Hey guys. Long-time writer, first-time recapper. I thought it would be fun to try something different for my first recap -- a real-time-ish reaction to the game. Looking for a recap of what happened? Definitely come here. Looking for a QUICK recap of what happened? I mean, it’ll depend on the game I suppose. My wife and I are sharing a lovely Anderson Valley Cherry Gose -- we picked up a few cool one-off beers to try tonight.
The weather in St. Louis looks lovely. It also looks to be warm -- I was in Minneapolis yesterday and today for the Final Four (go Hoos) and there was a lot of talk about snow tomorrow, so I’m glad it’s not a Midwest-wide thing. Joc Pederson seems weird as a leadoff hitter, and he flies out harmlessly on a first-pitch fastball to start things off. Justin Turner, next up, is a whole different ball of yarn. He takes five pitches before finally shooting one up the middle for a single.
Cody Bellinger terrifies me. He has real malice in his swing, and he’s also batting roughly 1.000/1.000/4.000 (an estimate) so far this year. A single to right? Sounds about right for someone as hot as him. Turner’s on third somehow -- a wild pitch, looks like. The announcers point out that a major reason Hudson got the starting spot is because how well he pitched with runners in scoring position in Spring Training, and Jesus, I hope not. Hudson’s making me look silly, though, because he sits A.J. Pollock down on three pitches and Muncy on six.
Did you know that you should never play poker with Greg Maddux? I do now, courtesy of Tim McCarver. I’d also like to point out this gem -- “it’s no coincidence that when the Cardinals called up Dakota Hudson last year, they went on a run.” It is, guys, it absolutely is. That’s exactly what coincidence means. They made up that word for this exact circumstance. Through a half an inning, it seems like writing recaps is hard! The gose is delicious -- very cherry and with a nice bite. I know not everyone likes sours, but I’m a fan.
The Cards half of the inning is more of the same after all that full count action in the top of the first. Carpenter flies out to shallow left on a full count and Goldschmidt goes down swinging. With two outs, DeJong absolutely laces a few foul balls before doubling into left on a full count -- as interim president of the Paul DeJong fan club, I’m hyped. Ozuna walks (another full count!) before Yadi Batting Fifth (™) steps in, prompting McCarver to say that he thinks Molina is the best hitter in the Cardinals lineup against Stripling because Stripling doesn’t throw hard.
I find that logic lacking, but Yadi certainly doesn’t -- he says no thanks to the full count party and laces a double into left. Ozuna absolutely flies around the bases, but it’s all for naught, as it’s a ground rule double. One nothing good guys! Fowler is also not interested in the full count party, but instead of a double, he hits a soft grounder to first. Still, not a bad inning.
This half inning’s announcer gem: “Stripling has said if he’s starting, he’ll start. If he’s in the bulllpen, he’ll come in in relief.” Thanks again, team.
Between-inning music: Malaa- Notorious
Hey, Kike Hernandez is good this year apparently! Not in this at-bat or anything -- he grounds out to Wong, who makes a potentially tricky charging play look very easy. Still, Kike is good this year. Chris Taylor, on the other hand -- yeesh. He looks a bit lost at the plate and grounds out to Carpenter. Austin Barnes struck out twice against position players pitching last year -- and an actual pitcher is pitching tonight. Chalk up a soft grounder to close out the inning. Hudson looks pleased with himself, and he should -- that was a smooth half-inning.
Wong grounds out to start the bottom of the second, and now it’s time for a promo for the Law Enforcement and Firefighter Appreciation hat. It has…. Stars? But like, kind of Milky Way-looking stars. Color me confused. McCarver has landed on a topic I truly find really interesting -- pitchers going to breaking balls in non-traditional counts. Stripling shows that off, throwing a slider on 1-0 before throwing two more offspeed things to get Bader on strikes. Hudson strikes out on three uneventful pitches -- a quiet second is in the books.
Between-inning music: Santa Esmerelda- Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood
Did you know that the Cardinals have a good record when their pitchers record quality starts and a bad one when they don’t? FSMW wants to let us know that. Yeah, but what’s the team’s record when they hit three home runs? Hudson returns the strikeout-looking favor to Stripling, bringing up Joc Pederson, and this seems like a good time to note that I really like the brick-bird things on the wall behind home plate. That’s more interesting than the Pederson plate appearance, which ends in a walk. Meanwhile, McCarver is discussing whether Brodie van Wagenen’s name sounds aristocratic (it does). Sometimes it’s fun to trace what’s going on with the announcers’ digressions -- now they’re talking about Bobby Cox and the Braves’ 90s and early 2000s run. I’m talking about that to avoid mentioning that Hudson walks Turner -- whoops! Just mentioned it.
