How exactly do I summarize the game I just watched to people who didn’t have the pleasure of witnessing it themselves? Baseball is a weird game. A game like tonight can completely swing your mood, and I mean completely. A win and you just spent four hours watching a nerve-wracking game that gives you the greatest sigh of relief and an immense sense of joy and childlike wonder at the game you love. A loss and you wonder why you watch this stupid sport what a terrible loss the Cards aren’t making the playoffs for 10 years screw it all to hell. And then you tune in the next day. We’re insane, you know that?
It almost feels silly to talk about anything other than the 10th so I will probably spend more than half of this recap talking about the 10th. But first, there were nine other innings we’re all going to forget about when we remember this game. And the folks who stayed up and watched the entire thing - they’re going to remember the 10th, when real life baseball became a replica of an MLB the Show exhibition game you play against your friend.
Trevor Williams took the mound for the Pirates. He has always been trouble for the Cards and tonight was no exception. The Cardinals offense did great against him if you only include the left-handed batters and ignore the right-handed ones. He allowed a first-inning double to Dexter Fowler in the 1st and a 3rd inning home run to Matt Wieters. Tommy Edman singled later in the inning coupled with a walk to Paul Goldschmidt, but no additional run was scored. In the 4th, Paul DeJong walked and Kolten Wong singled to put DeJong at third. Wieters got his 2nd RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly. Fowler added a single in the 5th and that is all the hits the Cards got off him. All told, the lefties went 5-9 with a double, home run, and sacrifice fly. The right-handed batters went 0-10 with two walks.
Daniel Poncedeleon was the most extreme version of himself but less effective than he normally he is. He loaded the bases in the 1st, which included two walks, with just one out, but struck out two batters to end the threat with no runs scored. It took him 34 pitches. That was about the norm for him. He got a 1-2-3 inning in the 2nd, but he needed 18 pitches to get through that inning. A leadoff walk was removed with a double play ball in the 3rd. With only 11 pitches, he had a chance for a relatively quick inning. But alas, it took quite a while for that 3rd out. He gave up a single to Starling Marte and walked Josh Bell. Colin Moran singled home the first run for the Pirates. He needed another 34 pitches to get out of the 3rd. He had 86 pitches after three innings, which was an average of 5.7 pitches per batter.
Michael Wacha replaced him in the 4th and it looked like more of the same. With two outs and a man on second, he walked Adam Frazier for his third walk of the game. Bryan Reynolds doubled home one run, but Wacha got Marte to ground out. He needed 23 pitches to get out of his inning. Two first pitch outs in the 4th gave him an easy 1-2-3 inning for the 5th (which included a 9 pitch AB of course). In the 6th, a leadoff single was removed when trying to steal off Wieters. And Wacha ended his night with a strikeout and a groundout. Not the prettiest, but one earned run through 3 for Wacha in relief.
Nothing of note, and I mean nothing, happened until the bottom of the 9th. Both the Pirates and Cardinals had 1-2-3 innings every half inning until then. Tyler Webb pitched 2 (!) scoreless innings. John Brebbia entered in the bottom half and things went well. He struck out the first two batters he faced and then allowed an infield single that was only so because it was a real high and slow chopper by Melky Cabrera. Mike Shildt curiously brought in Chasen Shreve who proceeded to hit Adam Frazier and fall behind Reynolds 3-0. Reynolds then swung at three straight balls, fouling off the first two and missing the third to enter extras.
And then the 10th. Clay Holmes entered for the Pirates. Clay Holmes faces the Cardinals in his nightmares. He walked Wieters. After Jose Martinez struck out, Edman single and Fowler got hit on the foot to load the bases. Paul Goldschmidt went to the plate and hit an opposite field bomb that... looked like a high flyout to right off the bat to me. It went 400 feet and gave the Cards a 6-2 lead. Paul DeJong doubled, Wong was IBB’d, and Shreve batted for himself. He looked completely disinterested in swinging, backed up whenever a pitch was thrown and I’m sure Holmes was aware of that. Holmes threw him five balls, one of which was the obligatory 3-0 strike call and walked him. They finally took him out and Andrew Knizner, who had pinch-ran for Wieters, lined out to right.
Oh the bottom of the inning could have went better, but if it went any worse, the Cardinals would have lost or at least had to endure more innings of baseball. Shreve had a 4-run lead and Shildt wanted to save Carlos, but he gave up back-to-back hard hit doubles to bring the score to 6-3. Martinez entered and allowed a leadoff homer on the first pitch to bring the score to 6-5. Still nobody out. Next batters singles and the next batter gets on base on a hard hit ball that DeJong bobbled. First and second, nobody out, all three balls hit against Carlos are hard hit balls.
That’s the setting. Elias Diaz bunts it a little too hard, Carlos grabs it and throws a high throw to 3rd. Edman had trouble staying on the base and in fact may not have still been touching the base, but he’s called out anyway. Clint Hurdle inexplicably declines to challenge. Jacob Stalling pinch-hits with runners at 1st and 2nd, 1 out, and hits a line drive single to right. Martinez is ready for it and throws a rocket to home. The throw beats the runner and he’s tagged out. Barely. And I mean barely. I’m pretty sure he lightly brushed the tip of his cleat, but a few angles made it look like he didn’t tag him at all. Hurdle challenged this one and lost the challenge. First pitch flyout to end the game. How the hell did the Cardinals win this game?
- Regarding the Holmes comment, Holmes has appeared in 3 games against the Cards for his career and this is his line: 3.1 IP, 8 ER (9 R), 10 H, 7 BBs, 5 Ks, 2 HRs
- No seriously how did the Cardinals win this game?
- I’m not joking this is a thing I want to know.
- I have no actual notes I’m just going to beat this joke into the ground.
- One note I suppose: Shreve gets the win for 0.1 IP and 2 ER. Carlos gets the save with a HR allowed, three hard hit balls, and one actual, real out. One out was a bunt and one was an outfield assist.
- HOW DID THE CARDINALS WIN THIS GAME?
- The forces of the universe determined that the Pirates run differential was so bad that the Cardinals got every break in the universe because really the Pirates should be like 20 games under .500 right now.
Tomorrow the Cardinals are in game #2 of the 4 game series and Adam Wainwright should really pull a 7 IP out of his rear end, because this bullpen needs a break badly. I request 7 innings from Wainwright, 10 runs from the offense, and 2 scoreless innings from... I don’t know who’s even in this bullpen anymore? Is someone getting optioned to Memphis tomorrow? Do that and whoever comes up from Memphis gets the last two innings. Giovanny Gallegos and Andrew Miller were the only ones who didn’t pitch tonight and they could use another off-day too.