Pitching matchup: Matt Harvey vs Luke Weaver, both of whom, it should be noted, pulling fashion don’ts: Weaver with facial hair rarely seen outside a junior high dance, and Harvey wearing his jersey unbuttoned halfway to his waist like he’s auditioning for goddamn Miami Vice.
The Cardinals would quickly capitalize on Matt Harvey doing mostly what you’d expect Matt Harvey to be doing, taking him deep in the first (Jose Martinez - though I won’t claim that this was much more than a cheap GABP home run) and the second (Yairo Munoz). The Reds would get one back in the bottom of the second, and despite Weaver walking Harvey (yikes, dude - Harvey had walked a grand total of twice in his entire career coming into this game) immediately after that run, that was the extent of the damage.
In the third, as the rain began to really come down, Jose Martinez took Harvey deep again, this time for a three run shot. This time was much more definitively smashed. Cards up 5-1.
Fun little vignette: the camera showed a dugout conversation between Jose Martinez and Harrison Bader, where it was incredibly apparent by the gesturing that Martinez was telling Bader “you don’t have to hit it hard here; just hit it over there” as Bader nodded sagely.
In the fourth, we were treated to the sight of Weaver diving and sliding for the out at first when Matt Harvey put the ball in play. I think we all understand, Luke - better to sacrifice your body to the turf than to take a chance tossing that to Martinez. After Ozuna makes the catch to end the inning on the next batter, Luke Weaver’s face crumpled into an almost hyperbolic sigh of relief.
In the fifth, Martinez again made good contact, but this one fell short of leaving the yard, and so his consecutive home run streak stalled at 2, far short of the record of [looks up record] four? Really, only four? I would have guessed at least five. Okay then.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Cardinals managed to have three separate players misplay a ball on a single play, turning a tailor-made double play ball into just a force out at third. Luckily, this only meant that a runner was left on base for [checks lineup]...oh. Joey Votto. Votto got a good drive on the ball into center, but Tommy Pham was there with a beautiful diving play to make the out. Unfortunately, Weaver followed this up by giving up a single and then back to back walks. The second walk (a four pitch walk, mind you) brought in the Reds’ third run of the game. Even after this, though, Matheny - ever insistent on getting his guys the win - left Weaver in. The master strategery employed here somehow worked out, with Jose Peraza popping out to shallow center.
Weaver returned to the mound to lead off the sixth, but after a leadoff walk was pulled in favor of Austin Gomber. The trajectory of Austin Gomber this season has been a bit perplexing - I can’t tell if he is a trusted member of the bullpen or right on the verge of being relegated to “that guy in the bullpen who never gets called on and spends his time getting really good at tossing a quarter into a Gatorade cup” status. Gomber did not particularly distinguish himself in this outing, walking two and giving up an RBI single to bring the Reds within a run. At this point, you can really feel the WPA graph inching slowly but inexorably upward, crushing your hope with a small but very real vise. But the Cardinals are fortuitous that this is, after all, the Reds - and the Reds gonna Reds. Just when all seemed truly dire, with pesky mite of a lad Scooter Gennett and his are-you-absolutely-kidding-me-with-this 157 wRC+ up to bat, Tucker Barnhart managed to barrel his way right into being gunned down by Yadier Molina at third base. And just like that, the Cardinals have a CS! Cardinals lead 5-4.
In the seventh, the Cardinals gained back one of those lost runs with a Matt Carpenter single to score Kolten Wong. In the eighth, a prime scoring opportunity presented itself, with Marcell Ozuna hitting a leadoff triple by virtue of a rare defensive miscue by Billy Hamilton. But the Cardinals followed this up with a groundout-pop out in foul territory -groundout combo, and so no runs were to be had. These half-innings were coupled with strong relief performances by Sam Tuivailala and Jordan Hicks, neither of whom allowed a baserunner to reach. At no point did the camera pan to Yadier Molina, so I was unable to determine if the prospect of catching Jordan Hicks (for the first time since he exploded his giblets) left him grimacing in discomfort.
The rain began again in earnest in the bottom of the 9th and the game went into a delay. A surprisingly decent portion of the (admittedly fairly meager) crowd stuck it out in the rain until the tarp came onto the field. When the game resumed 36 minutes later, the Cards brought back out Bud Norris, who had been warming prior to the delay. Scott Schebler immediately hit a leadoff double. A key strikeout of Tucker Barnhart followed...but then Joey Votto singled to drive in a run and once again bring the Reds within a run. Then another strikeout followed by (stop me if you’ve heard this before) a single. Oh and also Ozuna apparently injures his arm on the play. And then Jesse Winker singles to tie the game. Finally, FINALLY, 28 pitches after he entered the game after warming up and then sitting through an extended rain delay, Norris gets Jose Peraza to line out to end the inning.
Extra innings! Raisel Iglesias, pitching for the third night in a row, comes out for the Reds. I guess Ozuna’s shoulder/arm discomfort wasn’t as bad as it initially seemed, because he comes back out to bat in the 10th (and works a 4 pitch walk). Iglesias seems to be feeling the effects of back to back to back appearances, as he follows up the walk with two singles - the second of which, by Jedd Gyorko, gave the Cardinals back a one run lead. Cardinals back on top 7-6. John Brebbia came in to attempt to finish things off. Despite Gyorko dropping his second eminently catchable ball of the game, a 2 out double, and an intentional walk, the Cards held on to win.
Cardinals and Reds face off again tomorrow afternoon at 3:15.