Well shit. That just happened.
What happened to Luke Weaver? I didn’t see this coming. Maybe I should have, but I didn’t. In just over 60 innings pitched last year, Weaver struck out 28.6% of batters he faced, while walking only 6.8%. To be sure, that was probably always an unrealistic expectation for him over a full season. But it has been a stark drop. He now strikes out 20.1% of batters, while walking 8.4% of batters. Honestly, his advanced stats aren’t that bad. They aren’t good, but they aren’t as bad as it seems like Weaver is pitching. He has a 4.21 FIP and 4.31 xFIP, which is below average, but is a lot better than what it seems.
Weaver had a terrible first inning. You can have worse first innings, but I’d be hard pressed to think of any worse ones where you manage to give up only two runs, if that makes sense. He allowed a leadoff double to Billy Hamilton, always a bad sign. Jose Peraza grounded out to second, which advanced Hamilton to third base. He got to 0-2 on Joey Votto, but then threw four straight balls. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m not going to give you a hard time for walking Votto, who is both an excellent hitter and has one of the best eyes in the game. He got to 2-2 on Scooter Gennett, but couldn’t put him away, with Gennett fouling off three pitches before singling to right field to score the first Reds’ run.
With Votto making it to third on the single, Weaver threw a wild pitch while pitching to Eugenio Suarez, allowing Votto to score and Gennett to reach second base. The wild pitch lost its importance however when he ended up walking Suarez and later Scott Schebler to load the bases. With one out, Mason Williams grounded into an inning ending double play ball.
The Cardinals started similar to the Reds in the bottom of the inning, but they didn’t end it the same. Matt Carpenter walked and Yadier Molina hit an opposite field single to put runners at 1st and 2nd with nobody out. Jose Martinez, fresh off a 3 K game yesterday, struck out again. Marcell Ozuna hit a grounder to short, which advanced both runners. But Paul DeJonng also grounded out to short to end the inning with no runs scored.
Weaver wasn’t much better in the 2nd. He allowed a leadoff double to Curt Casali. Anthony DeSclafani bunted him over for Hamilton. Weaver walked Hamilton. Peraza fouled out to the catcher for the second out. Weaver walked Votto for the second time in the game to load the bases for the second time in two innings. Gennett flied out to end the inning.
The Cardinals again screwed up in the 2nd. Patrick Wisdom led off with a walk, but then for some reason got caught stealing. Seems like Wisdom, whether it’s a hit and run or steal, is not the guy who should be stealing. With two outs, Greg Garcia hit a single so we missed out on a potential 2nd and 3rd with Carpenter up situation.
Weaver had a better 3rd and 4th. He struck out two and got a groundout for his third out in the 3rd, but he did hit a batter in the inning. In the 4th, he struck out two batters again in what would be his last inning of work. There were legitimate calls to take him out when he loaded the bases again in the 2nd, but somehow he managed to somewhat redeem his start.
The Cardinals finally got to DeSclafani in the 4th. Ozuna got hit by a pitch and DeJong singled to center to begin the inning. Wisdom fouled out to first and it looked pretty familiar. But Harrison Bader changed things up and doubled home Ozuna and made it 2nd and 3rd with one out. Greg Garcia bunted his way on base, and drove in the second run. Tyler O’Neill pinch-hit for Weaver and struck out. Carpenter grounded out to first to end the inning, having stranded a runner on 3rd with less than two outs. If only that were the worst thing the Cardinals offense would do.
Tyler Webb replaced Weaver and pitched a solid 5th inning, with a hit allowed and a strikeout. He also pitched the first out of the 6th, which was a groundout. Lucas Sims replaced DeSclafani and was bewilderingly dominant. He pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts and no hits allowed. Dominic Leone replaced Webb and got his only two batters out, with a flyout and strikeout.
