The Cardinals won 5-3. The game lasted until 1:30 a.m. (thanks Pedro Baez.) This team is showing remarkable resiliency, and are frankly unrecognizable.
The rookies went on display today, and got pushed around a bit. Austin Gomber was in and out of trouble for 5 innings, throwing too many balls and allowing too many baserunners. But at the end of the day, only 2 runs were scored on him, so that’s good. You just can’t help but wonder how much longer this fortune is going to last. Dakota Hudson and Jordan Hicks showed the nasty fastballs and breaking balls that make them so fun to watch, but they also showed the control issues that they’ll need to overcome to sustain success in this league. But at the end of the day, they only allowed the 1 run in 2.2 innings, so that’s good.
The offense was able to get to the Dodgers’ starter, but was then stymied by middle relievers Pedro Baez and Kenta Maeda. Fortunately, Kenley Jansen is not yet himself, having just returned from an 11 day stint recovering from an irregular heartbeat, stemming from a condition he’s dealt with in the past. Jansen wasn’t able to harness his cutter, and Jedd Gyorko and Matt Carpenter teed off on it, launching back-to-back HRs to start the top of the 9th with the game tied. Bud Norris struck out 3 to nail down a nail-biter of a save.
Austin Gomber: 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 0 HR, 4 K, 4 BB, 50 GSc, 83 pitches.
Alex Wood: 4.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 1 HR, 4 K, 2 BB, 35 GSc, 71 pitches.
The Cardinals got started with a bang. After Carpenter struck out chasing an elevated fastball, Jose Martinez got a grooved fastball and annihilated it half way up the pavilion in LF. Wood bounced back though, and struck DeJong out chasing a back-foot slider and got Ozuna to pop out to RF on the first pitch. He threw 15 in the inning. 1-0 Cardinals.
The bottom half was a little more stressful. Austin Gomber was greeted with a quick pair of singles to CF by Dozier & Turner, and then he compounded the problem by hitting Machado with a 3-1 slider. But, miraculously, he got Bellinger to pop out to Pena in foul territory, and then Kemp to loop a soft flare toward Wong, who dove, caught it on the fly, and doubled Machado off 1B. Exhale. Gomber threw just 13 pitches in the inning, somehow.
The Cardinals went fairly quietly in the 2nd. Wisdom started the inning by working a 3-1 count but grounding out to 3B, and Bader followed with a fairly ugly swinging strike out on curveball. Kolten Wong then chopped a soft grounder to the right side. Bellinger broke to field it, and Wood was late in getting off the mound, so the red-hot Cardinal beat out an infield single. But Pena grounded out to SS to end the inning. Wood was at 31 pitches.
Gomber was much improved in the 2nd. He got Hernandez to ground out softly to SS, and Taylor to fly out to the track in CF. He couldn’t bring himself to throw many strikes to Austin Barnes, walking him on 5 pitches, but struck out Wood looking with his 27th pitch to end the inning.
More of the same in the 3rd. Gomber grounded out softly to 2B on just 2 pitches, before Carpenter smoked a single over the shift into CF. But Martinez grounded out to 3B, and DeJong’s long fly ball to LF died just in front of the track. Wood’s pitch count was 47.
Gomber finessed another scoreless inning in the 3rd. He started well enough, getting Brian Dozier to pop out to 3B on 3 pitches, but then walked Turner on 4 pitches, and fell behind Machado 2-0. Manny would end up getting a low pitch to his liking, and gave it ride, but Harrison Bader was able to track it down on the track in LCF. Gomber then struck Cody Bellinger out with a curveball in the dirt. He was up to 41 pitches.
The Cardinals had a solid opportunity in the 4th, but Wood was able to escape. Marcell Ozuna started things by pulling his hands in and ripping a single to LF. Then, after Wisdom popped out to SS, Bader ripped a single to CF. Wong then tapped an identical dribbler to his grounder in the 2nd, but this time Wood broke in time and tagged Kolten out. Dave Roberts then intentionally walked Pena, so Wood could strike Gomber out and escape the bases loaded jam. Wood was up to 65 pitches.
Gomber performed his high-hire act again in the 4th. Matt Kemp led off with a looping single to CF, and moved up to 2B on a balk. Kike Hernandez then battled him to a full count and drew a walk, to spell trouble. Chris Taylor then launched a low line drive to LF that Ozuna momentarily lost in the lights, but was able to corral, giving fans flashbacks to 10 years ago. Gomber was then able to strike Barnes out with a cutter, and got Wood to ground out to SS to complete the escape.
The top of the 5th lasted an hour. Alex Wood had been pitching fine, but suddenly his wheels came off. Carpenter started the process with a leadoff double down the 1B line. Kemp’s throw hit him square in the nameplate, and Carpenter was shaken up for a bit. He was able to walk it off, and then walk home of Jose Martinez’s RBI single that Kemp misplayed into an extra base. Then Wood made matters worse with a balk of his own, in the midst of a 4-pitch walk to DeJong. Roberts had seen enough.
The first call was to JT Chargois. The righty had a long injury history, and that flared up in his battle with Ozuna. He initially got ahead 0-2, but could never quite find the plate and ended up walking him. He spiked his last pitch well off the plate, indicated an injury, and was lifted for Pedro Baez.
