The Cards came into Game 2 of this 3-Game Suds Series trying to get to 10 games over .500 for just the second time this season, having reached that milestone just once back on May 1st. Their most recent try was on July 27th, but they fell to the Astros. Since that game, they’ve treaded water, going 10-10; but, that’s been good enough to earn them another shot tonight at the 10-over mile marker TLR always espoused was the initial bar a team had to clear to begin considering itself as ”good.”
From another perspective, after the wart-revealing 5-game sweep on the west coast, they have gone 8-2 back in the bosom of middle-west teams. That has translated into a smidge over coin-toss playoff odds at 53.7%. I’ll take it.
I’ll also take Daniel Craig as a top-tier James Bond. His first go-round in Casino Royale introduced me not only to a grittier 007 but also to parkour. I bet gritty Tommy Edman is totes the best Cardinal at parkour. But Bader will run through a wall for you. Both are in the lineup tonight, with Harrison in right and Tommy in center (LOLZ; center and third, respectively).
WECOME BACK BADER!!!
Bader says he feels great after his stint in the minors: "I'm looking forward to just going out there and getting after it. I'm here to play and I'm very excited about it." #TimeToFly pic.twitter.com/ePTiCHFBve— FOX Sports Midwest (@FSMidwest) August 20, 2019
VISIT BIG AC LAND, YO!!!
I kept hearing during the pre-game that Michael Wacha “earned” this start tonight based on his previous outing against the Reds, in which he went 5 innings, gave up 2 ER, 2 BB, and had 3 Ks. Wacha,...Wacha...Wacha...
But hey—Wacha quieted the guffawing Balcony Boys Statler and Waldorf by pitching very well. Problem was, he was a victim of circumstance. Shutting out the Brewers though four innings, he allowed just 4 baserunners via 3 hits and one walk. But the Cards were not doing anything against Gio to that point.
So when the Cards finally did score one in the 4th, they looked to leverage an additional scoring opportunity with the bases loaded and 2 out. With Wacha’s spot up, Shildt swapped in Lane Thomas, despite Wacha only being at 73 pitches. But he was probably thinking what you were thinking: Wacha’s not good beyond 5 innings anyway.
Lane didn’t come through, but in the end it didn’t matter in the scheme of the game. In the 5th, the Brewers parlayed four sequenced hits into a 2-1 lead off of Helsley and Gant. But that lead was short-lived and the last time they’d have that feeling on the night.
The Cards broke open the game in the 6th, a crazy cocktail of 3 hits—only one of which was hard hit—a HBP, and a walk. Oh, and one of those hits was a bases-clearing bloop double to short left that made it 5-2. Told you it was crazy.
Through the 7th, the Cards’ bullpen keep the Brewers scoreless while the Redbirds offense continued to tack on, pushing the score to 9-2. The Brewers did make some noise in the 8th, pushing across 2 runs off Brebbia to make it 9-4, but that’s as close as they got. Brebbia remained in the ninth to close it out.
Both teams sent a parade of 5 relievers to cover multiple innings, lengthening this contest. (In addition to Wacha only going 4, Gio Gonzalez went 5.)
Harrison Bader had a heck of a homecoming party, making 2 dazzling plays: one on the first pitch of the game, and another in a key spot in the 6th that saved a run. For good measure, he went 1 for 1 at the plate (a triple) with 3 walks, 2 runs scored, and an RBI.
Top of 1st
On the first pitch, Lorenzo Cain smoked a Wacha looping curve on a line into center that some short-haired new call-up streaked in on, dove and snagged for out 1!!!
WELCOME BACK INDEED, BADER!!!
With one eye on Yelich licking his chops on the on-deck circle, Wacha promptly walked Yasmani Grandal on 5 pitches. Credit where credit’s due, he went right after the lanky lefty Yelich, and got him out front on a good changeup that Christian grounded to DeJong. But it wasn’t hit hard enough to get two, despite a good turn from Kolten.
