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Cardinals Drop Opener in Pittsburgh

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Top of the First:

  • Matt Carpenter homers (27) on Archer’s third pitch of the game, a 94 MPH fastball. He extends his team record with his 23 lead-off homer of his career. (I originally wrote season, which is incorrect.)
  • Molina flies out to right.
  • DeJong is hit by a 97 MPH fastball.
  • Ozuna pops out to David Freese in foul territory.
  • O’Neill can’t stop his swing and strikes out on an off-speed pitch.

Bottom of the First:

  • Adam Frazier doubles on a hard-hit ground ball down the first-base line, just outside the reach of Matt Carpenter who was playing off the line.
  • Starling Marte grounds out to John Gant, moving Frazier over to third. Except, the Pirates challenge the call and the ruling is changed. He still looked out to me on the replay, but the Pirates end up with runners on first and third and nobody out.
  • Gregory Polanco clobbers a triple off the right field wall scoring two. Fowler didn’t play it very well, but it was a rocket.
  • David Freese grounds out to short, and the runner holds at third.
  • Colin Moran flies out to medium/shallow left field, and Ozuna’s lob back into the infield is cut off. Pirates score another run.
  • Francisco Cervelli makes the third out on a grounder to short.
  • Gant’s pitches had good movement, but the Pirates were aggressive. Gant only threw 15 pitches, but the Pirates lead 3-1 after one inning of play.

Top of the Second:

  • Gyorko walks on five pitches after falling behind 0-1 to lead off the second.
  • Fowlder singles on a sharply hit ball to right. Gyorko stops at second.
  • After whiffing on a slider, Munoz lines the same pitch down the right field line for a double. Gyorko scores, and Fowler gets to third. Pirates lead 3-2.
  • John Gant strikes out. He still has never got a hit in the majors.
  • Carpenter is walked intentionally, loading the bases for Molina with one out.
  • After falling behind 1-2, Yadi flails at a slider and hits it—twice—before he gets out of the box. That counts as a foul, and Yadi gets another chance. Hurdle briefly argues that Yadi was out of the box and should be out, but home plate umpire Lance Barksdale sends him back to the dugout. Yadi works the count to 3-2 before striking out on a 88 MPH slider up and over the outside edge of the plate.
  • DeJong works to a 3-1 count before Archer gets a call on a borderline slider. He throws another slider, this one on the inner half, and DeJong swings through it leaving the bases loaded.
  • Archer is leaving a lot of sliders up, but the Cards waste a great opportunity, and the Pirates lead 3-2.

Bottom of the Second:

  • Gant strikes out Josh Harrison on a nasty changeup for the first out.
  • Jordy Mercer, with a full count, strikes out on a good chaneup. That’s Gant’s second K of the game.
  • Chris Archer strikes out in his first at bat in the National League.
  • Gant strikes out the side and has thrown 21 of his 30 pitches for strikes. The Pirates still lead 3-2 after two innings of play.

Top of the Third:

  • Just before Archer throws his 43 pitch, Hrabosky says he’s over 50 pitches after the first couple of innings. Hey, it’s not as bad as Ricky Horton saying the Cards’ best baserunners are Molina, Gyorko, and Fowler during Thursday’s broadcast.
  • Ozuna smokes a hanging breaking ball to the wall in left for a double.
  • O’Neill strikes out looking a 96 MPH fastball nearly right down the middle.
  • Gyorko grounds out to short, advancing Ozuna to third with two outs.
  • Fowler, hitting from the left side, gets to a full count before striking out on another slider Archer left up over the plate.
  • The Cards leave another runner in scoring position and trail 3-2. Archer has thrown 38 of 64 pitches for strikes.

