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Cards Drop Heartbreaker in Extra Innings, 5-4

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Heroics by Fowler, Bader not enough in Texas

St Louis Cardinals v Texas Rangers Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Cardinals dropped the heartbreaking third game of their three game set with the Texas Rangers 5-4 in 10 innings Sunday afternoon, falling to 24-23 on the year. They’ve now lost 13 of their past 17 games, have yet to post back to back wins this month, and haven’t won a series since the four-game set against the Nationals to end April and begin May. Jordan Hicks absorbed the defeat on the mound despite a valiant effort, falling to 1-2 in 2019.

The game began promisingly enough. Harrison Bader, replacing Matt Carpenter in the leadoff slot, slapped a double down the third base line for a double against Rangers starting pitcher Drew Smyly. Paul Goldschmidt followed with a walk, and Paul DeJong smoked a double into the gap for a 2-0 edge.

Marcell Ozuna flied out to left fielder Shin-Soo Choo and José Martínez struck out against Smyly, but Yadier Molina walked. A double steal featuring Molina’s blazing speed placed runners at second and third base for Dexter Fowler, but Fowler flied out to right fielder Nomar Mazara to end the inning.

Choo wasted no time chipping away at the 2-0 deficit, blasting a no-doubter homerun on a slider left up and over the plate to open the Rangers half of the inning against Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty. It was all the Rangers would get in the inning, ending the opening frame with the Redbirds up, 2-1.

The Cardinals wasted a two-out walk to Bader in the top of the second inning, and the Rangers did the same when Joey Gallo’s leadoff walk bled into a double play by Asdrubal Cabrera and Flaherty struck out Rougned Odor. Smyly continued his generosity in the third with a one out walk to Ozuna, his fourth walk of the game against the first 13 hitters. It was rendered moot when he struck out Martínez for the second time and coaxed an inning ending groundout from Molina. If a bevy of walks was Smyly’s early trend, double plays were Flaherty’s thanks to Cabrera’s grounder in the second and Choo’s line drive resulting in an unassisted double play to end the third.

Dexter Fowler’s tumultuous at-bat, a strikeout, kicked off the fourth inning. Fowler nursed the count to 3-0 before... this chicanery happened:

The calls on pitches number four and six from ump Jeremie Rehak were so egregious that skipper Mike Shildt earned an immediate ejection by yelling some very special words, audibly on the game broadcast, from the dugout. It was Shildt’s third career ejection. Once order was restored, a one out single by Yairo Muñoz was the best the Cardinals could do for the rest of the inning, and the game headed to the bottom of the fourth with the Cards still up 2-1.

Logan Forsythe earned a walk to lead off the bottom of the fourth, setting the stage for a game-tying double by 75-year-old Hunter Pence with one out. Flaherty escaped further damage by retiring Gallo and Cabrera. With 93 pitches through four innings, Smyly was lifted for Jose Leclerc. The righty struck out five of the six Cardinals he faced in the fifth and sixth innings without yielding a baserunner.

Choo stung Flaherty again with a double to open the bottom of the sixth inning. Forsythe’s drive to the wall following Choo was expertly played by Fowler for the first out, though Choo tagged up on the play. With the go-ahead run perilously planted 90 feet from home plate, Jack got his smirking revenge against Mazara and Pence, striking out both and stranding Choo at third. That was the end of Flaherty’s day with 6 innings, 4 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 2 walks, and 5 Ks.

It seemed like an act of mercy when Leclerc was relieved by Jesse Chávez to begin the seventh inning, but Chávez proved equally up to the task by retiring the Cardinals in order. At that point, the Rangers staff had set down ten Cardinals in order and the fourth inning single by Muñoz was the only Cardinal hit since the first inning. Andrew Miller relieved Flaherty in the bottom of the seventh, tossing a scoreless inning thanks to a double play turned by Kolten Wong.

Goldschmidt procured a walk to lead off the eighth inning against Chavez before first inning hero Paul DeJong hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Ozuna absolutely smoked a double down the third base line (114.5 mph exit velocity!) following the double play, bringing up José Martínez with two outs in the best that high leverage has to offer. Cafecito took a valiant at-bat, fouling off multiple pitches and taking a few more right on the edge of the strike zone, but ultimately flied out to right field to end the rally.

One at-bat later in the bottom of the eighth, Danny Santana blasted a homerun to left field off of Miller, putting the Rangers up 3-2. Miller retired the next two Rangers and Jordan Hicks closed out the inning after an infield single.

With Chris Martin on to handle the ninth and just two outs separating the Cardinals from yet another demoralizing defeat, Dexter Fowler spoiled pitch after pitch (six foul balls out of eight pitches) before launching a game-tying dinger to right field.

Martin retired Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong to end the inning. Hicks set the Rangers down in order in the bottom half of the ninth, sending the game to extra innings.

Bader roped a double into the gap leading off the bottom of the 10th.

Goldshmidt’s groundout advanced Bader to third, and DeJong hit a flyball juuuuuust deep enough to left field for Bader to score on a play at the plate reminiscent of the Ray Lankford/Darren Daulton play from the early 90s.

With two outs, Ozuna singled and Cafecito followed by reaching on a two-base error, but Yadi’s groundout ended the inning with the Cards up 4-3.

Hicks returned to the mound in the 10th and gave up a leadoff single to Odor and walked Santana, visibly tiring. This is especially hilarious because “visibly tired” Jordan Hicks was still throwing 103 mph. Still, one hitter later, Willie Calhoun slapped a game-tying single to right field. The Cardinals called on Carlos Martínez with two runners on and nobody out. Choo was intentionally walked, and El Gallo struck out Forsythe. With two strikes, Mazara fired a fly ball, caught by Bader, scoring Santana from third and giving the Rangers a 5-4 victory.

Dexter Fowler is the Boulevard Bou Lou Player of the Game on principle alone for his game-tying homerun in the top of the ninth, hammered when I was consuming a Boulevard Bou Lou. Harrison Bader gets honorable mention. After a day off on Monday, the Cardinals will resume action with a two game home series against the Kansas City Royals beginning Tuesday and hopefully will restore our Cardinals-related sanity with a few wins.

Notes:

  • Scoring based on the author’s beverage:
    -Boulevard Space Camper Cosmic IPA: 2-1, Cardinals
    -About a single ounce of Founders Solid Gold: 0-0 (hey, it got me a badge on Untappd)
    -Blue Mountain Full Nelson (Virginia Pale Ale): 1-0 Rangers, and one managerial ejection
    -Black Flag Cookie Scout: 0-0
    (basically a samoa cookie stout, kind of a K-Mart version of Southern Tier’s Samoa This)
    -Boulevard Bou Lou: Tie, 1-1
    -Water: Rangers, 2-1
  • It’s so fun to watch Mike Shildt get riled up. It hearkens back to my childhood, watching the Whitey Herzogs and Norm Stewarts of the world jawing at their oppressors.
  • I’m going to London at the end of June for one of the Yankees-Red Sox games. It’s my first trip to London, or England for that matter. If anyone has any fun recommendations for weird British food to eat, leave them in the comments. (I had haggis in Scotland and loved it, so calibrate your recommendations accordingly)
  • Obligatory, and #LGB: