The Cardinals and Reds played the second game of their four-game set tonight, and the Cardinals won again. It wasn’t as easy as last night’s game, though it could have and maybe should have been, but the win still counts the same. Luke Weaver is really good. Yadier Molina is killing the ball and it’s kind of wild. Greg Holland is... no longer established? Let’s review.
I’m cutting this section, you know what. Back when I first started writing these, Mike Matheny had a tendency to rejigger the lineup every single night, which provided ample ammunition for being know-it-all fans who would have lined the guys up differently. That’s been blissfully absent this year — I’m so happy that we can all spare ourselves the daily kvetching about stuff that barely matters — as Matheny has pretty much run the same lineup (at least the 1-6) out there daily, other than when regulars rest.
So, forget about the lineup. It’s what it usually is, and with Luke Weaver taking his turn to pitch. Joey Votto was back in there for the Reds, who started young righty Tyler Mahle.
Weaver is still probably a bit of a secret to the non-fantasy-baseball-playing general baseball public at this point, but it seems safe to say that all but the most casual of Cards fans are now fully in the know: Luke Weaver is very good, and maybe VERY good. He walked Billy Hamilton to lead off the bottom of the 1st, which was the second straight night the Cards’ starter did that. But he then proceeded to get everybody out until the fifth inning, when the Reds finally recorded their first hit off him — an infield single. He struck guys out, didn’t walk guys, generally didn’t yield hard contact, and I really love watching him pitch.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals offense took a while to get going against Mahle, with only another Yadi homer (his fifth already, and of the solo variety) getting them on the scoreboard through the 5th. This was more than a little frustrating, as in the 5th they loaded the bases with nobody out, and managed nothing — Kolten Wong popped out and Weaver grounded into a double play.
They broke through in the 6th, though. Leadoff hitter Dexter Fowler happened to lead off that inning, and did it with a towering homer that barely cleared the wall. A sequence of single-double-RBI single-groundout-RBI single followed, and when the dust cleared the lead was up to 5-0 and Mahle was out of the game. The Cardinals ended up batting around.
Weaver kept the Reds off the board until the 7th, which he entered with a pitch count creeping past 90. With the team up 5-0, it was perfectly fine for Matheny to leave him in to try to absorb one more inning there — the worst case scenario was what, he doesn’t get an out and gives up a homer? In fact, that’s exactly what happened: the leadoff man singled and Devin Mesoraco hit a homer. But five runs is a very big lead, and three is still a big lead — the Cards’ win expectancy was 96% entering the inning and still 87% after the two-run homer. All in all, this was fine.
Weaver’s final line was 6 IP, 7 K, 1 BB, 1 HR, 4 H, 2 R, 2 times being demonstratively upset at himself for missing fat pitches while batting. Kid’s gonna be something if his arm holds up.
So it was up to the Cardinal bullpen, and they were up to the task. Matt Bowman pitched a scoreless frame. Tyler Lyons didn’t, as the Reds got one run off him — but Joey Votto was the reason they did, and it’s just churlish to be mad at a guy for Votto getting a hit off him. Dominic Leone cleaned up after Lyons by picking Votto off first, which was a fun way to have a one-out appearance.
Bud Norris pitched the 9th, because I guess they aren’t confident in their $14 million proven closer right now, two weeks after signing him. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Norris got the job done. He did allow a couple of baserunners, via a bloop and a walk, so there was some tension at the end. But he struck out the other three guys he faced, so all in all it was a good outing for Fireman Bud.
Cards win, 5-3. Early game tomorrow.
- Earlier this year I wrote something about how the Cards could surpass their projections and win the NL Central. Yadier Molina hitting 25 homers and having like a four-WAR year was not among the things I considered, and for that, I accept Yadi’s scorn.
- Remember when Yadi hit four homers in all of 2015 and we thought he was just done hitting them?
- Here’s the first edition of a series I’m calling “Luke Weaver is actually better than Yu Darvish” — though three starts each, Luke Weaver has been clearly better than Yu Darvish. That concludes this entry.
- LOL Yadi has five homers already