With two out and Yelich on first, Wacha went to a full count on Keston Hiura. With Christian on the move, Keston got jammed a bit on an up and in fastball that he sent on a shallow looping fly to right that Dexter Fowler ran in and caught easily.
Bottom of 1st
Oh, no...changeups again. Your current leadoff hitter was Dex, who went down swinging on a diving down and in changeup. Manager’s pet Tommy Edman followed by popping up to second. Amazingly, Danny Mac and Ricky Horton did not come up with a positive statement to describe that result. They let it pass with silence.
Paul Goldschmidt became the 2nd strikeout victim by swinging too soon at a changeup, the 9th one out of Gio Gonzalez’ first 17 pitches. He obviously watched Zach Davies torture Cards’
hitters fans last night with that pitch.
Top of 2nd
Wacha looked crisp in the second facing the 5-6-7 hitters. Ryan Braun started by pounding a changeup on the ground to Edman’s right that he backhanded and threw across to first that Goldy had to snag while Braun’s helmet fell off and bounced in front of him. Focus, yo.
Wacha then started hulking Eric Thames with off-speed pitches then finished him off with four-seamers, striking him out swinging. Michael followed that up by likewise striking out Hernan Perez, via the backward-K variety, on a pretty fastball at the bottom of the zone.
Bottom of 2nd
Marcel Ozuna started the 2nd by just missing an 89 mph “fastball” on the outside corner, sending Yelich to the track for out 1. Paul DeJong then went down to get a low and way-outside curveball, dribbling one back to Gio for a meek out 2. Yadi stepped in and quickly got down 0-2, but he did that crafty veteran thing and came back to work a 2-out walk. Currently the best-hitting Cardinal (not named Tommy Edman), Kolten Wong came up in the 7 slot. Alas, he didn’t support that thesis, as he went down in a flash of 3 pitches, waiving over a down-and-in changeup, barley getting a piece for a foul-tip third out and Gio’s third K of the night already.
Top of 3rd
Will Clark was interviewed in the booth to begin the third. Danny and Ricky were falling over themselves in listening to Clark gleefully remenisce about harassing young teammates J.D. Drew and Rick Ankiel, bean balls, and a certain in-game fight at second base. Jose Oquendo and Ozzie smith threw punches at their TVs. He went on to bemoan today’s game being soft, pitch clocks, and replays. They kept him on for a second inning during which he spouted about “scrappy guys” and “playing the game the right way.” When Neanderthals painted the first images of baseball players on cave walls, they painted Will Clark. Danny and Ricky were embarrassing.
Wacha got 8th-place hitter Orlando Arcia to fly out harmlessly to Dexter and then retired pitcher Gio Gonzalez to ground out to Goldschmidt. Turning the lineup over, Lorenzo Cain got good wood on Michael for a second straight at bat, but this time, he hit one safely into left for a single and the game’s first hit.
Michael recovered to get Grandal on a slightly generous called third strike down and in. Pitcher’s pitch, yo.
Bottom of 3rd
Harrison Bader re-announced his presence with authority by leading off and clubbing a high fastball off the wall in left center that he turned into a standup triple!!! With Wacha up, I thought perhaps a squeeze was in order, but instead he struck out. Not as good. With one out, Dexter walked, making it first and third, one out. Things-Happen-Maker Tommy Edman came up with a chance to put the Cards on the board. Swinging at the first pitch—a changeup—he played right into Gio’s hands, grounding into a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play to kill the rally. Shildt had no comment.
At least now Will Clark was mercifully out of the booth.
Top of 4th
Christian Yelich started off the 4th, and Wacha got ahead 0-2. Yelich worked the count to 3-2, fouling off touch pitches and taking others. On the 9th pitch, Michael went to his best pitch, hurling an excellent, diving changeup Yelich check-swung at for a called strike 3. Repeating that formula, Wacha struck out Hiura swinging on another changeup for his third in a row and 5th on the night. With Braun up, Wacha pitched him well, but got unlucky, as Braun snuck a not-sharp grounder in the hole between short and third that DeJong dove at but couldn’t stop, as it glanced off his glove into left for a single.