Bottom of the Third:

  • Adam Frazier hits a middle-middle changup for single to right field.
  • Marte hits a single—make that a double on noodle-arm Ozuna. Frazier goes to third with nobody out.
  • Polanco hits a high fly ball for an out to center field. O’Neill throws to third, holding Marte at second as Frazier scores the fourth run for Pittsburg. That’s the first out in the bottom of the third.
  • Freese hits a weak grounder to second and is thrown out for out number two. Marte advances to third.
  • Moran walks on four pitches.
  • Cervelli hits a line-drive single to the outfield, driving in a run.
  • Harrison jumps on the first pitch, as Cervelli did, and drives in run number six. Gant is getting shelled, having given up six runs so far on 51 pitches.
  • Mercer hits a line drive, but Gyorko catches it for the third out.
  • After three innings, Pittsburgh leads 6-2. Blah.

Top of the Fourth:

  • Munoz opens the inning with a walk.
  • Gant is nearly doubled up trying to bunt Munoz to second. His two-strike bunt went about a foot in front of home plate. (Munoz was out if that isn’t obvious.)
  • Carpenter flies out to left field on the first pitch, and Gant has to hold at first.
  • Molina whiffs on the first two pitches from Archer before grounding out to third.
  • Cards don’t score, Archer throws 13 pitches in the fourth, and Pittsburgh still leads by four.

Bottom of the Fourth:

  • Gant is back out to start the fourth, and he strikes out Archer to open the bottom half of the inning. The next (first) three batters for Pittsburgh are already 5 for 5 against Gant tonight!
  • Frazier strikes out swinging for the second out.
  • Marte hits a line drive to Ozuna but hits it too hard to advance to second. He’s three for three on the evening.
  • Polanco has 3 RBI already tonight but flies out to Fowler in right.
  • Pirates fail to score but still lead 6-2.

Top of the Fifth:

  • DeJong draws a lead-off walk. That’s the third lead-off walk of the game already for the Cards, and the Cards have had the lead-off man reach base in every inning.
  • Ozuna hits a likely double-play grounder to Mercer at short, but Mercer let the ball go between his legs, and the Cards have runners at first and second with nobody out.
  • O’Neill struck out in his first two at-bats tonight, but he hits a high fly ball to left center, which the center fielder Marte couldn’t see. The left fielder dove for it but missed, but Ozuna overruns second base while DeJong had been held up by Oquendo at third. Ozuna is out 8-3-4. The Cards just can’t help themselves.
  • Gyorko comes through with a soft liner to right field on a 1-2 count. DeJong scores and O’Neill gets all the way to third. Hurdle makes a mound visit with two on and one out and Pittsburgh leading 6-3.
  • Fowler gets his second single of the night, beating the shift with a liner through the right side. That knocks in a run and Archer out of his first start for the Pirates. Cards back within two.
  • Righthander Edgar Santana enters. This is his 51st appearance of the year.
  • Munoz hits a single through the left side—his second base hit of the night—to load the bases with one out.
  • Gant is replaced with Jose Martinez who walked it off yesterday in a pitch-hitting situation. Martinez is a career .432 pinch hitter.
  • Martinez gets off to a 3-0 start to the at-bat before looking at strike one and fouling off strike two. Then, he hits a dribbler to third which drives in a run. Moran, playing third, made a good play to get Martinez at first by half a step. Cards pull to within one run and have runners at second and third with two outs.
  • Carpenter is intentionally walked again, which loads the bases—again—for Molina. The last time the Pirates won the same bet by getting Yadi to strike out.
  • Molina fouls off the first pitch and then gets jammed on a pitch up and in and grounds out weakly to third. It’s a terrible at-bat, and the Cards have left 9 on base already—a whole bunch of those are Molina’s.
  • The Cards add three runs in the top of the fourth and trail 6-5.

Bottom of the Fifth:

  • John Brebbia comes in to replace John Gant. This is Brebbia’s 33rd appearance, and has only been scored on in one of his last five appearances.
  • Freese hits a single to left on a 1-2 slider on the outer half.
  • Moran comes to bat 0 for 1 with a walk on the night. He strikes out swinging at a 95 MPH fastball.
  • Cervelli flies out to center fielder O’Neill for the second out.
  • Harrison, with his .652 OPS, pops out to Carpenter on the first-base line.
  • Pirates lead 6-5 after five.

