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Deja Vu All Over Again: Cards Lose to Rockies 2-1

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Cards left 8, went 1 for 10 with RISP and grounded into 3 double plays

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Colorado Rockies Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After tonight’s game, I couldn’t help but thinking I was watching the movie Groundhog Day. For the second night in a row, the Rockies put a hurler on the mound with an ERA over 7.00 to face the Cardinals. For the second night in a row, the Cardinals only allowed 2 runs, but lost to a 2-1 score, with Paul Goldschmidt securing the Cards’ only RBI. For the second night in a row, a home run was the difference in the game. For the second night in a row, the Card’s bullpen allowed only 2 hits and no runs. For the second night in a row, someone named Jairo Diaz shut the Cards at the end of the game for a save (his 2nd and 3rd career saves in the major leagues). And for the second night in a row, the Cards stranded the bases loaded and could not get the job done with runners in scoring position.

There were a lot of ground balls again tonight, but the one thing that was different was that Dakota Hudson walked 5 batters. One of them was intentional, and 3 out of the 5 walks were issued to Arenado. One of the men he walked did come around to score, but one of the walks was on a 3-2 pitch that should have been called strike three. But again, the Cards’ starter pitched well enough for the club to win, and the bats did not come through when the club needed them to.

Dexter Fowler led off the game by driving a middle-in fastball to the gap in right-center that one-hopped the wall for a double. Kolten Wong chased two pitches outside of the strike zone in the process of striking out. The last pitch was a curveball in the dirt. Paul Goldschmidt worked a 3-2 walk on a close fastball just a bit outside. Marcell Ozuna grounded a ball deep in the hole towards short. Trevor Story made a good sliding play to stop the ball, and fired to Ryan McMahon at 2nd for the force, but McMahon dropped the ball for an error. That brought up Paul DeJong with the bases loaded. DeJong worked the count to 3-1 before grounding an outside slider into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Dakota Hudson struck Trevor Story out on a slider in the dirt and got Charlie Blackmon to fly out to left. Nolen Arenado walked, but he was stranded there when Daniel Murphy grounded out to short. The ball was grounded off the mound, but Paul DeJong was positioned close to the middle and made the play easily.

As Yadier Molina batted in the top of the 2nd, it started to pour down rain in Denver. Molina grounded a curveball back to the pitcher for the first out. Tommy Edman lined a curveball to right for the 2nd out. Harrison Bader grounded to 3rd and was thrown out by a step to end the inning. McMahon grounded a sinker to Kolten Wong at 2nd base to start the bottom of the 2nd. Wong booted it, then bobbled it. After that, he just rolled the ball to Goldschmidt at 1st base with his glove to get McMahon in time.

Ian Desmond got jammed on a sinker and tapped back to the mound. Raimel Tapia fouled a 2-0 fastball off of the inside of his right knee, and play was stopped for a minute or two to allow him to compose himself. Hudson threw a fastball in the same spot, which Tapia grounded to 2nd to end the inning.

With 1 out in the top of the 3rd, Fowler squibbed a 1-2 up-and in fastball for a grounder to the shortstop area opposite the shift. Third baseman Arenado was playing in the area, and tried to race over for it to backhand the ball, but he was unable to come up with the it. After Fowler’s infield hit, Wong softly lined an inside fastball up the middle, but Story was stationed right in that spot to grab it. With the count 1-2 on Goldschmidt, Rockies pitcher Antonio Senzatela balked by just slightly lifting his left foot and dropping it before his pitch. This could be construed as a violation of the Comment to Official Rule 5.07(a), which prohibits the pitcher from making a second step towards home plate. That moved Fowler to 2nd base. Then Goldschmidt grounded a hanging slider just inside the 3rd base line and barely fair for a double to score Fowler and give the Cards a 1-0 lead.

Ozuna grounded a fastball for an out to 2nd to end the inning. Hudson allowed his first hit in the top of the 3rd, a sharp grounder under Edman’s glove at 3rd for a leadoff single by Tony Wolters. The pitcher Senzatela couldn’t get the sacrifice down, bunting foul for the first out. Story sharply lined the first pitch to DeJong near the hole. Blackmon grounded towards the hole, with Edman coming across the diamond to throw him out to strand the runner.

