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Cards narrowly escape Reds in 4-3 win

The Cardinals almost blew a surefire win with some questionable bullpen decisions

Cincinnati Reds v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Despite Mike Matheny and the bullpen’s best efforts, the Cardinals won yet another game against the Reds. This one was closer than it should have been. Nonetheless, it is hard to complain about a win. I know some day this year the Cardinals are going to lose against the Reds, but if the Cardinals could put that off for as long as possible, that would be lovely.

Carlos Martinez pitched fantastic. He had three walks on the day, but that sort of implies less control than he actually had. Jesse Winker hit an infield single to lead off the game, and then Jose Peraza bunted him over to 2nd. Guys, I don’t think Jim Riggleman is going to be much of an improvement over Bryan Price. Predictably, Carlos walked Joey Votto with a base open. Despite Votto’s struggles, he’s still Joey Votto. Martinez then struck out both Scooter Gennett and Adam Duvall to end the threat that wasn’t.

In the bottom of the inning, Yadier Molina singled with a man on first and then stole second! Jose Martinez grounded out to short, keeping Molina at 2nd. With Marcell Ozuna up, Molina thought he could advance to 3rd on a wild pitch, but he’s still has the speed of Yadier Molina unfortunately and got thrown out.

Carlos had an easy 1-2-3 2nd inning with two groundouts and a strikeout. In the bottom of the inning, Ozuna hit an infield single and DeJong hit a 2-run homer. DeJong was not fooled by Homer Bailey this afternoon. In the 3rd, Peraza got hit by a pitch with 2 outs and Carlos once again walked Votto. He struck out Gennett looking to end the inning. Molina walked for the 3rd time this year, but nothing else happened in the bottom of the inning.

Martinez struck out two of the three batters he faced in the 4th in a 1-2-3 inning. The Cardinals had something going in the bottom of the inning, but were thwarted by being in the National League. DeJong hit a one-out double and was advanced to 3rd on a groundout by Kolten Wong. The Reds then gave Harrison Bader a free base and Carlos struck out to end the threat.

In the 5th, the Reds threatened again. Blandino led off with a single and advanced to second a sacrifice bunt by Bailey. Winker made Carlos throw 8 pitches to walk him to put runners at 1st and 2nd. With Votto on deck, Peraza grounded into a surefire double play. But Wong thought there were 2 outs. Carpenter fielded the groundball, threw it to Wong, who hesitated enough to allow Peraza to be safe at 1st. Votto swung at the first pitch and flew out to deep center. The Cardinals threatened in the bottom of the inning with Matt Carpenter hitting a leadoff double (in an 8-pitch PA that started 1-2), but Jose had an uncharacteristically off night at the plate, striking out looking with Carpenter at 3rd.

The Reds threatened in the 6th. Gennett led off with a single. Duvall worked the count to a 3-2 count and on the 7th pitch, he hit a blooper between 2nd base and right field. Wong made up for his miscue earlier in the game by somehow reaching the ball, catching it, and then making an accurate throw to 1st for an easy double play ball. He finished his night by striking out Scott Schebler. He had 91 pitches.

He finished his night because of what transpired on the Cardinals side of the inning. Dexter Fowler looked at a ball then saw a pitch he liked and deposited into the Cardinals bullpen, slightly over Winker’s glove. With two outs, Bader reached base on an error by the appropriately named Blandino, bringing Carlos spot to the plate. Riggleman took Bailey out and brought in lefty Amir Garrett. Mike countered with the recently promoted Tyler O’Neil, who grounded out.

Luke Gregerson replaced Carlos and he pitched well. He faced three hitters and he got three groundballs. Unfortunately, with two outs, one of them was a single that got through the hole and that tends to happen. With lefty Winker up, Mike brought in Tyler Lyons, which sounds like a good idea in theory, but Lyons threw 17 pitches last night. Winker is a better hitter than Tucker Barnhart, but Gregerson got a slow roller from Barnhart and lefties have a .290 wOBA against Gregerson throughout his career. That’s probably better than a Lyons on zero days of rest.

It was definitely better than Lyons today. Lyons fell behind on Winker and allowed a single. He fell behind on Peraza and allowed a single and a run. He fell behind on Votto 3-0, ended up making Votto work for the walk, but walked him anyway on his 7th pitch. With 15 pitches - coming off a 17 pitch outing - having gotten nobody out and having fallen behind at least 2-0 on every batter he faced, he kept him in the game to face Gennett. Surprise surprise, Gennett singled home two runs to tie the game. He finally brought in Jordan Hicks, much too late, who got a flyout on the first pitch.

With the game tied, Molina hit his 6th homer of the season on April 21st, which is equal to or better than six other seasons in Molina’s career. It’s April 21st. Hicks had a very quick 8th inning. He hit Schebler on the 2nd pitch, got a double play from Barnhart on the first pitch, and then got Blandino to ground out on a 2-0 count. In total, he had thrown 7 pitches, which would explain why he got brought back out for the 9th with 1.1 IP under his belt.

The 9th was stressful. He got a pop up from Phillip Ervin, but things went downhill from there. He walked Winker, which you’ll hear a lot of that for the next few years Cards fans. Winker walks a lot. It’s going to be annoying. Peraza got BARELY hit by a pitch. I’m not suggesting he shouldn’t have been awarded first base, but ugh. He got to 0-2 on Votto and then threw four straight pitches that were pretty close but not quite strikes. The 3-2 ball was the closest and could have gone either way. With 1 out and 24 pitches, Mike elected to stick with Hicks. The decision paid off when Gennett grounded into a game-ending double play ball. Whew. Love avoiding bad losses.


  • Martinez line: 6 IP, 7 Ks, 3 BBs, 3 H - He could have pitched the 7th, but it’s fine that he didn’t. O’Neill against a lefty has some potential and we wouldn’t even be debating this if Lyons didn’t immediately blow a 3-run lead.
  • DeJong didn’t strike out today. Not once. He went 2-4 with a HR and a 2B. This is his third game of the year he hasn’t struck out and his K% is finally under 40%. He has a 131 wRC+ so I’m not even complaining, but he remains a mystery to me.
  • Bader making a strong case to get O’Neill sent back down. He’s basically earning every start that isn’t given to one of the top three starters and I don’t see Mike starting O’Neill anytime soon so might as well send him down where he’ll play.
  • Yadier Molina O/U 30 homers: I’m only kind of joking.
  • I’m not concerned yet, but Hicks now has more walks than strikeouts and has a K% that even Seth Maness would side eye.
  • Gregerson has looked really good so far! He has a 6.75 ERA now, which is even more unfair than Carlos not getting the win tonight (which would be more unfair if wins were a good stat), but he’s gotten a groundball from every hitter he’s faced, which is only four hitters to be fair.

Tomorrow, the Cardinals go for the sweep and try to turn 7-0 against the hapless Reds. This one will be tougher because the Cards face a good pitcher. Luis Castillo, their hotshot pitching prospect, faces Miles Mikolas, our hotshot two-way player from Japan’s baseball league.