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Fowler hits game-winning homer in 11th, Cards beat Reds 4-2 in extras

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The Cardinals appeared to be repeating last night’s game, but then they didn’t allow a walkoff hit so it ended differently.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Gomber almost pitched a no hitter today. Well not really. He took it into the 7th though and that’s pretty impressive. It ended abruptly and not great, but overall he pitched a good game. I would have been pretty annoyed if the Cardinals lost back-to-back games with two starters making their first ever start pitching no-hitters into the 7th only for them to lose because the offense didn’t show up. It almost happened today.

The Cardinals could not hit Homer Bailey, a pitcher with two good seasons on his resume with the most recent being five years ago. For some inexplicable reason, Bailey and the Cardinals bats pretended that it was 2013 and decided to get shut down by a guy with a 13 K%. This started immediately. Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong all struck out swinging in the first inning. They made him throw 19 pitches so there’s that.

Austin Gomber meanwhile did his best Daniel Poncedeleon impression. He had a 13-pitch 1st inning with neither strikeouts nor walks. His 2nd inning of work was a little different. Euegenio Suarez came to the plate. He walked away with a backwards K. Adam Duvall walked to the plate. He walked away with a backwards K. Phillip Ervin walked to the plate. He went down swinging. He needed 15 pitches to do it.

The Cardinals fared better in the 2nd than they did in the 1st, but that’s like saying stubbing my toe is better than breaking my arm. Neither were good. Marcell Ozuna actually hit the ball in the air today, and this one was a line drive. It got past left fielder Duvall for a leadoff double. He advanced to third on a Jose Martinez groundout, but stayed at third base when Tommy Pham popped up, Dexter Fowler walked, and Yairo Munoz lined out. In the 3rd, the Cards struck out twice, though to be fair one of them was Gomber.

Gomber encountered his first real trouble in the bottom of the 3rd and it was self-inflicted. He walked backup catcher Curt Casili and then rejected the attempted bunt by Bailey by simply walking him on five pitches. Billy Hamilton was up and he’s basically a pitcher with the bat and he struck him out. That seemed to get him back on track as he got Jose Peraza out on an attempted double play. With first and third, Gomber straight up fooled Bailey, and the Cards ended up throwing Casali out at home, who was trying to bail out his pitcher.

The Cards got back on the board in the 4th. Paul DeJong hit a deep flyball to center that Hamilton almost made a great catch on, but he jumped too high and the ball hit the wrist part of his glove, allowing DeJong to reach on a double. He was driven in by Martinez, but the inning ended when Pham grounded into a double play ball.

Gomber continued his strikeout run, though interrupted by a leadoff lineout by Scooter Gennett, with strikeouts to both Votto and Suarez. In the 5th, Bailey and Gomber both had 1-2-3 innings with no strikeouts. In the 6th, Bailey added two more strikeouts, but Molina finally managed to make contact off Bailey with a single. Gomber responded with another 1-2-3 inning with no strikeouts.

In the 7th, the Cards added to their 1-0 lead, the Cards looked like they were going to go down easy again, but Fowler walked with two outs. Munoz worked his way into a 3-2 count and then doubled Fowler home, in part because Fowler stole second in the middle of the PA. The Cardinals faked out the Reds into thinking they were going to pinch-hit with Gomber who looked done before the PA, because he came out to bat for himself and hit an infield single. Matt Carpenter walked to make the bases loaded, but Molina flew out to right to end the inning.

Oh yeah, by the way Gomber had a no-hitter going through six. I don’t know if you noticed that I never mentioned a hit by the Reds, but they had none through six inning. It felt like deja vu, especially with the anemic offense. This one turned out a little differently. With one out, Votto broke up the no hitter with a single. Then Suarez hit a bomb to left center. Tie game. Gomber’s day was done. Mike Mayers replaced and got a strikeout and a lineout to end the inning.

The Cardinals responded to the tie game with a walk by Greg Garcia with two outs and nothing else against reliever Michael Lorenzon. Jordan Hicks pitched a mostly clean inning, with a single by Hamilton being the only blemish. The Cardinals needed to survive the bottom of the 9th against Gennett, Votto and Suarez. So you know the exact same thing as last night, but the game was tied. Mike Shildt brought in Tyler Lyons to face Gennett and Gennett only. Gennett got too under a high pitch and flew out. Votto is 7-16 with 2 HRs, 3 2Bs, and 2 BBs against Lyons in his career. He also has five strikeouts so Lyons is capable of fooling him, but I understand the move. Sam Tuivailala replaced Lyons and struck Votto out. Its his second strikeout of Votto in 3 PAs. He also struck Suarez out.

In extra innings, Raisel Iglesias, the Reds mostly elite closer, pitched his second inning of the game. He ran into some potential problems with a two-out walk, but was able to get Ozuna to fly out. He’s hitting the ball in the air again! Tuivailaila pitched his second inning in the bottom of the 10th and things didn’t go as well as the 9th. Leadoff single by Duvall led to a hit by pitch of Ervin, who was trying to bunt. With men on first and second, Casali bunted a ball towards Munoz. The ball bounced kind of high in the air, so when Munoz first got it, I was shocked when he turned to 3rd base. But he did and threw out Duvall before he got to third base. Tucker Barnhart flew out on what could have been a game-winning sacrifice fly and Hamilton had a very high flyball that did not make it out of the park.

In the 11th, Pham singled off Amir Garrett with one out, which brought up Fowler. Fowler took a big swing and a miss on strike one. Then he took a big swing on strike two, but he did not miss this time. He hit an opposite field homer to right field to take a 4-2 lead. Bud Norris closed out the game this time, though not without some stress involved. Peraza led off with a single, which led to Gennett-Votto-Suarez again. Feels like they specifically are up anytime the Cards desperately need an out. Gennett grounded into a fielder’s choice, and advanced to second when DeJong threw it wild trying to get the double play ball. Votto struck out looking. They tried to throw Suarez junk, but he look at two straight balls, so then they just intentionally walked him. Duvall popped out to end the game.

Notes

  • Gomber line: 6.1 IP, 6 Ks, 2 BBs, 2 ER, HR - Gomber appears to be a flyball pitcher and that’s where his downfall came tonight unfortunately.
  • Carpenter extended his on-base streak in the least exciting way possible, going 0-5 with a walk. It’s at 12 games and funny enough, it started with a pinch-hit home run.
  • Fowler’s game would not have looked that impressive if the game didn’t go into extras, but with the extras, it looks pretty great: 1-3 with 2 BBs and a HR.
  • There was a fire alarm before Gomber pitched the 7th. There are genuine conspiracy theories on this one, but hard pass from me on even commenting on that.
  • The bullpen has gotten a lot of shit and rightfully so, but they pitched 4.2 IP of scoreless ball with 5 strikeouts and the only walk being intentional. So they had a good night.
  • Can we just score 10 runs off tomorrow’s pitcher, because this no offense thing is kind of not fun to watch.

Tomorrow the Cards will score tens runs off Sal Romano and it’s because this guy’s name screams out bullpen pitcher, not starter. Just judging him off his name, not his stats, though his stats are not great. He faces Jack Flaherty, so that should be something. It’s a very early game, starting at 11:35 am for who knows what reason.