The season is officially over. The Cardinals finish the season with an 88-74 record, a record which would have made the playoffs in every other year in which two Wild Cards have existed. So that’s fun. Making history and all. Mike Shildt finishes his first (half) season as manager with a 40-27 record, which is a 96 win team over a full season if you were wondering. The Cardinals’ pitching faltered enough down the stretch that I’m struggling to really mind too much that they missed the playoffs, considering where they were at the All-Star break and that they probably would not be able to make it far in the playoffs. Nonetheless, another playoff-less season is a disappointment.
On to the game, for a short while, it seemed like the Cardinals may actually send the Cubs to the Wild Card game on their own. Matt Carpenter led the game off with a leadoff double. Jose Martinez tried to bunt for a hit and sacrifice Carpenter to third at the same time, but only one of the two was successful, putting Carpenter at 3rd base with one out. Paul DeJong lined a single to drive in Carpenter. With two outs, Patrick Wisdom singled up the middle and the relatively easy, routine play was screwed up by Jason Heyward in center, allowing O’Neill (on base from a fielder’s choice) to score from first base. 2-0 Cardinals after 1.
Jack Flaherty began his day poorly, walking Daniel Murphy to begin the inning. Ben Zobrist lined out to Martinez in right field for the first out and Javier Baez grounded into a forceout. With two outs, Anthony Rizzo hit a rocket right to Martinez, who managed to easily throw out Baez at home with a very strong throw. Score remained 2-0.
Francisco Pena hit a one-out ground rule double to begin the 2nd, but was stranded at 3rd base when the inning ended. Flaherty looked like old Flaherty in the bottom of the inning, pitching a scoreless inning with two strikeouts. In the 3rd, Mike Montgomery’s day ended early when DeJong hit a one-out double. Somebody named Allen Webster came in and was able to get out of the inning with no runs allowed.
The Cardinals put so much faith in Flaherty to end the season and it’s kind of clear he was just kind of worn out. Even if the Cardinals managed to have a better week, Flaherty in the Wild Card game isn’t what it was three weeks ago. He’s pitching farther into the season than he ever has and it kind of shows. He got the first two outs of the inning pretty easily and oh wait I’m having flashbacks to Tuesday’s game against the Brewers here.
Murphy doubled and Zobrist tripled, though it was a triple due to poor defense by Martinez, who did not read the ball well and let it slowly trickle to the wall. A wild pitch scored the Cubs 2nd run and tied the game. Baez walked on five pitches and there’s no greater indictment against your pitching than walking Javier Baez, who just refuses to walk if possible. Rizzo worked a tough at-bat and then lined a double up the middle to score Baez. An intentional walk to Kris Bryant brought about a pitching change. Chasen Shreve was in to face Heyward and Kyle Schwarber. Heyward singled home a run and Schwarber grounded back out to Shreve. 4-2 Cubs.
Alec Mills replaced Webster and had a very easy inning, striking out Yairo Munoz looking on a pitch below the strike zone and Jose Adolis Garcia on a pitch he shouldn’t have been swinging at. JAG’s plate discipline appears awful in the minors by the numbers and his MLB performance to date shows the numbers usually don’t lie. Austin Gomber replaced Shreve and immediately walked the first batter he faced on four straight balls, but got the next three guys out, including a strikeout of Zobrist.
Mills pitched another scoreless inning in the 5th, with a walk to Martinez the only blemish. Gomber did not do the same. He allowed a single, double, double, which gave the Cubs a 6-2 lead. After he got the next two guys out, Willson Contreras hit a deep flyball to left field that appeared to be a homer. A close look at the replay showed it wasn’t, but no review happened for some reason and the score was allowed to stand at 8-2. It didn’t really end up mattering, but not sure why there was no review for the clear no homer. Gomber struck out Mills to end his outing.
Mills allowed a leadoff double to Wisdom and then walked Harrison Bader, which caused his day to end. Carl Edwards Jr. came in, threw a wild pitch to allow both runners to reach 2nd and 3rd, and then allowed a two-run single to Munoz. Then Pena got into a double play to ruin any type of rally. Greg Garcia pinch-hit, possibly for the last time as a Cardinal, and appropriately enough, he walked. If today were his last game, he finishes his Cardinal career with 106 walks and a 12.3 BB%, which is ridiculously high for a guy who has absolutely no power. Another pitching change, lefty Randy Rosario, and Carpenter grounded out. Milwaukee, we may not have won, but we sure used the hell out of their bullpen. Hopefully it helps.
