Game 2 of the 3-game set vs. the Pirates pitted Joe Musgrove against Adam Wainwright, two pitchers with some very similar stats this season and a glaring difference. Can you find it?
Musgrove: Exit Velo: 89.2; Hard Hit%: 40.3; xwOBA: .319; FIP: 4.23; K%: 20.5; BB%: 5.5
Wainwright: Exit Velo: 87.8; Hard Hit%: 39.2; xwOBA: .323; FIP: 4.33; K%: 22.3; BB%: 9.5
I knew you could. Waino entered with the 6th-worst walk rate in the NL, which obviously has ballooned his pitch counts, limiting his time in games. He last went past the 6th on July 14th. With the bullpen covering 5 innings in last night’s victory (Shildt’s 100th), the Cards needed Adam to go deeper into this game, hopefully not just to “take one for the team.”
But hey, the offense could do their part! Musgrove has given up 17 earned runs in 12 innings vs. the Cards this year, so the hitters looked to continue that trend.
Defense? Overrated. Dex was in center; Tommy in right. Done and done.
Everything was just good enough tonight, but as the Pirates are horrid currently, just good enough was enough for a win. Waino freaked everyone out when he gave a homer on his first pitch of the game. But that was the lone run the Pirates got, like the entire night, as Waino stayed mostly in control, walking just 2. He wiggled out of a first and third, one-out situation in the 4th and was quite fortunate to escape some bases loaded, 1-out shenanigans in the 5th with the Pirates’ best hitters up. Two balls hit very hard didn’t produce runs, but that’s the way it goes, Buccos.
Waino lasted a full 6 and Gallegos was called on for multiple innings, answering the bell again quite nicely, throwing 2.1 shoutout innings. Carlos then came in to get the final two outs, because I don’t know, you tell me.
Meanwhile, the offense mustered only 7 hits, but thanks to some Pirates’ shenanigans gifting the Cards a run on a botched relay in the 6th, the Cards broke a 1-1 tie. They got another in that frame by going single, double single to push it to 3-1. The Cards exhibited shenanigans of their own that same inning to prevent further scoring, but thankfully no more was needed.
In close games like this, often defense makes the difference. Cards’ fielders made several good to very good plays that kept the Pirates at bay. Even Old Man Dex got in on the act.
Ok, um. Before the satisfying sound of my freshly popped Bud Light Lime-a-Rita abated, it was 1-0 Pirates on a first-pitch-sinker-that-didn’t-at-the-top-of-the-zone home run by Adam Frazier. I called shenanigans. In The Show, you don’t have to ask the fans to throw the ball back in for re-use. So after getting a new ball, Adam then set down Bryan Reynolds and Starling Marte on grounders to second and third, respectively. He then struck out Josh Bell swinging on a 90 mph fastball on the outer half.
Dexter Fowler’s calling card has always been OBP. He entered at .340, but at some point Wong overtook him for the team lead, as Kolten’s is .351. Time to give Kolten a shot leading off? Dex took umbrage at that and walked just to spite me. Tommy “Puts it in Play” Edman (83.6 Contact %) flared one to shallow center for a hit, as Dex read it well and moved to third. Early rally!
Musgrove then invited trouble, walking Paul Goldschmidt on 4 pitches to load the bases and his second free pass already. Licking his chops, Marcell Ozuna stepped in and watched the first 3 pitches go by for balls, all down and away. After going to 3-2, Musgrove came back to get Ozuna to ground out to third for an around-the-horn DP. You might scoff at such shenanigans, but just like last night’s , it scored a run. Tie game, 1-1!
After Paul DeJong sent an 0-2 pitch at Big Mac Land level but foul, two pitches later, he popped out to first.
Waino thankfully didn’t repeat the leadoff shenanigans from the first inning, striking out Jose Osuna swinging on a slow curve. Colin Moran, however, singled on a hard liner to right. Tommy grabbed it without incident. Kevin Newman lined one to center that Dex caught, going to his knees for out 2. (Okay, Tots woulda been standing up, but was good anyways.) See?
Slide. Catch. That's Dex! pic.twitter.com/mHMxjvCCot— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 10, 2019
Jacob Stallings then sent a foul pop behind first that Kolten made a nice running catch on, and while we expect those plays from him, it was quality.