Top of the Sixth:

  • Edgar Santana threw 9 of 13 pitches for strikes last inning and is back for the sixth.
  • DeJong leads off with a pop-up in foul territory just in front of the Pirates’ dugout.
  • Ozuna bounces out to short for out number two.
  • O’Neill singled in his last at-bat, but it was a pop-up to center that should have been caught. This time, O’Neill muscled a soft liner to center field for a single.
  • Gyorko lines a single over shortstop to put runners at first and second with two outs.
  • Fowler comes to the plate already 2 for 3 on the evening (both singles), and after getting ahead 3 balls to 1 strike, he fouls one off, and then another, and then takes ball 4 to load the bases.
  • Hurdle makes a pitching change, and Munoz will face righty Richard Rodriguez.
  • Munoz falls behind 0-2 before eventually grounding out to short. The Cards leave the bases loaded—again. They’ve now left 12 runners on through six innings and trail by one.

Bottom of the Sixth:

  • Mercer flies out to center for out number one.
  • Pinch hitter Christopher Bostick strikes out swinging for out number two.
  • Frazier flies out sharply to left center on Brebbia’s 26th and final pitch of the night. O’Neill made a very nice running catch in the gap.
  • After six, the Pirates lead 6-5.

Top of the Seventh:

  • Keone Kela is the new pitcher for Pittsburgh.
  • Greg Garcia is the pinch hitter for St. Louis. He flies out to center field on a 3-2, 98 MPH fastball.
  • Carpenter finally gets a chance to hit again, and he hits a ground-rule double down the right field line.
  • Molina has left the bases loaded twice already tonight, and is only hitting .257 on the season with runners in scoring position. Yadi strikes out on a good curveball. This 26-year-old reliever for Pittsburgh looks pretty good.
  • DeJong bats having reached base via walk and hit-by-pitch earlier. DeJong hits a line drive to Polanco in right, who guns out Carpenter by 3 steps at home. It wasn’t. even. close. Marte’s throw was 97 MPH. That’s about 90 MPH faster than Carpenter runs. In fairness, I’m not sure who could have scored on that one. Oquendo lost that bet.
  • Cards still trail by one run.

Seventh Inning Stretch:

A little good news:

... and a little bad news:

Bottom of the Seventh:

  • Left-hander Tyler Webb enters the game to face Marte who is 3 for 3 tonight. He’s 6’5” and 28 years old. This is his third appearance for the Cards. He has yet to give up a run.
  • Marte pops out to Carpenter on the infield for the first out.
  • Polanco pops out to O’Neill in left center.
  • Freese lines a single to right field, bringing up Colin Moran.
  • Moran, a lefty, grounds out to second for the third out.
  • Webb still hasn’t given up a run for St. Louis. Pittsburgh still leads 6-5.

Top of the Eighth:

  • Righty Kyle Crick comes in to start the eighth, and he hits Ozuna with his second pitch.
  • O’Neill has singled twice and scored a run. He’s also struck out twice. This time O’Neill hits a single to center on a breaking pitch. Ozuna, after running into an out earlier in the game, continues on to third. The throw from center is wide, and O’Neill advances to second. Whew.
  • Gyorko comes through with a ground out to short that scores Ozuna and advances O’Neill to third. That’s Gyorko’s 33rd RBI for those of you who are counting such things.
  • Fowler has a chance to put the Cards ahead. He hits a foul pop-up near the third base line, which was catchable, but a fan got in the way and Moran can’t corral the ball. With new life, Fowler grounds to first, and O’Neill—running on contact—is easily thrown out at home. That’s the second runner thrown out at the plate in the last two innings. Fowler is at first with two outs.
  • Munoz, on an 0-2 pitch, lines a base hit back up the middle. Too bad the Cards insist on always sending the runner from third on contact. It seems like that burns them far more often than not, but I don’t have stats for that.
  • Bader is the pinch hitter with two outs and runners at first and second. The count goes to 3-1, and Bader swings through a 96 MPH fastball up in the zone. With a full count, Bader grounds out to second.
  • The Cards score one in the inning, and the game is tied at 6-6.

