It was the worst of games; it was the best of games.
Amid a backdrop of sweltering heat, the Gods of Baseball wrought a game that will be on every Cards 2019 highlight reel.
Adam Wainwright was looking to repeat (or hey why not, improve on) his 7 shutout innings in his start last Sunday against Arizona. Cards were trying to take game 2 of this 4-game set, facing Tyler Mahle, who gave up 6 earned runs (10 total) in his last start, which Cards fans were looking for him to repeat.
My, how this game flipped that script.
Because every game is it’s own universe. With a raging sun.
FanGraphs had pre-game win expectancy at 51% for the Reds; 49% for the Cards. The Baseball Gods laughed. No one expected what ensued.
Waino was the one who gave up 7 runs, and he was out after 3.1 innings. Meanwhile, the Reds’ heretofore horrible starter blanked the Cards through 5 until giving up 2 runs in the 6th. Then the real fun began.
But let’s back up a bit...
Top of the 1st
New owner of the Cards’ first Grand Slam of the the season (from last night’s game; try to keep up) Tommy Edman led things off. He’s been fed a steady diet of breaking balls lately, so he’s been trying to keep his adjustments ahead of pitchers’ adjustments against him. He struck out swinging on a 95 mph fastball waaay up and out of the zone. You're move, kid. Cafecito followed suit by striking out swinging on a cutter slightly low and away, but Goldy reached on a bouncer to third that Suarez couldn’t handle via the bare hand. Newest best-eat hitter Tyler O’Niell worked a 3-2 count but flied out to Puig in right.
Win Expectancy: Reds 53.5%; Cards 46.5%
Bottom of the 1st
Waino started nicely, striking out Jesse Winker on a nasty 1-2 curve in the dirt low and away. Joey Votto, who still gets on base at an okay clip but might finally might be succumbing to Father Time (.257/.348/.742) singles on a liner to center on another good curve, just to a better hitter. Suarez (and the ump) got fooled looking on a maybe 90 mph fastball down and in the ump called late for strike 3. Throwing every variety of pitch to bat-licker Puig, Waino got away with a hanging 77 mph curve over and up that Puig fouled up. He then flied out to right on an outside fastball.
Win Expectancy: Reds 50%; Cards 50% A-ha!
Top of the 2nd
In a bit of action before the actual action, Reds, third baseman Suarez jawed at the home plate ump on his way to his position, apparently upset at the called third strike in his last at-bat. During the exchange, he gave a “dismissive waive” (as described by Ricky Horton) then got tossed. He was replaced by some other Reds guy. Old School Guy David Bell came out to “defend his guy,” then got tossed himself. Pete Rose took over in the dugout for the Reds.
Perhaps laughing too hard at the pre-inning activity, Dex struck out swinging on a splitter to start things off. Kolten Wong then lined a single to left on an up-and-away pitch. Cue Ricky noting Kolten’s been hitting well lately (citing his .353 BA of course over the past 12 games) because he’s taking outside pitches the other way.
I don’t want to live in a world very long in which DeJong hits behind Kolten. But Pauly D grounded in to an easy 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Win Expectancy: Reds 56%; Cards 44%
Bottom of the 2nd
Scooter (no, no relation to lil_scooter) Gennett started the second by whiffing on @Uncle Charlie for Waino’s third K already. Sixth-place hitter Ervin missed out on nailing a mis-placed sinker that didn’t sink and flew out to right. Julio Iglesias’ son Jose struck a sour note by whiffing through another Waino slow curve in the dirt to end the inning.
Win Expectancy: Reds 50.9%; Cards 49.1%
Top of the 3rd
Young backstop Knizner grounded out on a ball up the middle for out 1. Glad he didn’t have to sacrifice bunt, Waino was ready to rock but was called out looking at a fastball just beyond the outside edge. Was a wide zone tonight. Back to the top of the order, Babyface Edman hit a high fly-out to center as the Cards went quietly.
Win Expectancy: Reds 55.2%; Cards 44.8%
Bottom of the 3rd
Things suddenly went south for Waino, as he gave up lots of hard contact in a long inning that needed with his pitch count ballooning to 63.
Reds’ pitcher Mahle proved to the world why the pitcher should bat 8th, as he singled to left on a sub-90 mph meatball. Oh, it got worse, as 9th-place-hitting catcher Lavarnway doubled to left (‘nother meatball) with Mahle coming all the way around to score. 1-0 Commies.
After going 3-0 to leadoff hitter Winker, Waino paused to take a deep breath (taught to him by Izzy, sez Ricky). Waino got lucky, as Winker lined out to Tyler in left (101 mph EV). Guess Izzy taught Waino to be lucky, too. On 0-1, Votto ‘sploded his bat, with the barrel hurtling toward second and the ball toward Goldy. However, the ump determined the ball hit off Votto’s shin for a foul ball. After a brief umpire conference, the call stood. Votto traded places with Lavarnway at second by ringing a double to right. If you’re following, that’s 2-0 now.
It got worse, as Peraza blooped a single to left. TON tried to nail the runner at home but it was late, allowing Peraza to move to second. 3-0 Reds.