Tim is now on how if you’re in trouble, you don’t want the hitter to catch on, so you should start working more quickly. That -- that seems like both a bad plan from a preparation standpoint and a tell just as much as working slower? That digression was just a setup, though! Bellinger rockets a ball past second base, but DeJong makes a tremendous play and steps on second to complete the double play. Easy peasy.
Carpenter shows bunt on 3-1 (fine) before working a nice eight-pitch walk. Goldschmidt grounds into a fielder’s choice, and now the announcers are talking about how much Goldschmidt is struggling with the bat this year. Seems like an okay time to point out that he had a 135 wRC+ going into the game even with a .105 BABIP. DeJong takes a walk (the DeJong fan club is accepting applications!), and it’s worth mentioning that the umpire tonight is calling a great zone. He hasn’t missed anything so far to my eye. Stripling looks to be tiring -- he’s missing location and hanging breaking balls. He manages to get Ozuna to fly out, but Ozuna was absolutely on him in the at-bat, and the Dodgers dugout looks restive.
Yadi is absolutely on fire, and Stripling is reeling. Molina smacks a line drive to left on a pretty weak-sauce fastball, and DeJong is a baserunning beast who goes first to home, beating the throw by about a step. Three zero, us! Dexter Fowler… does not hit a double. Inning over.
Between-inning music: Portugal, the Man- Feel it Still (Gryffin Remix)
Pollock grounds out to get the fourth off to a quick start. Muncy gets a shift-aided single -- eh, that’ll happen. Next, Kike Hernandez (he’s good! I remember this from the second!) smacks a single between Carpenter and DeJong -- nice little piece of hitting. Taylor grounds out to Wong (could this ball have been a double play? Mayyyyyybe), which leads to a Barnes intentional walk. McCarver is a man after my own heart at the moment -- he thinks the Dodgers should be pinch hitting for Stripling here. I do too, and can’t believe the Cardinals walked Barnes, but hey, I’ll take it. You’ll never believe this, but Stripling strikes out and looks bad. Shocking, that.
New beer time -- Stillwater Extra Dry Sake-Style Saison Ale. I have no idea what that’s going to be like, but life’s an adventure. Wong falls over striking out -- not a great look, though he’s been hot to start the year, so eh, I’ll take it. Bader also strikes out -- not shaping up to be a banner inning. More importantly, an update -- the beer is excellent. Highly recommend. Hudson strikes out. I still think Roberts should have pinch hit for Stripling, but striking out the side is a nice consolation prize at least.
Between-inning music: AJJ- People Pt II
This seems like an ambitious place to run Hudson out (third time through the order, lot of lefties, etc), but he’s out to make me look like a fool. Pederson grounds out to Wong, and I still don’t think he makes a ton of sense at the top of the order, even with a a platoon split. He’s just not a huge OBP guy, even when he’s right. Turner flies out to center -- Hudson was really sharp in that at-bat. Bellinger absolutely rakes a double into the rightfield corner -- again, he’s really good. A wonderful, out-of-context quote from the at-bat: “He’s the kind of guy with multiple fingers on his right hand.” It made more sense in context, but made me laugh. Pollock hits a dribbler to third that Carpenter boots -- might have been a hit either way, but the play looked pretty awkward. Tim McCarver is a man after my own heart tonight -- he slams meetings on the mound. “Meetings are for meeting rooms.” You’re gosh darn right.
Things are starting to unravel on the mound -- Hudson walks Max Muncy, and he seems to be tiring. Shildt takes him out -- two batters too late to my taste. Brebbia is in, and his beard is way better this way than at full bushiness mode. For whatever reason, the Dodgers aren’t pinch hitting for Hernandez here -- I guess they have a ton of lefties in the lineup right now, but this doesn’t seem like a good matchup for them. Brebbia goes fastball-fastball-slider-fastball and absolutely overpowers Hernandez, who never looked close to hitting anything.
