clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Cards bats come alive in 8-2 win as they split 4-game series with Brewers

New, 36 comments

Luke Weaver also pitched pretty good after a rough start.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

If only the Cardinals could schedule their losses more evenly. After the first two games, it looked like the Cards were going to do irreparable damage to their playoff chances with just this series. And now, the Cards find themselves basically in the same spot they were when this series began, except a little closer to the Cubs because the Reds decided to go out and sweep them in a four-game series. Lots of ups and downs in a long baseball season.

Jhoulys Chacin is not a good pitcher and I’m glad the Cardinals treated him appropriately. Going into the game, Chacin had a 3.18 ERA, which is pretty annoying since his xFIP is 4.76. He does have an ERA-xFIP disparity over his career, but it’s .35, not one and a half runs. To spoil the ending, he left today’s game with a 3.82 ERA. A couple runs were cause he was a punching bag left in the game to soak up innings,

The Cardinals should have done more damage in the first inning, Matt Carpenter sometimes has to work for a walk and sometimes he can just stand there and let the pitcher have no control. Chacin threw four straight balls. Greg Garcia meanwhile found himself in a 1-2 hole, fouled off a couple pitches, and then hit a double down the left field line. Jose Martinez looked at three straight balls, swung at both 3-0 and 3-1 and hitting two foul balls, and then looked at a pitch on the corner of the strike zone to strike out. Marcell Ozuna swung at the first pitch he saw and showed some opposite field power. Unfortunately it stayed in the park and was an out, but it allowed Carpenter to score on the sac fly. Yadier Molina lined out to short to end the inning.

Weaver came into this game like a man who wanted to take a different approach than he has in games past. He ended up with a good start, but I’ll just note that his approach looked better in the first inning. There was one slight issue. He fell behind on Eric Thames, but then threw three straight strikes, including two swinging strikes, for a strikeout. Unfortunately, he fell behind on Christian Yelich, who showed some opposite field power of his own. It was absolutely destroyed, making it into the second deck. Then Braun hit a ball off the wall on a 0-1 count. He returned to pounding the strike zone against Travis Shaw, ultimately getting him to strike out looking. On 2-2, Hernan Perez hit a weak bloop hit right over Martinez’ head to score Braun. Two more hard hits, one a double, the other a lineout, ended his inning. So the slight issue was that the Brewers were mostly making hard contact whenever they did hit the ball.

In the 2nd, once again the Cardinals should probably have scored more runs. Unlike the first though, they didn’t actually score any this time. Dexter Fowler walked and Harrison Bader walked to begin the inning. Kolten Wong hit a flyout to deep center, which advanced Fowler to third. I was surprised Bader didn’t try to go to 2nd on the play with his speed. Weaver tried to bunt Bader over, but couldn’t and struck out. Matt Carpenter looked at a pitch right down the middle, I guess because he was expecting something else. Don’t worry, he redeems himself later in the game.

Weaver was mostly fine in the 2nd, except he perplexingly walked the pitcher on four straight pitches. That he surrounded this with a popout by Thames and a strikeout to Yelich is truly confusing to me. The Cardinals shouldn’t have scored more runs in the 3rd! But that’s because all that happened was a walk to Ozuna

In the 3rd, Weaver just magically started mowing down hitters. He struck out Shaw/Brad Miller. Shaw left the AB with an 0-2 count and then Miller looked at strike three. He struck out Perez on five pitches to end the inning. He continued his dominance into the 4th, striking out Jonathan Villar and then Erik Kratz. Orlando Arcia hit a slow roller back to him to end the 4th. In all, Weaver pitched a total of 15 pitches to the four batters he struck out, throwing only one ball.

The Cards finally broke through in the 4th. Fowler led off with an opposite field double. Bader walked. Kolten Wong hit a flyout to Ryan Braun and Fowler decided to gamble and take third on the play. He was safe but only barely. Bader advanced to second on the throw, making it 2nd and 3rd for Weaver, who struck out again. With two outs and the Brewers leading 2-1, it looked like the Cards might again squander their chances, but Carpenter lined a single into center and scored both runners. 3-2 Cards. The inning wasn’t over though. Garcia walked on five pitches. With runners at 1st and 2nd, Martinez got a pitch on the low inside corner and demolished the ball into left center, knocking over some poor fans’ concessions in the process. Ozuna doubled, but Molina once again lined out to end the inning.

The Cards weren’t done. With all nine spots coming to the plate, Fowler once again led off with a double in the 5th. Bader singled him home, and then Wong singled. With runners at first and third, Weaver got a bunt down this time and it was a beauty. Bader easily scored on the sacrifice. Chacin was finally taken out in favor of Dan Jennings, who took care of both Carpenter and Garcia without allowing another run to score.

Weaver needed 53 pitches to get through the first two innings of work so it looked like 5 innings was a best case scenario at that point. But he needed just 11 pitches for both the 3rd and 4th - while striking out four, which saved his game. In the 5th, he struck out Sogard, but then walked Thames. With 86 pitches and just one out in the 5th, with Yelich and Braun coming to the plate, it looked like 5 innings would be the most probable outcome. But Yelich flew out on a 1-1 count and Braun flew out on the first pitch. Both were hit rather far so it wasn’t ideal, but it allowed him to last into the 6th.

He almost completed 6 innings too. He struck out Miller and then Perez flied out deeply. Lots of deep flyballs against Weaver today. Villar hit a ball to Garcia, who threw it high, but Martinez caught it and then took his foot off the base. He has the footwork of someone who’s never played first base. Garcia got the error though. I wish I had counted the amount of throwing errors that would have not been errors if a decent defensive first baseman were catching it instead. Kratz hit a line drive single and that was it for Weaver. Mike Mayers came into the game to face pinch-hitter Jesus Aguilar and he struck out him out with his 98 mph fastball.

If you tuned out in the 5th inning, that would be smart because literally nothing happened after the 5th inning. If you enjoy the Cards bullpen being good though, you would have missed a little. As mentioned, Mayers got the party started with a strikeout and that was the only batter he faced. Greg Holland replaced Mayers for the 7th. He looked good again. He allowed a bloop hit (though it made up for the lineout for the first out), but struck out Yelich and got Braun to ground out weakly. Brett Cecil replaced him and got a groundout, foulout and strikeout. John Brebbia replaced him and nearly struck out the side. But flied out instead on a 3-2 count.

Notes

  • Luke Weaver line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 9 Ks, 2 BBs, HR - Good on Mike for getting Weaver out of the game with Aguilar up, though he did have 104 pitches and he was already in line for the win so I don’t want to give him too much credit.
  • Cards bullpen line (comprised of Mayers/Holland/Cecil/Brebbia): 3.1 IP, 5 Ks, H - Best part of it is probably that two of the guys have been mostly awful but have looked better of late. Also the no walks.
  • Dexter Fowler went 2-4 with two doubles and a walk. He raised his season wRC+ from 54 to 59. He’s going to need a few more days like this.
  • The Cardinals, as a whole, got on base 18 times. Everyone got in on the parade except for Molina, who lined out twice, and Jedd Gyorko, who came into the game late, but went 0-2.
  • Bader went 2-3 with 2 BBs and I believe he faced a righty for all five of those plate appearances so that’s something.

The Cardinals played their second of four straight series against first place teams tomorrow. Splitting a four-game series against a first place team is usually a good thing and they did that. Now they get to face the Indians. Tomorrow is a tough one. John Gant will need to be on his A game, because he’s facing Mike Clevinger, who has a 3.00 ERA and 3.20 FIP.