In the 7th, Carlos Martinez replaced Leone and well, the worst thing I can say is that he allowed a leadoff double to Hamilton. Hamilton having a great game is infuriating because he’s a terrible hitter and the Reds already have enough great hitters as it is. The black hole of offense Hamilton provides is essential to getting past the Reds offense. He was sacrificed to third and drove in with a sacrifice fly. Let’s ignore the 9th and focus on the fact that the Cards lost because we allowed Hamilton to reach base three times, two of which he ended up scoring. That hurts.
Sims came back out for the 7th, but walked Garcia. In comes Jared Hughes, who was one of the luckier pitchers tonight. Matt Adams pinch-hit and lined out at Votto, which was an easy double play ball. Carpenter grounded out to end the inning. Dakota Hudson pitched the 8th and was shaky. He ended up throwing 8 balls to 5 strikes, but the Reds were perhaps a little aggressive with his shaky command. On 3-2, he got Suarez to ground out, but then walked Schebler on four pitches. He got the next two batters out on three pitches.
In the 8th, Hughes returned and he immediately walked Molina. Adolis Garcia pinch-ran for Molina. Jose Martinez, previously 0-3 with 3 Ks, singled to put runners at 1st and 2nd again. Ozuna hit a slow grounder, which advanced the batters to 2nd and 3rd. DeJong got intentionally walked to load the bases. Wisdom again popped out in an important situation. Bader hit a slow grounder to Peraza and beat it out. Nobody else beats that out. Cards tie it up 3-3.
Hudson pitched an easy 1-2-3 inning in the 9th. Sigh. I don’t really even want to relay the events what happened in the bottom of the inning. Let’s just stick to the facts and move on. Yairo Munoz pinch hit and doubled. IBB to Carp. Francisco Pena, in for Molina, bunted down the 1st base line perfectly and was safe on the play. Jose Martinez struck out, swinging at nothing but balls. Ozuna grounded into a fielder’s choice out at home. DeJong popped out on a play that maybe scores a run if Martinez does it because of the length Gennett had to run to catch it. Bases loaded, nobody out. Nobody scores.
Bud Norris came into the game and did not have it. He walked Votto - what else is new? And allowed back-to-back homers to Suarez and Brandon Dixon. Raisel Iglesias, fresh off a 28-pitch outing yesterday, came in anyway. Wisdom walked to lead off. Bader hit a deep fly ball that fell just short of the warning track. Garcia drove in Wisdom on a groundout. Carson Kelly pinch hit and worked a 9 pitch walk. IBB to Carp again. Pena hit a line drive flyout to deep right to end the game. Pretty bad loss.
- Luke Weaver: 4 IP, 4 Ks, 5 BBs, 3 H, 2 ER, 50% GB - Let’s just say I’m happy to not be facing Votto anymore because it’s like at least one automatic walk for whoever is starting that day.
- Okay so probably not something you want to hear, but the Cardinals ended up going 12-7 against the Reds. That’s... about right. The timing of how the losses came is extremely annoying, but you can’t really say the Cardinals screwed up against the Reds this year overall, record-wise, because you can’t ask for better than 12-7 against any team. We probably had a loss like this coming against them too honestly with how many early season wins we had against them that were on the luckier side, as hard as it is to remember.
- Not entirely sure what has happened to Jose Martinez, but it must involve some Space Jam shenanigans. His plate discipline utterly disappeared in his last plate appearance.
- Ozuna is still having uninspiring plate appearances in his return from injury. Would love to get 2017 Ozuna down the stretch.
- It’s frustrating to imagine how the game would have ended differently if Norris had pitched even slightly good. Imagine, for instance, if he only gave up one run. Garcia’s groundout would have become a forceout at home, Kelly would walk to put runners at 1st and 2nd for Carpenter. Carpenter isn’t getting walked there, I don’t think. I mean would you really put the winning run on 2nd base?
- Well shit
Tomorrow, the Cardinals have a tough one. They begin a new series against the Washington Nationals. It’s Max Scherzer against Jack Flaherty.