Baez is the worst. He took forever between pitches, threw a ton of them, and stepped off much to frequently. Take solace in knowing that Patrick Wisdom battled him to a full count and drew an RBI walk. But that was all the Cardinals could manage. Bader struck out looking at a questionable strike 3, Wong popped out into foul territory, and Pena struck out looking. 3-0 Cardinals.
During that stupid inning, Austin Gomber had to wait. And wait. Then wait a little bit longer so he could wait some more. His timing, which was already suspect, was gone. He walked Dozier on 4 pitches, and was visible upset. Then he got ahead of Turner 0-2, but served up a double to RCF, and was upset some more. And then Manny Machado ripped an RBI single to CF, and Cody Bellinger lifted a sac fly to LF to narrow the lead to 1. But once again, he wiggled out of trouble, striking out Kemp swinging with an elevated fastball, and getting Hernandez to ground out to a ranging Paul DeJong behind 2B. It was an incredible play. Gomber was up to 83 pitches, and his night was through. 3-2 Cardinals.
Baez returned for another inning, and mercifully made it quick. He struck out hapless pinch-hitter Greg Garcia with 3 change ups, got Carpenter to line out into the jaws of the shift, and got Martinez to tap out an inch in front of the plate.
Dakota Hudson relieved Gomber, and flashed some nasty movement. He froze Chris Taylor with a backup curveball for a strikeout, and then bent a 2-seamer through the sunroof against Grandal for another. He then lost his feel against pinch-hitter Joc Pederson and walked him, but recovered to get Brian Dozier to ground into the shift. Hudson threw 19 pitches, and would return for more work.
Kenta Maeda relieved Baez, and mowed the Cardinals down. He struck out DeJong swinging with a change up, and Ozuna swinging with a slider away. Patrick Wisdom popped out to 2B to end the inning. Maeda threw just 13 pitches, and would be back.
The Dodgers clawed back to even in the bottom half. Dakota Hudson returned for a second inning of work, and things started off well enough. He got Turner to ground out to SS, and Machado to ground out to 3B to start things off. But then he completely lost control, and walked both Bellinger & Kemp on 10 pitches. Shildt opted for Jordan Hicks to face pinch-hitter Max Muncy, but that backfired as Hicks also struggled to find command, and served up an RBI single to LF. Hicks then walked Taylor, but struck out Grandal to strand the bases loaded. Hicks threw 16 pitches, and would return. 3-3 Tie.
Maeda returned and kept mowing the Cardinals down. He teased Bader away with a series of sliders and struck him out swinging at one, and then froze Wong with a 4-seamer painted on the outside corner. To complete the inning, he got Pena to pop out to Machado in short LF.
Things got dicey again in the 8th. Hicks started the inning by falling behind pinch-hitter Yasiel Puig and then surrendering an infield single. He was then able to strike Dozier out, but uncorked a wild pitch that Pena did not block, but instead popped straight up and saw bounce to the backstop, allowing Puig to go 1B-to-3B. With the go-ahead run now on 3B, Hicks bore down and struck out Turner, prompting Mike Shildt to reach into his bag of tricks and pull out a gem. He removed Hicks in favor of Brett Cecil, and intentionally walked Manny Machado so his lefty could face Bellinger. Cecil rewarded his manager’s trust by getting ahead of Cody 0-2 before getting him to fly out to CF. Exhale.
The 9th inning is where the Cardinals finally made their move. Maeda was gone, as the Dodgers’ turned to their closer, Kenley Jansen. Jedd Gyorko stepped in to face the imposing righty, saw a couple cutters, and then launched a third over the wall in LCF to restore the Cardinals’ lead. But they weren’t done. Matt Carpenter stood in, spat on a cutter, and then launched a second HR to the exact same spot as Gyorko’s, to double the lead. Jansen got Martinez to rip a line drive right to Taylor in CF and struck DeJong out before Ozuna smacked a loud single to CF. Tyler O’Neill pinch hit, but struck out to end the frame. 5-3 Cardinals.
Bud Norris closed out the victory, while taking a few weeks off your life. Matt Kemp and Max Muncy battled him hard right out of the gates. Kemp fouled off a couple pitches and eventually worked an 8-pitch walk, and Muncy fouled off even more pitches, before succumbing to an 11-pitch strike out as he waved over the top of a 3-2 slider. Norris then struck out Taylor with an elevated cutter, and finally struck out Grandal with a 3-2 fastball in on his hands.
- The Cardinals issued 10 walks, and struck out 13 times. But they hit 3 dingers and won the game somehow.
- Francisco Pena was not a good pitch-framer for 8 innings, and then he started stealing strikes in the 9th. Weird.
- Hudson threw 37 pitches, Hicks threw 33 pitches, and Norris threw 29 pitches. I wouldn’t expect to see any of them tomorrow.
Carpenter homers like he's teeing off on a par 5. Gyorko homers like he's taking out a beehive.— Dayn Perry (@daynperry) August 21, 2018
The Cardinals look to continue their campaign for October baseball tomorrow, sending Daniel Poncedeleon to face Hyun-Jin Ryu. Game starts at 9:10 CST, and can be viewed on FSMW and ESPN.