This is one of those annoying losses. Sometimes, the difference between the playoffs and not the playoffs is squeaking out victories when you probably shouldn’t have won and avoiding losses where you probably should have won. The Cardinals probably should have won tonight. Have enough of these games and you’re out of the playoffs. It’s especially frustrating against the Mets, a team that will fight for the wild card with the Cards (in all likelihood).
Luke Weaver didn’t have it tonight. Sometimes, when I say something like that, it might be a debatable point. I’d be hard pressed to find someone who disagreed with that first statement tonight however. The first inning was but an inkling of what we could expect from Weaver. He walked leadoff hitter Michael Conforto on six pitches. He needed 11 pitches for Yoenis Cespedes, who lined out to Matt Carpenter. The lineout caught Conforto off guard, and he was doubled off for two outs. He struck out Asdrubal Cabrera for the third out. He needed 22 pitches for the first three batters of the game.
The Cardinals got on the board quickly. Carpenter did a very Matt Carpenter thing, which is walk. Tommy Pham did something he actually hasn’t done that much of for the year, and that is hit his third home run. 2-0 Cardinals after two batters. The Mets scored their first run just as quickly. Todd Frazier walked for Weaver’s second straight leadoff walk and Jay Bruce singled to left. The scorekeepers are erroneously calling it a triple, even though Marcell Ozuna completely misplayed it. It was a single that went past him despite him being in a good position to stop it. With the infield in, Adrian Gonzalez hit a line drive groundball that looked sure to be a single, but Kolten Wong made a fantastic defensive stop to save the run. I’m going to steal from one of the other recappers, VHS, to show you the great play.
Weaver then issued his third walk of the game, but he was able to strike out some guy named Tomas Nido (??) and got Wheeler to ground out to strand Bruce at third. Wong hit a double in the bottom of the inning, but he was the only baserunner. Weaver had a quiet 3rd inning, striking out one in a 1-2-3 inning. Wheeler again allowed only one baserunner in the 3rd, walking Pham, but otherwise got the next three guys out, including a hard line drive out from Martinez.
It seemed as if Weaver had settled down when he had his second straight 1-2-3 inning in the 4th inning, which was right on time for the Cardinals to add to their lead. Paul DeJong started the rally by letting a pitch hit him. Wong hit his second double of the game, driving DeJong in to score. Weaver helped himself by driving in Wong for a 4-1 lead.
Weaver got two quick outs in the 5th, but then somewhat abruptly lost it. He walked pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores on four straight pitches. He then walked Conforto on four straight pitches. One could argue that Weaver should have been taken out at this point. He didn’t just throw eight straight balls, they weren’t even close. The same continued with Cespedes. He threw four straight pitches not close to the strike zone, but Cespedes just so happened to swing at one of them. On 3-1, he threw a meatball right down the middle and Cespedes treated it accordingly, hitting it very, very far. Tie game. Weaver inexplicably stayed in the game for one more batter and he walked him too, also on four straight pitches. Dominic Leone came in, gave up a single and finally got out of the inning on a flyout.
The Cardinals responded immediately. With two outs, Dexter Fowler doubled against Matt Harvey and DeJong copied Fowler, driving Fowler in to take a 5-4 lead. After a scoreless inning by Leone, Harvey did the same, though Pham did manage to walk with two outs.
This next request may sound weird given the ERA results, but I think for the moment we need to stop having Jordan Hicks pitch two innings. He got a groundout, walked a guy, and two lineouts to the outfield for his first inning. Not a particularly great inning, but he came back out for the 8th. He walked leadoff hitter Frazier. Jay Bruce hit a slow chopper towards first base. Martinez was covering first, but still an actual 1B makes that play I think. Hicks stayed in and gave up a sac fly to give up the lead. Luke Gregerson replaced him and got two straight outs, including a strikeout.
The Cardinals meanwhile got shut down by Paul Sewald for the 7th and 8th innings (who has been weirdly amazing so far this year). Greg Holland pitched the 9th instead of Bud Norris. Holland pitched like old Holland for the first time this year I think. He struck out two batters and got the other to ground out.
Here’s where the Cardinals lost the game. Carpenter led off the bottom of the 9th with a walk and Pham followed with a bloop single. Martinez to this point was 1-4 but all three of his outs were hit over 100 mph exit velocity I believe. But he wanted to be a hero too badly. He swung at two balls in a bad plate appearance, striking out on a pitch on the dirt. Ozuna then grounded into a double play ball.
Matheny brought in Matt Bowman instead of Bud Norris. This time, it didn’t pay off. Bowman allowed a solo home run to Bruce. The Cardinals didn’t threaten against Jeurys Familia, but DeJong finally broke his 16 PA streak of not striking out, though I’m not going to blame him for it since Familia is filthy. Score this in the bad loss department.
- Weaver line: 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 4 Ks, 6 BBs, 2 Hs, HR - You know actually going over the stats makes me feel better about this loss weirdly. Weaver pitched poorly. He only gave up TWO hits! With six walks on the day, he pretty much deserved four earned runs, albeit in a frustrating way.
- The Cardinals bizarrely tried to review Bruce’s homer in the 10th by claiming he didn’t touch first base, which I’m sure will go over well with Mets players and fans. I mean who cares, but you’d think he actually didn’t touch 1st if they were trying to get them to review (he did).
- Matt Carpenter had two walks on the day. He has a .167 average a .326 OBP thanks to a 19.7 BB%. His problem more or less has been that his power hasn’t really been there either.
- Tommy Pham went 3-3 with 2 BBs. I think this Pham guy everyone is talking about might be good at baseball.
- I don’t want to complain about Matheny’s bullpen management every time I recap, but the Cardinals went 10 innings, their starter only went 4.2 IP, and the best performing reliever to date, Bud Norris, did not pitch even though there was an off-day and it was either a tied game or the Cards were leading by one the entire time the bullpen was pitching. Plus it was against a team that is a huge wild card threat. That’s kind of inexcusable when Bowman was one of the guys who did pitch.
- Please get back on track soon Luke!
Tomorrow, the Cardinals try to even up the series. The pitching matchup is an interesting one. Michael Wacha faces Steven Matz. Wacha has already lost a game against the Mets this year and Matz has already lost a game against the Cards this year. Matz has had a homer problem but has otherwise been good though. Hopefully, he keeps having a homer problem through tomorrow.