The Cards entered Game 2 of this 3-game set against the Pie-Rats in 2nd place 2 games behind the Cubs, having won 6 of their last 10, riding a 3-game winning streak, which given the 2019 first half .500-ness feels like a 7-game winning streak. Doesn’t it?
Matt Carpenter continued his own streak, returning again to the IL with a right-foot contusion after fouling a ball off his lower-right appendage again in last night’s game. Pre-game, he noted he’d never before failed to finish at an at-bat, but the pain was too much to continue. Yadi and Marcel welcomed Carp to the injury ward for marathon Monopoly games using real money.
To fill the roster hole, the Cards called up Edmundo Sosa, son of former MLB-er Sammy. (May or may not be true.) Tonight, he started on the pine, as Tommy Edman was at third base leading off.
Jack Flaherty took to the mound looking to not give up any hits, like at all this time.
Recapped’s Note: My Columbus, Ohio viewing area blacks me out of Pittsburgh (and Reds) games. So this recap was based purely on the radio broadcast and some details snagged via Gameday. To makes things interesting (and keep my sanity), I used the Pittsburgh feed for the top halves and your hometown crew for the bottoms.
Top of the 1st - Lead Pirates announcer sounded younger and talked faster than other certain announcers I’ve heard.
Adam “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier was Flaherty’s first victim of the night, genuflecting on one knee, as he swung through a good, low slider. Tommy Edman made the next two outs by taking care of two grounders from Bryan Reynolds and bird-lover Starling Marte.
Bottom of the 1st - Moon Man laments the Pirates shifting on Edman, ‘cuz he’s only been in Show a month.
Tommy Edman didn’t start a rally, because he grounded out to first. DeJong had an unfinished pre-game sandwich to get back to, as he floated a soft liner on the first pitch to second for out 2. Goldschmidt didn’t do anything to make Cards fans set down their nachos, as he grounded out to third. Cards went down in order in 11 pitches.
Top of the 2nd - The Pirates have an Official Bourbon: Jim Bean. Cool.
All-Star home-run masher Josh Bell hasn’t had an RBI in 6 whole games and thankfully didn’t start the inning by breaking that streak. Jack painted a fastball on the inside corner to get him looking. Very beardy Colin Moran flew out to O’Neill in left on the first pitch, thank you very much. (Get a swing, Moran.) Flaherty then walked Corey Dickerson on 5 pitches, ineffectively, slightly wild.
Hello,...Newman (no, not that Newman). Kevin Newman, he of the third-best average in baseball with 2 strikes (.284; is that right?) lifted an easy fly ball to right, which Dex actually caught easily.
Bottom of the 2nd - Moon Man reminded the listening audience that he was in St. Louis.
Latest cleanup hitter Tyler O’Neill took advantage of the left fielder playing in Big Mac Land by flaring a single down the left-field line for a single. Real Mean hit bloops. The right fielder was not so silly, playing normally and therefore took care of Dex’s fly ball for the first out. Kolten followed suit, except he next flew out to left. With Wieters up and 2 outs, Tyler took off on a 3-2 pitch but didn’t need to, as Wieters drew a walk.
Bader had a chance to keep the line moving and was fed three straight sliders, which any smart pitcher would, (and the pitcher was on deck), but he actually laid off them for a 3-0 count. After then taking 2 fastball strikes, he watched yet another slider go out of the zone for ball four. New strategy for Bader: don’t swing so much.
With the bases loaded with cardinal ducks on the pond, Flaherty helped himself, as he flashed back to his last outing agains the Giants, when, ya know no one else helped him. Alas, he grounded out to short with the ducks still swimming in circles on the small body of water.
Top of the 3rd - Pirates announcers discussed the number of warmup pitches. Don’t hear that every day.
Jack continued to mix his pitches, throwing sliders even to the 8th-place hitter Diaz. Good time to practice those! He went to a full count but got him on a fly-out to right. Making quick work of the pitcher, Jack struck his counterpart out out on four pitches for his third strikeout to this point. Back to the leadoff hitter, Frazier bounced one over the mound toward Tommy who nailed him at first. That young fella’s so spry. Jack was at 42 pitches.
Bottom of the 3rd - Seriously, did you get your $.50 drink thanks to the Cradz’ 7 runs last night?
Edman got excited when he hit one right up the middle but quickly deflated toward first as it was right at the shortstop playing illegally behind second base. DeJong had no such experience, as he popped a high fly-ball out to left. He knew right away he was out. Before I finished typing that last sentence, Goldy popped out to second on the first pitch for a blink-of-an-eye inning.
Top of the 4th - Pirates announcer thought this was the inning his team would get a hit.
Number 2 hitter Bryan Reynolds (.342 average) drew a four-pitch walk. Jack made matters worse by hitting Marte,...but no—Marte admitted it was a foul ball, refusing to take his free base. Okay! His at-bat continued, and it worked out, as he grounded out, forcing Reynolds at second. Thanks! With one out and the dangerous Bell up, Wieters gunned down Marte trying to steal. Thanks again! The veteran backstop has thrown out 4 of 9! It was only the third time in 16 attempts that Marte’s been caught. Jack then got Bell out on a slider that he popped up to Edman.
