This isn’t your Mamma’s and Pappa’s Cardinals. (Check local listings; maybe it is.)
All my grass is brown (all my grass is brown)
And the guys shed grey (and the guys shed grey)
I read doomer talk (I read doomer talk)
On the long off-day (on the long off-day)
Now they’re better off (now they’re better off)
That they’re not in LA (that they’re not in LA)
California sweepin’ (California sweepin’)
Now seems so far away...
Just 8 days ago, after taking 2 of 3 from the Cubs, the Cards were in first, 1 game up on Chicago and 2 on Milwaukee, with 59.6% playoff odds. The Cards then got dysentery on their travels west, losing 5 in a row at the hands of the A’s and Dodgers. Going first to third on the field is good. Doing so in the standings is bad. In a blip, they were bumped to third place, 4 back of the Cubs, with the Brewers 3.5 back. Entering tonight their playoff odds were cleaved to 24.9%.
Math not only is hard, it’s dang cruel.
Back home just for this 3-game set vs. Pittsburgh, it was the Pirates’ Chris Archer against your favorite team’s Dakota Hudson. Archer hasn’t been the pitcher the Pirates expected when getting him from the Rays in 2018. Coming into tonight, he was atop the NL leaderboard in giving up home runs with 25. Dakota’s up and down season was sadly, perfectly reflected in his pre-game WAR: 0.0.
It was a weird, close, game for 7 innings between two teams not playing well at all of late, both entering with matching 5-game losing streaks. It was a pitching duel of the weirdest sorts. Hudson wasn’t exactly sharp; moreover, he was a bit fortunate, giving up lots of hard-contact outs. He was pulled after just 4 innings and 49 pitches, giving up 2 earned runs, both produced by sac flies. But a small army of 4 bull-penners carried the rest of the weight, blanking the Pirates the rest of the way.
Meanwhile, Archer was sharp, striking out 9 through 6 innings with no walks, giving up 2 runs the Cards achieved by clustering hits during the 1st and the 4th. But he left in the 6th at 100 pitches, mainly thanks to the Cards forcing him to throw 23 & 24 pitches in the third and 4th, respectively.
As the game remained 2-2 from the 4th through the 7th, I was convinced we were headed for extras, as neither team could wrench the game away. BUT!!! a 4-run burst in the 8th thanks to a double, single, 2-run homer, and sac fly, turned the Cards’ 62% Win Probability at the start of that frame into 99%!!! Carlos then got the last 4 outs and that sweet, sweet, reliever win!!!
Early Action! - The Pirates went down 1-2-3 in the first despite contact from 2 hitters at over 90 mph. The Cards got on the board first, sporting their Swing-Early™ model hitting’ shoes, as 4 of first 5 hitters swung at the first pitches they saw. That worked, as they broke through with the game’s first run with three-straight singles and a double-play groundout by Ozuna. 1-0 Cards! (But shoulda been more with bases loaded and 1 out.)
However, the Pirates evened it up immediately in their part of the 2nd, as Josh Bell mirrored the Cads’ approach by launching Hudson’s first pitch for a double over Dex’s head at 114 mph. A wild pitch bounced helpfully off the brick backstop right back to Wieters, who slung it to third to attempt to get an advancing Bell, but he was called safe.
Marcell Ozuna’s alter-ego Jose Osuna flew out one step from the wall to his alter-ego Ozuna, scoring Bell on the sac fly, tying the game already, 1-1. Colin Moran then looped a bloop over Carpenter’s head for a single to re-start things for the Pirates. Kevin Newman then grounded to Pauly, who whipped it to second to get the force, but his throw was off, preventing Wong from turning it.
With 2 out and a Bucco on first, Jacob Stallings got lucky by flaring one down the right-field line, but it ultimately was unlucky for the Pirates, as it bounced into the seats for a ground-rule double, preventing the run from scoring. Hudson then got pitcher Chris Archer to bounce easily back to him for the third out.
Deceptively Important 3rd - After Archer struck out the side in the Cards’ half of the 2nd, Hudson worked around a one-out HBP to get a fortunate double play off the bat of Marte, who smoked it at 98 mph right at Carp for a 5-4-3 inning-ender.
The Cards didn’t score in their half, but it included a triple, which was fun, so here’s some details...Making DH lovers roll their eyes, pitcher Hudson led off the third and flew out to right. Dex then grounded out to third for the second out. Edman then hit a liner to right center that Reynolds dove at and deflected to a backing up Marte who had sprinted from slightly left center. Meanwhile, Edman greedily motored to third, getting in just ahead of Marte’s throw. The Pirates challenged the safe call, as it looked like Tommy’s foot might’ve come off the bag. Not. Triple!
Look at that man fly! Tommy Edman comes up with a two-out triple.— FOX Sports Midwest (@FSMidwest) August 10, 2019
The #STLCards are on FSMW and FSGO right now: https://t.co/KOFG8n8pRC #TimeToFly pic.twitter.com/e7c2lySJKR
Goldy then came up with a chance for a 2-out RISP run-scoring hit to score a run with a hit. Battling a mix of fastballs and sliders, Goldschmidt took Archer to a marathon 11-pitch at bat, but he hit a weak floater to second for the third out. However, that AB forced Archer’s pitch count up to 50. (The deceptively important part of the inning.)
Back-and-Forth 4th - Pitching carefully to Josh Bell, Dakota went to 3-0 but got the count to 3-2. Unfortunately, Bell pulverized the next offering to left center, one-hopping the wall for his second triple-digit EV double of the night. The next hitter Osuna also hit the ball hard, sending a liner to left; fortunately, it was hit so hard Bell had to stop at third.
