Health Notes: First, as reported by MLB.com’s Zachary Silver, Nationals Managers Dave Martinez was not with the team tonight, remaining in Washington, DC after precautionary medical testing earlier this afternoon. During the Nats’ game Sunday, he felt chest pains and underwent a cardiac catheterization Monday morning. All good thoughts, yo.
Next, your very own lil_scoot reported that the recent breathing difficulties experienced by your very own Carlos Martinez were due to allergies and asthma, the latter he did not know he had. He is feeling better and at least as of pre-game he said he was ready to pitch. A healthy, rested El Gallo would be just what the bullpen ordered, yo.
Lastly, I myself am dealing with an issue I just can’t shake. No matter how I diet or exercise, I keep getting older. Is there a doctor in the house, yo?
The Cards began this series with the tall order of hitting against strikeout machine Stephen Strasburg, who, I’m sure was looking to use this game to eclipse the 200 IP mark, as he entered at 191. His previous career high was 215 in 2014. With a 3.23 FIP, 10.79 K/9 (229 total), and only 2.31 BB/9, Stephen’s had a very good season.
Rookie starter Dakota Hudson has had a fine season his own self, especially if you like pitcher wins. I’ll let you look that up. His FIP, however, is almost at 5 a (4.96), so he benefits greatly from letting his infield eat up grounders off his sinkers. He’s also been good at stranding runners, though, with a 77% LOB.
Seeing as the Cards entered with just a 2-game lead against the Cubs, this series with the Nats could have playoff implications if these two teams met in the Wild Card match. The team with the better regular-season record gets home field. Entering tonight, the Cards had won one game more (at 83-66) than the Nats (82-66).
THE BIRD’S-EYE VIEW
The Cards certainly seemed to have a plan against Strasburg, which was to lay off Strasburg’s “pitcher’s pitches,” work walks, get his pitch count up, and strike with the big hit where possible. Mix in some steals, and you got yourself a run-scoring plan. That worked through the first three innings, as Strasburg was up to 76 pitches having giving up 4 free passes. Oh, and Ozuna nailed a 2-run dinger in the first for a sweet 2-0 lead!
Meanwhile, Dakota was rolling along through the first third of the game, giving up 0 runs and just 1 hit and merely 37 pitches. But the Nats broke through with a run in the 4th, when Dakota suddenly lost his ability to throw strikes after getting the first two hitters out. Alternating walks and singles produced a run, and it could’ve been 2 runs, but Ozuna threw out (slow)-running Cabrera at home to stop the inning! Really!
The warning signs with Dakota flared up again in the 6th, when he gave up a solo homer to tie it at 2, and the outs he did get were all hit at 101, 92, and 102 mph. He came back out for the 7th, however, only because the Nats had the bottom of the order up. He retired them in order to finish his night.
Despite continuing to do the walking and stealing things, the Cards couldn’t break through any more against Strasburg after the first, and he lasted 5 having given up just those 2 first-inning runs. But The Big Bear came through again in the 7th, clobbering a 2-run double to push the Cards back on top 4-2, and the bullpen of Brebbia (.1 inning), Miller (1.1), and Martinez (.1) made that stick.
Overall, the Cards actually were quite fortunate, as the Nats produced 75% of the hard contact total in the game by both teams (EV over 98 mph) but couldn’t parlay those into more hits. We’ll take it.
THE FLIGHT PATTERN
Top of 1st
Trey Turner hit a worm burner just to the left of third baseman Tommy Edman, playing in against the speedster. He quickly snagged it, and threw him out easily. Tommy likes the camera, so he also made the second out, running a long way directly from third toward the stands to catch a foul fly off the bat of Adam Eaton. Lazy Tommy couldn’t do anything about the third batter, however, as Anthony Rendon got a cheap floating fliner over DeJong’s head for a shouldn’t-have-count single. Dakota jammed him good—he jammed him real good—but wasn’t rewarded.
Juan Soto ended the inning, however, by playing right into Dakota’s hands, grounding a sinker to short for an easy out to end their portion of the inning.
Bottom of 1st
Dexter Fowler did a fine leadoff thing, working a walk and making Strasberg throw 7 pitches for the honor. Kolton wasn’t trying to bunt, but his swing on a 4th-pitch changeup barely off the dirt produced a bunt effect, as the ball trickled in front of the plate. Wong was thrown out at first, but Dex made it easily to second.
