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Cards Survive 9th Inning Scare to Beat Reds 5-4

Carlos Martinez allowed 2 runs on 3 hits in the 9th, but escaped with his 14th save

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Reds’ first baseman Joey Votto was placed on the injured list today with a back strain, ensuring that the Cardinals would not see him at all in this 4-game series. Hoping to secure a series split against a Reds team down a man due to Amir Garrett’s suspension and without their star and team leader, the Cardinals got the job done despite some misfires in the bullpen. The Cards rested Kolten Wong and Dexter Fowler against Reds’ left-handed starter Alex Wood, with Tommy Edman at 2B leading off, Lane Thomas in CF and Yairo Munoz in RF. Jack Flaherty started the game for the Cards, and he last allowed a run on July 26th with 1 out in the 4th inning when he gave up a 2-run HR to Michael Brantley of the Astros. Flaherty’s 23.2 IP scoreless streak ended today, but while he was not as sharp as in previous games, he still came through with only 3 hits allowed in a 5-inning victory.

After taking a low 2-2 fastball that could have been called a strike, Edman poked an outside fastball to right for a softly lined base hit to lead off the top of the 1st. Matt Carpenter looked at his 2nd slider on the inside corner to strike out looking. Paul Goldschmidt struck out swinging on a slider down-and-in. Marcell Ozuna popped a ball foul down the 1st base line for Josh VanMeter, who reached over the railing for it, but dropped it. On the 1-2 pitch to Ozuna, Edman got a good jump on the lefty Wood and stole 2nd base. But Ozuna couldn’t take advantage of his extra life. Just like Goldschmidt, he couldn’t lay off the slider in the dirt and struck out to end the inning. Flaherty retired the first 2 batters in the bottom half, but Eugenio Suarez ended Flaherty’s scoreless inning streak by launching a center-cut fastball well over the wall in left-center for a solo HR to give the Reds a 1-0 lead.

Lane Thomas softly lined a slider to left for a base hit with 2 out in the 8th, but was stranded when Yairo Munoz lined to right to end the inning. Edman grounded a low slider through the hole for a base hit with 1 out the top of the 3rd. With 2 out, Goldschmidt skied an outside backdoor slider over the left-center field wall for a 2-run HR to give the Cards a 2-1 lead.

In the bottom of the 3rd with 2 outs, Nick Senzel grounded a fastball through the hole to left for a base hit, but was stranded when Josh VanMeter grounded out to 2nd. With 1 out in the top of the 4th, Molina grounded to Suarez at 3rd. Although Molina was not even running remotely hard, Suarez took two bunny hops and threw a rocket over VanMeter’s head at 1st base and out of play. With Molina at 2nd due to the throwing error, Lane Thomas grounded an outside changeup up the middle for a base hit to score Molina and extend the Cards’ lead to 3-1. With Munoz at the plate, the Cards put on the hit and run play. Wood threw a slider about a foot outside, which Munoz whiffed at, but Thomas was caught stealing 2nd base by Reds’ catcher Kyler Farmer. Munoz then struck out to end the inning.

Carpenter made a nice charge with a barehanded play and throw to nail Suarez at 1st on his soft grounder to start the bottom of the 4th.

With 1 out in that inning, Aquino worked a 3-2 walk. With 2 out, Phillip Ervin blooped a ball to right for a base hit. The replay showed Munoz and the other outfielders playing deep, but not so deep that they were standing on the track. He looked like he could have run in and dove for it, but Baseball Savant listed the xBA at .530. Whether he should have had it or not, Aquino went to 3rd on the play, but Jose Iglesias grounded to short to end the inning.

After Flaherty struck out to lead off the top of the 5th, Edman almost certainly ensured that the Cards will never burn one of his option years when he hit an up-and-in 89 mph fastball high and just inside the left-field foul pole for a solo HR to give the Cards a 4-1 lead.

With 2 out, Goldschmidt lined a low fastball down the right field line into the corner for a double. Ozuna hit a liner right at Senzel in center, but he misjudged it, and when he took one step in, he realized too late that the ball was going to go over his head and to the fence. Ozuna’s double extended the Cards’ lead to 5-1. After DeJong walked, Molina grounded a ball deep in the hole at short for Jose Iglesias, who fielded it and fired to Freddy Galvis at 2nd. DeJong slid in safe and beat out the throw. Galvis realized at the last second that Molina was not really running to 1st and threw to 1st just in time to throw Molina out to end the inning. You can be forgiven for tuning out the Cardinals broadcast during the last couple of innings, while Jim Edmonds spent most of the time not describing the action, but instead marveling at the fact that the Reds were able to pick Freddy Galvis up on waivers. Surely, he studied the roster of the Toronto Blue Jays and their infield needs before wasting time on that topic.

Jesse Winker pinch hit for Wood with 1 out in the bottom of the 5th and worked a 3-2 walk. Flaherty then hit Senzel right above the left elbow with a tailing sinker. But he escaped the inning by getting VanMeter to line out to left and Suarez to chase a slider in the dirt for strike 3 to end the inning. Righty Joel Kuhnel relieved Wood for the top of the 6th. Munoz chased some low-and-away sliders out of the zone to strike out. Flaherty chopped a grounder to 2nd to end the inning. To start the bottom of the 6th, Flaherty walked Aristedes Aquino on 5 pitches, and Shildt pulled him at 83 pitches in favor of Giovanny Gallegos. Galvis missed a hanging slider and flied it to short center field for an out, and Ervin hit a little bouncer to short for an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, with Edman making a strong throw from the keystone to nip Ervin at first by a step.

