The Cardinals faced the Brewers and could have separated themselves from them a little with a sweep, but we ended up with merely a good weekend and not a great one. Jhoulys Chacin shut us down and that’s just kind of annoying. He shut down the Cubs in his last start too so it’s not like he’s getting bombed one day and shutting down the Card the next, but he seems like a pitcher the Cards should hit.
John Gant had an interesting day today. He definitely pitched better than his line indicates, though the Brewers were frustratingly resistant to striking out unfortunately. For instance, he went 0-2 on Christian Yelich to begin his day, but Yelich didn’t go down easy, working the count to 3-2. On the 7th pitch, he hit a popup single to left field. Lorenzo Cain got into a double play ball and Mike Moustakas hit the hardest ball of the inning, a deep fly ball to center, for the third out.
Matt Carpenter has been in a mini funk as of late, which showed when he swung at the first pitch he saw, an absolute meatball right down the middle, but didn’t get good contact on it, flying out. Yadier Molina flew out on the second pitch he saw. In danger of having a shockingly short inning, Tyler O’Neill struck out in a 7-pitch at-bat.
In the 2nd, the Brewers continued the trend of having a weak hit - this one by Travis Shaw on a slow groundball that was extremely well-placed -- and harder outs. Jesus Aguilar led off with a line drive near the warning track that O’Neill made a leaping grab for to get the first out. Ryan Braun flew out and Erik Kratz grounded out to end the 2nd inning.
Harrison Bader isn't the only #STLCards rookie outfielder making standout defensive plays! Tyler O'Neill makes a spectacular leaping catch in right field and robs Jesús Aguilar.— FOX Sports Midwest (@FSMidwest) August 19, 2018
Tune in now on FSMW or FSGO: https://t.co/ZzgKO9W1Xs pic.twitter.com/GDNs5vkgxd
In the 2nd, the Cardinals did a bit better at making Jhoulys Chacin work, though not because of Marcell Ozuna. He struck out on 3 pitches. Paul DeJong lined out to left, Jedd Gyorko singled up the middle and Harrison Bader grounded out on a full count. After a 10-pitch first inning, Chacin left the 3rd with 28 overall pitches.
Things went poorly in the 3rd. Orlando Arcia, 38 wRC+ hitter this season, lined a single to begin the inning. With Chacin up and trying to bunt, here’s where the home plate umpire made more of an effect than what you would like. After a failed attempt at a bunt for strike one, Gant threw a ball in the strike zone that was called a ball. On 2-1, he threw another pitch in the strike zone that was called a ball. On this particular play, Arcia stealing might be to blame as Molina had no time to frame it, but frankly, this was a clear strike and didn’t need to be framed. Arcia stole second and Chacin bunted him over to 3rd. Would this have gone differently if Chacin went to 0-2 first? Possibly.
With Arcia on the 3rd, the infielders played in and it actually worked this time! Yelich grounded it right to Greg Garcia at 2B, which kept Arcia at third without scoring. Cain walked on five pitches as Gant momentarily lost his control. He threw two straight changeups that fooled Moustakas and tried a third time. Problem was that he missed location badly and ended up throwing it right down the middle. Moustakas lined a double to right to score both Arcia and Cain. Another terrible missed strike call happened against Aguilar on a 1-2 count - it was in fact right down the middle - but Aguilar lined out, making it not matter.
In the 3rd, Greg Garcia led off with a single, was advanced to second by a bunt by Gant and to third base on a groundout by Carpenter. Molina also grounded out though, which stranded Garcia. Chacin only threw 8 pitches to all four batters. Gant recovered in the 4th, getting through the first two batters easily, but 38-year-old Kratz refused to go down and singled on the 8th pitch of the at-bat. Arcia struck out swinging in what ended up being Gant’s only strikeout of the game.
O’Neill once again tried to singlehandedly raise Chacin’s pitch count on his own in the bottom frame of the inning, fouling off 4 two-strike pitches before popping out on the ninth pitch. Ozuna went down on a first-pitch groundout and DeJong couldn’t duplicate O’Neill’s success on the pitch count, striking out on five pitches. Chacin had 51 pitches after four innings.
