After the Reds bailed the Cardinals out last night with a 4-2 win over the Cubs to prevent the Cards from losing ground in the division when the Cards lost to the Nats, the club had to face one of the game’s better pitchers in a day game today. At first, it looked like more of the same, as the Cards struck out 4 times before getting their first hit in the top of the 3rd. But that hit was a Tommy Edman home run, and Edman stole the show today with a solo home run, another RBI base hit and an outfield assist. Adam Wainwright allowed 8 hits in 7 innings pitched, but only walked one man and kept the ball on the ground with 12 ground ball outs, continuing to defy the odds and inducing weak contact on his curveball. On the plays where the Nationals hit the ball hard, either the defense made a great play behind him or the ball stalled at the warning track. The Cards picked up a key win today, despite being outhit 9-8 by the Nationals and striking out 12 times.
Trea Turner led off the game by sharply grounding a 2-2 hanging curveball for a rocket at Matt Carpenter at 3rd base. The Fox Sport television camera did not show a good angle of the play, only Carpenter on one knee and the ball going by him to his right. No replay was shown to get a second look. The scorer ruled it a hit, and Turner advanced to 2nd base on Adam Eaton’s groundout to 1st. Paul Goldschmidt had a play at 2nd base, but for some reason decided not to throw it. It turned out not to matter, as Anthony Rendon flied a low curve to 2nd and Juan Soto grounded to short to end the inning. In the bottom of the 1st, Dexter Fowler started things off by striking out swinging at a tailing outside fastball. Kolten Wong grounded an inside fastball into the shift for the 2nd out. Paul Goldschmidt was carved up and struck out on 3 pitches.
Howie Kendrick grounded out to 2nd to start the 2nd inning. Asdrubal Cabrera lined a curveball to right. Victor Robles grounded a hanging curveball towards Carpenter that went right between his legs for an error. Yan Gomes lined a low-and-in-fastball through the hole to left for a base hit to move Robles to 2nd. The pitcher Max Scherzer grounded a hanging cutter through the right side for a base hit. Edman charged for the ball, and the Nationals’ 3rd base coach decided to send Robles to the plate to test Edman. Edman’s throw beat Robles by a mile to nail Robles at the plate and end the inning. Molina also made a nice stop on the low throw.
Scherzer made quick work of the Cards in the bottom of the 2nd, retiring Ozuna and Carpenter on ground balls, and striking Molina out swinging on a nasty curveball.
Wainwright and his curveball retired the top of the Nationals’ order in order in the top of the 3rd on 3 groundouts. After DeJong struck out on a nasty changeup, Edman went down and golfed a low-and-in 1-2 cutter, launching it into the bullpen in right-center for a solo HR to give the Cards a 1-0 lead.
For the first time in franchise history, we have 10 different players with 10+ HRs in a season! pic.twitter.com/ckvT7jXY8J— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 18, 2019
Wainwright lined a center-cut fastball to left and Fowler struck out swinging on a changeup to end the inning. After Soto grounded to short to start the top of the 4th, Kendrick lined a low-and-away fastball to right for a base hit. Cabrera hit a hanging curveball for a soft sinking liner to right, but Edman made a sliding catch for the 2nd out.
Robles grounded a first-pitch curveball for a 6-4 force to end the inning. Scherzer retired the Cards in order in the bottom of the 4th. Wong struck out on 3 pitches, with the last being a changeup outside the zone. Goldschmidt flied a hanging cutter to center. Ozuna was ahead in the count 3-0, but the 9th pitch of the at-bat was a slider about a foot outside and low and Ozuna chased it. Scherzer has 7 strikeouts through 4 innings, which is actually less than the 9 strikeouts in 4 innings Patrick Corbin had yesterday.
Yan Gomes grounded a 2-2 center-cut fastball up the middle for a base hit to lead off the top of the 5th. Scherzer failed to get the sacrifice down and bunted foul with 2 strikes for a strikeout. Turner grounded a hanging curveball to short and the Cards were actually able to turn the 6-4-3 double play to get Turner at 1st by a step. Carpenter lined a center-cut fastball to right to start the bottom of the 5th. Both Carpenter and Eaton in right appeared to misjudge how far it was going to go. Eaton did not drift back and the ball bounced on the track and off the wall. Carpenter did not run hard out of the box, and he just barely beat Eaton’s throw to 2nd base for a double.
Molina grounded a high-and-outside fastball to 1st base to move Carpenter to 3rd. Shildt then had Harrison Bader run for Carpenter. DeJong squibbed a slider to the right side of the mound towards first. Bader scored as Scherzer’s only play was to flip to 1st for the out. The Cards now lead 2-0. Edman struck out to end the inning.
Small ball gets the run! pic.twitter.com/jjJz7wKi9m— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 18, 2019
For the top of the 6th, Bader stayed in the game in CF in the #5 spot, with Fowler moving from CF to RF and Edman moving from RF to 3B. Eaton sliced an inside fastball for a bloop hit to left to lead off the top of the 6th. Rendon must have been looking for another pitch, as he waited until the ball was almost in Molina’s glove before swinging at an 0-2 fastball to strike out. Soto worked a 3-2 walk. With Edman guarding the line at 3rd, Kendrick grounded a low-and-away cutter right to him for what was initially called a 5-4-3 double play. But the Nationals challenged the call, and the replay showed that Kendrick beat Wong’s throw to 1st base by a step. If you were wondering why the replay seemed to take forever, it was because Shildt also challenged the call to argue that Soto made an improper slide at 2nd base. Soto did not slide too late or come off the bag, but he did stick his left hand out and touch Wong and that’s not a legal move. But it wasn’t called, and now Cabrera came to the plate with runners at the corners. Cabrera grounded a 2-1 cutter to Goldschmidt at 1st that he grabbed at the line to stop it from going foul, but the home plate umpire called it foul for a reason I can’t explain. Fortunately, all of this turned out not to matter, because Cabrera flied a curveball to the track in center to end the inning.
