Game 5 recap notes--Cards win in wild 6-5 11th inning circus after Wainwright falters

People who have been watching Adam Wainwright since his rookie year of 2005, along with others, were excited to see how Adam Wainwright would look after 3 years of declining effectiveness. In the middle of last season, even he thought his career was over, but changed his mind once he could pitch without pain. Today, unfortunately, raised more questions than it answered, as his velocity was down and his command was nowhere to be found. But that only tells the story for the 1st 4 innings of this game. We had an ejection, a home plate umpire switch, questionable defense on both sides, and wild and wacky plays. This is going to be long, but for those that missed the game, it's the only way to tell the true story of how everything unfolded.

Wainwright struggled with his control right from the jump. In the 1st inning he walked Frazier and Marte to start the game. Dickerson took the count to 3-2 before grounding to 1st to move the runners to 2nd and 3rd. Bell grounded a ball to 2nd to score Frazier and give the Pirates a 1-0 lead and move Marte to 3rd. Wainwright then walked Cervelli. Moran then drove a first pitch center-cut sinker down the right field line for a double to clear the bases and give the Pirates a 3-0 lead. Pablo Reyes mercifully popped to short on a curve ball to end the inning, which ended with Wainwright throwing 33 pitches and only 14 for strikes. Most of his sinkers were in the 85-88 mph range with a few topped out at 91. His curveball was the only pitch he could consistently get over, but it didn’t look like his Uncle Charlie of old.

In the 2nd inning Wainwright looked like he was throwing even slower, but he relied on guile and grit to get out of the inning. He managed to strike out Erik Gonzalez looking on a 78 mph cutter right down the middle that didn’t cut and also struck the pitcher Archer out looking on an outside fastball. He got behind Frazier, 2-1 then got out of the inning when DeJong made a good play up the middle on a smoked grounder.

The Cards had some injury concerns in the 3rd. Wainwright walked to start the inning. With 2 out, Archer hit DeJong in the left elbow with a fastball to put runners on 1st and 2nd, but DeJong turned out to be fine for the time being. With 2 out, Ozuna fouled the 2-2 pitch off of his left instep before striking out, and his hobbling after that may have turned out to be a factor in what happened next in the bottom of the 3rd. Marte looped a leadoff base hit to left right in front of Ozuna that it looked like a healthy player would have at least had a play on. Dickerson golfed a low 1-1 curve to left-center, but Ozuna was almost limping out there, and it bounced once and went over the wall for a ground rule double to move Marte to 3rd. In fairness, Ozuna was playing closer to the line, but a healthy player running full speed could have had it. Bell then flied to short left for Ozuna, who was charging in to catch it, but he had trouble getting it out of his glove on time, then made a lollipop off-line throw the plate. Marte scored on the Sac Fly to extend the Pirates’ lead to 4-0. Wainwright got Cervelli looking on a borderline 3-2 pitch up an in, Moran was intentionally walked, and got Reyes to fly to right to end the inning.

In the 4th, after Frazier made a real nice play at 2nd and a backhanded cross-body throw to retire Molina on a grounder, Fowler finally got us our first hit of the day with a looper to left. With 2 out and Bader at the plate, Fowler was caught stealing second base to end the inning. Cervelli picked a hard slider out of the dirt and threw to 2nd from his knees. Fowler looked like he hurt his right hand sliding headfirst. Fowler was initially called safe, but the Pirates challenged and the call was overturned to out. The replay showed that although Frazier had a fragile grip on the ball, the throw did beat Fowler and he was tagged before he touched the base. Luckily, Wainwright only had to throw 7 pitches to get out of the 4th inning. Although Gonzalez led off with a single up the middle, the Pirates pitcher Archer laid down the sacrifice bunt in front of Molina at the plate. But Gonzalez tried to get too cute rounding 2nd base after Archer was thrown out, and got caught for a double play.

When Bader led off with a single (it could have easily been called an error, as it was hit hard but just under Moran’s glove at 3rd) to start the 5th, Shildt pinch-hit Drew Robinson for Wainwright, but he and the next 2 batters struck out to end the inning. The book on Wainwright was 4 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 Unintentional Walks, 3 SO, 72 pitches and only 37 strikes. He had command of basically none of his pitches. Brebbia got us out of the 5th and 6th with no damage, and Crick shut us down in the 6th with Archer done after 5 IP and 99 pitches.

