The Cardinals beat the Pirates 8-7. I don’t think I’m over-stating things when I characterize this as an absolutely massive win. The Brewers won, but Dodgers lost, which means the Cardinals gain no ground on the top wild card, but distance themselves by a game from the team nipping on their heels for second wild card. They are 80-64 with 18 to play.
Adam Wainwright had it tonight. Well, that is to say that he had it for an inning. Maybe 2. And you could say he fought back for a non-consecutive 3rd. But the overall takeaway is that Adam Wainwright, despite how much we all love him, is not the best answer for this team’s rotation crunch. His velocity dropped precipitously, he missed in the middle of the plate too much, and it was all he could do to give this team 5 innings. He showed the fight and resiliency that we’ve come to, but have no right to, expect. It just isn’t enough, on its own.
Meanwhile, the offense was terrible. Except for 2 innings. They were set down in order 6 times tonight, and scored 4 runs in the only other 2 innings this game required. Matt Adams was this game’s star, launching a go-ahead 3-run HR in the 8th inning, but Paul DeJong was the hero. The Cardinal shortstop had just 1 hit in 4 PAs, but he made it count as it was a 2-run double that inched the Cardinals within a run, and later scored the tying run. But the highlight of the game was his game-saving/game-ending defensive play with 2 outs in the top of the 9th. He ranged into the hole and gloved a ball of the bat of Cervelli, planted, and fired a throw that beat the Pirate catcher by a hair to end the game.
Adam Wainwright: 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 2 HR, 3 K, 0 BB, 35 GSc, 81 pitches.
Trevor Williams: 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 0 HR, 6 K, 0 BB, 52 GSc, 76 pitches.
Adam Wainwright looked like the Adam Wainwright of old at the start of this one, at least. Showing previously unthinkable 92mph gas and flashing that career-making curveball, he worked around a 2-out single to set the Pirates down in a scoreless cardinal inning. First, he made Adam Frazier look absolutely foolish with a 3-pitch K, which culminated with that nostalgia-inducing curveball. He then got Marte to reach for another curveball away and ground out to SS, before Josh Bell ripped an inside, 3-2 fastball over the shift into RF the aforementioned 2-out single. But Cervelli got underneath a fastball a couple pitches later and flew out to CF. He threw 17 pitches.
The Cardinals had all the makings of a successful inning against the red-hot Trevor Williams, but fate was having none of it. Carpenter battled to a full count (because of course he did,) but struck out swinging at a perfectly placed change-up low and away, but in the zone. Martinez followed with another full count, but also struck out swinging at a fastball away, but in the zone. Adams tried a different tact, and attacked the first pitch he saw, a back-door cutter, and lined it the other way, but too close to third baseman Colin Moran, who dove and made the catch for the final out. The Cardinals made Williams throw 15 pitches in
Wainwright surrendered a singular hit again the 2nd, but this one proved to be of a bit more consequence. He started the inning off strongly enough, striking out Dickerson on 3 pitches and Harrison on a 6th-pitch cutter away. But he then left a cutter in that low-and-in sweet spot to a lefty, which Colin Moran launched out to the RCF bleachers. Wainwright recovered to get Mercer to ground out to SS on his 34th pitch. 1-0 Pirates.
Williams set the Cardinals down in order again. Ozuna flew out to RF on a 1-2 slider, and DeJong struck out chasing an outside, 2-2 fastball. Kolten Wong then stepped in a launched an inside sinker deep down the RF line, but saw it hook just foul, with HR distance. He rolled over on an outside change up for the final out. Williams was at 31 pitches through 2.
The wheels came off for the wagon-maker in the 3rd. Williams gave us all the indication we should have needed that Wainwright had lost his effectiveness by lacing a hard, lead off single past Wong into RF. After Frazier flew out to the RF corner, Starling Marte socked a HR to dead CF, 418 feet away. But the Pirates weren’t done. Josh Bell flared a single to CF, and Cervelli ripped a single through the hole on the left side of the infield, which brought Maddux out for a visit, and cued Tyson Ross to start warming in the bullpen. After the pep talk, Corey Dickerson ripped an RBI single over DeJong’s head to extend the Pirates’ lead. Wainwright was finally able to get Harrison to pop out to Adams in foul territory, and Moran to ground out to 2B to end the rough inning. His pitch count had ballooned to 60. 4-0 Pirates.
Williams, on the other hand, was having no problems. Bader tried to bunt his way on base, but got too much of the ball and put it toward Moran with too much pace. He was out by a step. Then the hapless Carson Kelly struck out to bring up the pitcher’s spot, which was still occupied by Wainwright, to the dismay of many. He grounded out softly to 3B on Williams’ 41st pitch.
Wainwright was able to bounce back against the bottom of the Pirates’ order, though with alarmingly diminished velocity. He got Mercer and Williams to each ground out to 3B, and Frazier to fly out to medium CF. The much-need quick inning brought his pitch count up to 69.
The Cardinals awoke in the 4th. MVP candidate Matt Carpenter led the charge with a lead off double that one-hopped the wall in RF, and Jose Martinez followed by somehow inside-outing to RF a sinker in on his hands. Then, after Adams struck out chasing an elevated fastball, Marcell Ozuna laced an RBI single to LF, and Paul DeJong smote a first-pitch fastball to LCF to score a pair. The rally continued, as Kolten Wong beat out an infield single on a grounder to SS, and Harrison Bader tied things up with a sac fly to RCF. Williams’ pitch count inflated to 64. 4-4 Tie.