Bottom of the Eighth:

  • Fowler, it turns out, was injured (he has a left foot contusion) on his way to third last inning, so he is replaced in right field by Munoz. Carpenter goes to third. Gyorko goes to second. Molina goes to first. Pena comes in to catch. And Hicks comes in to pitch. The Cardinals are out of bench players in a tie game in the bottom of the eighth.
  • Cervelli grounds out to short on a 101 MPH pitch. Molina makes a great play to come off the bad and tag Cervelli, as DeJong’s throw is well off-line.
  • Harrison hits a grounder to Carpenter at third, but the throw is weak and up the line, and Yadi can’t quite reach it. Harrison reaches on the...single? How is that not an error?
  • Mercer comes to the plate 0 for 3 but walks after working the count full. There are two on and only one out.
  • Jose Osuna bats from the right side as a pinch hitter. Yadi calls a meeting with the infield at the mound. Strike 1 at 100 MPH. Ball 1 at 101 high and outside. Strike 2 at 101 fouled off. Strike 3 on an 88 MPH slider. Osuna couldn’t stop his swing.
  • With two outs and two on, Frazier is up. He’s 2 for 4 with a strike out. Strike 1 at 100 MPH. Ball 1 at 101 MPH. Ball 2 at 100 MPH. Strike 2 at 101 fouled off. Fouled off a 101 MPH inside fastball. And then Frazier hits a grounder up the middle beyond the reach of DeJong. Harrison scores from second, and the Pirates lead 7-6.
  • Marte hits a long fly ball to right that spins Munoz around, but he makes a miraculous (lucky?) catch falling backwards toward the wall.
  • At the end of eight, the Pirates have regained the lead and are up 7-6.

Top of the Ninth:

  • Lefty reliever Felipe Vasquez comes in to try and close it out for the Pirates.
  • Carpenter flies out to right center for the first out.
  • Yadi has had a horrible night at the plate. Is he due? Yes! He pokes a single through the right side. One on with one out and DeJong is up.
  • Even with all this scoring, there has not been a home run by either team except for Carpenter’s solo shot leading off the game. (I originally wrote that there had been no homers all game, having forgotten about Carp’s shot at this late point in the ballgame.)
  • DeJong is quickly down 0-2, and he strikes out swinging at a slider out over the plate.
  • Ozuna is the Cards’ final hope. Strike 1 swinging at a 91 MPH changeup. Strike 2 swinging at a 92 MPH changeup off the outside edge. Foul ball on a 90 MPH changeup farther off the plate. Ball 1 on a 100 MPH pitch way outside. Ozuna pops out to left field on a changeup over the middle of the plate.
  • The Cards lose 7-6 to Pittsburgh.


  • Crick got the win, Hicks got the loss, and Vazquez got the save.
  • The Cards had plenty of chances, but they stranded 16 runners.
  • Fangraphs always has cool info, such as:
  • By WPA, the goats (not “greatest of all time”) tonight were Gant (-.406), Hicks (-.231), DeJong (-.222), and Molina (-.208).
  • By WPA, the Cards with the best performances were Munoz (.181) and O’Neill (.170).
  • The Cards (56-54) fall one game behind Pittsburgh (57-53).
  • The Cards are 7.5 games behind the Cubs in the division.
  • The Cards are 5.0 games out of the second wild card spot with Arizona, Colorado, Pittsburgh, Washington, and San Francisco all ahead of them.
  • The Cards continue to be a mixed bag, but at least tonight’s game wasn’t boring.
  • Tomorrow it’s Austin Gomber for the Cards and Ivan Nova for the Pirates at 7:05 EDT.