I’d like to take a quick moment to tell you what Magic Johnson said when stepping down as Lakers president. “I’m a free bird and I can’t be handcuffed… this is a good day.” Alright, buddy, sure. Carpenter strikes out, which reminds me that Hudson batted last inning. Some things never change with the Cardinals, I suppose. Goldschmidt is up next, which means more opining from the announcers on how at least his futility isn’t as bad as Chris Davis. Again, 135 wRC+ coming into today. The announcers better hope they’re able to quickly course-correct this narrative, because GOLDY BOMB! Good guys lead 4-0. Slump shmump.
DeJong is at the plate next, and his batting eye continues to impress. After working a 3-2 count (he probably should have walked, Stripling got a mildly generous call on one pitch), he laces a double off the rightfield wall. Ozuna is looking better of late, and smashes a ground ball, but unfortunately it kicks off the mound right towards Chris Taylor. Still, though, that brings Yadi to the plate, and he is hot today. Stripling can’t be pleased with this inning --aside from the Carpenter strikeout, he’s given up three absolutely blistered balls. You could argue that he’s lucky to have limited the damage to a run so far. Molina grounds out to short, but the extra run still feels nice.
Between-innings music: Neil Cicierega- Wow Wow
Chris Taylor draws a walk to start the inning, a plate appearance that Brebbia would love to have back. He nibbled a little bit more than necessary, because Taylor was doing a whole lot of nothing with his fastball. Though it appears to be down a tick from last year, the spin still looks tremendous, and people aren’t catching up to it. In the middle of a Barnes swing and apropos of nothing, Tim chimes in: “That’s the thing about Austin Barnes. He had eighteen steals last year.” I mean, I guess? Meanwhile, Brebbia sneaks a slider by Barnes for strike three. Alex Verdugo is pinch hitting now, and I definitely think he should have been last inning. Verdugo is peeking down at Molina trying to steal location, and Yadi decoys him nicely at one point, moving from outside to inside and tying Verdugo up in knots. It’s all just a setup for the fastball, though, which Brebbia uses to get a foul pop up. Brebbia then takes possession of Joc Pederson’s mind and soul -- fastballs up, breaking balls up, and a missed-it-by-a-lot swinging strikeout on a high fastball. John Brebbia is great. His four outs were three strikeouts and a popup. Give this man more time to shine.
Fowler starts the bottom of the sixth with a little flare to right center -- quality piece of hitting, I’d say. Wong follows it up with a strikeout, and this Dodgers reliever (Caleb Ferguson?) looks pretty quality to me. He gets Bader (looking at a low-ish fastball), which further makes me confused about why Stripling got as much run as he did. Jose Martinez flies out to right -- apparently relievers are good! Who knew.
Between-innings music: Church of the Cosmic Skull- Cold Sweat
John Gant is required to pitch in every Cardinals game these days, and fulfills his obligation here. He doesn’t look sharp -- again, he pitches every day now. That’s bound to wear on you. He walks Turner on five pitches, and the misses aren’t close. Wild Gant and Bellinger at the plate -- sounds like time to open a third beer. Greenport Harbor Inner Glow is the winner this time -- a lovely golden stout. The act of opening the beer calms the baseball gods, and Bellinger pops out to Wong. You’re welcome, St. Louis. The popout (or just throwing a few pitches) seems to have calmed Gant down, and he’s locating his changeup well. As McCarver riffs on how he can’t pronounce ‘turkey vulture’ (and boy, he really can’t), Gant sits Pollock down with a weird high changeup thing. Pollock has the one hit today, but it probably could have gone as an error, and he’s just generally looked like he could use a day off. Max Muncy doesn’t want any of Gant -- Gant throws an absolutely boiling four-seamer past him for the strikeout. That Bellinger pop out was key.
Carpenter stings a line drive directly into Muncy’s glove to start the seventh. That means it’s time for J.T. Chargois, an impeccably-named righty. Goldschmidt hits Chargois’ second pitch to the track -- it certainly looks like he is seeing the ball well tonight. DeJong continues his selective ways -- a five pitch walk where the one strike was a knee-high fastball that DeJong tried to hit a mile. Paul DeJong with walks -- the fan club is no longer taking applications, we’re full. Just to drive home the great game he’s having, he turns around and steals second easily. That’s DeJong’s third major league steal, and he did it so easily that I’m surprised he doesn’t have more. He’s a decent baserunner, so maybe it’s just a philosophical thing. Ozuna looks bad on a strikeout, and it’s eighth inning time. The end of the game can’t come soon enough -- writing recaps is hard!