Wainwright, still pitching for some reason, set the heart of the Pirates’ lineup down in order in the 5th to reward his teammates for giving this game a second life. He got Marte to ground out to SS, with the help of a nice, charging play by DeJong. Then he retired Bell for the first time in 3 tries with a ground out to 2B, and finally set down Cervelli on a come-backer. He was up to 81 pitches, and his evening was through.
Williams also bounced back. Though pinch-hitter Greg Garcia lined a lead off single back up the middle, he got Carpenter to pop out to LF, Martinez to ground out to 3B, and Adams to watch strike 3 catch the outside corner. His pitch count was only at 76, but his stake in this game was over nonetheless.
Chasen Shreve relieved and deserved no reprieve. The lefty battled Corey Dickerson to full count before retiring him on a fly out to the track in LF, which should have indicated what would happen a couple pitches later. Josh Harrison followed with a HR to dead CF, the Pirates’ second such blast of the game. Shreve remained in the game to retire the lefty Moran, and he was done.
Dominic Leone relieved Shreve, and fared little better. Jordy Mercer greeted him with a single to LF, pinch-hitter Kevin Kramer followed with a 4-pitch BB, and Adam Frazier cashed a run in with an RBI single to CF. He finally got the singular out he needed when he struck out Marte on 3-pitches, a batter too late. 6-4 Pirates.
Kyle Crick relieved Williams, and set the Cardinals down in order. He got Ozuna to ground out to 3B, DeJong to ground out to SS, and Wong to fly out to CF. Another 1-2-3 inning.
Lefty Tyler Webb held the Pirates in place with a 1-2-3 frame of his own. He fell behind Bell 3-0 initially, but battled back to 3-2 and got him to pop out to 2B. Then he struck Cervelli out with 4 pitches, and got Dickerson to ground out to 2B to end the inning.
Richard Rodriguez relieved Crick, and also set the Cardinals down in order. He struck Bader out with a 3-2 elevated fastball, got Kelly to pop out to 2B, and struck out Wisdom with another elevated fastball.
John Brebbia relieved Webb, and was nearly as effective. He struck out Harrison with 3 pitches, the last of which was an elevated fastball. Then, after he allowed Moran to single to LF, he got Mercer to ground into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Like lightning, the Cardinals picked their opportunity and struck again in the 8th. Once again, Matt Carpenter led the charge by doing arguably the 2 things he does best: worked a full count and drew a walk, against new reliever Edgar Santana. Jose Martinez pushed him to 3B with a single to RCF. Adolis Garcia pinch ran, signalling that the Cardinals were planning to do some running — Matt Adams had other plans. The slugging lefty worked himself into a 2-1 count and absolutely abused an elevated fastball, launching a no-doubt blast out to the seats in RF, giving the Cardinals the lead, and knocking Santana from the game.
Dovydas Neverauskas, about whose name I’m no longer allowed to make jokes, relieved Santana, but the Cardinal offensive machine was already in motion, and he was in the way. Marcell Ozuna led off with a clean single to CF, and moved up to 2B on DeJong’s ground out to 3B. He moved up to 3B on a weird passed ball on Cervelli, which was probably a cross-up that was the fault of the pitcher. Whatever the reason, Cervelli whiffed on a pretty simple fastball up, and Ozuna made 3B. That proved huge because, after Wong drew a walk, Harrison Bader lifted a foul pop into short RF (where the bullpen would be if this was AT&T Park.) Frazier chose to catch it, and Ozuna was able to score pretty easily. He should have let it drop foul. 8-6 Cardinals.
Carlos Martinez closed this one out. He struck out Jordan Luplow with a 2-seamer to start things, but then surrendered an infield single/error/depends who you ask play, where Frazier grounded a ball back up the middle, Martinez caught a piece of it, DeJong ultimately reached it, but fired far too short of Carpenter, who was not able to make the catch. Martinez bounced back to strike out Marte swinging through a 3-2 change up, but then surrendered a long, long fly ball to LF by the torrid Josh Bell. The ball fortunately hit the wall on the fly instead of sailing over, which brought in a run, but maintained the Cardinal lead.
Francisco Cervelli stepped in next and rocked a first-pitch fastball toward the hole on the left side of the infield. DeJong ranged, stretched, made the grab, planted, and fired a redeeming strike to Carpenter at 1B, juuuuuuust in time to beat Cervelli. Replay could not overturn. Cardinals win 8-7.
- If you’re wondering where Gregory Polanco is, he succumbed to knee and shoulder injuries, and will miss the rest of the season, effective 2 days ago.
- Adam’s K of Dickerson in the 2nd was the 1,600th of his career. He got an extended standing ovation from the home crowd for his achievement.
- Adam didn’t eclipse 87 mph in the 4th inning.
- Kolten Wong caught a bug in his eye during his 4th inning infield single.
- Matt Carpenter now has 40 doubles.
The Cardinals look to win the series tomorrow, sending Miles Mikolas out to face Joe Musgrove. Game starts at 7:15 CST, and can be viewed on FSMW.