Bottom of the 4th - All radio men who want to sound like stereotypical radio men study John Rooney.
Owner of the only hit in this entire game, TON lead off and proved he’s also got fast-twitch muscles in his tree-trunk thighs, too by easily beating out a slow grounder to third. Fowler than jumped on a changeup, sizzling a liner to a diving Frazier at second who popped up and slung it to first, doubling off Tyler with not so much as a challenge. Two outs can come so cruel quickly. Trying to make up for that disappointment, Kolten over-swung on a changeup and popped out to short for out three.
Top of the 5th - Pirates announcer attempted to jinx Jack by mentioning his previous outing of 6 no-hit innings. Did it work?
Not taking any chances, Jack took care of Colin Moran himself, striking him out on three pitches. Corey Dickerson broke up the no-hitter (you win this one, Pirates announcer) by doubling on a knuckle curve that didn’t knuckle or curve enough. Naturally, the very next hitter, Kevin Newman hit a well-placed grounder through the infield into center that scored Dickerson. The ol’ back-to-back lose no-hitter, lose shut-out. 1-0 Pirates.
The action slowed during the next at-bat, which went to 8 pitches. Jack got Diaz to swing through a slider for strike 3, while the runner Newman took off. Despite a high throw by Wieters and an on-field safe call, the replay overturned that, for a strike-’em-out/throw-’em-out double play to end the inning and Cannon Wieters’ second caught stealing of the night. Nice acrobatic tag by Kolten helped.
Bottom of the 5th - Moon Man continued to pronounce the Cards’ starting catcher’s name as “Witters.”
Witters started the middle part of the game off with a fly ball out to center for an easy out 1. Amazingly, Bader hit what initially looked like an easy fly ball over short, but the outfield was playing deep (“Waaay too deep,” said Shannon), and the speedster trucked into 2nd for a double!
Harrison Bader is out here creating runs! pic.twitter.com/B4zAPwYf2j— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) July 17, 2019
Not done expressing himself through his best baseball skill, Bader easily stole third, opening up the possibility of a squeeze play with Jack up.
With the infield in, Flaherty got enough of one to hit a ground ball double right over third base, tying the game 1-1. Pirate manager Clint Hurdle came out to discuss the accuracy of the fair ball call and possibly wanted a review. No dice, as the play stood.
Reminding us why he often enters games late as a pinch runner, Flaherty stole third (apparently), giving a knowing nod to Bader toward the dugout. (I’m assuming he did.) However, his foot had popped off the bag, prompting an actual review, which this time went against the Cards for the second out. That stolen base attempt suddenly didn’t feel so fun.
Flipping now to the top of the order, Edmond rolled a grounder to second for the third out.
Top of the 6th - Pirates announcers discussed the 3-0 gimme strike 1 call
Still fuming at losing the no-no and shutout, with the pitcher leading off, Flaherty almost broke one of the pitching Golden Rules by almost walking the pitcher, going 3-0. Pitch 4 should’ve been a ball, but he got a gift strike call. Jack collected himself to get a ground ball out to first. Re-focused, Jack pitched angry in a good way to strike out Frazier on 3 different pitches: slider, fastball, knuckle curve for out 2. Even better, Jack retired the next batter Bryan Reynolds on a come-back grounder on the first pitch.
Bottom of the 6th - Hearing Moon Man pronounce “forklift” as “farklift” made me homesick.
With the heart of the order up, it was time for some excitement! DeJong did not thrill, as he popped out to the first baseman, like, not even in fair territory. Goldy followed with a boring ground-out to third on the third pitch, for his third at bat with no hits tonight. Youngster O’Neill strode to the plate next, and just like that, he popped out to first for a quick 1-2-3 inning. Pfft.
Top of the 7th - Pirates announcer must’ve got some coffee between innings, ‘cuz dude talked at his inning 1 speedy pace.
Nice to see a Cards starter making it to the 7th. Marte greeted Jack with a line-drive single to left, causing pitching coach Mike Maddux to immediately pop up out of the dugout like an Illinois prairie dog. He was either warning his troop (Is a group of prairie dogs a troop? Let’s say yes.) or buying a little time for another prairie dog to warm up.
Josh Bell then smashed a fly ball to deep center (98 mph; 388 feet), but Bader corralled it at the warning track. Marte, with his good speed, tagged up and made it to second despite a strong throw from Tots.
Jack bucked up and struck out Moran, getting him to chase a high fastball for strike 3. With 2 outs, Jack went to 2-0 on lefty Corey Dickerson. They decided to walk him intentionally to get to the righty Kevin Newman as Gallegos began warming up in the prairie dog pen.
In this key moment of the game, Jack went to 3-2 on Newman, but struck him out on a well-placed 93 mph fastball middle-down at the very bottom of the zone to escape the jam.