For a second straight batter, Wacha got unlucky, as Eric Thames hit a changeup off the end of his bat, getting just enough of it but not too much of it to float it into right field in front of Dex for a bloop single, sending Braun to third.
Wacha kept his head, however, and got Hernan Perez to lift a fly ball to center that Bader glided to and backpedaled a few steps to catch easily.
Unfortunately, it took Wacha 27 pitches to get through the inning, spiking his total up to 73.
Bottom of 4th
The Cards were looking to improve upon their mini rally last inning, and they did just that. But first, with Goldschmidt leading off, he reached on a low changeup and sent a grounder right back to Gonzalez for out 1.
Ozuna followed by getting to a 3-1 count. He was primed for a fastball, which he got and swung at, but it was outside far enough that he didn’t barrel it, grounding slowly to short. But it was slow enough to allow the hustling and faster-than-you-think Big Bear to safely cross first for an infield hit and only the second hit of the night for the Cards.
Next, Pauly G laid off four-straight balls to get a free pass. Hey, another mini rally! Old-Man Yadi came in swinging out of his shoes, and he mis-swung on a high fastball, fouling it off, angering himself, as he hopped around home plate, miffed at the missed opportunity. Down 0-2, Master Yadi did what he do, and half-swung a 7-iron chip shot, lofting the softest of liners into center, scoring Ozuna for a 1-0 lead!!! There was no throw home, so DeJong had to stop at second.
How did Yadi turn this into a hit! pic.twitter.com/jxKbqKGQVH— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 21, 2019
Now with a RISP for Wong, he perhaps got too anxious, as he went fishing for the dang Gio changeup over but low out of the zone, striking out swinging. Bader then strutted in, looking to continue an already great welcome back night for himself. Lane Thomas appeared on the on-deck circle and Helsley warmed up.
Working Gio to a 3-1 count, Bader was surely looking for a fastball. Gio complied, but it was slightly too far inside for ball 4, loading the bases. Despite Wacha only giving up 3 hits and no runs at 73 pitches, Shildt made good on his dare and brought in Thomas to go for more runs. Wacha did not look happy about it in the dugout.
Gio left a 2-1 changeup up and out over the plate that Lane hacked at and unfortunately didn’t catch cleanly on the barrel, as he sent a fly ball that hung up in left center instead of slicing through it, as Cain caught it to end the threat. Gio got away with one there.
Top of 5th
Now with Ryan Helsley in replacing Wacha, he started with the bottom of the order, getting 8th-place hitter Arcia to ground out to Kolten on two pitches; then, he quickly disposed of pitcher Gonzalez on three straight strikes. Leadoff man Cain then stepped in with 2 outs and lined stoutly to center, giving Bader no chance on this one, for a 2-out single. It was the fourth hit for the Brewers, all coming on 2 strikes and 2 outs.
Helsley then faced an important batter in lefty hitter Grandal, not only because there already was a man on, but that other lefty hitter Yelich lurked on deck. Going to a full count, Helsley grooved an only slightly down-and-in fastball, a lefty’s dream pitch that Grandal smoked into right at 103 mph, but luckily, it was right in the vicinity of Dex, who was playing very deep, and he didn’t have to move much to catch it near the track.
Bottom of 5th
The GOB distributed the bad luck right back to the Cards, as Dex led off by lining one into the shortstop’s glove for the first out. Up next, Edman then got under a rare 90 mph Gio fastball, popping a high fly into right for out 2. Goldschmidt then gave Gonzales a 1-2-3 inning by striking out swinging on an over-but-low and out of-the-zone changeup for the 5th Cardinal K of the night.
Top of 6th
With Yelich leading off, he smacked a low and slightly away 99 mph fastball into the left-field corner for a double. Helsley then got ahead of the next hitter Hiura 1-2, but then he golfed a sinking liner to direct center, but Harrison “Not on My Watch!” Bader, immediately hopped on his rocket cycle and flew—I mean flew like a bat outta hell direct toward the ball, diving at just the right moment to snag an unbelievable out from the jaws of a run-tying hit!!! Hirua could only stare incredulously at the video replay as he walked slowly back to the dugout.