Matt Carpenter, who pre-game had all the bones in his lower extremeties replaced with graphene, struck out swinging on a not-strike up and away fastball. His balance obviously was thrown off by the new metal inside him. Kolten Wong then sent a slow grounder to the third baseman’s backhand, and Moran took too long with the throw, allowing Kolten to reach safely, frustrating his manager with such shenanigans.
Wong wanted to continue flaunting his speed, taking off on the next pitch. But he was nailed on a perfect throw, only the 2nd time in 17 attempts this season. Wieters then popped out in foul territory to the pitcher, who didn’t care about that pitchers aren’t supposed to do that.
With hot pitcher-on-pitcher action leading off the third, Adam struck out Musgrove swinging. Yowza. That was so hot that second baseman-on-second baseman activity ensued, as Frazier grounded out to Wong. Calling shenanigans, right fielder Bryan Reynolds was called out on strikes, sending no baseball near Tommy Edman.
Intrigued by the previous position-vs.-position experimenting, Musgrove struck out Adam, returning the favor from the top of the third. Turning the lineup over, Dex struck out swinging on the fourth pitch on a good changeup. The personification of positional shenanigans, Tommy Edman didn’t want to feel left out, so he also struck out. He watched a well-placed cutter on the outer edge.
Starling Marte stepped in battled Waino for 9 pitches but graciously respected his elder by striking out looking on a cutter that just touched the bottom of the zone. Josh Bell scoffed at those shenanigans, working a walk, Wainwright’s first of the night. Jose Osuna then lined a hard oppo single in front of Edman in right (Martinez woulda) with Bell sprinting safely to third. So the Pirates had something going, with first and third with one out.
Looking to help his team re-take the lead, Colin Moran failed, as he got too excited, flailing at a fastball up and out of the zone (92.5 mph!). Former annoying mailman Newman tried to avenge his vanquished teammate but was smote swinging on a patented Waino Uncle Charlie in the dirt.
Goldy, 5-10 in his career vs. Musgrove, led off the 4th by launching a deep fly to center, but it died at the track, and Marte caught it 2 steps in front of the wall for a long, loud out 1. SSS stats are a bunch of shenanigans. Ozuna followed by actually getting on base without actually swinging the bat whatsoever, drawing a one-out walk. Pauly G then hit a slow roller to short that the Pirates could only turn into a force at second instead of turning into a two-outs-on-one batted ball play.
Carp then almost kept the inning going, rocketing a sinking liner to right that Osuna made a nice sprawling catch on to end the inning.
Despite being down 1-2 in the count, Jacob Stallings led off by singling on a grounder up the middle. Musgrove didn’t do his NL pitcher job, swinging away and hitting an easy grounder right to Adam, who was able to get the runner at second for one out. Some think the DH in the NL would be the ultimate shenanigans.
Frazier then drew a walk on a pitch that was totes a strike at the bottom of the zone. With first and second now and 1 out, Bryan Reynolds banged a hanging curve past a diving Wong into right. The Cards were lucky it wasn’t elevated and lucky it was hit so firmly that the runner couldn’t score.
With the bases juiced, Marte likewise sizzled a liner, but Pauly D used those big-league reflexes, plucking it from the air to his right for out 2, as the runners scampered back to their bases safely. See?
1⃣0⃣9⃣ MPH off the bat... how'd he catch that!? pic.twitter.com/KM7rdey3L8— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 11, 2019
With Josh Bell up, Waino bucked up, fooling him on an up and in 1-2 fastball for strike 3, his 8th K of the night. Prob expected the hook.
Crisis avertedI See?
Kolten, still dreaming of being a leadoff guy, technically got to lead off this inning but didn’t do anything to instill confidence in his abilities to do that, as he got jammed and sent a floater into the second baseman’s glove for an easy out 1. Matt Wieters then followed by striking out swinging for the second out, which was repeated by Adam, emboldening DH lovers’ assertion that pitcher hitting is a load of shenanigans.
After a quick slurp of an energy drink in the dugout after his exhausting strikeout just minutes before, Adam returned to a land he has not visited often this season: Sixthville.
Ozuna grounded firmly to Carp, who lunged to his left, spun, and threw accurately to first to nab the runner for out 1. Moran fought Adam for the right to reach base, facing 10 pitches, but ultimately making an out on a grounder Kolten ranged far to his left to glove, throwing him out nearly from the right-field foul line.
Kevin Newman then singled on his first pitch to right, sending a soft liner in front of Tommy. At least it took just the one pitch. Jacob Stallings then obligingly offered at his first pitch, popping out to DeJong.
