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Cardinals survive a meltdown in Pittsburgh

Martinez handled the Pirates for 7 strong innings, the offense exploded for 11 runs, and the bullpen tried to undo it all.

St. Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images



1st Inning

Matt Carpenter started the game off by battling Trevor Williams for 7 pitches before being rung up on a fastball a couple inches off the outside edge. But Tommy Pham avenged his teammate with an opposite-field blast over the 21-ft high wall in RF. Williams recovered to strike out DeJong and get Fowler to line out to 2B. The Cardinals worked Williams for 20 pitches. 1-0 Cardinals.

The Pirates parroted the Cardinals half inning. Starling Marte led off by battling Carlos Martinez to a full count, but eventually struck out chasing a slider low-and-away. But Josh Harrison picked up his lead-off hitter with an opposite-field home run of his own. Paul DeJong picked up his pitcher with an incredible, do-or-die play to retire McCutchen on a softly-hit grounder past Martinez, and then Bell flew out to LF. Martinez required 18 pitches to navigate the 1st. 1-1 Tie game.

2nd Inning

The Cardinals picked Martinez up. Yadier Molina led off the 2nd with a double that one-hopped the wall in RF. After Gyorko grounded out to 3B, Randal Grichuk managed a walk, and Greg Garcia worked a 3-1 count and lifted an RBI single to LCF. With runners on the corners, Martinez dropped 2 bunts foul before striking out, but Carpenter bailed him out with a towering, 3-run HR to RCF. Williams was suddenly at 49 pitches. 5-1 Cardinals.

David Freese welcomed Carlos back to the mound with another opposite-field home run. Adam Frazier followed with a clean single to LF, and it was clear Carlos was fighting through some stuff. But after Diaz grounded out to 3B and Mercer walked, Carlos’ counterpart dropped an awful bunt right back to Martinez, who fired to Gyorko at 3B to start a 1-5-3 double play. Carlos was at 33 pitches. 5-2 Cardinals.

3rd Inning

The Cardinals would not be the first to blink in this burgeoning slug-fest. Paul DeJong led off with a bomb to dead CF to make this game officially Serious. Fowler followed with a walk, but Molina grounded into a 5-4-3 double play and Gyorko flew out softly to RF. Williams was looking rough, now at 64 pitches. 6-2 Cardinals.

Carlos finally held the Pirates at bay in the 3rd, against the top of the lineup no less. He would get Marte to ground out to 3B, Harrison to strike out on 3 pitches, and McCutchen to fly out to CF. He was at 43 pitches.

4th Inning

Grichuk led off the 4th by chopping a low, 3-1 fastball down the 3B line. Freese let it roll thinking it may roll foul, but it did not and Grichuk was safe with a single. Garcia worked a full count and singled to the same spot in LCF he did he last time up, advancing Grichuk to 3B, and knocking Williams from the game. LHP Steven Brault relieved. Carlos Martinez, fresh off a couple failed bunt attempts in his last PA, immediately executed a successful squeeze bunt that scored Grichuk and put runners on 1B & 2B. After Carpenter worked a walk, Pham drove in a run with a ground out to 3B. DeJong then popped out to short RF & Fowler grounded out on a comebacker. 8-2 Cardinals.

Carlos recorded his second straight clean inning in the 4th. He Bell & Freese to ground out to SS, and Frazier to fly out to LF. The inning required just 7 pitches, upping his total to just 50.

5th Inning

The Cardinals were finally held scoreless in the 5th. Brault struck out Molina, got Gyorko to ground out to SS and, after Grichuk singled to LF, got Garcia to fly out to CF.

The Pirates got back to Carlos in the 5th. After Diaz grounded out to 1B, Mercer singled to CF, and Brault lined out to LF, Starling Marte socked an RBI triple off the wall in RF. After Harrison grounded out to 3B , Carlos was at 76 pitches. 8-3 Cardinals.

6th Inning

Carlos Martinez tried to help himself with a lead off double down the LF line. Carpenter flew out to RF (advancing Carlos to 3B), and Pham grounded out to 3B, but Paul DeJong finally cashed the Cardinal pitcher in with a clean, RBI single up the middle, and Dexter Fowler crushed an RBI double off the wall in dead CF to tack on another. 10-3 Cardinals.

