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Too Many Poor At-Bats Lead to 14 Cardinal Strikeouts and a 5-3 Loss to Reds in Game 2

MLB: Game Two-Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Three out of four ain’t bad. The Cards rested Ozuna, Goldschmidt and Molina in the second game of the doubleheader today with Tyler O’Neill in LF, Rangel Ravelo at 1B and Andrew Knizner catching. Carpenter was at 3B and Tommy Edman rested for the first time in the 4 games. A back-to-back doubleheader sweep would have been nice, but Cards starter Daniel Ponce de Leon couldn’t get any of the 3 Reds batters out that he faced in the top of the 5th. The Cards had a hard time squaring up not only Reds starter Luis Castillo, but also relievers Kevin Gausman and Raisel Iglesias. When the Cards had opportunities to come from behind and retake the lead once again, they failed to capitalize. There were too many poor at-bats where our hitters looked at fastballs for strikes and chased something else out of the zone. Nonetheless, you have to look at taking 3 out of 4 in 2 days as a success.

After Daniel Ponce de Leon retired the Reds in order on 9 pitches in the top of the 1st, Reds starter Luis Castillo took 16 pitches to retire the Cards in order in the bottom half. Paul DeJong ended the inning by striking out looking at a changeup that was several inches low, according to the box on television. We can only hope that our pitchers get that call. With 1 out in the top of the 2nd, Freddy Galvis tapped a ball off of home plate in front of Andrew Knizner. There was plenty of time for Knizner to pick the ball up and throw Galvis out, but he reached down twice for the ball and failed to pick it up each time. The error allowed Galvis to reach first safely. Jose Iglesias lined an outside cutter to right for a base hit to move Galvis to 2nd. Curt Casali struck out looking at a 97-mph fastball in the center of the plate but up a bit over the top of the zone. This umpire looks like he’s going to call everything. Phillip Ervin sliced a hanging inside curveball off of his fists and squibbed it just inside the first base line for a base hit to score Galvis, give the Reds a 1-0 lead and move Iglesias to 3rd base. With Ervin running for 2nd, the pitcher Luis Castillo grounded out to 3rd base to end the inning. Castillo retired the Cards in order in the bottom of the 2nd with strikeouts of Carpenter and Ravelo.

Nick Senzel worked a 3-2 walk to lead off the top of the 3rd. Joey Votto half-swung at an inside fastball and jammed himself with a groundout to 1st. Senzel moved to 2nd on the play. Eugenio Suarez got jammed on an inside fastball and grounded to short. DeJong saw Senzel in front of him racing for 3rd base, so he fired to Carpenter at 3rd base. Matt Carpenter was running backwards to try to get back to the bag and received the throw, but was out of position and Senzel slid under his attempted tag safely into 3rd base. Josh VanMeter flied to center field deep enough to score Senzel on the Sac Fly to extend the Reds’ lead to 2-0. Ponce blew Galvis away with fastballs to strike him out to end the inning. Harrison Bader walked to lead off the top of the 3rd. Knizner skied a hanging slider that stayed in the air a long time and landed just over the left field wall for a 2-run HR to tie the game 2-2.

After Ponce grounded out to 2nd, Dexter Fowler worked a 3-2 walk. Kolten Wong sliced a center-cut fastball for a grounder opposite the shift that went just inside the 3rd base line for a base hit and rolled into the left field corner. Fowler scored all the way from 1st base to give the Cards a 3-2 lead, and Wong dove in safely with a triple.

After DeJong struck out, O’Neill actually took a walk. Carpenter hit a changeup hard to the right side, but Joey Votto made a sliding stop for the out.

With 2 out in the top of the 4th, Ervin lined a center-cut fastball down the left field line and into the corner for a double, but he was stranded at 2nd when the pitcher Castillo flied out to right. Rangel Ravelo chased a fastball to lead off the bottom of the 4th that was high and outside by a significant margin, but he managed to ground it through the right side for a base hit. Bader ripped a center-cut fastball for a base hit to left to move Ravelo to 2nd. Knizner pounded a low fastball into the ground to short for a 6-4-3 double play with Ravelo moving to 3rd. Ponce grounded out to 3rd to end the inning, and the Cards were unable to take advantage of the first two men getting on base.