Bottom of the 7th - John Rooney noted the 7th-inning stretch was brought to us by White Castle. If I ate White Castle at my age, I’d be doubled over, not stretching.
Dexter Fowler got things started with a bang by sending a low-and-away changeup off the top of wall in left-center for a standup triple! The ball was tossed out of play due to the yellow smudge on it from the fence-top paint. Pirate relievers stirred.
Kolten Wong then got to 3-0 but wisely laid off a 3-0 slider. After hitting a long fly ball foul down the right-field line, he...hit another long fly ball in foul territory the Pirates right fielder valiantly dove for but came up empty. Obviously looking to lift a sac fly in the outfield, Wong chilled out instead and took ball 4 to give the Cards runners at the corners. (Should there be a name for that, like a split in bowling?)
Next up was Wieters, looking to bring in the Runner Split (TM). (See how that works?) Winters grounded to second, who forced Wong at second. The infield was in, so Dex held at third. Winters made it to first.
Even with the infield still in, Bader next attempted a bunt on pitch 1, but sent it over the screen. (Whew.) Alas, he ended up fouling out to first for the second out. (Situational hitting, situational hitting, situational hitting...).
Signaling the end of Jack’s night, Martinez ambled to plate to pinch hit and look for a big 2-out hit. Ugh. He went after a well-placed down and in fastball on pitch 1, grounding out meekly to second. So much for the leadoff triple.
Top of the 8th - Pirates announcers mocked Cradz for not scoring last inning. (“It’s hard not to score with first and third, no one out.)” Karma’s a b**ch, dude.
Gio Gallegos entered the 8th to strike some mofos out. Eight-Place hitter Diaz popped out to Goldy in foul territory for out 1. (Is it me, or was there an inordinate number of foul pop-outs tonight?) Pinch-hitter veteran and Pirate player I’ve actually heard of Melky Cabrerra entered to get something started for the Buccos. Gio took care of him, striking him out, throwing a first-pitch slider then the rest fastballs. Leadoff hitter Frazier didn’t do much better, grounding out to second.
I love Gio innings. Usually lots of strikes. Lots of outs.
Bottom of the 8th - John Rooney noted: “Oh yeah, well, the Pirates had 2 on 1 out in the 7th and didn’t score.” No one noticed.
Another Pirate I’ve heard of, Francisco Liriano—wait—he’s still pitching?—entered for the Pirates. The old guy got youngster Edman to ground out to short. DeJong followed that up by striking out on a veteran crafty changeup. With 2 down, Goldy flied out to short right on a running catch by the right fielder. In right.
Someone somewhere boldly predicted extra innings for this game.
Top of the 9th - Pirates announcer totally threw shade at El Gallo: “Last year’s Opening Day starter.” I noticed.
El Gallo had been warming up last inning, so no surprise he came into the 9th. Usually how that works. Martinez got Bryan Reynolds to ground out meekly to Goldschmidt, who flipped the ball to the pitcher covering, as he was supposed to.
Carlos then plunked Marte in the arm and this time the hitter said, yep, it hit me, taking his base. Then Josh Bell, kept quiet all game, got a lucky single against the shift on a routine grounder, and Marte scampered to third. It would’ve been a double-play ball with pre-saber positioning. (If I’d been listening to Shannon, I’m sure he had choice words here.)
With the Runner Split (TM) situation and one out, Moran hit a sharp grounder to Wong, who made a great diving stop, but the ball trickled away. Everybody was safe, and the run scored, making it 2-1 Pirates, still with first and second and only one out. Bummer, man.
Insult to injury, Carlos got another ground ball, as Newman hit it to DeJong, but he briefly bobbled it, which might’ve thrown off the timing of the potential double play, as Wong’s relay throw bounced in front of Goldy, who couldn’t come up with it. So another run scored, making it 3-1 Bad Guys.
Finally, out 3 was obtained as Diaz flew out to very shot right, as Dex had been playing very shallow.
Bottom of the 9th - The one where Moon Man openly coveted the Pirates closer.
Pirates lefty closer fireballer Vazquez entered the game with 61 strikeouts in 39.1 innings pitched, and 20 saves. It was power vs. power right away, as TON lead off. Hurling 98 mph fastballs and 83 mph curves to the Canadian Crusher, Vazquez struck him out looking on the sixth pitch, a nice down-and-in heater.
He gave Dex the same treatment, though needing only half the number of pitches to punch him out.
Last hope Munoz came in to pinch hit. He went down battling, but succumbing in the end, having grounded out on the eighth pitch.
Cradz fell 3-1.
THE BOTTOM LINE
- Jack was very, very sharp for his second outing in a row, getting to the 7th giving up only
3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 8 SO
- Grudgingly, the Pirates announcer was obviously right in emphasizing the Cards’ 7th inning leadoff triple, which bloomed into a first and third no one out situation, that died on the vine with no runs for the Cards. The game was 1-1 at the time and the Cards coulda/shoulda taken the lead there.
- Not much time to fret over it, as the Cards and Pirates square off at 12:15 CT tomorrow for the rubber game.