The Cardinals won 5-4. Tyler O’Neill is a man. Adam Wainwright is back.
The story of this game is how @#*$#*&$% jacked Tyler O’Neill is. His walk-off HR in the bottom of the 10th inning is one of the signature moments of this crazy season. He needs to play more.
Prior to that moment, Adam Wainwright had been the hero of the game. The 37-year-old twirled another fantastic start, and was let down by a series of mistakes by his defense. He leaned on his curveball heavily, and the Giants (save for Joe Panik) had no answer. The Cardinals needed him, and he delivered.
The defense - oh my god, the defense was bad. Bad transfers, bad throws, taking the eye off the ball, and a rare double-error. The Cardinals did it all today. They recorded 4 errors, and probably deserved 1 or 2 more. Fortunately, Wainwright, Dakota Hudson, and Carlos Martinez were enough to make up for them.
Adam Wainwright: 6.1 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 0 HR, 6 K, 0 BB, 56 GSc, 104 pitches.
Dereck Rodriguez: 6.0+ IP, 4 ER, 7 H, 1 HR, 2 K, 1 BB, 44 GSc, 78 pitches.
Adam Wainwright picked up where he left off last week. Blanco helped him out by rolling over on the first pitch of the game and grounded out to 2B, but Joe Panik was able to rip a 1-2 curveball to RF for a single. Wainwright then went to work on Evan Longoria, finishing him with beautiful curveball that dropped off the table, and got Crawford to ground out to 2B for the final out. He threw 13 pitches.
The Cardinals threatened, but came up empty in the bottom half. Carpenter struck out looking at a fastball 2 ball widths off the inside edge of the strike zone, and Martinez flew out to medium RF. Paul DeJong was the one to break through, guiding a 1-2 fastball toward the RF corner for a 2-out double. He would be left stranded, however, as Ozuna popped out to 2B. Rodriguez threw 17 pitches in the inning.
Wainwright was too much for the makeshift bottom of the Giants’ order. After he cleared Hunter Pence, who gave out a ride out to Bader in LCF a few feet short of the track, he bust Shaw inside and coaxed a pop out to short RF, and then struck Hanson out with another one of those damning curveballs. His pitch count was 23 through 2.
Just as the Cardinals confounded Longoria last night with well-placed hits just out of his reach, the Cardinals made Brandon Crawford hate his life in the 2nd. Jedd Gyorko got things started with a ball scorched to Crawford’s right, that slipped just under his glove and into short LF. Then, after Yadi flew out to RF, Harrison Bader slipped another hard grounder under a diving Crawford’s glove to give the Cardinals runners on 1B & 2B. Then, after Yairo lined out to LF, Adam Wainwright broke through with an RBI single through the hole on the left side of the infield. Gyorko, who is extremely slow, might have been out at home had the throw from LF not been cut off, but Bader made sure to stray too far off 2B and catch the eye of the cut-man. He was tagged out after a brief pickle, but the run still scored. Rodriguez was up to 32 pitches. 1-0 Cardinals.
The Giants got that run right back. Aramis Garcia led the charge by stroking a double just past a diving Jedd Gyorko into the RF corner. Wainwright did everything in his might to strand him, as he got his counterpart to ground out to 2B, and Blanco to strike out swinging through another curveball. But Joe Panik took a close 2-2 fastball on the edge and was given a ball, much to the ire of Wainwright, and then blooped the 3-2 curveball into short CF for an RBI single. Longoria grounded out to 3B on Adam’s 43rd pitch to end the frame. 1-1 Tie.
The Cardinals punched right back. Matt Carpenter started the rally with a single over the shift into RF. He then took off for 2B as Martinez grounded out to 2B, avoided the double play, which proved huge because Paul DeJong then flipped an RBI single to RCF. Ozuna tried to add to it, but his sharp smash down the 3B line was turned into an impressive 5-4-3 double play by Longoria. Rodriguez was at 43 pitches. 2-1 Cardinals.
Wainwright set the Giants down in order in the 4th. He got in on Crawford’s hands with a fastball and induced a weak pop out to 3B, before striking out Pence swinging with a fastball and Shaw swinging with a curveball. His pitch count was at 57 through 4 innings.
In what was becoming a game of reactions, Rodriguez responded with a 1-2-3 inning of his own. He got Gyorko to reach and softly tap out to SS, Yadi to ground out to SS, and Bader to ground out to Hanson shifted over to the SS’s side of the bag. The quick inning had his pitch count at an even-lower 54.
Wainwright worked around a defensive miscue to throw up another zero. He initially fell behind Alen Hanson 3-1, but battled back and struck him out swinging with yet another curveball. Garcia then rolled a soft grounder toward SS, but DeJong bobbled the transfer and the Giant catcher was ruled safe. Replay angles showed the throw beating him, but New York would not overturn. It mattered not, because after Rodriguez bunted Garcia to 2B, Blanco grounded out to 2B again. Wainwright was at 69 pitches.
The Cardinals went down in order again in the 5th. Munoz, who took issue with another questionable called strike in the PA, struck out swinging through a curveball, Wainwright launched a long fly out Shaw in LF, and Carpenter grounded out to 1B on Rodriguez’s 65th pitch.