Tyler Webb came in and got the first two guys out. And more flashbacks to Tuesday occur. That’s right, the Cardinals couldn’t get out of an inning after getting the first two guys out. Let’s not make this a thing next year. Baez doubled and Rizzo walked, which brought in Dakota Hudson. Hudson induce a groundball to Carpenter, who ended up nearly where the second baseman usually plays, looked towards short, saw Munoz wasn’t covering, and then threw a pitch behind Hudson for an error. Heyward walked. Albert Almora Jr. hit a slow roller to Wisdom, who couldn’t barehand it, allowing another run to score. He mercifully struck out Contreras to end the inning.
The Cardinals added a run when they hit three singles admist two strikeouts by Brandon Kintzler. He was taken out of the game with the bases loaded for Steve Cishek. Cishek hit Munoz on the seventh pitch, which otherwise would have been Ball 4. The Cardinals did not seem all that interested in winning, so they kept Pena in to face Cishek and he struck out on three pitches. Carson Kelly, where art thou? Though really, where art literally anybody else on bench in that situation, including Adam Wainwright?
Daniel Poncedeleon made an appearance, his first in a couple weeks. He looked like the Cardinals were kind of foolish to ignore him for two weeks, with two groundouts and a strikeout in a scoreless inning. Old friend Jaime Garcia came into the game. He got two outs and then allowed an infield single and walked DeJong. O’Neill didn’t quite get enough for an opposite field homer to end the inning.
Mike Mayers pitched to 3 batters, but did not get a 1-2-3 inning, because he allowed a single to Rizzo, but then removed Rizzo from the basepaths with a double play ball. After back-to-back strikeouts by Wisdom and Bader, Munoz walked. Pena flied out to end the game.
- On the bright side, the Cubs and Brewers have to play a Game 163 to determine the division winner. The loser plays in the Wild Card game. A similar thing happened in the NL West, so you get two games tomorrow in what otherwise was an off-day for baseball.
- Flaherty line: 2.2 IP, 3 Ks, 3 BBs, 4 H, 4 ER - He finishes the season with a 3.34 ERA, a 3.86 FIP, and a 3.59 xFIP. If you’re into it, he also has a 3.51 SIERA, so it appears he was a bit unlucky with the home runs this year. Very promising rookie season from Flaherty. I hope he can improve on his walks and pitch count during games next year.
- Austin Gomber ended up getting a long, hard look as a starter and reliever this year. He pitched 75 innings with a 4.44 ERA in the end. His FIP was 4.03, but his xFIP was 4.51. His SIERA before today’s game was 4.55 and I guarantee that is going up after today’s game. I would prefer he not be in the MLB rotation to begin next season, but maybe after an injury or two.
- Patrick Wisdom ends his season with a 141 wRC+ with a .333 BABIP. I am pretty curious to see what the Cardinals do with him this year, since my expectation before he ever entered the majors was non-tender. I now expect him to be traded for something, though I do not expect much of anything.
- I am very vocal about this so I might as well beat a dead horse. Please let that be Francisco Pena’s last game as a Cardinal.
- Paul DeJong went 2-4 with a BB. He ends his season with a 102 wRC+ and 3.2 WAR in only 490 plate appearances. He ranks 11th in WAR among SS, though to be fair, the SS leaderboard is absolutely ridiculous. The 8th best SS in the majors has 4.7 WAR what in the world.
- Also a likely farewell to Jose Martinez. If this is the last game he plays, it was a good one, defensive miscues notwithstanding. He went 2-4 with a BB as well and will finish his season with a 125 wRC+ and 2.2 WAR. Cards should be able to get something of value for him over the offseason.
- This was extremely a fitting end for the Cardinals as this was such a 2018 loss.
- And with that I sign off for the recaps with the Cardinals. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed my recaps.
There is no game tomorrow the Cardinals, BUT there are two division deciding games happening! The Brewers and Cubs play in Wrigley at noon tomorrow, which sucks because I probably can’t watch that. There’s also a 3 pm game against the Rockies and Dodgers.