Godfather Part II, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, The Dark Knight, Aliens, Toy Story 2,
The Bourne Supremacy, Hot Shots! Part Deux. What do these films have in common? They’re sequels at least as good or better than their originals. After fans saw the first Cardinals production earlier today—universally deemed a winner by critics—they stayed to watch the second, hoping for even a higher level of entertainment. They allowed to do that?
Well, let me tell you. Some sequels are just boring re-hashes of the original, milking iconic scenes or repeating the funniest lines. Some are meh, but watchable. And some spoil you, making you even forget the first one was made at all!
The script in game 2 was not looking good for your hometown nine. The Reds displayed no originality whatsoever. Just as they drew First Blood on a solo homer in the first inning of game 1, they did so again in game 2. Yawn. Then, further insulting the audience, they scored again in the third using that same old tired act, the solo homer.
But that’s all they got, as the neck-bearded, long-haired anti-hero Wacha was excellent, giving up just 3 hits through 7. Unfortunately, as you now know, in Nuke LaLoosh-like fashion, two of those were solo homers. Otherwise, he also was sorta efficient through 6 (with 82 pitches). But the Reds made him work extra hard in the 7th, forcing him to throw 23 pitches in his final inning.
A cast of three extras from the bullpen shut down the visitors over the final three innings, giving up nary a run nor even a hit. But with the help of some special effects, the relievers escaped back-to-back loud contact in the 8th and a bases loaded, one-out jam in the 9th!
But all that was mere prelude to the big finish, in which prominent roles were played by two youngsters and 2 vets (who were late replacements), with a calloused, aged slugger making you stand up and cheer while pretending dust got in your eyes.
Top of 1st - Ambushed
Matt Wieters must’ve been annoyed by Wacha and told Josh VanMeter what first pitch was coming, because the lefty leadoff hitter jacked it into right field for a homer. So just like in game 1, the the Reds got on the board first with a dinger.
Veteran Joey Votto waited a whole 2 pitches to send a single up the middle. Eugeno Suarez finally made an out, as he flew one out to short right that Kolten ran down. Young slugger Aristides Aquino then ended the Reds’ inning abruptly by grounding into a 3-6-3 double play.
Bottom of 1st - Contact
The Cards made some noise but couldn’t answer the Reds’ tally. Dex grounded out into the shift to the third baseman playing in the shortstop area for out 1. Molten Kolten kept flowin’, as he ripped a grounder inside the first-base line that rattled around in the corner long enough for him to cruise into third for what was ruled a triple! Paul Goldschmidt then grounded directly to the third baseman, and Kolten broke for home on the dreaded “Contact Play.” He briefly tried to put the brakes on, but he committed too far; so, he tried to reach home. He was tagged out.
With Goldy on first and 2 outs, Ozuna reached on a walk on 5 pitches. Paul DeJong could not extend the inning, however, as he grounded out right back to the pitcher.
Top of 2nd - Redemption
Michael Wacha and Wieters made up, so the leadoff hitter of the inning Nick Senzel had to guess what pitch was coming, and he flew out to Dex in right. Jose Iglesias nailed an elevated Wacha fastball on the nose, but fortunately, right at Tommy Edman at third for a lineout. Kyle Farmer took Wacha to 7 pitches, ultimately walking. Would’ve been nice to get him there, as pitcher Sonny Gray would’ve had to lead off the next inning. As it was, Gray stepped in (batting 8th in the lineup) without the security of hiding behind the sacrifice bunt. He grounded out to Wong for the third out.
Bottom of 2nd - Tommy Boy
Tommy Edman, dreaming of being a leading-man leadoff man one day, opened the 2nd inning by ripping a 2-0 meatball, singling to right. With Edman stealing, Wieters made a tiny bit of contact, tapping back to the mound for the first out. With Tommy now safely at second, Bader Tots stepped in. Laying off a couple of sliders that pre-demotion he would’ve waived through, he picked out a good pitch he could handle, slamming a meaty fastball to left, but it unfortunately was snagged for out 2. That brought up Wacha, who did what pitchers hitting often do, and grounded out harmlessly to second.
Top of 3rd - The Veteran
Catcher Curt Casali, batting ninth in the order, tapped a slow grounder to Edman, who charged it and threw the slow-footed backstop out at first.
Wacha started leadoff hitter and owner of a one-pitch homer this game VanMeter with a first-pitch curve for a strike. Good call. Wacha got the better of him this time around, as he induced him to fly out to Dex in right. He then went to a full count to veteran Joey Votto, who sent the next pitch, a sinker on the outside corner, just not sunk enough, over the center field wall for another homer and a 2-0 Reds lead. Michael re-grouped to get the Reds’ most prolific home run hither to strike out on 3 well-placed pitches on the edges of the plate down and in, down and away, and just atop the zone. He should do more of that.
