7 pitches into the game, Tommy Pham almost saved a 2-run home run off the bat of Josh Harrison. Almost. Unfortunately, Pham came up a bit short. Adam Wainwright started off the game with the noticeable dip in velocity that has plagued his last few starts - only touching 85+ on his last pitch of the inning. Nevertheless, he managed to get out of the inning only allowing the 2 runs to score.
As though the ball had a magnetic attraction to that exact spot, Jedd Gyorko would hit an identical home run in the 2nd inning - same location, same depth (346 feet), same close but ultimately futile attempt at reeling the ball back in (this time by Starling Marte).
While Wainwright would manage to avoid any damage in the 2nd inning, the Pirates would add three more in the 3rd with RBI singles by Josh Bell, David Freese, and Adam Frazier.
The Cardinals would get a run back in the 4th by a Kolten Wong single to score Dexter Fowler. Fun fact (no, I swear it’s actually fun this time): Kolten Wong’s career OPS is .706. His career OPS against the Pirates is .811.
Luke Weaver took over pitching duties in the 4th for the obviously off Wainwright.
For the second straight start, Wainwright did not hit 90 mph on radar gun. Since coming off the DL: 11 IP, 15 H, 9 R, 9 BB, 1 K. #stlcards— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) August 18, 2017
After Weaver gave up a single to Chris Stewart, he induced a phenomenal double play: Jameson Taillon’s bunt came right back to Weaver, who turned it to Paul DeJong, who made a fantastic catch and throw to a stretching Kolten Wong. A+ effort all around.
With the rain POURING down in the 5th inning, Taillon walked Matt Carpenter and Tommy Pham, both of whom would come around to score on hits by DeJong and Dexter Fowler. Borderline TOOTBLAN alert: DeJong was thrown out attempting to stretch his single off the wall to a double. Slickness of the field, favorable carom of the wall were extenuating factors, but DeJong pausing at the plate to see if the ball was fair tilts it into TOOTBLAN territory.
Rain delay! The exciting time where we get to hear Jim Edmonds stumble through awkwardly-worded paeans about “two guys really going after balls”.
Upon return to the game, Sam Tuivailala would pitch the 6th inning, working his way out of a bases loaded jam with no additional damage done.
To start the 7th Matt Carpenter had a long out to center field, followed by a Pham single. Next batter Paul DeJong did his best Jon Jay impression and stood still, barely turning away for a HBP. Dexter Fowler fell into a 0-2 hole against Benoit before taking the next 2 pitches for balls. PNC was pretty empty at this point as Benoit checked Pham at second twice in a row without throwing the ball. Dex took the next pitch in roughly the same spot as the other two before lining a ball into right field, scoring the two good guys on base and landing himself on third just beating the throw from Pitt’s RF.
Frazier appeared to have some trouble dealing with the carom from the short wall in foul territory, and while the throw beat Fowler he slid to the outside part of the base while Freese was slow on the tag. Benoit almost hit Yadi on the first pitch and then fell behind 2-0 before Molina fouled a ball out of the stadium. On the next pitch he drove the ball up the middle for a single scoring Our Hero Dexter Fowler. Benoit’s night was done and Hurdle signaled for Daniel Hudson to face Gyorko. Jedd fought his way to 2-2 before waving futilely at a slider down and away. Kolten Wong at the plate, Hudson bounced a pitch at Wong’s feet for a 2-1 count and a move to second for Molina. Wong took another strike before grounding softly to second. Cards up 7-5.
Tui stayed in to pitch to the Cutch, who bounced the ball off of the wall in right center for a double to lead off the bottom of the 7th. Sam walked next batter Josh Bell on 4 pitches and Matheny finally brought the hook out. Tuivalala’s night was over having thrown 32 pitches, not quite reaching his season high from Memphis of 35 pitches.
Matt Bowman relieved Tui, facing off against 2011 hero David Freese. The Rule 5 draftee got Freese swinging on his 4th pitch before fielding a soft grounder on the next batter to get the out at first while the runners advanced. 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs with Jordy Mercer up. Mercer chopped a 2-2 pitch right back to Bowman who fielded the ball cleanly for an easy out to first and an end to the threat. Good guys lead 7-5.
Daniel Hudson stayed in for Pittsburgh as Randy the Grich led off the top of the 8th with a quick groundball out and Jose Martinez came in to pinch hit. Jose fell behind 0-2 then took the next 3 pitches for a full count. After fouling the next pitch off he hit a sharp ground ball to Mercer for an easy out at first. Carpenter went 2-1 before grounding to, you guessed it, Jorder Mercer. Cards go 1-2-3.
