Besides starting a season long narrative that will enrage Cardinals haters and delight Cardinals fans, the Cardinals won an important baseball game. The Reds won, but everyone else in the NL Central lost, thus gaining a game on everyone who matters. You've got to be kitten me with this team. (My last one I promise)
The game did not start well, but that's no problem for this current version of the Cardinals offense, which may or may not be related to the opposing pitching. Mike Leake was not terrible, but the Royals had his number. They got 11 hits, including four in the 1st inning. Single, double, single, single before an out occurred. Well, sort of. New Royal Melky Cabrera went for a double on that last single and got thrown out at 2nd. That proved important when they stranded the runner at 3rd to end the top frame.
Despite two walks and a swinging bunt hit, the Cardinals did not score in the bottom frame thanks to a double play ball by Paul Dejong. DeJong had a rough game. Whit Merrifield led off the game with a hit towards DeJong that he could not handle and it arguably should have been an error. In the top of the 2nd, with men on the corners and 2 outs, Cain attempted to steal. Molina threw an inaccurate throw that DeJong whiffed allowing the man on third to score. No errors. The error stat is a joke.
The Cardinals shortened the lead in the 2nd with a one-out walk by Kolten Wong and an infield single by Randal Grichuk. The Cards got their first run from Wong's speed. He stole second with Grichuk up and scored on Leake's bunt. He was only safe because of an excellent slide. Carpenter added the 2nd run by driving in Grichuk with a single.
The Cardinals tied it up in the 3rd with a leadoff walk by Dexter Fowler, a stolen base by Fowler, and a single by Jedd Gyorko to drive him in. The stolen bases were well-timed as both came during off-speed pitches. In the 4th, Jose Martinez hit a no doubter, line drive bullet to dead center for a home run.
Leake gave it back up in the 5th. Eric Hosmer led off with a hard hit single. Cabrera hit a 400 foot home run to give the Royals the 5-4 lead. Mike Moustakas then hit a line drive single right after. Mike Matheny had nobody warming up at this point and we were stuck with Leake. Thankfully, there’s really not much there after Moustakas in that Royals lineup. Not Emilio Bonifacio flew out and not the secret third brother of Oasis grounded into a double play to end Leake’s night. (That’s Jorge Bonifacio and Cam Gallagher for people who are confused.)
And then the glorious 6th inning. Greg Garcia got fooled on a pitch out of the strike zone with two strikes, but was able to bloop it over the infielders heads for a leadoff single. Matt Carpenter worked a nine-pitch walk to put runners on 1st and 2nd. Brandon Maurer faced two batters, didn’t get either batter out. Good job trade deadline acquisition. He was replaced by Peter Moylan. Moylan is basically a ROOGY, a guy who is good against righties and who is... not against lefties. (Lefties have a .366 career wOBA him.) . I mention that because it’ll come up later.
He struck out Paul Dejong, who continued his rough night. Dexter Fowler came up and got intentionally walked because he would bat left-handed against Moylan and .366 career wOBA. That brought up Yadier Molina, who had been hitless to this point. He took ball one. Then a kitten ran onto the field. Literally. He ran from the left field foul line all the way to center field. This was about as adorable as kittens get. A poor field worker went to go get him, grabbed him, and got bitten for his troubles on his run back. The crowd was absolutely bonkers. Then Yadier Molina got a pitch right down the middle and crushed the ever living shit out of it for a grand slam. I’m sure, since you do not live under a rock, you have already seen this. It was awesome. Then he received two curtain calls. Suck it curtain call haters.
That was pretty much the game right there. Nobody else scored afterwards. Zach Duke pitched a 1-2-3 7th, Seung Hwan Oh allowed a single and got two batters out with Tyler Lyons finishing the inning, and Trevor Rosenthal had an easy ninth. The cat rally is born. God everyone’s going to hate us. I love it.
- Leake line: 5 IP, 11 hits, 5 Ks, BB, 5 R (4 ER), HR - He somehow had a 2.45 xFIP for this game. Well not somehow. He allowed a total of two flyballs and one of them left the park. The problem was that he allowed a lot of line drives today.
- I don’t want to pile on the guy, but everyone but DeJong got a hit. DeJong did get robbed on one of his hits to be fair. Speaking of robbed, Leake came up with the bases loaded in the 3rd and hit it up the middle. Merrifield made a diving stop and they were able to convert it into a double play. Tip of the cap.
- Speaking of Merrifield, the Cards could not get him out. He got four hits in his first four plate appearances and then Rosenthal struck him out on three pitches.
- The difference maker of the game? Cards pitchers struck out nine batters and walked one. Royals pitchers struck out seven batters, but walked seven. That’s right SEVEN walks. Carpenter walked twice, Fowler three times (one IBB), and Wong twice.
- Sorry for the late recap. I WAS THERE! IT WAS AWESOME!
Tomorrow the Cardinals go for the four-game sweep. Yes, I consider all four games to be one series despite splitting it between two different locations. It’s Lance Lynn versus Jason Hammel. Baseball is baseball, but you got to like the Cardinals with that matchup.