Goldschmidt walked with 2 out in the top of the 7th, but was stranded when Ozuna grounded into a 6-4 force. Wong came into the game at 2B in Carpenter’s #2 spot in the bottom of the 7th with Edman moving from 2B to 3B. Gallegos came back out to pitch and hung a slider to Iglesias, who grounded it up the middle for a base hit to lead things off. Farmer sharply grounded a fastball through the hole to left off of the glove of the diving DeJong for a base hit to move Iglesias to 2nd. Tucker Barnhart pinch hit for Kuhnel and struck out swinging at an elevated fastball. Senzel worked a 3-2 walk to load the bases, and Shildt brought in Andrew Miller. Righty Jose Peraza pinch hit for VanMeter and walked on 5 pitches to score Iglesias and cut the Cards’ lead to 5-2. Shildt then went to John Gant, our best choice out of the pen to get a ground ball, to pitch to Suarez. Suarez got jammed on an inside 98 mph fastball and hit a liner with top spin towards DeJong, who trapped it and fired to Wong for the inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

The Reds made several changes for the top of the 8th. Barnhart stayed in the game in the #9 spot to catch, with Farmer moving from C to 1B. New righty reliever Kevin Gausman came in to pitch in the #2 spot to pitch and struck out the side. Gant came back out and retired the Reds in order in the bottom of the 8th with 1 strikeout. Gausman extended his strikeout streak in the top of the 9th to 6 when he struck out the side again getting swings and misses from Munoz, Fowler (who pinch hit for Gant) and Edman on his nasty split-finger pitch. This was an immaculate inning with 3 strikeouts on 9 pitches.

For the bottom of the 9th, Fowler stayed in the game in RF in the #9 spot, and because it was a save situation, Carlos Martinez came in to pitch in the #8 spot. It was as good a time as any to pitch him, as he had 4 days of rest. Martinez served up a first-pitch center-cut fastball to Iglesias, who launched it off of the right-center field wall for a double. Farmer lined a fastball up the middle for a base hit, and Iglesias had to perform a ballet pirouette move to avoid getting hit by the ball, moving to 3rd base on the play. The tying run is now at the plate. On the 0-2 pitch to Barnhart, Martinez threw a 95 mph fastball in the dirt that went to the backstop for a wild pitch. Farmer moved from 1st to 2nd. With the double play no longer in order and runners at 2nd and 3rd, Barnhart softly lined a changeup to right. Fowler was playing deep and took a circuitous, sideways route to the ball, which dropped in front of him for a base hit. That one had an xBA of .490. I can’t find catch probability for individual plays on the Baseball Savant page, so I’m not sure what the right field bloops truly looked like from that standpoint. Iglesias and Farmer scored to cut the Cards’ lead to 5-4. Senzel flied out to Fowler in right for the first out. Lefty Brian O’Grady, just called up today to replace the ailing Joey Votto, pinch hit for Gausman, and struck out looking at a flat backdoor slider that just clipped the outside corner, but could have been called a ball. The home plate umpire milked it for a good bit before calling it strike 3. This brought up Suarez, who had homered earlier in the game. Carlos kept the ball low and away from him, and struck him out with strikes 2 and 3 coming on check swings on low-and-away sliders. Carlos got his 14th save, and the Cards escaped Cincinnati with a split.

Odds and Ends

Mike Shildt said after the game that Tommy Edman is a regular player, and basically that should be evident to anyone who has been watching the team for the past month. So everyone might as well just enjoy the ride, because you’re going to see Edman in right field and Dexter Fowler in center field even when Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader come back. If you see Thomas or Arozarena in the outfield, it will be a scheduled day off to get Edman some rest, not necessarily a planed outing for our young outfielders. Somebody early in our game thread said that Shildt got defensive in the pregame show on KMOX when he was asked about lineup construction and playing time. Could someone that listened to that please enlighten us on what was said?...We will have to wait to find out the Cards’ ultimate standing in the NL Central division until the end of the rubber match between the Cubs and Pirates later tonight when Jose Quintana and Mitch Keller square off. The Cubs have a day off tomorrow, then had back to Chicago for 3 games each against the Giants and Nationals. After using 9 relievers in their marathon 14-inning game last night, the Brewers summoned two bullpen reinforcements today from AAA San Antonio. It didn’t help, as they were crushed by the Nationals 16-8, with the Nationals scoring 13 runs in the first 3 innings. Starter Chase Anderson gave up 9 hits, 10 ER and 3 HR in 2.1 IP. One of their reinforcements, Aaron Wilkerson, allowed another 8 hits, 5 ER and 4 HR (no that’s not a typo) in his 4.1 IP. The Cards need to capitalize on this, as they start a 3-game series against the Brewers tomorrow...Memphis is currently winning 11-2, and so far Dylan Carlson has tripled and homered, and Harrison Bader has 2 home runs.

The Carlson homer.....

The first Bader HR......

The 2nd Bader HR......

And the Carlson triple from the other side of the plate.....