Wainwright navigated the heart of the Giants’ order again in the 6th. He finally retired Panik by getting him to sharply ground out to 1B, then got Longoria to fly out to RF and Crawford to fly out to CF. Though he set the Giants down in order, deep counts pushed his pitch count to 89, and his afternoon should have ended there.
Rodriguez, after surrendering the lead in the 3rd, upped his consecutively retired Cardinals streak up to 10. Jose Martinez thought he got a hold of one, but only managed to fly out to deep RCF. Then DeJong grounded out to 3B, and Ozuna popped out to RF. The quick inning put Rodriguez’s pitch count at 72.
The wheels fell off in the 7th in the most excruciating manner. Hunter Pence started the rally with one of the only clean hits of the inning, lining a harmless single to RF. After Chris Shaw flew out to the track in LCF, Alen Hanson lifted a tall pop up into No Man’s Land in short LF. Ozuna couldn’t get to it on the fly, then fired wide of 3B to allow Hanson to make 2B. Then Aramis Garcia lifted a weak single to short CF that Bader overran, allowing 2 runs to score. When Dereck Rodriguez also pulled a single through the infield that pushed Garcia to 3B, Shildt decided to go to his bullpen.
Dakota Hudson relieved, and got the grounder he needed from Blanco. But DeJong and Munoz were a tad slow on the double play try, and Blanco beat the throw at 1B by half a step. Then, after Joe Panik chopped an infield single under Gyorko’s glove (ugh), Hudson got Longoria to pop out to 2B. 4-2 Giants.
The Cardinals bounced right back. Gyorko worked a 4-pitch BB, and Yadier Molina cashed him in, launching a game-tying, 2-run shot to LF, and chasing Rodriguez. Sam Dyson relieved, and got Bader to tap out on a comebacker, Munoz to ground out to 2B, and pinch-hitter Tyler O’Neill to fly out to RF.
Hudson held the game tied. He started the frame by getting Crawford to ground out to 2B, and Pence to pop out to 1B, a play that looked like another confounding flare from the inning prior off the bat. He walked Shaw in an 8-pitch battle, but got Hanson to pop out to CF for the final out.
Tony Watson relieved Dyson, and set the Cardinals down in order. Carpenter battled him to a full count, and then watched strike 3 go right down the middle. Patrick Wisdom did the same (though his called strike 3 was a little more inside.) DeJong flew out to LF before his PA could ever get that far.
Carlos Martinez pitched the 9th. Aramis Garcia, who was having himself a game, started things off with a clean single to CF, and was pinch-run for by Chase D’Arnaud (good riddance!) Pinch-hitter Kelby Tomlinson moved him up with a sac bunt, but Gregor Blanco softly grounded out to 2B, an out that required a nice charging play by Munoz to convert. Carlos pitched around the red-hot Joe Panik and walked him, but got Longoria to pop out to short CF to end the inning.
The Cardinals went up there looking to end this game with one swing, and came up empty. Ozuna just got underneath his pitch, and flew out down the LF line. Gyorko went the other way and got good wood on a fastball, but hit it right at Hanson at 2B for a ground out. Yadi then got fooled so bad by a slider for a strike 3 that his bat ended up all the way out by the SS position.
The Cardinals tried to give this one away, but Carlos and Yadi weren’t having it. They started the frame by making Crawford look foolish as he swung through a slider for strike 3. Pence then slashed a comebacker at Martinez, which the pitcher spun and knocked toward 3B for a single, to bring up Gorkys Hernandez. Gorkys would push a grounder toward 1B, which Carpenter booted and then threw wide of 1B to allow him to reach 1B safely, and Pence to reach 3B. Carlos battled back to strike out Hanson, intentionally walk Nick Hundley, and then strike out pinch-hitter Austin Slater looking with a slider. Exhale.
[Busch Stadium] Mark Melancon relieved Black. [me chanting: meat, meat-] He got Bader to lift a long fly out to RF for the first out, [Other fans: meat, MEAT] and Munoz to line out to CF, which required a nice sliding play by Gorkys to convert. That brought up Tyler O’Neill [George Greer, pounding his clipboard: MEAT, MEAT, MEAT!] who worked a 2-2 count and annihilated a hanging curveball over the Cardinals bullpen in LF for a walk off HR. Cardinals win 5-4.
- Dereck Rodriguez is Pudge’s son, and has quietly been one of the NL’s best rookies this year.
- The Giants’ Aramis Garcia looks like a pretty solid defensive backstop.
- “(Adam Wainwright) loves to talk about how good a hitter he is, when he gets a hit.” -AJ Pierzynski
- Wainwright was pissed at home plate ump Chad Fairchild in the 3rd after a couple borderline calls went against him.
- The ball was not carrying today. Until it did.
Three errors in an inning you entered holding a lead is not, as they say, winning baseball.— Jeff Jones (@jmjones) September 22, 2018
The Cardinals go for the sweep tomorrow, sending Miles Mikolas to face Andrew Suarez. Game starts at 1:15 CST, and can be viewed on FSMW and MLB Network.