Well shit. Headlines are supposed to be more specific, so I couldn’t just go with “Well shit” as the headline, but it would have been appropriate. The story of this game is the blown save by Dominic Leone, the first blown game by the bullpen and certainly not the last. The Cardinals offense stranded eight men on base today and led 4-1 for most of it, so it really felt like the Cardinals were winning by a lot more than they were for most of the game. So next time, just drive those runners in please.
The game began the same way it ended: back-to-back homers. Seeing as the Cardinals are the road team and it is not possible for the road team to hit two homers to end a game, this turned out to not be a good thing. It’s kind of a cool thing though if I weren’t a Cardinals fan. Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham saw three pitches combined and both hit it towards right field.
Jack Flaherty looked pretty dominant. He struck out two of the first three batters of the game in a 1-2-3 first inning. In the 2nd, Paul DeJong got hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, but both Kolten Wong and Flaherty struck out with Fowler grounding out to end the inning. In the bottom of the inning, Flaherty struck out the first two hitters he faced. He then allowed a double to Manny Pina and a single to Jonathan Villar. Interestingly, Pina tried to score from 2nd and I say interestingly because Pham got the ball when Pina was still rounding third. Also, Pina is a catcher. Pham threw him out, because, well some of you reading this probably could have thrown him out as well, assuming you could field the ball cleanly (quite an assumption I will say).
In the third, Pham began the inning with a leadoff double. With one out, Marcell Ozuna hit a ball 479 feet and 117 mph which is the hardest hit ball in Statcast recorded history for a Cardinals player. Flaherty struck out the side, but walked Lorenzo Cain in between the strikeouts. If there’s one fault with Flaherty, and it’s not a thing I particularly care about given his age, is that he wasn’t very efficient.
With two outs in the 4th, Fowler and Pham both singled, but Matt Carpenter, who had a rough day at the plate, stranded them when he grounded out. Flaherty added another strikeout in the 4th and allowed a single to Ryan Braun this time. Anderson got knocked out of the game in favor of Jeremy Jeffries for the 5th and he had a clean inning.
In the 5th, Flaherty ran into some trouble. He allowed back-to-back singles to Orlando Arcia and pinch-hitter Domingo Santana. He managed to strike out Cain, but then allowed a hit to Christian Yelich. It’s early, but I think we can probably call this guy a Cardinals killer already. Just submitting the nomination for you all.
Jacob Barnes came in for the Brewers and pitched two scoreless innings, forcing the Cardinals to ground out for five of the six outs. The only baserunner the Cards got during the 6th and 7th was Carpenter, who walked. Harrison Bader made his 2018 debut, flying out to right. The Cardinals copied the Brewers strategy, trying to stretch Ryan Sherriff, who in my humble opinion should be strictly used as a LOOGY, for two innings. It almost worked, but he walked lefty smasher Jesus Aguilar with two outs in the 7th. Matt Bowman came in (through a stupid double switch that I will address in the notes) and got Cain to ground into a force out.
The Cardinals again threatened in the 8th, but stranded more runners. Yadier Molina got on base from an error by Travis Shaw, which to be fair to Shaw, would not have been an error on 90 percent of the league because that person would have been safe on the ball thrown high. Molina then stole second in a somewhat hilarious fashion, getting a good jump nearly halfway between first and second but then stopping so it ended up being a terrible jump. The throw beat him by a mile, but he avoided the tag (maybe). DeJong hit a liner towards right that dropped in front of Braun, but they (rightfully) held up Molina. Yairo Munoz struck out looking on a pitch that was not a strike.
In the 8th, Tyler Lyons replaced Bowman and I’m officially kind of concerned about Lyons, one of the best relievers last season. He allowed lots of hard contact. Yelich (who else) hit a line drive double. He got Braun to strike out looking on a pitch that was not a strike, before allowing a hard hit single to Shaw. Eric Thames also hit the ball hard for his single. Leone was brought in earlier than Mike Matheny intended, but he acquainted himself admirably. He struck out Pina for the 2nd out. Villar hit a ball that wasn’t hit particularly hard, but he hit it where the Cardinals weren’t standing so that drove in the second run of the inning. 4-3 Cardinals.
Dan Jennings shut the Cardinals 1-2-3 hitters down with the 3rd hitter being Greg Garcia thanks to the double switch. In the 9th, Leone looked good... until he didn’t. He got two outs relatively quickly, and then both Yelich and Braun crushed homers for the Brewers win. Well shit.
- Flaherty line: 5 IP, 6 hits, ER, 9 Ks, BB - Flaherty faced 21 batters and struck out 9 of them. That means 6 of the other 12 batters managed to get a hit when they hit it in play, which is... not something that will continue. His efficiency issues are partially related to bad batted ball luck.
- Regarding the dumb double switch - it’s pretty clear Matheny has no idea what an effective double switch looks like - He brought in Bowman to face one batter. Yelich was on deck and Lyons was going to face him no matter what. Nonetheless, he took Carpenter out of the game, who was batting 3rd, and put the pitcher’s spot there, which forced the Cardinals to use up both Yairo Munoz and Greg Garcia by the end of the game when only one of them needed to be used. Yes, you can use a defensive replacement for Carp, although with Jedd Gyorko out, I wouldn’t do that unless the game is out of reach. But you can, you know, put the defensive replacement in the 3 spot and not the pitcher.
- Kind of frustrating to lose a game where the Cardinals, collectively, had 13 strikeouts and 2 BBs over 8.2 IP.
- Pham almost hit the cycle, although I feel like if the only part of a cycle that is missing is the triple, we really shouldn’t be allowed to say “almost hit a cycle.” Pham hit all of two triples last season.
- Jose Martinez went 3-4, bringing his season line to .444/.476/.611. He seems to have a hard hit ball for everything he makes contact with, whether it’s a hit or an out.
- If I’m being honest, that game went from the Cards leading to Cards lost so quickly that I appreciated how quickly it happened. Usually the Cardinals allow that game-tying homer and then it’s a 14 inning game and then they lose.
- Well shit
Tomorrow the Cardinals try to win their first series of the year. The Cardinals have the better pitching matchup with Carlos Martinez facing Jhoulys Chacin, but that’s not going to matter as much if Martinez isn’t better than he was on Friday. I have hope though.