With a RISP opportunity already, Paul Goldschmidt couldn’t advance Dex, as he whiffed on a low-and-away changeup, striking out. Marcell Ozuna next gave it a shot, hoping to build on his 13-41, 2 HR career production against Strasburg.
And boy-howdy, did he evah!!! On a 1-2 pitch, he ka-powed a Stephen mistake fastball up and away into left-center at 105 mph, traveling 412 feet! 2-0 Cards, just like that!!!
Paul DeJong stayed patient and earned a walk to keep the inning alive. Yadier Molina then stayed back on an 0-2 changeup, lining it into left center, as Pauly D sprinted to third.
Now with 1st and 3rd, 2 outs, Li’l Tommy Edman looked to add on. He made a mistake by fouling one off while Yadi had 2nd base stolen easily. Gotta let those happen, kid. LOL, two pitches later, Yadi pulled off the steal anyway, as the Nats were caught napping. Edman got the count full then went after a 95 mph heater above the zone and couldn’t catch up, striking out.
The icing on the 2-0 run cake was that the Cards made Strasburg throw 38 pitches.
Top of 2nd
After the Cards’ long inning in the first, Hudson wanted to remind you of his best characteristic, in case you forgot, as he got Asdrubal Cabrera to ground out meekly to Goldy, who tossed to Dak covering. Just to make super-sure, he got another grounder from Ryan Zimmerman, who topped one to Pauly D. Victor Robles repeated the grounder thing, but his was smacked hard right back at Hudson, who knocked it down, found it just to his right, and threw him out easily.
Bottom of 2nd
Having your 8th-place hitter lead off the 2nd is cool. Un-cool, however, is striking out looking, which Bader did on a 1-2 hook that actually landed in the upper-right of the zone. That’s okay, Tots. He’s pretty good. Dakota fell victim to that curve as well, but this one was over but just kissed the bottom of the zone. And uh,...Dex also was sent back to the dugout via the strikeout, foul-tipping an outside changeup into the catcher’s mitt.
Strasburg used just 4 pitches on each batter (that’s 12 total), quickly efforting to stabilize his pitch count.
Top of 3rd
Dakota wanted to show you he also can strike guys out, as he K’d leadoff hitter Yan Gomes swinging on a nice low-and-away sinker. He went back to old faithful, inducing his counterpart Strasburg to chop a grounder to DeJong for out 2. Going to a full count then on leadoff man Trea Turner, Dakota got away with a sinker that didn’t, as Turner got himself out, grounding it to Goldy, who sprinted to the bag to get the out all by his lonesome.
Bottom of 3rd
Continuing a nice early theme on the night, Wong worked a leadoff walk (the Cards’ third already). On a 1-2 pitch, Kolten took off, but Goldy fouled. Two pitches later, he stole again, and he woulda been out had the shortstop not missed a perfect throw, which trickled away but not far enough for Wong to advance. With his second RISP shot of the game, Goldy walked, making it first and second, nobody out.
Looking to cash in again, Ozuna alas was called out on strikes as he watched a down-and-away changeup. On an 0-2 count, Kolten took off again, and he had it stolen easily, but DeJong foul-tipped a pitch to stay alive. By rule, Kolten had to return to second, you know.
Strasburg then retired Pauly D on the next pitch, as he got him out in front of a curve, popping it up to short. Yadi nearly knocked one in, but his smoked grounder was right to third baseman Zimmerman, who threw him out easily, as the Nats escaped unscathed after the back-to-back walks started the inning.
However, it was another good inning for upping Stephen’s pitch count, as he now was up to 76 having thrown 26 in the third.
Top of 4th
I hope Adam Eaton recycles, because he broke his bat in grounding out harmlessly to Kolten for the first out. He next got the dangerous Rendon to mis-time a nicely placed slider and fly out to medium center. With 2 out, Hudson had Soto 1-2 but lost him, walking him. Cabrera followed that up by pulling a ground-ball single into right-center on a sinker down, but too much in the center of the zone.