Between-innings music: Sam Smith- Too Good at Goodbyes (Galantis Remix)
Mike Mayers is in to start the eighth, and the Halloween reference is apt, because this game is taking a horrifyingly long time. The only thing keeping me going is the Golden Stout and the fact that the announcers are on to talking about the Final Four and out-of-state tuition at UVa. McCarver lets slip that UVa won the Little League World Series before correcting himself, and I got a chuckle out of that. Ozuna then makes, uh, maybe the worst and most baffling fielding decision I’ve seen this year? On a deep fly ball to left, he climbs the fence trying to rob a home run. The only problem was, the ball is about five feet short of the wall. Ozuna dives off the wall to try to make a play (that never works) and shakes himself up, though luckily the ball bounces out of play for a ground rule double. That was not pleasant. I’m not really sure what the point of the wall climb was there -- it would have been a routine catch if he just doesn’t jump on the wall. The play somehow goes in the books as a double, but I mean… Ozuna actually made TOO MUCH effort. Mayers turns around and walks Chris Taylor, getting me properly worried. The Dodgers are terrified of Bader’s throwing arm, and it shows on the next play. Austin Barnes flies out to right, and Kike Hernandez (he hit the weird fly ball double) doesn’t even think about running. It’s a four-run game, obviously, but I can’t conceive of a throw that could have gotten him from where Bader was. They must have a clubhouse board that just says ‘hey stop running on Bader you dummies.’
It’s Miller Time! Well, not for me -- I’m still on the Golden Stout. Andrew Miller is in, though, and he looks a little sharper tonight than he previously has. He’s still sitting lower 90s on his fastball, which isn’t great, but the slider location is much better tonight, and he draws a ton of swings at borderline pitches that Corey Seager can’t do anything with before getting him with a slider that honestly was probably in the strike zone, but Seager swung through anyway.
David Freese is up next, and you better believe he gets a standing ovation. Miller, meanwhile, is warming up -- he touches 94 on the first pitch to Freese, and his slider location is on point. Freese dumps a little hump-backed liner to DeJong, who catches it to end the inning, though even if he’d dropped it the play at first was easy. Forget this game -- Miller looking sharp is a great sign for the year.
Also, the Cardinals get to bat in the eighth. Guys, I’m not going to lie to you -- I’m flagging. Yadi lines out to right, and I didn’t see the play live and had to watch a replay. Dexter Fowler strikes out, and that one I did see. Wong gets hit by a pitch, and hey, did you see that I once wrote about Wong being good at non-contact stuff? He gets hit by tons of pitches. Bader then bunts, and maybe reaches on an error? Barnes makes a really hard throw to first that pulls Muncy off the bag. The scorer gives Barnes an error, but man, no one ever makes that play. That brings noted large Canadian Tyler O’Neill to the plate, and Tyler O’Neill is large. He strikes out, though. Lame.
Between-innings music: The Rolling Stones- Sympathy for the Devil
The Ninth, Please God Let It End
Baseball is a long game, everyone. This game has stretched 3:15 already, and nothing dramatic has even happened. Dominic Leone is in, seems reasonable. Danny Mac says the Cardinals needed last night’s game for the season -- while I disagree, a win’s a win. Leone strikes out Turner (he does better when I’m not writing about how good he is). He then turns around and walks Bellinger, so maybe I should just shut up. Then he gets a double play ball, though -- 6-4-3, a perfect ending. WE DID IT YOU GUYS. 4-0 HOME TEAM.
End-of-game music: Neil Cicierega- The End
I was planning on writing something about who played well and poorly this game, but this is going to be short because it’s past eleven here. Paul DeJong and Yadi hit really well. DeJong is on a tear. The entire bullpen looked good, particularly Brebbia and Miller. Ozuna -- I mean, you’ll see that one on blooper reels, but he looked fine mostly. Dakota Hudson is just weird -- he walked too many today and didn’t strike out enough, but the Dodgers didn’t really barrel him at all. We’ll take it, I suppose.