Sam Hilliard replaced Tapia in RF in the top of the 4th. Senzatela retired the Cards in the inning with 2 groundouts, followed by a strikeout of Edman to close out the inning. Arenado worked a 3-2 walk to lead off the bottom of the 4th. Murphy lined to center with Bader running forward to make the catch. McMahon struck out, but it took the 3rd base umpire to rule that he had swung at a 3-2 pitch that was actually in the strike zone anyway. With Desmond at the plate, play was stalled for a while after Desmond fouled a pitch off of Molina’s knee. Desmond struck out looking at a high slider to end the inning.

After Senzatela struck out both Bader (outside curveball on the corner) and Hudson (fastball down the middle) looking, Fowler drew a 2-out walk in the top of the 5th. Wong flied out to center to strand him there. Hilliard walked to lead off the bottom of the 5th. Wolters drove an inside 1-2 slider to right field that rolled to the wall for a double to score Hilliard to tie the game 1-1. After failing to get the sacrifice down again, the pitcher Senzatela struck out swinging at a slider in the dirt. Story worked a 3-2 walk. Blackmon tapped a ball back to the mound. Hudson thought about throwing to 2nd, but made the correct choice to get the sure out at 1st. Shildt ordered an intentional walk of Arenado to bring up Murphy with the force at any base. Murphy drove a 1-0 up-and-away fastball to the track in left, but Ozuna drifted back to catch it to prevent any damage.

Goldschmidt grounded out to 3rd to lead off the top of the 6th. After Ozuna ripped a ball foul on the 1-0 pitch, play was stalled so Shildt and the trainer could come check on him. Ozuna was pointing to his right index finger. He stayed in the game and struck out swinging at a curveball that was almost in the dirt. DeJong hit a hanging slider to the track in left-center. Desmond took a bad route to the ball. Initially he came in, and then had to drift back for the ball. He jumped a bit and it went off the top of his glove, then hit the wall. DeJong was credited with a double, but it turned out not to matter because Molina grounded out to 3rd to strand him at 2nd base. With 1 out in the bottom of the 6th, Desmond lined a low-and-in 91-mph sinker over the wall in the deepest part of the park in left-center for a solo HR to give the Rockies a 2-1 lead.

With Edman far off the line at 3rd base, Hilliard squibbed an inside fastball just inside the line for a double. Wolters struck out. Lefty Yonder Alonso pinch hit for Senzatela and struck out swinging at a low-and-in sinker to strand the runner at 2nd.

Righty Wes Parsons came out to pitch the top of the 7th and now the game is going to be up to the bullpens, with Hudson’s spot coming up 3rd in the order. Edman flied a 1-2 pitch in foul territory in left field that Desmond tried to slide for but dropped. Edman then went down and drove a low fastball to right-center for a base hit. He thought about going for two, but decided against it. Bader swung at a first-pitch low-and-in fastball, and slipped out of the box as he grounded towards the hole. Arenado was playing shallow almost on the grass, picked up the chopper and threw it to 2nd for a 5-4-3 double play. Jose Martinez pinch hit for Hudson and struck out swinging at a slider that was about a foot outside and low. John Gant came out for the bottom of the 7th to face the top of the Rockies’ order. With 1 out, Blackmon lined an 0-2 changeup for a base hit to center. Arenado grounded a center-cut fastball up the middle for a base hit to move Blackmon to 2nd. Shildt brought in Tyler Webb to face the lefty Murphy. Murphy lined a hanging slider deep enough to right to allow Blackmon to tag up and go to 3rd base. I don’t know how Webb does it, but he must be real tough to pick up while changing speeds. He struck McMahon out swinging at a middle-in 90-mph fastball, with Molina hanging on to the foul tip.