With Zimmerman up, Dakota seemed to get too careful and went to 2-0, prompting shoulder-squeezer Maddux to talk to him. Yadi and the other infielders also went to the mound so it wouldn’t be weird. It didn’t work, as Zimmerman walked on 4 pitches.
Now with the bases loaded, the Cards just needed one little out to just get out of this mess already. But you could see it coming....The first pitch to next batter Robles was lined into left for a single, scoring Soto...But fortunately, it was right at Ozuna, who charged it hard and threw it home the best he could...it seemed to float in the air forever, but made it to the plate on one hop, and Yadi slapped a great snap-tag down to nail Cabrera!!! (His 469th-ranked sprint speed helped!)
The Big Bear giveth and The Big Bear taketh away! pic.twitter.com/NagKq1TKvk— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 17, 2019
Bottom of 4th
Looking to add to his team-leading platitudes from Cards’ broadcasters, Edman started the 4th by singling to right. Much Tommy-praising ensued. (He’s got a 6-game hitting streak!) Tommy did even more, as he stole second, with the throw bouncing into his back. Bader then bounced a slow grounder to third, but unfortunately not slowly enough, as he was thrown out, punctuated by the field mic picking up Harrison’s F-bomb while crossing first.
With Tommy on second and 1 out, Dakota tapped a grounder to third, and while Tommy scurried to third, Dakota was thrown out. Dex couldn’t pick up the 2-out RISP, however, grounding out to second to end the inning.
Top of 5th
Yan Gomes flared a single to short-right for a leadoff “single.” Yadi snuck behind the runner at first, and Dex threw it in, but Gomes didn’t fall for that. Strasburg then bunted Gomes successfully. Things got worse, as Dak went 3-0 on Turner. But the Cards got a break, as he swung on the next pitch, mis-timing a sinker just barely inside enough, flying out to medium center. The runner could not advance.
Dakota then cleaned up nicely, next getting Adam Easton to ground out slowly to Goldy, who flipped to a covering Hudson.
Bottom of 5th
Strasburg entered the fifth at 88 pitches, so righty Tanner Raney started to warm up for the Nats. Wong started things off by grounding out to short in 5 pitches. Goldy then banged a liner at 100 mph, but it was right at the center fielder, who barely had to move to catch it. Ozuna then grounded out harmlessly to third for a low-stress inning for Strasburg.
Top of 6th
Things started nicely against the first batter Rendon, as Dakota got ahead of him 0-2. However, Rendon’s good, and he turned on a middle-in sinker into left for a home to tie the game at 2-2.
Dakota got lucky with the next batter Soto, when he skied a high fastball that wasn’t high enough in the zone to deep center at 101 mph and 372 feet. Following that disturbing pattern, Cabrera sent one to deep right, but Dex caught it right in front of the wall (92 mph, 351 feet). Lastly, Zimmerman as well hit the ball sharply (102 mph), but he luckily grounded his to short for the third out.
Bottom of 6th
Righty reliever tanner Rainey came in, thankfully sending Strasburg to the showers, as he had settled down in the 4th and 5th innings. But he’d thrown 99 pitches to get there.
DeJong started things off by getting foiled by his regular nemesis the high fastball, which was a good one at 97 mph, striking him out. Yadi then got robbed by a great leaping catch by third baseman Rendon, who snagged his liner for the second out. Tommy Edman then got a 2-out single by slamming a hard grounder off the short stop. It caromed into short center, but Tommy stayed at first.
Looking for his first appearance on base in any way, Bader stepped in. Rainey was really worried about Edman, throwing over to first twice. But on the third pickoff attempt, the ball skipped by Zimmerman, rolling away just enough to allow the zippy runner Edman to get to second. (He probably would’ve been picked off first had the throw been caught.) Unfortunately, that was all for nothing, as Bader struck out swinging at an up-and-away 98 mph fastball. After walking away Bader slammed his helmet, and it almost bounced up directly into his chin.
Top of 7th
Entering the 7th at 87 pitches and a very shaky 6th, Dakota was greeted by more of the same contact as Robles crunched a middle-middle sinker, luckily directly at Bader for the first out. Gomes then tapped out to third for some quiet contact for a change. Pinch-hitter Gerardo Parra came in for the Nats but was retired via groundout to Goldy, who under-handed to Dakota for the last out.