Bottom of 3rd - Hard Luck
Dex led off again by hitting the first pitch on the ground to Votto for a quick first out. Wong, totally owning the zone for a while now, walked on four straight pitches to reach base again. Goldschmidt then sent a deep liner to right that Aquino made a nice running catch on, banging into the chain link fence as Kolten scampered back to first.
Like Goldy, Marcell got excellent wood on the ball, shooting a liner to left field that VanMeter corralled to end the inning.
Top of 4th - Michael
Aquino hacked away on the second pitch he saw, skying an inside fastball quite high but really not very far, as catcher Matt Wieters caught it for out 1. Wacha then mixed all his pitches in the next encounter with Nick Senzel, ultimately striking him out swinging on a changeup down in the zone on the sixth pitch. Digging the look of that, Wacha repeated the result, sitting down next batter Iglesias on that same changeup, in the same spot, in half the pitches.
Bottom of 4th - Snooze
Pauly D led off and while he made Gray toss 7 pitches, he waived at a not-strike slider way down and away on the last pitch to strike out, the first for Gray on the night. Edman then rolled over on a curve, grounding it to Votto, who tossed to to Gray covering first for the second out. Matt Wieters then sent a fly ball to center for an easy third out in a nuthin’-doin’ inning.
Top of 5th - Sit Down and Shut Up
Kyle Farmer led off by lining out to left fielder Marcell Ozuna, good for the Cards, bad for the Reds. Sonny Gray then grounded out to DeJong for an easy second out. Wacha then painted a 1-2 fastball just beyond the outside edge of the zone but got the called strike three, his fourth K of the night to punctuate a 1-2-3 inning.
Bottom of 5th - The Rest is Just Noise
Speedy Harry Bader stepped in to try to get something going against Gray. He grounded to short, and Jose Iglesias flung a submarine-style throw that Votto stretched and dug out for a close play but an out. With no one to bunt over, Wacha had to try to get himself on base, but he watched a third strike go by for the second out.
Dex then put a charge in one to right that bounced off the top of the wall for a double. The Busch Stadium fireworks operator was anticipating dinger, and hit the button just enough to send a single premature “BOOM!” into the night.
With a chance to do some run-scoring hit sequencing, Kolten Wong couldn’t come through this time. After getting jobbed on a 2-1 pitch off the inside corner called a strike, on 2-2, Wong swung through a down-and-in curve also off the plate to end the micro-rally before it really could get going.
Top of 6th - Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Now at the dreaded third time through the order situation, Wacha faced leadoff hitter VanMeter. Wacha got him to pound a low-and-in cutter on the ground to Goldschmidt, who tossed to Wacha for the out. Votto then stepped in to quickly produce an out by hitting his first pitch on the ground to Wong for out 2. Making Wacha work harder, Suarez took him to 8 pitches, but Michael got him to fish for a way-outside fastball, swinging and missing for the 3 up, 3 down inning.
Despite reaching the 2⁄3 point of the game, Wacha was only at 72 pitches.
Bottom of 6th - Blink
Goldschmidt led off with a flare to right that very briefly seemed as if it might fall for a bloop hit, but right fielder Aquino caught it. Ozuna then got under a first-pitch high fastball, sending a towering fly-out to center. Apparently not wanting to belabor the inning, DeJong also swung at his first pitch, popping out to short for a blink-of-an-eye inning.
Top of 7th - Good Night, and Good Luck
Wacha got ahead 0-2 to Aquino but ultimately lost him, walking the slugger, just his second free pass of the night. He re-focused, though, to strike out Senzel on a well-place 95-mph fastball just beyond the outside edge, but he got the called strike three. Looking to induce the Reds into their second double play of the night, Wacha got the chance himself, as Iglesias hit a comebacker that Michael threw slightly inaccurately to Wong, who did a good job just to stay on the bag for the force, which is all they could get. Webb started warming up, as Wacha’s pitch count now reached 91.
With two out and a runner on first, Wacha closed his night in style by striking out Kyle Farmer on his signature changeup.
Bottom of 7th - Ready Player One
The game now got late early, so the Cards needed to get something going. Edman did just that by leading off with a single into right, just the 4th hit given up by Gray. Matt Wieters then induced some good luck by reaching on an error by a muffed fly ball dropped by left fielder VanMeter, making it first and second, no out. Gray got ahead on Bader 0-2 on back-to-back fastballs only a bit inside of middle-middle-locations. He then banged a pitch a little more out over the plate to center that Senzel made a great running catch on, crashing into the wall, with both runners having to retreat. Reds’ trainers made a house call to see Senzel, but he remained in the game.
Tyler O’Neil pinch-hit now for Wacha in a big spot in the game. Throwing every pitch down and away to Tyler, Gray got him swinging on—you guessed it—a slider down and away. Turing the lineup over, Dex came in to attempt the 2-out hit. He did! Getting more luck this inning, Dex hit a flare to left that dropped in front of VanMeter, scoring Edman, getting the Redbirds on the board, 2-1!!!