The Cards finally got on the board in the top of the 7th off of reliever Rich Rodriguez. He hit Fowler on the right foot on a bounce with a fastball. Fowler looked hurt and play stopped for a bit, but he stayed in the game. Wong then lined an 0-2 down the middle fastball just over the right-center field wall for a 2-run HR to cut the Pirates’ lead to 4-2. The Cards then had a chance to do some more damage. Bader hit a 3-2 broken-bat fastball towards the middle that bounced with a weird hop and he beat it out for an infield single. O’Neill, pinch-hitting for Brebbia, hit an outside slider to 3rd for Moran at 3rd moving to his left for what should have been at least a forceout at second. But he bobbled the ball, and the delay was long enough for O’Neill to beat the throw to 3rd. Moran was charged with a fielding error and the Pirates brought in lefty Francisco Liriano to pitch to Carpenter with runners on 1st and 2nd and nobody out, and he walked Carpenter to load the bases. Hurdle went to his bullpen again, made a double switch and brought in righty Keone Kela to pitch to Goldschmidt. After being down in the count 0-2, Goldschmidt worked a walk. Bader scored to cut the lead to 4-3. But DeJong popped to center on a high 2-1 curve, Ozuna struck out on a high 1-2 fastball and Molina offered at a curveball in the dirt for strike 3, and the Cards could capitalize no further.

O’Neill stayed in the game in right field in the #9 spot and Leone came in to pitch. Shildt would not have made this move other than to protect Fowler because the #6 spot in which Leone was placed was due up next in the Cards order. JB Shuck, who came in on the double switch fouled the second pitch from Leone off of the home plate umpire’s mask, and play had to stop for several minutes before they made an umpire change. Shuck then hit a lazy fly to left. Bader came over all the way from center field to catch it, but he dropped it as it bounced off his glove for a 2-base error. After Frazier struck out and Marte forced Shuck, Shildt made a double switch, brought in Miller to pitch to the lefty Dickerson, and put Munoz at #6 in the order in left field with the pitcher in the #4 spot to replace Ozuna. But Miller walked Dickerson to put runners on 1st and 3rd. Then he hit Josh Bell—turned around to the right side—in the left leg underneath the knee to load the bases. Shildt came back out to the mound and brought in Mayers to pitch to Cervelli. Mayers gave us a scare and took Cervelli to 3-0, but he battled back to 3-2 and got Cervelli to ground to short to end the scoring.

The Pirates brought out righty Nick Burdi to pitch the 8th. Munoz, who had come back into the #6 spot in the double switch, poked a ball just past the mound off the pitcher’s glove on an 0-2 pitch and legged it out for an infield single. After Wong and Bader struck out while wasting first-pitch strikes on bunts, Burdi threw a very high fastball to Tyler O’Neill. The catcher Cervelli was surprised and stabbed at it, but it went off his glove to the backstop for a wild pitch to move Munoz to 2nd. O’Neill then laced a curveball down the left field line that hit the chalk for a double to score Munoz and tie the game. Hurdle made another double switch to bring in Felipe Vazquez to pitch to Carpenter, and he struck out for the Cards’ 15th strikeout of the game.

Mayers came back out to pitch the 8th and served up a 93 mph center cut fastball to Moran who lined it over the right-center field wall for a solo shot to give the Pirates the lead back, 5-4. Mayers got into a 2-out jam by hitting Shuck and giving up a single to Frazier, but escaped by striking out Marte. The Cards then tied the game again in the top of the 9th. With Vazquez still in the game, Goldschmidt hit a hard grounder to short. Gonzalez took one step to his left but the ball bounced off his glove for an error. DeJong grounded what should have been a double play ball to Gonzalez at short, but for whatever reason, the 2nd baseman Frazier didn’t make the throw to 1st. The throw may have been a little high and perhaps his footwork got messed up, but it really should have been a double play ball. With only a forceout, that brought up pinch-hitter Jose Martinez to hit for Mayers in the #4 pitcher’s spot. Vazquez threw a low fastball under Cervelli’s glove for a wild pitch to move DeJong to 2nd, then Cafecito came through with a double in the right-field gap on a 97 mph fastball to score DeJong and tie the game 5-5. Flaherty pinch-ran for Martinez, but neither Molina nor Munoz could bring him in. Shildt brought Hicks out for us to pitch the bottom of the 9th. Although he walked the pinch-hitter Cabrera with 1 out, he got Cervelli to weakly ground to short for a double play and struck out the first batter he faced.

