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A Team Victory in the Steel City 8.4.18

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Gomber gets bounced early, but the bullpen and offense make up the deficit.

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Essential Information

The Cardinals won 8-4, and pulled even in the series. Austin Gomber pitched well early, but fell apart in the 4th and was removed afterwards. His control was fine, as he had just 1 non-intentional walk, but he started leaving the ball out over the plate, and the Pirates just hit him well. Dakota Hudson was the pitching hero of the game, as he pitched 3 perfect innings in immediate relief of Gomber while the fate of the game was still in flux. Mike Mayers worked himself into and out of trouble, and Bud Norris pitched a brisk, perfect 9th.

Meanwhile, the offense started out about as frustrating as we’ve seen them all season, stranding 3 runners and seeing another needlessly gunned down at the plate in the first 2 innings. 3-4 hitters Paul DeJong & Marcell Ozuna were atrocious all game long, and form quite a roadblock in the middle of this order at present.

But after those initial struggles, the offense made Ivan Nova and reliever Adam McRae pay. They scored in 4 straight innings against that pair of ineffective Pirate pitchers, going 6-for-16 with runners in scoring position in that stretch, and scoring 7 runs. Over the course of the whole game, Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina, Jose Martinez, Jedd Gyorko, Kolten Wong, and Harrison Bader were a combined 14-for-27, with 8 extra-base hits.

This was just an all-around team victory.

Final Lines

Austin Gomber: 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 1 HR, 5 K, 3 BB (2 IBB), 31 GSc, 71 pitches.

Ivan Nova: 4.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 0 HR, 3 K, 3 BB, 33 GSc, 92 pitches.

Events

1st Inning

The Cardinals picked up where they left off last night, squandering another ample scoring chance. Matt Carpenter started things with a double off the RF wall, and Yadi followed with a 9-pitch walk. But DeJong grounded to 3B, where David Freese was able to field it and retire the lead runner, and Ozuna popped out to short LCF. Then, after Molina stole 3B on an oblivious Ivan Nova, Jose Martinez scorched a liner to LF that was nabbed by a charging, diving Adam Frazier. The silver lining was that they made Nova throw 26 pitches in the frame.

Austin Gomber had his new cutter working from the get-go. He got Frazier to ground out weakly to 1B, before striking out Marte swinging at a low, 3rd-pitch cutter, and striking out Polanco looking at another cutter on the outside corner. He threw just 9 pitches.

2nd Inning

The Cardinals TOOTBLAN’d themselves out of another opportunity in the 2nd. After Gyorko struck out looking at a bad-call, inside fastball, Kolten Wong smacked a double to the RF wall not unlike Carpenter’s the inning before. But the wheels came off when Harrison Bader ripped a single to RF. Wong made a hard turn towards home, drawing a bad, high throw from Polanco, and creating an opportunity for Bader to swipe 2B. But Elias Diaz’s threw on the money to put Bader in a pickle, which concluded quickly with Wong being thrown out at home. Gomber grounded out to 2B to end the head-shaking inning. Nova was at 37 pitches.

David Freese took this opportunity to remind Cardinal fans of better days by working a 3-1 count and pushing an opposite field HR over the Clemente Wall in RF. Gomber was rattled for a little bit, as he then walked Cervelli and had another 3-ball count against Diaz, but he got Diaz to pop out to DeJong in short LF. Josh Harrison then popped a ground rule double over Ozuna’s head to put runners at 2B & 3B with 1 out, so Shildt intentionally walked Mercer to load the bases. Gomber rewarded his manager by striking out Nova & Frazier to escape the jam. His pitch count ballooned to 39, though. 1-0 Pirates.

3rd Inning

3rd time proved to be a charm. Carpenter and Yadi set the table with a walk and a single up the middle. DeJong looked completely over-matched as he struck out on 3 pitches, and Ozuna looked little better as he also struck out to put another rally in peril. But Jose Martinez stepped in and stung another liner, and this one dropped safely in front of the wall in RCF to score Carpenter. Then Gyorko gave the Cardinals the lead by stinging a double down the LF line, past a diving Freese. Then Wong tried to get in on the action, but ended up lining out to LCF. Nova found himself at a stunning 71 pitches. 3-1 Cardinals.

Gomber made his shiny new lead stand up, sitting the Pirates down in order. He got Marte to ground out to Wong on a ball up the middle, struck out Polanco with a perfectly-placed fastball away, and then got Freese to ground out on a grounder identical to Marte’s. He was at 51 pitches.

4th Inning

Suddenly, the offense was rolling. Bader led off by looping a base hit near the LF line, and using his legs to turn it into a double. Then, with Gomber trying to bunt Bader over to 3B, Elias Diaz launched a pick-off throw into CF, doing Gomber’s job for him. After Gomber grounded out to SS, and Carpenter was intentionally walked, Yadier Molina abandoned his patient approach from the early innings, and popped the 2nd pitch he saw into RCF to score Bader. Unfortunately, DeJong grounded out to SS, and Ozuna grounded out to 3B to let Nova off the hook. He was up to 92 pitches, and his night was complete. 4-1 Cardinals.