Righty Carlos Estevez came out for the top of the 8th to face the top of the Cards’ order. Estevez was wild right away and walked Fowler on 5 pitches. With the count 2-1, Wong sacrificed Fowler to 2nd base. Goldschmidt struck out swinging at a low-and-away 99-mph fastball. Ozuna grounded a 100-mph fastball to short to end the inning. Webb came back out for the bottom of the 8th. Desmond smoked a high fastball through the mound that almost knocked Webb’s head off and nicked the bill of his cap as Webb leaned back to save his life. Wong, however, was positioned perfectly for the ball and threw Webb out at first base. For those of you scoring at home, the official scorer curiously scored this a 1-4-3, giving Webb an assist. The Comment to Official Rule 9.10 that governs assists states that “mere ineffective contact with the ball shall not be considered an assist.” A fielder is supposed to get credit for an assist only if he deflects a batted ball in such a way that a putout results, but the comment makes clear that “deflect” means “to slow down or to change the direction of the ball and thereby effectively assist in putting out a batter or runner.” I’m not persuaded. Anyway, Hilliard took a 3-2 fastball on the outside corner that the home plate umpire called a ball, gifting Hilliard a walk. Wolters hit a slow chopper to Edman opposite the shift, who flipped to Wong for the 5-4 force. After righty Pat Valaika was announced as a pinch hitter for Estevez, Shildt brought in John Brebbia to pitch to him. Brebbia struck Valaika out swinging at a 95-mph fastball above the zone.

Jairo Diaz came out to pitch the top of the 9th to try and grab the save for the 2nd night in a row. DeJong lined an outside slider to left-center for a base hit. Molina sharply grounded an inside fastball down the line at third base. Arenado made a great play to stop it, but his throw from the line to 2nd was a bit wide and pulled McMahon’s right foot off the bag. DeJong slid in to touch the bag before McMahon could get back on. The Rockies challenged the call, but after a long replay, the call on the field was upheld. The scorer charged Arenado with a throwing error on the play. Shildt decided not to go for the bunt this time. Edman chased a low changeup and grounded it into a 4-6-3 double play. DeJong went to 3rd. Shildt had Matt Carpenter pinch hit for Bader with the game on the line, and he walked on 4 pitches. Randy Arozarena ran for Carpenter, and Rangel Ravelo pinch hit for Brebbia. Ravelo smoked a first-pitch center-cut fastball, but lined it right to Desmond in left to end the game and give Diaz his 3rd save of the year.

Odds and Ends

The last time the Cards lost a season series was when the club got swept from August 3rd through August 7th by the Athletics and Dodgers. This is only the second time ever that the Cardinals have been held to one run or less in back-to-back games in Colorado. The only other time it ever happened was on July 24th and 25th, 2006. On July 24th, lefty Jeff Francis pitched a complete game 2-hitter to beat Anthony Reyes and the Cards 7-0. On the next night, the Rockies actually outhit the Cards 8-4, but the Cards won 1-0 on a solo HR by Albert Pujols. Last night and tonight constituted only the 12th and 13th times in the history of playing in Colorado that the Cards have been held to one run or less at all, with the July 25, 2006 game being the only win. The other occasions in order of occurrence: 5/13/94 (10-1), 7/14/94 (8-1), 4/2/01 (8-0), 6/8/01 (9-1), 5/31/05 (2-1), 7/24/06 (7-0), 7/25/06 (1-0 win), 9/25/09 (2-1), 9/21/16 (11-1), 5/26/17 (10-0), 8/25/18 (9-1). As you can see, these two games constituted only the 3rd and 4th ever 2-1 loss in Colorado, and 5 of the 13 total times we have been held to 1 run or loss in Colorado have come in the past 4 seasons...Perhaps the best thing that can be said about the past two nights is that we have not lost any ground in the division. The Padres beat the Cubs in San Diego for the 2nd straight night, this time by a 4-0 score. After scoring a walk-off walk to beat the Cubs last night, Manuel Margot robbed Nicholas Castellanos of a solo HR tonight, then homered himself off of Cubs starter Cole Hamels to lead off the top of the 5th. With 2 out in the bottom of the 6th and runners at the corners lefty Cubs reliever Brad Wieck came in to pitch to the lefty Josh Naylor. In an apparent double steal, Ty France broke for home. Wieck was alerted by the catcher Contreras, stepped off the rubber and had France dead-to-rights. But he threw the ball over Contreras’ head and to the backstop for an error. Wil Myers added a 2-run single in the bottom of the 7th...With the Cubs losing 5 out of their last 6, the Brewers have won 6 in a row, and are now tied with the Cubs for the 2nd wild card spot. Both clubs are now 4 games behind the Cards for the division lead. Mike Moustakas hit a 2-run HR in the top of the 9th to break a 5-5 tie and win the game 7-5 over the Marlins.