Carlos got back on track in the 6th. McCutchen grounded out to 3B, Bell lined out to short CF (which required a slick, sliding catch by Fowler to convert into an out,) and Freese struck out chasing a fastball away and out of the zone. He was now at 88 pitches.

7th Inning

The Cardinals went in order in the 7th. Gyorko grounded out to SS to start the 7th before David Freese robbed Grichuk of a single with a diving stop on a scorched line to the Cardinal hero’s left. Garcia flew out to RF to end the frame.

Martinez retired Frazier on a ground out to new first baseman Luke Voit, and struck out Diaz on a check-swing at a change-up. After Mercer singled up the middle, Jaso also grounded out to Voit. Martinez was now at 99 pitches, and his evening was through.

8th Inning

Daniel Hudson relieved Brault. Pinch hitter Carson Kelly & Luke Voit put the Cardinals in a hole to start the frame with a flyout to deep RCF & strikout, but Pham walked, DeJong singled to CF, and Jose Martinez singled to CF to score another run. 11-3 Cardinals.

Mike Mayers relieved, pitching to Kelly, and boy this was a doozy. Granted an 8-run lead, the over-matched rookie proceeded to serve up the following sequence:

  • Single by Starling Marte
  • HR by Max Moroff
  • Walk by Sean Rodriguez
  • Double by Josh Bell
  • K by David Freese
  • Reached-on-error by Frazier (drop by Martinez)
  • Double by Elias Diaz (thrown out advancing to 3B)

With the lead shaved from 8 to 3, Matheny finally pulled the plug and tapped another embattled reliever: Brett Cecil. But the southpaw rewarded his manager by inducing a line-out to RF by Mercer.

9th Inning

A.J. Schugel relieved Hudson. He retired Good, Guy, & Greg in order: pop out to RCF by Gyorko, ground out to SS by Grichuk, and ground out to 2B by Garcia.

With the blowout suddenly becoming a save situation, Matheny tapped Matt Bowman to close this game out. The middle reliever promptly got Jose Osuna to line out to RF, but then surrendered consecutive walks to Marte and Moroff before plunking Rodriguez to load the bases. Matheny suddenly decided Bowman wasn’t getting it done, and opted for Zach Duke, who proceeded to walk Bell and force in a run. Matheny then tapped Seung Hwan Oh to face David Freese, who socked a sac fly to the track in dead CF to bring the deficit to 1. After Matheny intentionally walked Frazier to reload the bases, Oh battled Elias Diaz for 6 pitches, required Carson Kelly to save a couple pitches the dirt, and finally unfurled a wicked slider to fool the Pirate backup catcher and end the game with a K. Cardinals win 11-10.

Final Lines

Carlos Martinez: 7.0IP, 3ER, 6H, 4K, 1BB, 2HR, 51 GSc

Trevor Williams: 3.0IP, 8ER, 7H, 3K, 2BB, 3HR, 1 GSc


  • Kolten Wong was a late scratch after experiencing some discomfort in his hip. Grichuk slid up a spot in the order and Greg Garcia took his place.
  • Trevor Williams had allowed just 7 HRs, 2nd fewest in MLB, in 18 starts prior to tonight (to Puig, Chris Taylor, Ahmed, Dietrich, Realmuto, Rizzo, & Arenado.)
  • The Pirates were the only team Mike Mayers had held scoreless thus far in his career.
  • Mayers threw 33 pitches, allowed 5 runs, and recorded 2 outs (1 of which came via TOOTBLAN.)
  • The Cardinals have 39 men on the 40-man roster. The 14 occupying roster limbo are Rosenthal, Wainwright, Siegrist, Gant, Gilmartin, Wick, Alvarez, Aledmys, Mejia, Sosa, Valera, Bader, Piscotty, and Sierra.
  • Alternate choices to today’s Mayers call-up were Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, Mark Montgomery, Josh Lucas, Ryan Sherriff, Ryan Helsley, Zac Gallen, and Chris Carpenter.
  • In Pittsburgh on 7/12/08, the Cardinals blew a 10-4 lead in the 8th inning, surrendering 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th, 4 runs in the bottom of the 9th, scoring a go-ahead run in the 10th, and then surrendering a 2-run, walk-off home run to Jason Michaels in the bottom half. Consult your VEB oldie of choice to decipher what T.E.S.S. stands for.


  • Jenifer Langosch reported at 9:53pm that Mike Mayers was optioned to Memphis. The game ended at 9:30pm.