Gomber could not hold the lead for long, though. Catching duo Cervelli & Diaz started the inning with a pair of singles over a jumping Wong and past a diving DeJong, the latter of which sent Cervelli to 3B. Jedd Gyorko then made a great play to glove Harrison’s, look Cervelli back to 3B, and then convert a 5-4-3 double play. But that’s where Gomber’s wheels came off. Jordy Mercer looped an RBI single to CF, pinch-hitter Jose Osuna ripped a single to LF, and Adam Frazier socked a 2-run, game-tying double to LCF. After Shildt intentionally walked Marte, Gomber got in on Polanco’s hands and got him to ground out softly to 2B. Gomber was at 71 pitches, and his evening was over. 4-4 Tie.

5th Inning

After starting the game so ineptly, the Cardinals put runs on the board for a third straight inning. Facing new reliever Alex McRae, Jose Martinez got things going by lacing a double off the Clemente Wall, just beating the throw from Polanco. Gyorko brought him home by poking a double down the RF line off the tip of his bat, sliding in just ahead of another Polanco throw. Wong then singled to LF, and Bader brought Jedd home with a ground out to SS. Greg Garcia pinch-hit for Gomber and pulled a sharp grounder down the 1B line, but Francisco Cervelli, making his first career start at the position, made a dandy of a play to nab the ball on the short hop and retire Garcia. Carpenter then struck out swinging at an inside cutter to end the rally. 6-4 Cardinals.

Dakota Hudson relieved Gomber, and set the Pirates down in order. He got Freese to tap out on a come-backer, struck out Cervelli swinging with a slider, and got Diaz to pop out to 1B. He threw just 12 pitches in the inning.

6th Inning

Make that 4-straight. McRae was still in the game to eat innings, but his control started to wane. Though he got Molina to ground out to SS, he walked DeJong, who had looked helpless at the plate to that point in the game. Then, after he deflected a grounder by Ozuna to Harrison for the force out at 1B, he walked Jose Martinez, which brought Ray Searage out to the mound. Ray’s wisdom proved unhelpful, as McRae proceeded to walk Jedd Gyorko, and Wong made him pay with an RBI grounder off a diving Harrison’s glove. Bader popped out to LCF to end the bases loaded threat. 7-4 Cardinals.

Hudson was unaffected by the long layoff. With fireworks exploding across the Allegheny, he retired Harrison on a sharp come-backer, got Mercer to fly out to LF, and got McRae to tap into another come-backer (though Hudson almost air-mailed the soft toss to 1B.) He had thrown 20 pitches.

7th Inning

Andy McRae was still in the game for some reason, and finally held the Cardinals off the board. He retired Hudson on a come-backer, struck out Carpenter on a cutter and, after surrendering a single up the middle to Yadi, got DeJong to pop out to short CF.

Hudson was on a roll. He got Frazier to fly out to LF, Marte to pop out to CF, and Polanco to ground out to 2B. He had yet to allow a hit, and had thrown 28 pitches.

8th Inning

McRae and Co. held the Cardinals off the board again in the 8th. McRae, showing signs of wildness again, walked Ozuna, and then granted him 2B with a wild pitch to the backstop. After Martinez popped out to RCF, Clint Hurdle finally went back to his bullpen, and summoned Dovydas Neverauskas, who will henceforth be referred to as “???”. ??? was able to get Gyorko to pop out to CF, and Wong to ground out to 1B.

Mike Mayers relieved the dominant Dakota Hudson, and held the lead in tact. He set Freese up with some inside fastballs before icing him with a fastball on the outside corner of the plate. Cervelli managed to ground a single up the middle, and advanced to 2B on Diaz’s come-backer. Then, after Harrison worked a walk, Mayers got Mercer to ground out to SS, featuring a strong play by DeJong and Wong

9th Inning

??? returned to eat a whole inning. He quickly got Bader to fly out to CF, and Munoz to ground out to 3B. But Matt Carpenter had been quiet since his lead off double to start the game, and so he reasserted himself as the league’s MVP by golfing a curveball into the seats in RF. Yadi flew out to the RF track to end the inning. 8-4 Cardinals.

Bud Norris closed this one out. He got Dickerson to fly out to CF, Frazier to pop out to SS, and Marte to line out to RCF.

Notes

  • Tyler O’Neill was a late scratch due to groin discomfort. He missed time in spring due to a back injury, and earlier this season due to a hamstring strain.
  • Elias Diaz started the game with a white with yellow chest protector, but changed to black with yellow in the 2nd inning. Apparently, Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison were having trouble seeing the ball off the ball against the white backdrop, and asked him to make the change.
  • A firework display broke out across the river from PNC Park in the bottom of the 6th. A 3-day event called the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta on the lawns of the Point State Park concluded their Saturday night festivities with a fireworks show.
  • A night after using 5 relievers (Santana, Rodriguez, Kela, Crick, Vasquez) across 4.2 IP, McRae’s 3.1 IP were much needed tonight. He threw 78 pitches, 7 more than Gomber.
  • Mayers’ walk of Josh Harrison in the 8th was Harrison’s 12th non-intentional walk of the year.
  • Matt Carpenter tied his career high in HR tonight with his 28th blast. Among NL entrants, he’s tied with Nolan Arenado for the most HR, leads in fWAR, and trails only Lorenzo Cain in bWAR. His case for MVP continues to build.

The Cardinals will try to tip the scales of this series tomorrow, sending Jack Flaherty to face Trevor Williams. Game starts at 12:35 CST, and can be viewed on FSMW.