I think the Cards lost the challenge for the following reason. In general, interference by a runner is a subjective decision that is not normally subject to review. The special double play slide rule, Rule 6.01(j), is a reviewable play. A runner is only out according to that rule when he initiates or attempts to make contact with the fielder for the purpose of breaking up a double play AND if he does not perform what the rules call a “bona fide slide.” Both conditions have to take place for a runner to be out under that special rule. Soto did make a bona fide slide because (1) he began his slide before reaching the base; (2) was able to reach the base and remain on it after his slide; and (3) he didn’t change his pathway to make contact with Wong. Because the special slide rule was the only reviewable call or non-call the Cards could challenge, and Soto did not violate the special slide rule, the Cards lost the challenge. If Soto was guilty of regular interference, a challenge would be too late to rectify it.
After Wainwright struck out to start the bottom of the 6th, Fowler blooped a 2-0 inside fastball to left for a base hit. With the shift on, Wong squibbed a hanging curveball right into the area where the shortstop would normally be and ended up with a base hit to move Fowler to 2nd. Scherzer blew Goldschmidt away with a 1-2 96-mph fastball. Scherzer had Fowler picked off 2nd base, but threw to 3rd base instead of walking towards Fowler to get him into a rundown. This allowed both Fowler and Wong to get back to their respective bases. Ozuna softly lined a slider to right, but Eaton slid all the way across the line to catch it in foul territory for the 3rd out. Wainwright struck Robles out on a fastball on the outside corner to lead off the top of the 7th. Gomes lined an outside fastball to right. Fowler stood flat-footed and took his eye off the ball. The ball bounced off the heel of his glove and got away. Gomes was able to reach 2nd base on the fielding error. Scherzer grounded out to short. Turner softly lined a hanging curveball down the left field line and into the corner with a double to score Gomes and cut the Cards’ lead to 2-1. Shildt came out to the mound, but decided not to take Wainwright out. Wainwright hung a curve and Eaton lined it deep to the track in right, which Fowler caught after spinning around.
Bader struck out on 3 pitches to lead off the bottom of the 7th. Molina popped out to 2nd base, with Cabrera catching it on the outfield grass towards center field. Scherzer hung a slider to DeJong, who skied it deep into left field. Soto completely lost it in the sun, and it dropped on the track. DeJong was credited with a gift double. Edman grounded an outside changeup through the hole to left for a base hit to score DeJong and extend the Cards’ lead to 3-1.
Have yourself an afternoon, Tommy! pic.twitter.com/hvx6LplArD— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 18, 2019
Matt Wieters pinch hit for Wainwright, and we haven’t seen him since August 31st. Scherzer hung him a 2-2 curveball and he lined it just barely over the right field wall for a 2-run HR to extend the Cards’ lead to 5-1. That was Wieters’ first career pinch-hit home run.
With Scherzer at 109 pitches, the Nationals turned to righty Tanner Rainey to pitch to Fowler, who popped out to 3rd in foul territory to end the inning.
Giovanny Gallegos came out to pitch the top of the 8th on no rest. Rendon worked a 3-2 walk, and Shildt immediately went to the bullpen to bring out Miller to pitch to Soto. Soto flied a slider to right for the first out. Kendrick popped an inside slider up for a bloop over Goldschmidt’s head that dropped just inside the right field line for a base hit to move Rendon to 2nd. Miller had Cabrera down 0-2 in the count, then threw him a 3-2 outside slider. Cabrera drove it deep to right field with Fowler jumping to catch the ball and robbing him of what would have been a 3-run HR.
Carlos Martinez came in to try for the 4-out save. Robles grounded a low changeup to short to end the inning.
Wong lined a low 2-1 fastball to center for a base hit to lead off the bottom of the 8th. With Goldschmidt at bat and the count 1-0, Wong stole 2nd base. The Nationals challenged the call, arguing that Wong’s hand slipped off the base, but the safe call on the field was upheld. Goldschmidt walked, but Rainey picked Wong off of 2nd base, and the rundown was not long enough to move Goldschmidt to 2nd. Rainey’s 1-2 pitch to Ozuna was a cutter that went through the catcher’s legs for a wild pitch to the backstop to move Goldschmidt to 2nd base. Ozuna struck out swinging at a slider. Bader flied a first-pitch slider to center to end the inning. Carlos Martinez came back out for the 9th. Gomes sharply grounded to 3rd to Edman for the first out. Ryan Zimmerman pinch hit for Rainey and bounced a 3-2 outside fastball to Wong for the 2nd out. Turner grounded a changeup to short to end the game and give Martinez his 21st save of the year.
Odds and Ends
Jon Lester of the Cubs goes against Tyler Mahle of the Reds in the final game of a 3-game series tonight at Wrigley Field before the Cards go to Chicago tomorrow for a critical 4-game series...Adrian Houser pitches tonight for the Brewers in Milwaukee in the 3rd game of a 4-game series, with Jordan Lyles set to pitch the 4th game of the series tomorrow afternoon. The Brewers have gone 11-2 in their last 13 games and are 13-3 for the month of September.