Smelling blood in the water, Puig then crushed a deep single to center. I can’t type fast enough; 4-0 Reds.
I needed to breathe. Teach me, Izzy.
Waino then got help from his young catcher, as Knizer nailed Puig stealing. Bennett then hit a sharp grounder, fortunately right at Wong, mercifully for the third out.
Win Expectancy: Reds 85.6%; Cards 24.4% That took a turn.
Top of the 4th
Looking to get something going, Martinez led off with a walk. Thinking, “Yeah, let’s get something going,” Goldy followed with a ground-ball single to right against the shift, moving the hobbling Martinez to second. Alas, Tyler grounded into a double play. With 2 out and Martinez on third, it took just 3 pitches to retire Dex on a swinging third strike.
Win Expectancy: Reds 89.5%; Cards 21.5%
Bottom of the 4th
Licking his wounds, Waino came back out to start the 4th, with the Reds’ 6th-place hitter leading off. Things did not get better.
Continuing the horrible trend from the 3rd inning, Ervin made hard contact (96 mph), but fortunately, this one went right into Pauly D’s glove for out 1. No such luck against Iglesias, who next singled on a liner to left. Lots of pitches crossing too much of the plate.
Cards killer Reds’ pitcher Mahle fake-bunted, the runner stole, then Mahle swung and hit a single in the spot where DeJong woulda been but wasn’t, as he was covering for the steal. Now with Waino on the ropes again, it was first and third and one out.
Oh, but it got worse, as Lavarnway decided it was a great time to hit his first homer of the season (first since 2013), hitting a Great American Ballpark Special over the fence in right (96 mph; 363 ft) for his 4th RBI of the night. 7-0 Reds.
Seeing enough, (yes, that was plenty), Shildt removed Adam for Wacha, and Bader entered center, ending Dex’s night.
How many outs? Oh yeah, with one out, Wacha went 3-2 to the first batter Winker, who hit a grounder back to Michael, who slapped at it with his glove but couldn’t corral it for a single; the 10th hit for the Reds. He recovered to strike out Votto on three pitches; so there was that. Peraza then flied out to left for out 3. Finally.
Win Expectancy: Reds 98.1%; Cards 1.9%
Top of the 5th
Wong started the inning with a weak groundout to second; Pauly D flied out to center; Knizner grounded out to first. Short inning; short sentence.
Win Expectancy: Reds 98.7%; Cards 1.3%
Bottom of the 5th
Counting on Wacha to eat some innings, the Cards sent the lanky Texan out again in the 5th. He began by giving up a hard-luck duck snort single to right off the bat of Puig. A right fielder who could run at all would’ve caught it. Scooter Gennett followed with a legit lined single to right. With runners on first and second, Ervin popped out to first via the infield fly rule; Goldy caught it anyway. Edman then made a nice diving play to his left to snag a hard grounder and bounced up and get the force at second for the second out. Wacha retired the Reds pitcher Mahle for the first time tonight, getting him on a groundout to Edman.
Win Expectancy: Reds 99%; Cards 1%. So you’re sayin’ there’s a chance.
Top of the 6th - The Good Part!!!
You’re gonna love this; trust me.
Bader’s first AB of the night included him first-pitch swinging for a ground ball single to center. Edman followed with a single to right, but Bader had to stop at 2nd with the rocket-armed Puig zinging it back in. After watching two center-cut fastballs go by for 2 strikes, Martinez fouled off the next 6 (including one about over his head), then hit a grounder to second that Gennett dove at and snagged, but couldn’t get the ball out cleanly, and his throw to first was late, unable even to get the painfully looking but hustling runner Martinez.
Bases loaded, no out!
Goldy then gave the Reds a scare by launching one to the track in left, alas that was caught. But hey, the Cards finally got on the board as Bader tagged and scored. Somehow, it was Goldy’s first sac fly this year and first since 2017. (That can’t be right.) Edman exhibited good base running by tagging and going from second to third. First and third, one out. Keeping things going, Tyler got his second hit of the night, lining a single to left, scoring Edman. 7-2 Reds.
Mahle was only at 77 pitches but was lifted for reliever and ex-Cardinal ground-ball getter Matt Bowman. Matty did what Matty do, getting pinch-hitter Munoz to hit a grounder on the first pitch to Iglesias at short, who attempted a fancy backhanded flip to force O’Neill at second that didn’t work. A safe call on the field was upheld upon review.
Bases loaded again! (One out this time.)
Wong hit a long fly to Puig, which allowed Martinez to tag and score. 7-3 Reds; 2 outs.
But Puig, with arm over-confidence, attempted unsuccessfully to nail a tagging O’Neill at third, allowing Munoz to reach second. That was huge, as next batter Pauly D took advantage and smacked a double down the left-field line to plate 2 runners! 7-5 now, yo!!!
But that wasn’t all! Knizner greeted new reliever Jared Hughes with a double to center for his first career RBI. 7-6!!!
Next, Bader walked, (do more of that dude). Edman followed with a grounder that bounced off Votto’s knee and into right, allowing actually-fast-runner-even-for-a-catcher Knizner to score from second.
TIE GAME, YO!!! 7-7!!!
