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Dodgers Shoot Cardinals’ Bullpen Out of a Cannon 9.15.18

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Like in the cartoons.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Essential Information

The Cardinals lost 17-4. They fell out of playoff position with this loss, and are now 6 games back of the division with 13 games remaining.

Hope you guys enjoyed your Saturday instead of spending it in front of your TV like I did. The Cardinals are a mess right now. The offense isn’t producing, the starters aren’t consuming innings, and the bullpen is a tire fire.

John Gant did not have much in the way of command today, and the Dodgers punished him. He actually left the game with a lead, but also with the bases loaded. All of those runs, and then some, would come around to score, because this bullpen cannot get guys out anymore. Their August success was always a mirage, but they’re not actually this bad, either. Webb, Mayers, Leone, Shreve, and Weaver all pitched in this one, and all but Shreve were charged with earned runs (though allowed an inherited baserunner to score.)

Meanwhile, the offense had nothing for the second game in a row. Rich Hill is a good pitcher, but you’d hope that with a righty-stacked lineup you’d be able to manage more than a couple hits off him. The Cardinals were gifted 3 of their 4 runs, because Hill did this weird thing where he forgot how to throw strikes for a 10-pitch stint in the 4th. The Cardinals found themselves down 3-0, but with the bases loaded, all via walk, and Patrick Wisdom cashed them in with a graaaaaand slammaaaaaaa into Big Mac Land. The lead lasted five minutes, as the Dodgers responded with 14 unanswered runs.

Final Lines

John Gant: 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 6H, 2 HR, 4 K, 4 BB, 20 GSc, 75 pitches.

Rich Hill: 5.0 IP, 4 ER, 2 H, 1 HR, 8 K, 4 BB, 48 GSc, 84 pitches.

Events

1st Inning

The Dodgers stuck it to the Cardinals early. After Gant made Pederson look foolish during a 3-pitch K, Justin Turner dunked an inside fastball into shallow CF, and Manny Machado ambushed a first-pitch, middle-middle fastball, sending it several rows deep into the seats in RCF. Gant was briefly rattled, and walked Muncy on 4 pitches, but recovered to induce a pair of ground outs from Grandal and Bellinger to escape the inning. Grandal’s might have been a double play ball, but the ball clipped Muncy’s cleat as he broke for 2B, and the umpires ruled the baserunner out, and the hitter safe on interference. Gant threw 17 pitches. 2-0 Dodgers.

Rich Hill had no trouble with the Cardinal offense, striking out the side. He got Bader with a curveball above the strike zone, fooled Martinez with a massive bender low and on the inner half, and flummoxed DeJong with another curve low, but in the zone. He threw 13 pitches in the frame.

2nd Inning

Gant bounced back in the 2nd against the bottom of the Dodgers’ lineup. He got last night’s juggernaut Yasiel Puig to ground out sharply to 2B, struck out Utley looking at a 1-2 fastball away, and got the fleet-footed Hill to bounce out to 2B. Gant was now at 29 pitches through 2.

The Cardinals managed both their first non-strike out and hit in the 2nd, so they had that going for them. Ozuna earned the former, as he popped out simply halfway down the RF line. Then, after Gyorko struck out chasing a fastball a foot above the zone, Patrick Wisdom earned the latter. The rookie took a pool cue to an outside fastball, and squirted it down the 1B line toward Muncy. Wisdom hustled out of the box, and miraculously avoided his counterpart’s tag, and was fortunately ruled to have stayed in the baseline. Wong chopped out back to Hill for the final out.

3rd Inning

John Gant worked himself into, and then out of trouble in the 3rd. After getting ahead of Pederson 0-2 again, Joc was able to lift a soft single over a leaping Wong for a single. Gant then tried going inside on Justin Turner, but missed badly and ended up hitting him on his fragile left wrist. But then, after he uncorked a wild pitch to allow the runners to move up the 2B & 3B, he got Machado to pop out to a twisting, turning, diving Kolten Wong in short CF. Shildt intentionally walked Muncy to load the bases, which gave Gant the opportunity he needed to strike out Grandal swinging at a fastball, and get Bellinger to fly out to CF. The stressful inning only pushed Gant’s pitch count up to 45.

Hill set the Cardinals down in order again in the 3rd. He got Yadi to pop out on the infield, Gant to strike out swinging, and Bader to get a hard-luck line out to Utley, who was positioned right behind the 2B bag. Hill’s pitch count was 40.

4th Inning

Last night’s juggernaut reemerged in the 4th. Yasiel Puig got another first-pitch cookie from Gant, and launched a no-doubter to LCF to tack on to the Dodger lead. Gant recovered to get Utley to ground out to 2B, Hill to flare out to SS, and Pederson to strike out swinging through an elevated fastball, his 57th pitch. 3-0 Dodgers.

After all their futility the first 3 innings, the Cardinals broke through in a big way in the 4th. Jose Martinez indicated Hill might be hittable as he launched a long fly out to the track in CF. Hill then got ahead of DeJong 1-2, and that’s when everything fell apart for the lefty. He ended up walking DeJong. And Ozuna. And Gyorko. The bases were loaded for Patrick Wisdom, who fell behind 0-2, but then launched a titanic grand slam into Big Mac Land! I yelled. I now have a reputation with my new neighbors. IDGAF. Wong bunted out and Yadi struck out to end the inning on Hill’s 68th pitch. 4-3 Cardinals.