That dang Moran’s shenanigans in his long at bat lurched Adam’s pitch count to 2 shy of 100.
Dexter started off the 6th by flopping one down the left-field line for a hit that the left fielder sprinted toward, and with Dex going for 2, fired to second, getting an on-field out call that was upheld upon replay. “Shenanigans!” cried the crowd.
But the GOB taketh away and giveth. Next batter Tommy Edman slammed a one-strike pitch to the wall in center, as he cruised into second for a double. The relay came in to the shortstop, and with no need to throw it anywhere, he did anyway, bouncing it past the third baseman. As Tommy scampered toward third, the ball rolled into the dugout (the pitcher wasn’t backing up third), instantly awarding the lad with home plate!
2-1 Cards!!! See?
Just how we drew it up! pic.twitter.com/D6mpgA86zJ— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 11, 2019
Goldy kept things going by next singling on a a sharp liner to center, prompting a mound visit from some guy the Pirates pay to get their pitchers to pitch better. Old guy Francisco Liriano began warming up. Ozuna then got in on the party by doubling down the left-field line, making it second and third, one out.
That was enough for the Pirates’ button pushers, who pressed the one marked “Liriano.” The pneumatic tube reliever transport system shot the lefty up through the mound. Paul DeJong greeted him by bouncing one just past the third baseman that scored Goldy!
A nice inning ended stupidly, as Carp bunted, which the catcher pounced on and threw to first for out 2. Ozuna never stopped around third, and Bell nailed him at the plate for the rare 2-3-2 double shenanigans! play.
Super-Reliever-Gosh-Could-He-Start Giovanni Gallegos entered to face Elias Diaz. Lane Thomas (who?) came into center, and Dex shoved Tommy out of right and into third base, shoving Carp to the dugout. (Shenanigans, or wise?) Diaz flew out to Dex in right (woulda Tommy?) and Frazier lined out to Ozuna. Reynolds then flied out sharply to Thomas in center. #TheMovesWorked
Kolton tried that lead off an inning thing again, but did not excite, as he grounded out softly on the first pitch to second. Wieters then watched a called third strike go by for out 2 that a robo ump would’ve called shenanigans on and overturned into a ball. Lane Thomas, trying to remember where to stand when batting, grounded out near the bag at second for a quick 1-2-3 inning.
Gio did so well in the 7th, Shildt told him, what the heck, go get the 3-4-5 hitters. Too much Gio is never enough, as he sent down Marte swinging on a slider no human hitter has yet figured out. Bell then rocketed a high, high fly ball but to shallow center that Lane Thomas camped under for out 2. Osuna then grounded to Pauly D’s backhand, from which the shortstop plucked the ball cleanly and hurled to first for a quick third out and shenanigan-less 8th.
Looking for an insurance run or 5 this inning, Fowler must’ve been tired, as he didn’t offer at any pitches, watching 3 straight go by for the first out. Tommy Edman also struck out, but at least he swung at a few. Godly then lined out to the second baseman on a ball not hit that hard but i’m out of words to replace “lined.” Insurance agents/Cards’ fans shook their dang heads at the shenanigans.
Some Shildty shenanigans took place in the final frame. Gio went out for his third inning of work, which seemed to be a good move. Gallegos got leadoff man Moran on a fly-out to center, albeit one that sent Thomas to the wall. Then for some reason, Shildt called for Carlos to get the final 2 outs. Whatever.
El Gallo got Newman to line out meekly to Goldy for out 2. Pinch hitter Melky Cabrera then stepped in. Carlos got him to pop out to Kolten in short right.
Cards win, 3-1!!!
THE BOTTOM LINE
- Adam’s line was certainly an improvement over his recent outings: 6 IP, 6H, 2 BB, 8 K, 1 ER
- Your star on offense was Tommy Edman who went 2-4 with a double and scored a run for a 25.9 Win Probability Added (WPA)
- Please, Cradz try making Gallegos a starter next season.
- 16 batted balls had an EV of at least 97, with 10 of those off Pirates’ bats. Tough luck.
- The victory netted the Pirates their 7th loss in a row and 23rd of 27 games since the break. I typed that without an ounce of sympathy.
- Cards go for the sweep tomorrow at 1:15 CT with Mikolas hurling against something called a “Brault.”
- Shenanigans, yo.