Tyler Blue Eyeons came in for the bottom of the 8th to face Jose Osuna. JEDDDDDDDDDDDDD nabbed a liner at 3rd for the first out. Elias Diaz was up next, who went 2-1 before hitting a foul ball that Grichuk couldn’t quite get to. Diaz drove the next pitch to center for a single and the tying run came to the plate in the form of one Starling Marte. Marte hit a quick grounder to Gyorko at 3rd, who promptly threw to Wong at 2nd, and with a bullet over to Carpenter the Cardinals turned their 4th double play of the night (!).
Hurdle brought Wade LeBlanc in to start the 9th against Tommy MVPham who crushed the second pitch for a questionably fair but towering home run onto the ramps of the left field terrace at PNC Park. Hurdle asked for a review and after a short look the ball was ruled fair. Tommy had his 15th home run on his abbreviated season and the Cardinals now led 8-5. Paul DeJong came up next, grounding the 4th pitch of the AB with a soft roller that went foul on the first base side less than halfway between first base and the plate while he sprinted out of the box. He had a loud out straight to McCutchen in center field on the next pitch.
Fowler dug in next and lined the third pitch into the upper stands about 10 feet into RF fowl territory before working a full count walk. Yadi came up next and struck out swinging on a breaking 2-2 pitch. Next up, Dr. Jeddyl hit a broken bat single to shallow center and Fowler advanced to third. Distinguished curmudgeon Al Hrabosky noted with gravelly approval that this was JEDDDDDDDDD’s 9th 3-hit night of the season. Wong took a fast grounder just past the shortstop to drive in our man Dex and it was then 9-5, runners 1st and 2nd with 2 out. Randy came up to face the struggling LeBlanc and drove the ball all the way deep off the left center bullpen wall for a triple, scoring the two men on base and eliciting a series of woeful Ric Flair “WOOOOO”s from the Pittsburgh stands. Double G (Greg Garcia) pinch hit next, and the WOOs were very very audible in the mostly empty ballpark. GG worked a full count walk. Hurdle would elect to let LeBlanc clean up his own mess and LeBlanc stayed in to face Carpenter for the 9th batter of the inning. Pittsburgh fans decided to add to the random noises you can hear in their ballpark when it is empty and supplemented Ric Flair WOOs with vuvuzelas, because why the hell not? The magic worked as Carpenter mercifully broke his bat with a soft ground ball right to first baseman Josh Bell. 11-5 Cardinals.
Seung Hwan Oh came in to pitch the 9th (already warmed up from when the Cardinals were only leading by 2 runs). The Ric Flair WOOs and vuvuzelas continued unabated. Harrison was up first, taking a blooper past Paul DeJong in the shallow outfield for a leadoff single. McCutchen came up and fell behind 0-2 before hitting single up the middle to make it 1st and 2nd with no outs for Bell. Your friendly neighborhood recapper started getting a little uneasy at this point. Bell fouled off a couple of pitches and then popped one up near the Cardinals dugout for an easy catch in foul territory by Gyorko. David Freese up next hit one close to where Fowler’s fowl ball was earlier before hitting a long double off the wall that Fowler could not quite glove as he jumped in front of the bullpen. 11-6 and heart rate going up. Oh hit the next batter, Adam Frazier, on the second pitch and I wondered whether Mike Matheny was going to phone the bullpen. He did not. Jordy Mercer then fouled the second pitch of his appearance STRAIGHT INTO YADIER MOLINA’S GROIN. After some dancing around like you would probably do post-curling-up-in-the-fetal-position Molina appeared to be okay and Mercer grounded to a fielder’s choice at Paul DeJong. A run scored (because you know, bases loaded) and it was now 1st and 3rd, 2 outs, 11-7 Cardinals. Vuvuzelas were going strong as Osuna went down 2-2 before popping up to Randy the Grich in shallow right field. WHEW!
Good guys win, 11-7.
The Cardinals end today 1 1⁄2 games back of the Cubs and 1⁄2 of a game behind the Brewers, who both finished playing earlier today.
As Danny Mac noted during the broadcast Pham’s home run in the top of the 9th brought him up to 15 HRs and 15 SBs on the season, making him the first Cardinals since one Albert Pujols in 2009 to accomplish such a feat. With a month and a half left of the season he has a great shot of going 20-20 this year. We love you Tommy!
Cards and Pirates face off again tomorrow in game 2 of the 4 game set. 6:05 Central Time.