After Edman stole second (with Bader having to remain at third), Martinez blasted a no-doubt smash to left-center for a 3-run homer, putting put the 10th run of the inning!!!
10-7 CARDS, YO!!!
Alas, Goldy struck out to end the fantastic inning.
BUT 10-7 CARDS, YO!!!
Win Expectancy: Cards: 84.2%; Reds 15.8%; Take that!!!
10 RUNS IN AN INNING!— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) July 20, 2019
Bottom of the 6th
After Reds fans stopped swearing and Cards fans finished chugging Rally Beers (TM), lefty Chasen Shreve entered to keep the Reds at bay. He struck out Lavarnway swinging then got Winker to pop out to DeJong, who snagged it on the run toward left center. But Shreve walked Votto, though, which prompted Shildt to swap him for Gant.
Cant was greeted rudely by a sharp line-drive single to left from Peraza on a not low-enough changeup. The tying run came to the plate in Puig, who just missed a center-cut fastball, got it off the end of the bat, and flew out to Munoz, now your right fielder. Bullet dodged.
Win Expectancy: Cards: 89.7%; Reds 10.3%;
Top of the 7th
The Reds brought in righty Robert (Louis) Stephenson with O’Neill leading off, who struck out watching a slider go by for strike 3. After Munoz grounded out to third, Wong earned a 2-out walk, which was cool, ‘CUZ PAULY D KA-BOOMED (105 MPH) A LONNNNG TATER
(420 FT) TO LEFT FOR A 2-RUN BLAST!!! 12-7 CARDS, YO!!!
Before the 6th inning, we had 0 runs— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) July 20, 2019
After the 7th inning, we have 12 runs
Knizner struck out swinging to end more Reds’ misery.
c Cards: 96.7% Reds: 3.7%
Bottom of the 7th
Gant remained in the game, and Gennett banged a hard-hit fly ball to right that Munoz caught over his shoulder, looking like an actual outfielder. Ervin next singled on a liner up the middle to center, but Gant got Iglesias to hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Win Expectancy: Cards: 98.3%; Reds: 1.7%
Top of the 8th
The Reds bullpen carousel continued as somebody named jimmy Herget entered, a righty. Other Reds players switched positions, but that wasn’t important. Bader led off by flying out near the line in left; followed by Edman flying out to center for 2 outs. Edmundo Sosa came off the bench to pinch-hit for Gant, grounding out to third.
Win Expectancy: Cards: 97.9%; Reds: 2.1%
Bottom of the 8th - Hold on to your butts!
Sigh. Dominic Leone came in to pitch and promptly gave up a single to Josh VanMeter, which wasn’t bad. The bad part was next when he gave up a 2-run homer to that Lavarnway guy! Yeah, that guy, who just hit his second homer of the night (2nd since 2013) for a 6-RBI night. Sheesh. 12-9 Cards.
Miller was then brought in to face the top of the order. He walked Winker. Of course.
El Gallo began warming up. Miller re-grouped to get a huge strike out of Votto, making him look pretty bad. With one out, Peraza clubbed the first pitch he saw to deep left, narrowly missing a homer, with O’Neill catching it at the track for out 2. With Puig up, a wild pitch advanced Winker to second. But in a 2-2 count, Miller muscled up, cranking a 94 mph fastball just outside the top of the zone that Puig swung through for strike 3! Crisis averted.
Win Expectancy: Cards: 96.7%; Reds: 3.3%
Top of the 9th
Finally, somehow, the game reached the 9th inning. Goldy started by grounding out sharply to short, with O’Neill following that with a high fly-ball out in right-foul territory. Munoz then was quickly retired on one pitch, which he lined out softly into Gennett’s glove.
Cards: Cards: 95.9%; Reds: 4.1%
Bottom of the 9th
El Gallo came in to close this cray-cray game. Cooly, he struck out Scooter Gennett on a sly change-up. One out. In attack mode, Carlos dispatched Ervin next on a nasty slider down and away. Two outs.
But nothing’s easy, especially in this game, as pinch-hitter Derek Dietrich doubled in the right-center gap. After the first pitch to the next hitter VanMeter, DeJong held a mound meeting, presumably to indicate the runner on second was relaying signs. True or not, Carlos promptly walked VanMeter on four pitches, bringing the tying run to the plate in the person of....Lavarnway....yes, the 2 HR, 6-RBI-Night Lavarnway....
Going to a full count, runners going,...El Gallo walked Lavarnway to load the bases...2 out...
Then leadoff batter Winker promptly hit a ground-ball single past a diving Goldschmidt, scoring 2, making it 12-11 Cards...1st and 3rd, 2 out...
After another infielder mound visit to give Carlos a moment, up strode Votto...
ON A ONE-TWO PITCH, VOTTO GROUNDED OUT TO GOLDSCHMIDT!!!
GAME OVER, MAN!!! GAME OVER!!!
THE BOTTOM LINE
I don’t know what else to say.
No spouting of numbers can do justice to that insanely ugly/beautiful game.
I admittedly gave up on them when down 7-0.
Then they chipped away. Then they blasted through. Then they added on.
Then they screwed up.
Then they held on.
Baseball is life, yo.