In the 5th, Gant got Chacin to ground out, but walked Yelich and gave up an infield single to Cain, which to be fair, was very nearly a forceout if not for DeJong struggling to immediately get the ball out of his glove. Mike Shildt chose to be aggressive and he made a bold move. He brought in Brett Cecil to face Moustakas. He fell behind 2-0 on Moose, but got him to weakly ground out to first on the next pitch. After intentionally walking lefty masher Aguilar to load the bases, Cecil also fell behind Travis Shaw 2-0, with Shaw popping out on the third pitch.
In the bottom half, Chacin’s inning was slightly derailed when, with two outs, he hit Garcia with a pitch. Garcia seemed to welcome getting hit as he made no motion to get out of the way. Kolten Wong seemed healthy enough to pinch-hit, but he lined out to end the inning. For the 6th, Shildt turned to Tyson Ross. Ross got a 1-2-3 inning on 13 pitches.
The Cardinals threatened in the 6th when Carpenter reached base on a bunt single, and he now apparently leads the league with six of them. After Chacin made easy work on both Molina and O’Neill and needing only 5 combined pitches to do it, Ozuna singled up the middle to put runners at the corner. Unfortunately, Chacin had DeJong’s number and he struck out. In the bottom half, Ross was shaky, walking Eric Thames to lead of the inning. He got bailed out when Yelich hit a line drive just above Garcia’s head. Garcia made a leaping grab and threw out Thames, who was near second base, with ease for a double play ball.
Jeremy Jeffress came in to pitch the 7th, and he was good enough in that inning, that Craig Counsell brought him back out for the 8th. In between, Ross again walked the leadoff man and this time a less lucky version of the double play ball happened for the typical 5-4-3 DP. Jeffress had less success in the 8th. Patrick Wisdom led off, waited for his pitch, looking at the first four pitches he saw to bring the count to 2-2. On the fifth pitch, he saw a pitch he liked and hit his first major league home run. Carpenter nearly made it back-to-back, but as you can see from the score, it fell just short, getting hit about 395 feet in center field. Jeffress had less trouble with Molina and O’Neill.
Mike Mayers replaced Ross and for the third straight time, the Brewers got on base from a leadoff walk. Kratz sacrificed him over an a bunt that flew down the first base line to Carpenter. Mayers made up for the walk by striking out the next two batters, stranding Braun at second base. In the bottom half of the inning, the Cards needed to face Josh Hader and it’s times like these when I wish the Brewers didn’t just remove Corey Knebel from the closer role. Hader struck out the first two batters he faced, and needing a home run, Gyorko hit a ball that was about as close to a home run as Carpenter’s. But it also fell short. Baseball really was a game of inches on this afternoon.
- Gant - 4.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BBs, K - The missed strike calls hurt Gant for at least one missed strikeout and even though none of the other missed calls came with two strikes (as far as I could tell), they still changed the course of the at-bat. He ended up with 86 pitches.
- In fact, pretty bizarre strike zone in general. The lower part of the strike zone was a ball at times and the strike zone seemed to extend well outside if you threw it up and away. But there was not a consistency to the strike zone as it could be called a ball or strike.
- Probably not going to win many games when your 1-5 hitters go 2-20 with two singles and six strikeouts. Though neither Carpenter nor Molina ended up striking out, leaving the strikeouts mostly to DeJong’s three and Ozuna’s two.
- Literally nobody had a good day except for Greg Garcia, Cecil, and Mayer. Garcia had a good day both offensively and defensively, Cecil got out of a huge jam and Mayer ended up with a good inning after a poor start. No disrespect to Ross, but walking two and striking out zero is not what I would call a good day.
- Cardinals win another series though. It makes it tough for me to be too mad at this loss - losses will happen - just make sure you don’t do it a lot. Also the Cubs lost as well, so that helps.
Tomorrow, the Cardinals begin a brand new series and boy the schedule isn’t getting any easier. They travel to Los Angeles to face a team with a similar record (the Dodgers have two less wins and one more loss). So kind of important as the Dodgers will probably factor in the Wild Card race. It’s Austin Gomber against Alex Wood and that’s not my favorite matchup, though the Cards can handle lefties with a bunch of righties in their lineup - and Matt Carpenter who can also hit lefties.