The lefty Steven Brault came out to pitch the 10th for the Pirates, and he appears to have been their last reliever. Both teams now have only their backup catchers on the bench and the Cardinals only have Gant left in the pen. Although Bader walked with 1 out, he was not stealing and O’Neill grounded into a double play to end the inning. Hicks came out for a 2nd inning and retired the side in order to take us to the 11th, with Brault out for the 2nd inning to face the top of our order. Carpenter struck out on a cutter low and away in the dirt, with the 3rd base umpire ruling that he went around. Carpenter then was ejected by the home plate umpire for yelling "You suck!" to the 3rd base umpire. That will put us in a trick bag because we only had Wieters left on the bench, and someone was going to have to play third base. After Goldschmidt flied out, DeJong softly grounded a single up the middle. Wieters coming into his first game of the season, hit for Hicks in the #4 pitcher’s spot, and was hit by a fastball in the left thigh to put runners at 1st and 2nd. Brault then walked Molina to load the bases. I didn’t think the Pirates could make another pitching change, but Hurdle brought in Nick Kingham, who had yet to pitch this year, to face Munoz. On the 1-1 pitch, he and his catcher Cervelli must have gotten crossed up. Kingham threw a routine fastball on the inside corner. Cervelli looked shocked and unprepared and he flinched, the ball bounced off his glove and hit the 2nd home plate umpire in the groin, then went to the backstop. It was called a passed ball and DeJong scored to give the Cards a 6-5 lead, with Wieters moving to third and Molina moving to 2nd. Thankfully, it was not necessary to get a third home plate umpire. Then, if you can believe that, an even sillier play happened. On the 3-1 pitch to Munoz, Kingham threw wild on a cutter to the backstop, which was a walk, and it should have just been bases loaded, no big deal. Wieters did not charge for home. Molina got caught up between 2nd and 3rd, which forced Wieters to charge for home, and he was thrown out with your basic 2-4-2 putout at the plate to end the inning. Molina likely thought Wieters would score, but the ball bounced hard off the brick right towards home plate, which made that impossible.

Now for the bottom of the 11th for this monstrosity, Gant came out to pitch, and was placed in Carpenter’s #1 spot, Wieters stayed in the game at catcher in the #4 spot, and Molina moved to 3rd base for his first appearance there of his career. After getting Shuck to weakly ground out back to him, Gant walked Frazier, but got Marte to ground to Wong for the 4-6-3 double play to end this circus. Hicks took the win, Gant the save, and everyone is happy not only that that the teams didn’t have to play a doubleheader today, but that they have a day off tomorrow.

Odds and Ends...You can close the Matt Wieters raffle because he appeared today, was hit by a pitch and caught the bottom of the 11th inning...John Gant picked up his first career save.....Even though it was an 11-inning game, the Cards are still striking out at a record pace with another 17 strikeouts today. Their 47 strikeouts through 4 games to start the season was the most for any Cardinal team going back to 1964, which is as far back as I checked.....If you wondered why Hudson started the 3rd game of the season, it was because they planned to move to a 4-man rotation starting with Wednesday's game due to all the off-days this week. Hudson's start was planned to be skipped, and Shildt was going to use him in the bullpen, perhaps as soon as Wednesday....Regardless of whether that is a good thing for his development as a starter to yank him back and forth, you wonder if they will rethink that strategy after we used all of our relievers today....Tale of the tape: 16 relief pitchers used, 16 combined walks, 4 men hit by the pitch, 26 strikeouts, 3 errors. Good thing they didn't have to play a doubleheader and both teams have a day off tomorrow.