5th Inning

The lead was fun while it lasted. Gant returned to face the heart of the Dodgers’ lineup a third time, with predictable results. Turner got things started with a simple single through the hole on the left side of the infield. Gant got Machado to fly out to RF, which would prove to be the last out the Cardinals would get for a while. Gant battled both Muncy and Grandal to full counts, and lost them both to walks, loading the bases.

Shildt had seen more than enough, and opted for lefty Tyler Webb to face Cody Bellinger. It looked good on paper. Webb fell behind 3-0, battled back to 3-2, and surrendered a well-struck, 2-run single through the right side of the infield. Shildt then went to the righty Mike Mayers to try to tame Yasiel Puig, which backfired horribly as Puig launched a laser down the LF line for a 3-run HR. Mayers the Utley to fly out to the track in RCF and struck out Hill to limp out of the depressing frame. 8-4 Dodgers.

Hill made this lead stand up. He struck out pinch-hitter Jose Adolis Garcia with a wicked bender that dropped into the strike zone through the ceiling, struck out Bader with an elevated fastball and, after Martinez walked on 4 pitches, got DeJong to ground out to 3B for the final out. He was up to 84 pitches, and his afternoon was complete.

6th Inning

It got worse. Dominic Leone relieved Mayers, and immediately got himself into trouble, surrendering a pair of singles to Pederson and Turner. He managed to get Machado to ground into a 6-4-3 double play, but Muncy pulled an RBI single to RF, and Shildt yanked him. Shreve relieved, and predictably poured a bit of gas onto the fire before extinguishing it. He walked Grandal on 4 pitches, and then surrendered an RBI single to RF by Bellinger. It was pretty much identical to his RBI single * checks notes * last inning. Shreve finally struck out, of all people, Puig to escape the inning. 10-4 Dodgers.

Dylan Floro relieved Hill and picked up where his predecessor left off. He got Ozuna to ground out to SS to start the inning and then, after Gyorko singled to CF, got Wisdom to line out to CF. Wong ripped a single down the LF line (where Pederson was shaded), but Molina grounded out to 3B to end the inning.

7th Inning

The bullpen held the Dodgers at bay in the 7th. Shreve returned because even in September there are only so many arms available. He promptly walked pinch-hitter Chris Taylor on 4 pitches, but got pinch-hitter Matt Kemp to ground into a 4-6-3 double play, aided by another slick play by Kolten Wong. Pederson flared a single to chase Shreve, and bring in Weaver. Weaver got ahead of Turner before eventually walking him, but got Machado to pop out to CF to end the inning.

The chelonian Pedro Baez relieved Floro, and kept the Cardinals in their place. Though Francisco Pena greeted him with a dumped single to short RCF, Bader flew out to RCF, Martinez struck out swinging, and DeJong flew out to the CF wall.

8th Inning

Yasiel Puig wasn’t done with the Cardinals yet. Max Muncy led the rally with a walk, and was pinch-run for my Tim Locastro. Then, after Grandal grounded out on a comebacker, and Bellinger worked a walk on a 3-2 pitch, Puig obliterated a change up low in the zone over the LF wall. I’m starting to think he’s not actually my friend, you guys. Weaver bounced back and struck out Taylor and Verdugo with 7 pitches. 13-4 Dodgers.

Ryan Madson relieved Baez, and set the Cardinals down with speed. He got pinch-hitter Tyler O’Neill to line out to LF, pinch-hitter Greg Garcia to strike out swinging, and Wisdom to pop out to 3B.

9th Inning

Why are you still reading this? Anywho, this frame started out inauspiciously enough, as Pederson flew out to LF. But Brian Dozier creamed a double off the wall in the LF corner, and Kike Hernandez drew a walk. Then, Andrew Toles pulled an easy grounder to Wisdom at 1B. Wisdom dropped the ball, fired wide of Weaver covering 1B, which allowed a run to score. Then, after Austin Barnes struck out looking, Cody Bellinger demolished a fastball over the wall in RCF for a 3-run HR. Puig popped out to SS to mercifully end the frame. 17-4 Dodgers.

Julio Urias put the final nail in this game. He got Wong and Kelly to ground out to SS, and struck out Pena swinging. Thank god. Dodgers win 17-4.

Notes

  • Rich Hill’s strike zone was cavernous.
  • Adam Wainwright mentioned during his in-game interview with John Smoltz that the Cardinals helped Smoltz stop tipping his pitches when he came over from Boston in 2009, which explained why he pitched so much better. I’m not sure I’d ever heard that before, so there you go.
  • Yadi, whose hamstring is still not healthy, was subbed out in a double switch when Weaver was brought into the game in the 7th.
  • Max Muncy walked 4 times.

The Cardinals will look to pull back into playoff position and stave off a 4-game sweep tomorrow, sending Adam Wainwright to face Ross Stripling. Game starts at 7:05 CST, and can be viewed on ESPN.