I’m going to throw out a controversial take and I hope VEB is prepared for the backlash the following statement will incur: I like playing four-game series against bad teams. I know, I know. It’s a little out there, but I like winning. Winning four straight games against any team, even bad ones, is tough. The bad teams still end up having a winning percentage greater than zero percent after all.
Carlos Martinez had kind of a weird start. He started slowly, walking four batters in the first four innings. He got away with it, because he also struck out six guys. Most of the contact he allowed stayed on the ground as well. In the next three innings, he struck out 5 guys and the only baserunner was a hit by pitch with 2 outs in the 7th while he had over 100 pitches.
The first inning did not exactly suggest it would be a high K, high BB night. He struck out Billy Hamilton, but that’s not exactly difficult. He allowed a line drive double to Jose Peraza and then walked Joey Votto, but walking Joey Votto with a man on second perfectly describes the current Reds team, but without the man on second. He then got two back-to-back groundouts to end the mini-threat.
The Cardinals got on the board in the 2nd inning thanks to an old guy and a new guy. Yadier Molina singled with nobody on and then Harrison Bader drove both of them in with his first MLB homer of the year. In the bottom half, Tucker Barnhardt made Carlos throw seven pitches and got a walk for his troubles, but he struck out 8th place hitter Phillip Ervin and opposing starter Homer Bailey to work around that.
That’s right. Our old friend Homer Bailey stopped by and he was a lot better than he usually is against the Cards, which is to say “better than awful.” He cleared that bar. The Cardinals didn’t manage to score another run until the 7th inning. Jose Martinez doubled and Yadier Molina followed that with what should have been a double. Molina walked out of the box, I guess thinking he had hit a homer. Combine that with his speed, and he was easily gunned at 2nd base. Considering power hitter Greg Garcia walked immediately after, the Cardinals certainly could have scored more runs in that inning without the baserunning blunder.
In the 3rd, Martinez walked Peraza on five pitches. That was Peraza’s first walk of the year and he now has 55 plate appearances, so that’s not great. He ended up striking out Votto and Scooter Gennett so I think he made up for that. In the 4th, it looked like it was going to be a short outing for Martinez. He allowed a leadoff double to Adam Duvall and then walked Barnhart on four pitches. He was also at 64 pitches, so this game could have went a very different way.
But thankfully the appropriately named Alex Blandino broke his bat on the first pitch on a slow roller to 2nd for a double play and then he struck out Ervin on three pitches. Efficiency! In the 5th, Carlos struck out the side. In the 6th, another 1-2-3 inning include a strikeout of Gennett. In the 7th, he was very close to another 1-2-3 inning, but hit Ervin on a 3-2 count. Carlos has hit a batter in every game this year. Pinch-hitter Phil Gosselin struck out to end the inning.
The Reds made it interesting. Tyler Lyons was facing Hamilton, so you can forgive him if he threw too much a meatball. This time, Hamilton deposited it into the stands for a solo home run. Peraza got on base from a throwing error from Kolten Wong. It wasn’t a particularly great throw, but Jose Martinez seems to have an aversion to stretching as he came off the bag immediately to go get the throw. Thankfully, Joey Votto is in a very bad slump right now, because he grounded into a double play to ruin that threat.
The 9th was a little stressful as well. Adam Duvall hit a leadoff homer to bring the score to 3-2. Barnhart reached base on a bunt “single” from a poor throw by Garcia and Martinez just not knowing how to play 1B. An actual 1B would have saved Garcia’s throw and it would be an out. So an error on Garcia there is kind of harsh. There was a brief scare when Martinez held his wrist after getting hit in the hand by the runner, but he stayed in the game so I guess he’s fine. Then Bud Norris did what Bud Norris apparently does now. He struck out Blandino, Ervin, and after hitting pinch-hitter Devin Mesoraco got hit, he got Hamilton to line out to left. To my untrained eyes, that’s a single if the outfielders are playing normal alignment but they played pretty in for Hamilton. That’s what we call a sweep.
- Martinez line: 7 IP, 11 Ks, 4 BBs, 2 H - I will take that
- The game was delayed for a couple hours. The game was supposed to start at 12:10 and ended up actually starting at 2:45. Six other games got postponed so I’m glad we got to see a game today.
- The Cardinals made three outs on the basepaths today. Molina got gunned down on a sure double, and both Tommy Pham and Bader got thrown out trying to steal.
- Jose Martinez really can’t play 1B. You got to stick him somewhere and our OF situation is kind of tight, but wow. He’s probably about as bad as you can get defensively. I can’t wait until we get to face some AL teams, because it will be great not having to watch him field.
- The HBP by Mesoraco clearly hit the knob of the bat and the Cardinals challenged it, but they did not overturn it because well that’s just sort of how it works now. With zero repercussions for bad calls, nothing will change.
- In things I do not understand, Matheny made a double switch again when he didn’t need to make it. He put Paul DeJong in as a defensive replacement for Carpenter (why are we not taking Martinez out for defensive reasons and putting Carpenter at 1B?). Instead of just putting DeJong in the 3 spot, he put the pitcher’s spot there and DeJong at 9. It didn’t hurt anything, and we probably weren’t going to go deep into extras to the point where an actual pitcher would have needed to pinch-hit for the pitcher, but it’s just one of those pointless things to me, because we’d probably use another double switch in extras so that the 3 spot won’t be the pitcher’s spot. /End rant.
Tomorrow the Cardinals start a brand new series against the Cubs. Adam Wainwright will be facing Tyler Chatwood in Chicago. I’m not particularly optimistic about Wainwright in Wrigley, but if I were a Cubs fan, I wouldn’t be particularly optimistic about Chatwood in Wrigley either. So it could go either way. It’s an early game, probably because it will be on ESPN. 6:00 start time. So be prepared for that or you’ll miss about three innings.