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Cards Squander Poncedeleon’s Quest for History 7.23.18

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Bad hitting, bad baserunning, and bad relief pitching overcome good glovework and a young right-hander’s stellar debut.

St Louis Cardinals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Events

1st Inning

Eager to get to Poncedeleon’s debut, Luis Castillo set the Cardinals down in order. The Mighty Carpenter worked him to a full count, but eventually swung through a change up for a strike out. Then Yadi flew out to CF, and DeJong flew out to the RF track. Castillo threw 12 pitches.

Daniel Poncedeleon successfully navigated his first big league inning, setting the Reds down in order. He got Peraza to loop out to RCF, despite some miscommunication between Pham & Fowler. Then he got Dixon to line out to a sliding, divot-making Ozuna in LF, and got Votto to ground out softly to 2B. He required just 10 pitches.

2nd Inning

Castillo kept the Cardinals at bay again in the 2nd. Ozuna worked a deep count and made some loud contact, but ultimately flew out to CF, just short of the track. Martinez broke through with the first hit of the game, and ground ball smoked right up the middle. Pham traded places with him at 1B when he beat out what could have been a 6-4-3 double play, and Fowler concluded the inning with a whiff through an elevated fastball. Castillo was at 30 pitches.

Poncedeleon played some “old-fashioned hardball” in the 2nd. He froze All Star Eugenio Suarez with a fastball low and away for his first strikeout, and then got Rookie of the Year front-runner Jesse Winker to pop out to LCF. He battled Barnhart to a full count before losing him for his first walk, but immediately redeemed himself by striking out Adam Duvall on 3 pitches. He was at 28 total.

3rd Inning

Castillo kept the offense in check a third time. He got Garcia to roll over and ground out to 1B, then struck out a nervous-looking Poncedeleon on 3 straight fastballs. Carpenter continued his torrid week by lining a single to RF, and Molina followed with a healthy cut on a fastball in his wheelhouse, but ultimately flew out to the track in CF. That inched Castillo’s pitch count up to 42.

Poncedeleon kept rolling. He quickly got Castillo & Hamilton each to ground out to SS (one requiring more heat on the throw than the other,) and then he got Peraza to loop out to RF. He was now at 41 pitches.

4th Inning

The Cardinals were starting to become frustrating to watch. After DeJong led off by grounding out to 3B, Ozuna worked a long PA and drew a walk. But Martinez scorched a ball right at Suarez at 3B, which he converted into a 5-4-3 twin killing. Castillo was up to 59 pitches.

Poncedeleon started giving up some hard contact in the 4th. Brandon Dixon ambushed a 2-2 fastball away, and lined it to deep RF, where Dexter Fowler made an acrobatic catch on a ball behind him. Then, after Joey Votto drew a walk, Suarez lined an equally hard liner to LF, where Ozuna made a casual grab. Winker ended the inning with a soft ground out to 2B on Poncedeleon’s 61st pitch.

5th Inning

More frustration followed in the 5th. Pham absolutely torched a grounder right at SS Jose Peraza, who threw him out at 1B, and Fowler followed by swinging over the top of a change up for a strike out. Fortunately, Greg Garcia caught a fastball on his hiney, allowing the Cardinals to clear Poncedeleon in the lineup for the final out of the inning. Castillo was up to 76 pitches.

Poncedeleon just kept on moling. He got Barnhart to quickly pop out to Ozuna down the LF line, before busting Duvall so far inside that the slugger could only pop out softly back to Ponce. He concluded the inning by getting his counterpart to ground out on a come-backer with his 72nd pitch.

6th Inning

The Cardinals finally broke through in the 6th. Who other than Matt Carpenter would lead the way? The Salsa King started the inning by lining a double just fair, down the 1B line and off the sidewall. Yadier Molina followed by looping a single over the head of Suarez and into LF. Oquendo gambled and gave Carpenter the green light, which paid off as Duvall’s throw was well off the mark, Carpenter was safe, and Molina advanced to 2B. Unfortunately, DeJong flew out to the track in CF again, and Molina went halfway and was unable to tag/advance.

Riggleman then employed his Schiltian hook, and yanked Castillo in favor of David Hernandez, who got Ozuna to fly out to RF (on a ball deep enough to have scored Molina from 3B,) and Martinez to strike out swinging at a slider. 1-0 Cardinals.

Poncedeleon maintained the no-hitter through 6. He struck out Hamilton swinging with a filthy change up, got Peraza to fly out to deep LF, and got Dixon to ground out to SS. His pitch count was starting to elevate, and was now at 90.

7th Inning

The Cardinals looked to be in business in the 7th, only to receive a gut punch via replay. Tommy Pham got a hold of another one, and sent it deep to LCF. Hamilton tracked it and climbed the wall looking to rob the Cardinals of another XBH, but whiffed on the ball, sending Pham off to the races. But the ball caromed right to Duvall who threw to 3B, where Pham had briefly popped off the bag on his slide. Replay caught it, and a lead off triple became an out. Fowler grounded out to SS, and Garcia grounded out to 3B. Ugh.

The Reds made Poncedeleon work in the 7th, but the young righty refused to break. He battled Votto to a full count before losing him another walk. But he recovered to win a 9-pitch battle by getting Suarez to fly out to LF, before getting Winker & Barnhart to pop out to LF. Hit pitch count had ballooned to 116, and Schildt had to pull the plug.

8th Inning

Hernandez returned to get 1 more out, which ended up being a nearly-dropped pop out by Peraza in short CF. Amir Garrett relieved him, and struck out Matt Carpenter before getting Yadi to fly out to the track in CF.

The no-hitter came to an end int he 8th. Though Jordan Hicks was able to get Duvall to pop out to SS on 1 pitch, pinch-hitter Philip Ervin got a hold of a fastball out over the plate and lined it up the middle, just out of Hicks’ reach for a single. But Hicks kept his composure and got Hamilton & Peraza to ground out to 3B.

9th Inning

Jared Hughes kept the Cards off the board one more time. He made DeJong look bad in a 4-pitch strike out before he got Ozuna to ground out to 3B, and Munoz to ground out on a sharp come-backer.

Everything is bad. So Ombudsman Norris was tasked with closing this one out. He was able to strike pinch-hitter Scooter Gennett out after the Cincinnati slugger launched a 400-foot foul ball down the RF line, and get Joey Votto to line out to LF, aided by a spectacular diving catch by Marcell Ozuna. But that’s where the game fell apart. Norris left a first-pitch fastball over the middle of the plate to Eugenio Suarez, who launched it 451 feet to LCF to tie the game.

Then it got worse. Jesse Winker & Tucker Barnhart followed with an identical pair of singles to RF, bringing up Adam Duvall for the pivotal PA. They battled to a full count before Norris uncorked a non-competitive ball 4, and pinch-hitter Dilson Herrera socked the very next pitch to CF for a walk-off single. Reds win 2-1.

Final Lines

Daniel Poncedeleon: 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 HR, 3 K, 3 BB, 79 GSc, 116 pitches.

Luis Castillo: 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 0 HR, 5 K, 1 BB, 64 GSc, 85 pitches.

Notes

  • I am upset.
  • Poncedeleon has the makings of a wicked change up.
  • Allegedly, Poncedeleon didn’t throw a single curveball.
  • Norris lost this game, but Yadi (for not tagging on DeJong fly out to deep CF in the 6th) and Pham (for not sticking 3B in the 7th) are not without blame.
  • I am upset.