With first and second two out, the Reds exchanged Gray (101 pitches) for a fresh arm in lefty Amir Garrett—the only lefty the Reds have in their pen—to face Wong. After getting two high pitches just above the zone called strikes, Garrett got Wong on a foul-tip strike three on one beyond the outside edge.
Top of 8th - The Lucky One
Yadi entered to replace Wieters. Not sure what happened to Matt the previous inning.
Recap Update: Wieters strained his calf running the bases (Yadi will have a sit-down with him about that).
Dominic Leone was chosen to start the 8th, facing righty-swinging pinch hitter Freddy Galvis, who sent a long one to center that Bader tracked down a few steps in front of the wall for a loud out. Likewise, next hitter Curt Casali flew out deeply to left field, but Marcell snagged it an arm’s length in front of the wall. Let’s say Leone wasn’t fooling anyone.
Shildt came out to replace Leone with Webb. The Reds countered by sending up righty Phillip Ervin. It worked out perfectly, as it took Webb just one pitch to get a grounder right back to him for the third out.
Bottom of 8th - A Quiet Place
Righty Michael Lorenzen came in to face the Cards’ 3-4-5 hitters. He retired Goldschmidt swinging, taking just 4 pitches to sit him down, the final pitch a 98 mph fireball. He struck out Marcell in the same number of pitches, just getting him on a slider instead. Next, DeJong at least put up a little more of a fight, getting to 6 pitches, but grounding out to his counterpart at short for a poop of an inning.
Top of 9th - The Great Escape
Votto led of the 9th by sending a fly to left that Ozuna had to run toward the side wall for, but he flubbed it, with the ball clanking off his glove then off the wall for an error, allowing Joey to reach 2nd. John Gant now was called on to keep the score where it was.
Now in position to produce an insurance run, Suarez went down swinging on a 95 mph fastball placed on the outside edge. Not wishing to tempt fate, the Cards put homer machine Aquino on first intentionally, setting up the double play.
Nick Senzel strode in, and after a 2-2 count, fouled off 3 before watching a ball to get a full count. Gant lost him on the next pitch on a changeup in the dirt to walk the bases loaded.
All was forgiven, however, as the next pitch Gant threw to Iglesias was hit up the middle where Paul DeJong was shading him. Pauly D gloved it, flipped it to Wong, who turned it for the 6-4-3 inning-ender!!!
Bottom of 9th - Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey
Tommy Edman led off the do-or-die inning. And I mean, who else would you want up?
No, one! Tommy Terrific slashed his third hit of the night, singling on a liner to right. And whoever was writing this script wanted the hero from game 1 to return, as Yadi came in as the winning run. On a 2-0 over-but-slightly-high fastball, Yadi got on top of it, slashing it into the left-field corner, but it curved...foul!
After the count went to 3-2, the crowd was willing their wise old catcher to come through. With Edman running, Iglesias plunked Yadi on the front arm to make it first and second, no one out!
Now it was Bader’s turn in this dramatic scene, and everyone expected a bunt to advance the runners. However, he didn’t square, taking a strike on a slider. That’s cool, because on the next pitch, the youngster singled through the left side, with the left fielder’s throw reaching the plate late, as Tommy scored to tie it 2-2!!! Bader was almost caught off first, but he made it back safely as the throw was high. Yadi (wisely) did not stray beyond second.
With first and second, no outs, Shildt sent Carpenter up to pinch hit with that juicy winning run (the tortoise-slow Yadi, remember) standing on second. Shildt did not pinch-run for Yadi, as I guess he didn’t want to use an emergency catcher if this went to extras.
With the outfield playing shallow for a potential play at the plate, the count went to 2-2. Looking at least for some kind of contact, Carp got just enough, sending a flop-shot pitching wedge into right-center!!! Yadi had to have a great secondary lead, as the tortoise was able to rumble home to score the winning run!!!!
Cards 3, Reds 2!!!
Smiles! Hugs! Fireworks! Chicken Dinner!!!!!!!!!!!!
THE BOTTOM LINE
- Pitching through 7 for just the second time this season (last on June 28th against the Padres), Wacha had 7Ks against just 2 BBs in 95 pitches; 2 of 3 hits given up being homers is rough!
- Edman’s 9th-inning comeback-starting single was his third hit of the night, and he scored 2 of the Cards’ 3 runs.
- 12 of the 18 hits with EV above 95 mph were off Cardinals’ bats.
- Cards were just 3 for 11 with RISP with 9 LOBsters.
- Cards’ Win Expectancy was 18.7% heading in to the bottom of the 9th.
- Cubs lost to Milwaukee, making the Cubs 2.5 out; the Brew Crew 6.5 out.
- Such a great day tomorrow; let’s play 2 (again). Cards kick off September by hosting the Reds for the final time in tomorrow’s double header; 12:15 CT and 6:15 CT