Bottom of 7th
After all the fans just sat back down already, Jose Martinez pinch-hit for Dakota, ending his night. Lefty reliever Sean Doolittle came in and quickly sat him down on a 3-pitch strikeout. Dex drew his second walk of the night to try to get something going. Getting down 0-2, Wong then fouled off six straight pitches before reaching for a slider in the dirt he couldn’t hold up on, ultimately striking out. Now with Goldy up, the Nats brought in righty Hunter Strickland.
On a 2-1 pitch, Dex stole second (the 4th for the Birds), looking lucky the throw was in the dirt. Six inches up, and it seemed as if he’d have been out. In his third RISP chance, having not come through in the previous two, Goldy laid off tough pitches to work a walk.
Now first and second two out, the first pitch to Marcell was a wild one that rolled just enough behind the catcher to allow Dex and Goldy to move up. The Big Bear made them pay, coming through again, lining a center-cut fastball just down the left-field line, bouncing over the short fence for a ground-rule double, making it 4-2 Cards!!!
ROAR— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 17, 2019
The Big Bear is back for more! pic.twitter.com/ny8EbFb4dz
Paul DeJong grounded out to short to end the inning.
Top of 8th
John Beardia (Brebbia) came in to face just Trea Turner, and he got his man. Admittedly, he was fortunate, as Trea made 104 mph contact, it was merely on the ground right at Kolten for out 1. Andrew Miller then entered as Carlos warmed up. Lefty batter Adam Eaton then got jammed just enough on a fastball, lining out softly to Ozuna. It then took Miller just one pitch to get Anthony Rendon, but he nailed a smoldering grounder (103 mph) to Edman, who picked it slightly to his left, spun slowly, re-set, and fired to first for the out.
Bottom of 8th
The Cards now faced new righty reliever Wander Suero, who must’ve liked to take long walks as a child. Yadi led off but struck out on an inside cutter that he tried to hold up on, but the ball tipped his bat then ricocheted into the catcher’s mitt. Edman then nailed a liner to center, but it hung up, and was directly at Robles, who caught it easily for the second out. Bader then popped out to second on a cutter on the outer edge, as the Cards went down quietly.
Top of 9th
Andrew Miller stayed in to face lefty Soto, who sent a long liner into deep right, but fortunately not far from the deep-playing Dex, who caught it right in front of the wall for out 1. Staying with Miller despite Carlos being ready in the pen (presumably El Gallo would’ve entered if Soto had reached), Cabrera was retired on a nice slider, grounding it to DeJong for out 2.
Zimmerman was the last hope for the Nats. And say what you will about SSS, but because he is 5-12, with 2 HR and 2 2B against Miller in his career, Shildt brought in El Gallo to get the final out. After getting Zimmerman to hilariously swing at a wild slider that was about 2 feet outside, El Gall hit 96 on the gun with an upper-zone fastball that Zimmerman lined at 104 mph but close enough to Bader that he merely had to trot in a bit to snag for the final out.
Cards won 4-2!!!
Bottom of 9th
THE BOTTOM LINE
- Ozuna’s first-inning homer was the career-high 23rd given up by Strasburg this season.
- The Cards were 0-10 with RISP heading into the 7th until Ozuna came through again with a 2-run double to push the Cards to 4-2. They ended the night 2-12! (Baseball, yo.)
- It was the all-Ozuna show, as he was the WPA leader by far at .45.
- Hudson’s line was good: 7 IP, 2 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 1 SO.
But: The Nats had 12 of the 16 batted balls with greater than 98 mph EV.
Yet: Just 2 of those 12 went for hits (1 of them being Rendon’s home run).
- Both the Cubs and Brewers won, so the Cubs remain 2 back; the Brewers 3.
- Tomorrow night at 6:45 CT, the Cards send Mikolas up against Corbin.
- DeJong made a $22,000 donation that will be split between the Ronald McDonald House in Central West End and Cardinals Care; and in exchange, he’ll get the busted ‘M’ from the
Big ac sign. The dollar value was a nod to the M-busting homer being his 22nd.
Big Mac Land will be getting a facelift ahead of the 2020 season, so Ronald McDonald House will raffle off the remaining letters in the near future.