With first and third and no one out, Moran flew out deeply enough to center to get Bell home on a sac fly, the second time the Pirates used that technique to score. 2-1 Pirates.
Kevin Newman then bunt-singled toward third that Hudson attempted to field but everyone was safe, making it first and third, one out. Slow-running catcher Jacob Stallings then get Hudson off the hook by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play.
Ozuna started things off by striking out on a sharp slider on the outside low corner. DeJong did the same on the same pitch type, only this one was significantly out of the zone. Carpenter stopped that trend, launching a 2-out double to right. With their second straight 2-out RISP chance, Kolten surprised everyone by bunting up the third-base line for a hit, making it first and third. Okay, sure! Wieters then bounced one to shortstop Newman, who had to charge it to his left. He threw poorly across his body, past the first baseman, producing a gift run to tie the game 2-2!
With Wong now at second, their third 2-out RISP chance came up. Surprisingly, Jose Martinez lurched from the dugout to the plate to pinch-hit for Hudson, who had thrown only 49 pitches. Perhaps it was that Hudson was not missing bats, what with all the hard-hit balls and zero strikeouts. Plus, this team has been offensively starved. Alas, Martinez couldn’t cash in striking out on a foul tip.
Desert-Wandering 5th-7th - Both teams traded 1-2-3 innings in the 5th, with Webb the first out of the pen for the Cards. Webb returned for the 6th, but Pauly D couldn’t corral another hard-hit Marte grounder, and he reached first. With Bell up, Marte stole 2nd but Webb got a huge out by getting him on a 3-2 foul-tip strikeout. Brebbia then entered and struck out Osuna. Shildt then intentionally walked the lefty Moran. We’ll say it worked, as Brebbia hung a curve that Newman launched to deep right but fortunately died at the track in Ozuna’s glove.
Archer sat the Cards down in another 1-2-3 inning, but he reached exactly 100 pitches to do it.
Brebbia came back out for the 7th and returned the 1-2-3 favor, setting the Pirates down in order. After the stretch, righty reliever Michael Feliz came on to face the bottom three in the Cards’ order. Wong led off with a walk on 5 pitches, the first (unintentional) free pass of the game for either team. But he was stranded there.
Magic Eight-Ball 8th: All Signs Point to Fun!
Andrew Miller came in to face the Pirates’ 2-3-4 hitters. He got the first 2, including one on a nifty play by Pauly D:
Have mercy! pic.twitter.com/Rtln6ZvtTy— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 10, 2019
But he then walked Bell, so Shildt then brought in Carlos Martinez to get the third out against Osuna, which in fact happened, as El Gallo lured a pop-out to Wong.
Righty Pirate reliever Richard Rodriguez attempted to keep the game tied, facing the top of the Cards’ order. Dex did a good thing and doubled off the side wall down the right-field line, his second hit of the night. After taking a first-pitch strike 1, Edman attempted to bunt, but it went foul. Swinging away now, he was fed up and away fastballs to prevent him from pulling it to advance Dex to third. On a 1-2 count, he hacked at a way-high middle-up fastball, popping out to shallow center, forcing Dex to stay put at second.
Goldy then strode to the plate, wasting no time by hitting a grounder that scooted under the shortstop’s backhand into left, scoring Dex for a 3-2 lead for the Cards!
That's gold, Paul... GOLD! pic.twitter.com/bo38j3M2PV— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 10, 2019
Ozuna then got to a hitter’s 3-1 count, and he did not miss a middle-away fastball that he yanked to left center for a 2-run homer!!! 5-2 Cards!!! Just like that!!!
*clears throat*— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 10, 2019
And I-ee-I will always loveeeee you! pic.twitter.com/SaLAvsZTTP
DeJong then hit a long, high fly ball to the left-field corner that the left fielder actually over-ran, as he had been shading Pauly D toward center. It was so high DeJong made it to third, ruled an error. (If he had been running hard, he might’ve had an inside-the-parker.)
Highland, Illinois native rookie righty reliever Geoff Hartlieb came in to face Carpenter, pitching for the first time at his boyhood rooting haunt, Busch. Carp hit a deep fly to right that DeJong scored on for a 6-2 lead!!! With 2 outs, Kolten grounded out to first to end the sweet, tack-on inning.
Nighty-Night Ninth - El Gallo stayed in to close this out. Lane Thomas went in to center. Carlos annoyingly walked the first hitter Moran. But next hitter Newman thankfully swung at pitch 1, flying out to Thomas in center. Jacob Stallings then sent Lane Thomas to the track, but it died there in his glove for the 2nd out. Pinch hitter Melky Cabrera arrived as the Pirates’ last hope. Carlos got him on a weak comebacker for the third out.
Cards win, 6-2!!!
THE BOTTOM LINE
Bullish Pen - After Hudson was yanked after 4, Webb, Brebbia, Miller, and Carlos combined to blank the Pirates the rest of the way, collectively giving up just 1 hit and 3 BBs
- Give that Beard a Beer - Brebbia’s 1.2 innings of relief netted him a 21.4 Win Probability Added (WPA)
- Better Gold than Never - Goldy’s 8th-inning single to score Dex produced a 23.5 WPA
- Ozuna Dinger - Marcell’s 8th-inning cake-icer was the first home that Richard Rodriguez had given up given up since May 30th
- We’ll Take It - Some luck was definitely on the Cards’ side, as the Pirates hit 10 of the 15 batted balls with an EV of at least 95 mph
- Yo, Ho, No - The loss sent the Pirates to 4-22 since the break. Oof.
- Back to Second - The Cards are now tied with the Brewers, both 3 games back of the Cubs
- Do it Again! - Adam Wainwright goes against Joe Musgrave tomorrow night at 6:15 CT