To start the 5th inning, Nick Senzel lined a 3-2 fastball that got a little too much middle of the plate into the bullpen in left-center for a solo HR to tie the game 3-3.

Votto lined a center-cut fastball inside the 1st base line and off the sidewall for a double. Ponce then hit Eugenio Suarez with a fastball square on the left hand.

Suarez had to come out of the game, and Kyle Farmer ran for him. Shildt had seen enough, and brought Dominic Leone in to pitch. VanMeter worked a 3-2 walk to load the bases with nobody out. Leone struck Galvis out on a low slider. Iglesias grounded an 0-2 low-and-away cutter slowly to DeJong at short. Votto was not running hard towards the plate and was looking back towards the infield to see what was going to happen. For some reason, DeJong threw to 2nd to get the force there. Votto scored from 3rd base to give the Reds a 4-3 lead. The Cards never would have turned 2 there, but it is difficult to understand why DeJong didn’t throw home. The TV crew didn’t talk about it and I didn’t hear any question about it at the post-game press conference. I could be wrong, but it looked like the force at home was available. With runners now at the corners, Casali gave a fastball a ride to the track in center, but Bader ran it down at the track against the wall.

Farmer replaced Suarez at 3B in the bottom of the 5th. Fowler led off the inning by grounding out to the pitcher. But as he started to get out of the box to run, he slipped, then couldn’t run to first base, limping gingerly back to the dugout. Wong squibbed a low-and-away changeup past the mound. Galvis charged for it near 2nd base and made a barehanded throw to first, but Wong legged it out for an infield hit. Castillo tried to pick Wong off of first, but the throw was too wide and ball got away from Votto and rolled all the way to the sidewall. The throwing error allowed Wong to race all the way to 3rd base. That’s the 3rd error by a Reds pitcher in the field this series. DeJong struck out for the 3rd time tonight. O’Neill also struck out swinging way out in front of a changeup and the Cards couldn’t take advantage of the Reds’ gift.

Mike Mayers came out to pitch the top of the 6th for his first major league action since August 3rd. He threw a looping 2-2 curveball to Ervin to lead things off, and Ervin went down and golfed it into the seats in left field for a solo shot to give the Reds a 5-3 lead.

It wasn’t that bad of a pitch, and Ervin just got a good swing on it. Castillo and Senzel struck out, but Votto lined a low curveball to right for a 2-out base hit. Farmer grounded to 2nd to end the inning. Castillo retired the Cards in order in the bottom of the 6th with 2 strikeouts. Both Carpenter and Bader looked silly flailing at changeups. The one to Carpenter was almost in the dirt, and Bader was up in the count 3-0 before missing a changeup down the middle.

Mayers came back out for the top of the 7th. Votto flied out to left. On the 0-1 pitch to Galvis, Mayers threw an up-and-in fastball near the corner that the home plate umpire called strike 2. Reds manager David Bell appeared to say something to the umpire. The umpire stopped play and said “Are you yelling at me?” then threw his arm up like he was making an ejection and said “Get out of here!” Bell came out to talk to the umpire and went back to the dugout. Galvis struck out swinging and Bell still stayed in the dugout. Iglesias flied out to right and Bell still stayed where he was. The umpire made an ejection, but it was not clear who it was he threw out of the game.

In the bottom of the 7th, it became clear that it was Reds hitting coach Turner Ward who was ejected. At this point, Castillo was at 107 pitches. For the bottom of the 7th, the Reds made a double switch to bring in righty Kevin Gausman to pitch in the #4 spot and Aristedes Aquino to play RF in the #9 spot, with Ervin moving from RF to LF. Knizner grounded out to 1st base. Jose Martinez pinch hit for Mayers and lined out to right. Fowler struck out looking at a low-and-away fastball to end the inning.

