Both Mike Leake’s pitching and some shoddy infield defense ultimately put too much of a strain on the offense for the Cardinals to win this one. Despite a valiant effort and a few opportunities to tie it up, they came up short on their comeback attempt against the Marlins on Wednesday night. A lot of the blame can be rested on Leake’s shoulders, who was absolutely crushed by the Marlins offense.
Nothing out of the ordinary happened in the first to suggest this outing from Leake. He did give up a home run to Giancarlo Stanton, but.. come on. It’s Stanton. Better pitchers than Leake have failed to prevent him from staying in the park so giving up a home run to him is by no means something that is alarming.
The second inning was a true team effort in allowing the other team to score. Justin Bour hit a ball to Carpenter that was about as misplayed as a ball can get for the first error of the inning. Yes, first. After the Cardinals failed to complete a double play cause the ball got stuck in Dejong’s glove, Derek Deitrich hit it hard to the right side to put runners on the corner. Then JT Riddle hit a ball down the first base line that Luke Voit couldn’t handle. Error #2 of the inning. It was a probable double play ball cause he could have simply stepped on first cause he was already there and then threw him out at second. He then walked Dee Gordon to bring up Stanton, who homered on a 3-0 pitch. Like might as well walk him at that point Mike. Your stuff isn’t really good enough to come back from 3-0 against Stanton.
The Marlins weren’t done. In the third, Marcell Ozuna hit a bomb for a homer to make it 7-0 Marlins. Once again, runners got put on the corner, but this time they actually completed the double play to end the threat. Leake came back out of the 4th, allowed another run and left with runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. On the one hand, the defense let him down. On the other, he didn’t have it at all. Frankly, I think he’s very lucky to be walking away with only three earned runs with how he pitched. It is possible that, even if the defense had his back tonight, Leake would have lasted longer and given up those runs anyway. The Marlins were all over him.
The Cardinals offense to their credit didn’t give up. In the first two innings, the Cardinals only made walk-prone Edinson Volquez throw 17 pitches. But their bats came to life in the 3rd. Paul Dejong and Greg Garcia hit back-to-back singles to begin the inning. After Leake bunted them over, Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly to score the first run. Tommy Pham doubled home Garcia for the second and Stephen Piscotty singled home Pham for the third. Luke Voit worked an 8-pitch walk but the inning ended with Yadier Molina grounding out.
In the 4th, the Cardinals loaded the bases, at which point Jedd Gyorko pinch-hit for the pitcher. He hit a ball of moderately deep length towards right center for a sacrifice fly. Dan McLaughlin did the thing where he clearly thought it was going to be a homer, which may have made me mad except I never thought it was going to be a homer. If you’re wondering why I get mad when he does this, usually the process goes like this: ball hit in the outfield, don’t expect anything; Dan gets his excited home run call on; my spirits rise momentarily; it’s not even at the track; I fume with anger for falling for it again. I did not fall for this one. Carpenter flied out and Pham grounded out to end the rally. Honestly, only scoring one here is probably the difference. That was the end of Volquez day.
Luke Weaver came in and pitched two scoreless innings. He allowed a hit to Ichiro Suzuki, but then picked him off. Fun fact: Weaver is 20 years younger than Ichiro. In his second inning, he walked Stanton, but struck out both Gordon and Ozuna. Despite three scoreless innings to start his MLB season, Weaver hasn’t really been good enough to make me want to throw him in the rotation (4.60 xFIP) yet.
The Cardinals added more in the 6th and once again, had the opportunity to add more after that, but fell short. Jose Martinez walked, and after Dejong struck out, Don Mattingly put in lefty Jarlin Garcia to face Garcia. He struck him out, but it took him ten pitches. Randal Grichuk pinch-hit and walked, and Carpenter followed with a walk. Marlins again followed with a pitching change, this time Drew Steckenrider to face Pham. Pham doubled to score two. One a 3-2 count, Piscotty weakly grounded out to end the threat. You know a home run at some point would have been nice today.
The teams traded scoreless bullpen innings at this point. Matt Bowman let two runners on and needed 24 pitches, but got of the inning unscathed. Brett Cecil had an easier time, getting Gordon, Stanton, and Christian Yelich out, including a strikeout of Yelich. Meanwhile, the Marlins put out STL-born David Phelps and former Cards farm product Kyle Barraclough to pitch two scoreless.
Seung Hwan Oh gave up yet another homer when he came in, this one to Justin Bour on an absolutely awful curve - I think. Might as well have lobbed it in there for as good as that pitch was. He also gave up a line drive single to JT Realmuto and got out of the inning when Realmuto forgot that there was only one out so Pham easily doubled him off on a routine flyout.
Cardinals went quietly in the 9th, though it took AJ Ramos 11 pitches to finish off Voit. Granted, I know for a fact he swung at at least one ball when he had a 3-2 count on him so I don’t want to give him too much credit. I don’t mind Voit getting playing time while Wong is hurt, but this whole batting him 4th thing is really stupid. He has a ZiPS projected wRC+ of 93.
- Mike Leake final line: 3.2 IP, 9 hits, 8 runs (3 ER), 2 Ks, BB, 3 HRs - If you’re wondering why I said he was lucky to have only 3 ER, look no further than his 13.52 FIP for this game. Dropping from 3.63 to 3.96 in the middle of the season is not easy to do, but h managed it.
- Boy Carpenter sure is struggling. He managed to get on base once and hit a sacrifice fly so he’s not completely worthless, but with his defense, probably would want better offense from him than tonight.
- It’s hard to keep track of Molina constantly having a hitting streak, but if he had one, he doesn’t any longer. He went hitless. I swear he has some of the least impressive hitting streaks I’ve ever seen in my life. He seems to rarely have multi-hit games during them, doesn’t walk and it’s usually just singles.
- Scoring six runs and feeling like you should have scored more is a weird feeling, but when your #1, 3, 4 and 5 hitters go a combined 1 for 16 with a BB and sac fly, that’s what I’m feeling. Thank god for Pham I guess.
- Bullpen line: 5.1 IP, ER, 4 hits allowed, 5 K, 2 BBs, HR - Can’t really complain here except for a specific complaint about Oh, who can’t stop throwing at least one meatball every time he pitches. Honestly, no idea how Oh’s ERA is only 3.72.
- Thanks for making the game kind of interesting with how it started Cards!
Tomorrow the Cards try to even the series as Tom Koehler faces Michael Wacha. Koehler has been horrendous - like go look at his stats - but I’m guessing the game will be more determined by how Wacha pitches. It starts at 12:45 so hopefully you don’t have work tomorrow or can leave early - or just work and get that money.