I can honestly say this was my least favorite game of the year. I haven’t quite watched every game. I’ve watched nearly all of them. This wasn’t the most heartbreaking loss. We shouldn’t have won and didn’t deserve to win. It’s a bad loss because they played bad and it’s the Marlins, but this isn’t a “What if?” game. What if they played better I suppose, but this is baseball and it happens. Let’s just say I would have turned it off if I wasn’t writing about this game. It was severely negatively affecting my mood and when sports does that, it’s best to just stop watching. But responsibilities and whatnot. On to the recap....
Carlos Martinez did not pitch very good. There’s no getting around that. He ended his day with two straight strikeouts and that rather significantly helped his numbers but for most of his outing, he looked like a bad pitcher. He started his outing with a four-pitch walk to career 4.9 BB% Starlin Castro. He followed that up with a strikeout to Derek Dietrich and a double play ball by J.T. Realmuto. This is not all that unusual for a Carlos pitched game to start so no worries yet.
The Cardinals had a 1st inning that was a good warning sign to stay away from this game. Matt Carpenter led off with a single, but then made a poor baserunning error. Jose Martinez hit a popup in between short and left field that Dietrich made a sliding catch on. Carpenter apparently didn’t see the ball well because he made a motion towards 2nd base when the ball was caught and that was enough to catch him with his pants down, getting thrown out at first base. Tommy Pham grounded out because that’s just what he does now.
In the 2nd, things went poorly for Carlos. He again began the inning with a four pitch walk. Brian Anderson singled with put runners at 1st and 2nd. He got another double play ball with nobody out putting a man on third, but then walked the next two hitters on 10 pitches combined to load the bases. He got out of it because this is the National League and pitchers usually suck at hitting. Jose Urena fouled off five 0-2 pitches before striking out to his credit.
The Cardinals got on the board quickly in the bottom of the inning. Marcell Ozuna hit a line drive single to start the inning, got to 2nd on a wild pitch, and was driven in by the now healthy Yadier Molina. With two outs and Molina still at first, Kolten Wong hit a line drive double. I hope you didn’t expect that sentence to be ended with “Molina scored from first on that double” and I’d love to say he did, but no, he did not. That was unfortunate because this is the National League and pitchers usually suck at hitting and Carlos struck out swinging at three straight balls.
In the 3rd, Carlos had another poor inning, but it could have been both worse and better somehow. The Marlins led off with a single, single, and a walk. He got his third double play of the game, and it looked like might get away with allowing only one run. But then he decided to add poor defense to his game. Admittedly the ball hit back to him was hit funky, so he dropped it while falling to the ground. No problem, he can throw him out at first. But then he lobbed it to first and Anderson beat it out. It was inexplicably called a hit instead of an error. He struck out Miguel Rojas to end the inning.
In the 3rd, the Cardinals put runners at the corners with nobody out from singles by both Carpenter and Martinez. But Pham grounded into a double play, because that’s just what he does now and we only scored one that inning. Carlos ended his game in the 4th with a groundout from JT Riddle (which to be completely fair, was a clear ball on a 3-2 pitch so he got a bit lucky there), but then he finished with two straight strikeouts. He had 77 pitches.
Matheny was fully prepared to pinch-hit for Carlos in the 4th, but the Cards 6-7-8 hitters got into a 1-2-3 inning. Instead of bringing in Austin Gomber in for multiple innings in the 5th as I’m sure he planned, he brought in Preston Guilmet to pitch one inning, so that he didn’t have to make a double switch. I think we should all encourage less double switches from Matheny myself so I didn’t mind the move. Unfortunately, Guilmet’s stuff doesn’t translate to the MLB based off this one appearance where his stuff was utterly unimpressive. He throws 91 and seems to require absolutely perfect control. He allowed a double, single, and homer, which led to the Marlins taking a 5-2 lead.
The Cards came back in the 5th. Luke Voit pinch-hit for Guilmet and walked. Carpenter and Martinez both singled, loading the bases for Pham. He grounded out, because that’s just what he does now, but the Marlins only got the lead man at 3rd instead of a double play so that lessened the lead to 5-3. Ozuna singled home another run and was able to advance to 2nd from the throw, putting runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out. Then Pham got picked off at third base for some reason. I’m at a loss honestly. Molina grounded out to 2nd, which surely would have scored Pham.
Gomber came into the game and he was not good either. There was nothing good about this game. The offense was good technically. Gomber gave up a leadoff homer to Riddle, who is both a lefty and has a career 61 wRC+. So not really ideal for your lefty reliever. He then walked the next two batters. Not really ideal for any pitcher. With men on first and third and one out, Dietrich hit a soft popup barely in foul territory that Carpenter was running backwards to get. I’m guessing he didn’t know it was in foul territory - or wasn’t sure it would be at least - and caught it, which allowed the man on third base to score. 7-4 Marlins.
In the 6th, the Cards got the first two runners on but then Wong bunted and the ball came back up and hit his bat so well he was called out. So it was that type of game really. The next three innings occurred and the best thing I can say about them is that they went fast. I was pretty much wanting to throw things at TV.
- Carlos line: 4 IP, 5 Ks, 5 BBs, 2 ER, 4 Hs - Few notes here: this line looks better than he pitched honestly. And he deserved one earned run technically even though he was the one that made the play that deserved the error.
- That said, I wouldn’t worry yet. Then again, that’s what I would have said about the Reyes start and well
- Carpenter, Ozuna, and Martinez combined for 8 hits tonight, but all of them were singles and Pham is.. not doing well at the moment. Usually you can score more than four when your 1, 2 and 4 hitters get on base that much.
- Sorry to keep piling on Pham, but he was the only one of the 1-8 hitters to not get on base at least once. Well he did get on base, only to get picked off of base, but it doesn’t count as an on base on his scorecard.
- I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but last week in my article on Jose Martinez, I wondered if you could make a 1B stat about errors credited to his infielders as a way of judging how many throws he saves. Tonight, both Carpenter and Yairo Munoz got “errors” for throws that were easily catchable. The throw by Carpenter was egregious as he inexplicably took his foot off the bag. Easily the worst footwork at first base you can possibly have at the major league level.
- I was technically wrong. Sam Tuivailala was a good part of this game. He walked the first hitter he faced, but got out of it thanks to two strikeouts. John Brebbia was also good. It didn’t matter by the time they came into the game unfortunately.
Tomorrow the Cardinals play the Marlins again. They might lose again, but I feel confident in saying it will be a more watchable game than tonight was. It’s Jack Flaherty against Wei-Yin Chen, who has been quite awful. If the Cards win the next two, winning 2 out of 3 against the Marlins is a perfectly normal and fine series. But let’s do that.