The Cards faithful welcomed the home-town 9 back to The Lou with a toasted ravioli parade celebrating their 7-1 road trip and return to first. What, you forgot they spent time atop the Central? Way back in April, when they were 20-9 and full of spit and vinegar and Munoz-less starts.
They rode in on a 5-game winning streak, highlighted by a career-best Goldy Standard of homering in 4 straight. Overall, the team has been digging the long ball, having hit at least one dinger in 9 consecutive games, with 10 different players combining for 20 total homers over that span.
Tonight’s matchup vs. 66-38 juggernaut Houston brought extra intrigue, as literally one hitter betwixt both lineups had any ABs vs the opposing pitcher. That was no surprise being an interleague game, but Houston’s starter Jose Urquidy amped up the mystery, as it was only the young righty’s fourth major-league start, with a grand total of 13 innings thrown. That prob had something to do with the Fan Graphs 53.7% Win Probability for the Cards.
Houston’s Michael Brantly was the lone hitter who previously saw Cards’ starter Jack Flaherty, which was in June 2018, going 1 for 3 with a double against him as a Cleveland Indian. Both teams hugged their Video Coordinators.
Where’s Yairo? Led off, played 3B; Edman rested. Mike Shildt will break you, VEB.
Lots of angst tonight in a tight, teetering ballgame that felt like the playoffs, complete with griping about the ump’s strike zone from Flaherty and eventually Shildt. In such a game good and bad luck play their vital roles, and this one was no different, as both teams had several hard-hit balls that went for outs that could’ve swayed the game at any point.
As often has been the case this season, in the end Jack’s line was good, but inconsistent command (and good Astros at-bats) plus striking out 9 ballooned his pitch count to 108 and he was done after 6. He had several deep counts but only walked one.
Both offenses were kept scoreless through three innings, as Jack faced no real threats, and the Astros’ rookie starter did likewise. Their opposite styles were on display, with Jack’s mid-90s heat, wicked sliders and knuckle curve vs. Urquidy spotting low-90’s fastballs and changeups, his best pitch.
Jack’s only big mistake was a changeup left up that Brantley deposited in right for a 2-run homer in the 4th. Keep working, son.
But the Cards answered immediately, cleaving the Astros’ 2-0 lead in their half of the 4th on singles by Goldschmidt, O’Neill, and Wong. After the teams traded scoreless frames in the 5th and 6th (with Lady Good/Bad Luck popping her head in), the Cards did what they’ve been doing best lately, as Wieters hit a game-tying homer in the bottom of the 7th!!!
Ah, but as fun as all that was, it paled in comparison to the 8th, which began with Boo Birds and ended with Goldy Boy. In the top half, normally reliable John Gant entered and did get two outs, but also gave up a double and 2 walks to load the bases. Miller replaced him, promptly walking in the go-ahead run on 4 pitches, then settled to get the final out. It was grim.
But in the decisive bottom half of the 8th, Dex led off with a walk, but not before fouling a pitch off his left foot (the one he broke last season). Visibly limping, he inexplicably stayed in the game to take his base. He was not swapped out for, gee, I dunno, a super-fast, great-fielding center fielder sitting on the bench. Martinez then hit a ringing double down the left-field line on a hanging curve, with Fowler stopping at third. (Bader might’ve.) Then Bader came in to pinch-run for Martinez at second.
With first base open and no one out, the Astros pitched Goldy carefully, throwing nothing but breaking balls. Then on a 2-1 pitch, Pauly G cranked a long fly to left center that barely made it over the wall inches beyond a leaping Springer for his 23rd homer!!!! 5-3 Cards!!! Nobody out!!!
Mid-trot, Goldy had to confirm it cleared the fence, as the ball needed every bit of its 401-foot distance, seemingly traveling in slow-mo, as Cards fans everywhere held their collective breath...
FOR A FIFTH STRAIGHT GAME!!!— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) July 27, 2019
Paul Goldschmidt is the hottest hitter on the planet!
After the rally-killing homer, righty Chris Devenski then came on in relief and prevented the Cards from tacking on. DeJong struck out swinging, then Tyler followed with his unicorn outcome, a walk. Kolten then squibbed one toward short, reaching safely. Because of the shift, no one was near third, and if Tyler had kept motoring, he likely would’ve reached there safely. That was key, as Wieters then flew out to deep left, which would’ve scored him. Tommy Edman then entered as a pinch hitter, hacking at a first-pitch fastball he didn’t catch squarely, flying out to deep-ish right.
El Gallo came in to finish off Game 1 of
the World Series this series and promptly coaxed Yuli Gurriel to fly out to shallow left on the second pitch that Tyler’s good speed allowed him to corral for out 1. Josh Roddick singled, but Carlos struck out Chorines then got old friend Aledmys Diaz on three straight sliders, the third of which was tapped back to El Gallo, who under-handed the ball to Goldy for the win, 5-3!!!
THE BOTTOM LINE
First place alone, yo!
Brewers beat the Cubs in a nail-biter of their own, 3-2.
- With his RBI single in the 4th with 2 outs, Kolten Wong matched his career high of reaching base in 15 straight games. Half of his RBIs have come with 2 outs.
- Coming in leading all catchers with 4 HRs in July, Wieters topped himself tonight by golfing his 5th of July (9th overall). It was only the 4th homer given up by the Astros’ reliever Harris this season.
- Pauly G kept smelting gold, smacking a homer in his 5th-straight game.
Cards are now 16-5 when he homers.
- Cards homered for the 10th straight game
- Homers, homers, homers, homers, homers.
- The teams are back at it tomorrow night at 6:15 CT with Cole matching up against Ponce