Junior Fernandez came out to pitch the top of the 8th and he retired the side in order with 2 strikeouts. Wong led off the bottom of the 8th by sharply grounding a center-cut fastball through the hole to left for a base hit. DeJong just looked overmatched in striking out on 3 pitches for his 4th strikeout of the night. He looked at two fastballs near the middle then swung and missed at a split-finger low and out of the zone. O’Neill chopped a grounder to 3rd for an out to move Wong to 2nd. Carpenter also looked silly at the plate. He was sitting on the split-finger and waited to swing at 2 fastballs down the middle when they were almost in the catcher’s glove. Then he swung and missed at a split-finger in the dirt to end the inning.

Fernandez returned for the top of the 9th. After Senzel grounded out, Fernandez hit Votto on the side of the right foot with a fastball. Farmer walked on 4 pitches. Tucker Barnhart pinch hit for the pitcher Gausman and pitcher Michael Lorenzen pinch ran for Votto. Barnhart walked to load the bases, with Fernandez not getting the call on a changeup at the bottom of the zone. Alex Blandino ran for Barhart. John Brebbia came out to try to get the Cards out of this inning unscathed. Brebbia hung a slider to Galvis, but he flied it to shallow center field with Bader coming in on the ball. Bader caught it and threw a perfect strike to Knizner one on bounce to nail Lorenzen—who was trying to score from 3rd—for an inning-ending double play.

The Reds made several changes in the bottom of the 9th. Blandino stayed in the game to play 3B in the #4 spot. Righty Raisel Iglesias came in to pitch in the #2 spot with Farmer moving from 3B to 1B. Tommy Edman pinch hit for Ravelo. He initially got ahead in the count 3-0, looked at 2 fastballs for strikes, one down the middle. Then he chased a fastball above the zone to strike out, and it would have been a ball if he had let it go. Bader also struck out, looking at a couple of nice fastballs, but chasing a slider low and out of the zone. Knizner struck out swinging at a high fastball to end the game and Iglesias picked up his 28th save.

Odds and Ends

The Milwaukee Brewers skunked the Chicago Cubs 4-0 today in Wrigley Field. Holding onto a 1-0 lead in the top of the 9th, Christian Yelich hit a 3-run HR off of Craig Kimbrel to give the Brewers an additional cushion that would be enough to hold off the Cubs, with Josh Hader getting 2 strikeouts in the bottom of the 9th...The Cards are now 3 G ahead of the Cubs and 6 G ahead of the Brewers in the NL Central Division with 26 games to play. The San Francisco Giants come to town tomorrow for a 4-game series. The Cubs host the Seattle Mariners for a 2-game series before a Wednesday day off, then they head to Milwaukee to play the Brewers again for 3...Springfield got skunked 4-0 by Midland and were outhit 10-3...Despite being outhit 7-4 by Clinton, Peoria squeaked out a 2-1 win in the top of the 9th. Brendan Donovan had an RBI single in the 1st. Delvin Perez tripled in the top of the 9th and scored on Leandro Cedeno’s sacrifice fly. State College was eliminated from playoff contention on August 31st after losing 3-2 to Williamsport in 10 innings. They won 11-1 tonight despite the pitching staff walking 8 and striking out only 6. David Vinsky and Stanley Espinal each had 3 hits. The only Cardinal minor league affiliate in the playoffs is Rookie Johnson City, who secured a divisional series win over the Bristol Pirates in Game 3 with a 7-5 win. Down 4-3 in the bottom of the 6th, Aaron Antonini doubled and Chandler Redmond hit a 2-run HR to give the JC Cards a 5-4 lead. They added 2 more in the bottom of the 7th when Mateo Gil doubled, Jhon Torres was hit by a pitch, and Malcom Nunez doubled to drive them both in. Reliever Dylan Pearce picked up the win with 3 IP, 3 H, 1 unearned run, 1 BB and 1 SO. Johnson City will play either the Pulaski Yankees or the Burlington Royals for the Appalachian League Championship in a series to start tomorrow. Burlington and Pulaski are in the top of the 16th inning in the final game of their series to see who gets to meet Johnson City. In the playoffs, runners do not start at 2nd base.