That was all for Helsley, as he was replaced with the reliable Gant. Facing Braun, he got him to launch a fly ball 317 feet into right that Dex caught. For some reason, Yelich did not tag and take third, which with his speed, seemed like he would have made rather easily. Alas, Gant couldn’t complete the escape act, as he left a changeup out over the plate that Thames grounded sharply into center, scoring Yelich to tie the game 1-1.
Gant got ahead on next hitter Perez at 1-2, but the batter fouled off a couple before depositing a soft liner (on a changeup) to left that dropped in front of Ozuna to keep their inning alive, making it first and second. With Arcia up, Gant threw a mistake cutter that did nothing but cut the middle of the zone that got walloped on a line into center, scoring Thames easily to give the Brewers the lead, 2-1.
The pitching carousel then continued, as Shildt replaced Gant with lefty Tyler Webb to face the lefty pinch hitter Ben Gamel. Webb did a nice job, retiring Gamel on an up-and-in fastball to strike him out swinging.
Bottom of 6th
The Brewers sent righty reliever Jeremy Jeffress into the game, and Ozuna greeted him with a line-drive single to center to start the Cards’ “Gotta Answer” inning. Jeffress then nicked Paul DeJong on his back elbow on a pitch not that far inside, granting Pauly D first. With something brewing, Yadi came in....and attempted a bunt on the first pitch, fouling it back. Squaring again, he let one go by for ball one. Thankfully not squaring on the third pitch, Yadi got just enough of a high fastball tailing in on him to earn a well-placed infield single the shortstop stopped but could do nothing with.
Suddenly with the bases loaded and no one out, the Brewers switched pitchers, bringing in lefty Alex Claudio to face Wong. Down 1-2, Kolten unleashed a lousy swing on a sinker down and away, striking out swinging. Ugh. Contact, yo.
The Brewers switched out pitchers again, bringing in righty Junior Guerra to face Bader. Tots got the count to 3-0, and with the crowd now on its feet, he watched a strike go by to make it 3-1. On the next pitch, he watched another go by, but it was a ball, for a run-scoring walk (with a bat toss), tying the game back up 2-2!
TOSS LIKE A BOSS
Then in a phrase you don’t see often, Matt Carpenter strode in to pinch hit. Swinging and missing on a juicy fastball down the middle to make it 2-2, Carp unfortunately then waived through a splitter for strike three. That didn’t work.
Dex came up to try to take more advantage of this gifted inning, where only 1 ball had left the infield to that point (Yadi’s dying quail single). Dex stayed calm, letting three balls go by for a 3-0 count. He was taking and let a center-cut fastball go by for a 3-1 count. Fouling 2 pitches off, on a 3-2 count, with the ducks all paddling for takeoff, Dex broke his bat, hitting a looper off the end that fell into a Bermuda Triangle of the Brewers’ left fielder, short stop, and second baseman, all who backed away simultaneously at the very end, allowing it to fall safely to earth! That duck snort, which went all of 210 feet with an EV of 69 mph, cleared the bases (Bader scored from first, yo!) as Dexter hustled to second for a flare double! 5-2 Cards!!!
Those bases emptied quickly! pic.twitter.com/jo89c9iiG5— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 21, 2019
With Edman up next, he ended the rally by popping out to short.
Top of 7th
Andrew Miller now arrived on the bump to move the game along without incident. Well, the incident occurred immediately, as he walked the leadoff hitter Cain on 5 pitches. Grandal then dutifully grounded to Kolten, who slickly backhanded the feed to DeJong, who completed the DP. And bonus! It cleared the bases in front of Yelich. Miller got ahead of Yelich 1-2 then slung a slick slider that Yelich swung at and missed for strike three!
