And I’m very excited to watch Luke Weaver get his second taste of MLB action. After acquitting himself well in limited big league work last year, he is having a stellar year in Memphis, and he is looking to prove some prospect prognosticators wrong when they call him a future bullpen arm. You can do it, Luke!

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks are looking pretty hulking with their addition of J.D. Martinez:

Tonight’s game begins after an hour of rain delay. Coming off a sweep of the NL West’s other Cinderellas, I’m hoping our Memphis-looking squad can keep the momentum rolling.

The Game

Weaver’s first trip through the order went phenomenally well. Young Luke mowed down the potent DBacks lineup, facing one more than the minimum (Paul Goldschmidt led off the 2nd inning with a full count single to right) and striking out four.

In the 4th, things fell apart pretty bad. A.J. Pollock led off with a liner back up the middle which buzzed in for a double, then Jake Lamb and Paul Goldschmidt, as good a 3-4 punch as any lineup boasts, walked on 7 and 6 pitches, respectively. J.D. Martinez, until recently a Tiger, stepped in and hit an opposite field wallscraper on a four-seamer that snuck out over the heart of the plate. Feast on my agony:

4-0 Diamondbacks.

That turned out to be a pretty fateful swing, as it was the only scoring play of the game. Weaver shut down the bottom of the Snakes’ lineup, surrendering only a tough-luck single to Chris Iannetta in the process. In the 5th, Weaver faced the minimum, throwing ten pitches. He also threw one pickoff throw when Pollock got a little too cheeky and jumped for second before Weaver started his pitch.

Weaver was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the frame. His final line: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 very untimely dinger. It seems that Weaver’s greatest sin was allowing 2/5 his hits and both his walks to get bunched together all in a row, because this was a pretty solid outing by the numbers, and he looked very sharp for the most part. Welcome to the St. Louis chapter of the Memphis Redbirds, Luke.

Meanwhile, things on the other side of the ball were very quiet. The bottom of the 1st saw the Cardinals squander their first best shot at scoring against starter Zack Godley, as Tommy Pham and Paul DeJong’s back-to-back 1-out singles were nullified by Randal Grichuk’s grounding into a 5-3 double play. Greg Garcia singled up the middle to lead off the bottom of the 3rd, then advanced on a wild pitch, but Godley sat down Weaver, Carpenter, and Pham with his deep arsenal. Carson Kelly drew a 1-out, 4-pitch walk in the 5th, but it amounted to precisely nothing.

Matt Bowman pitched the 6th, retiring Goldschmidt, Martinez, and Chris Owings in order. In the bottom of the frame, the Cardinals threatened again, putting runners on first and second with one out after a Matt Carpenter single, a Tommy Pham FC 6-4, and a DeJong walk (of all things). But alas, Grichuk hit into a FC 4-6, and Harrison Bader reminded us that he’s still a AAA outfielder who struggles with plate discipline, swinging at three consecutive breaking balls outside the zone and waving at the last two of those.

John Brebbia allowed a single but made short work of the next three batsmen. Brebbia only threw 8 pitches in the frame. Godley carved through Kolten Wong, Kelly, and Garcia.

The 8th inning saw the brightest glimmer of something resembling fun for the Cardinals. A.J. Pollock led off with a single off Kevin Siegrist, then advanced to second on a Jake Lamb groundout. Pollock got a great jump on Siegrist to attempt stealing 3rd—he was more than halfway down the baseline when Kelly received the ball—but Kelly nailed him, doing his best Young Yadi impression:

I mean, just look at that pop time and the accuracy of the throw:

Pollock’s second out attempting to steal of the game, I’ll remind you, but you can’t help but feel a little bad for him there. And Kelly’s superb throw actually mattered, because Goldschmidt almost immediately singled, and Pollock couldn’t score because he was sitting in the dugout.

Godley finally came out, ending a stellar performance. His final line: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 7 K. Godley is quietly having a really good season — some have whispered the term “breakout” — and it certainly didn’t hurt him to be facing a lineup whose majority started the year in Memphis (no, really!) and Grichuk. Cribbing from Brooks but confirmed by tonight’s performance, his sinker generates a metric ton of groundballs compared to other pitchers’ sinkers, and his 12-6 curveball and cutter get a lot of swings and misses per capita. Add in a solid change and the repertoire is filthy.

Archie Bradley faced the minimum, as did Tyler Lyons. Paul DeJong started the bottom of the 9th with a single off of the ancient, volatile Fernando Rodney, but in a strange twist of events, Randal Grichuk and Harrison Bader struck out on 7 pitches, and Kolten Wong struck out, too. (To be fair to Randal and Harry, only one of their swings was at a pitch outside the zone — strike 3 to Grichuk — but on balance, the other 5 swings were at what appeared to be a moth near the strike zone around the times the other pitches were thrown.)

Diamondbacks win, 4-0. I know I foreshadowed this, but it bears repeating.

Something different tonight - a couple polls:

Poll

Which catchphrase is best for Carson Kelly gunning down base thieves?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    #CaughtByCarson
    (18 votes)
  • 23%
    #OhKellNo
    (64 votes)
  • 6%
    #Carjacked
    (18 votes)
  • 53%
    #MachineGunKelly
    (147 votes)
  • 10%
    Something Else Entirely
    (30 votes)
277 votes total Vote Now

Poll

With the deadline fast approaching, should we:

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Buy - I’m all in on this squad
    (15 votes)
  • 79%
    Soft Sell/Reload - We should profit from the market and reallocate resources to next year and beyond, without conceding the division entirely
    (270 votes)
  • 14%
    Hard Sell - Burn it all to the ground, I am angry and I don’t even care they all have NTCs
    (50 votes)
  • 1%
    Other
    (5 votes)
340 votes total Vote Now

P.S. The Cardinals mustered 5 hits tonight. That’s bad. Tomorrow night’s action starts at 7:15 Central, and promises another good pitching matchup between All-Star strikeout artist Robbie Ray and our own beloved, very resurgent Michael Wacha.