Bottom of 7th
Another different Brewer pitcher came in, burly righty Matt Albers. Goldschmidt greeted him with a sharp single to right on the first pitch, and Ozuna followed by singling sharply to left for some nice symmetry. With runners on first and second, Pauly D reached on a not-strike low-and-away pitch, hitting a slow roller to short that Arcia transferred to second for the force nicely via the backhand glove flip. The Brewers couldn’t complete the DP, so it was first and third with one out.
Molina then came in looking to tack on. Swinging on 3-0, he sizzled a liner barely foul down the left-field line. He walked on the next pitch, loading the bases with one out. Kolten next got a turn and came through, getting just enough of one, singling to right-center, scoring DeJong and Yadi to push the score to 7-2!!!
With runners on first and third now, still one out, Kolten stole second, now giving Bader 2 RISPs. On a full count, Harrison walked, his third of the night. With Miller’s spot up next, Yairo Munoz pinch-hit for him. Munoz tapped back to the mound, and the pitcher went home for the force, but they weren’t able to turn the 1-2-3 double play, keeping the bases loaded.
Dex then came up with a chance to turn this one into a laugher. Getting to a 3-2 count, just as he did in the game-changing 6th, the runners were taking off on the pitch. Dexter took a not-close changeup just off the dirt low and away for ball four and now an 8-2 lead!!!
It was at this point I heard a not insignificant volume of chanting from some American Cardinals baseball/European football fans bellowing “Olé! Olé-Olé-Olé!....Olé!....Olé!” Cool.
OMG another receiver entered. This one a southpaw, Drew Pomeranz. The only position player not to reach base tonight (now what, Shildt?), Tommy Edman was the next batter to get to a 3-2 count to induce base runner early movement. On the 12th pitch, Edman walked, getting an RBI, scoring Bader to make it 9-2. With Goldy now up, he alas did not get to 3-2. He struck out swinging on a 1-2 knuckle curve in the dirt.
Top of 8th
Beardy Brebbia now entered to get this game into the 9th. Keaton Hiura had other ideas, as he doubled to the left corner. Braun then singled sharply to right (Hi, Yairo!), sending Hiura to third. Brebbia rebounded to strike Thames out swinging for the first out. Hernan Perez, however, singled off the glove of Edman to score Hiura with Braun going to third, making it 9-3. With first and third one out, Arcia hit a sac fly to right to score Braun, inching the score to 9-4. Manny Pina then stepped in and flew out to Bader to thankfully stop the scoring.
Bottom of 8th
Ozuna led off by blasting a screaming grounder to third but it was snagged deftly by the third baseman Perez for out 1. DeJong followed up with a grounder of his own, but this one found its way through for a single into left. Yadi then flew out to Cain on the first pitch he saw, then Wong did the same, swinging at pitch 1 and producing an out on a grounder to short.
Top of 9th
Brebbia remained in to close this one out. Cain continued his good-hitting night, singling on a line drive to right for his 3rd base knock. Pinch hitter Trent Grisham came in and flied out to Bader for the first out. Next was Yelich, who worked the count to 3-2, a frequent count on the night. Brebbia then fooled him on a high slider up and away, getting him to swing through it for strike three. Brewers’ last hope Keaton Hiura then—on a 3-2 count—flew out to Bader to end the game.
9-4 Cards Win!!!
Bottom of 9th
THE BOTTOM LINE
- 10 GAMES OVER, YO
- Bader wants his job back.
- The Cards could’ve scored even more, as they were 4-14 with RISP and left 10 LOB.
- The Brewers actually out-hit the Cards 12-10 and were 4-9 with RISP and 9 LOB. Go figure.
- Only Cards relievers not used tonight were Fernandez, Gallegos, and Martinez.
Wieters was the lone position player who didn’t see action.
- Tommy grounded into the first double play of his MLB career. No ice cream tonight.
- The win pushes the Brewers farther down, as they’re now 4 games back.
- Cubs beat the Giants 5-3, so they’re .5 game back.
- The Cards go for the sweep tomorrow night at 6:45 CT with Waino going against Adrian “Doogie” Houser.
- Major League Soccer is returning to St. Louis, making hundreds of those fans happy.