This is the series we have all been waiting for and we had just the man we were hoping to have to pitch Game 1 of the 4-game series against the Cubs in Wrigley Field. Kyle Hendricks would take the mound for the Cubs. Hendricks’ fastball tops out at about 88 mph and that’s his four-seamer, but his finesse rerpertoire has given the Cards fits in recent years. The Cards had not saddled Hendricks with a loss since April 20th, 2016, and this season they had only scored 1 earned run off of him in 3 prior starts.
Jack Flaherty set the tone once again with 8 innings pitched and only 3 hits allowed. The bottom of the order stepped up big tonight for the Cards with Tommy Edman picking up 2 key hits and making a defensive stop late in the game that was much more important to the outcome than was discussed at the time it happened. Harrison Bader provided 2 critical RBIs to keep the Cards going. Other than Flaherty, the heroes of the game were Giovanny Gallegos and Matt Carpenter. Gallegos had never pitched 3 games in a row in his professional career and he had just enough to get the Cards through the bottom of the 10th to pick up his first career save after Carlos Martinez faltered in the 9th.
Matt Carpenter has basically been a bench player since Harrison Bader was recalled from AAA Memphis on August 20th, only starting to give Edman or Bader a rest, or subbing for an injured Kolten Wong. It has to be hard to swallow for a player who is used to starting every day and who had an MVP-caliber 5-WAR season last year. But Carpenter came through in a big way with a game-saving home run to give the club a lift when they sorely needed it.
After Dexter Fowler struck out swinging at a high fastball, Kolten Wong went down and grounded a low-and-away 1-2 changeup through the right side for a base hit. With the count 2-2 on Paul Goldschmidt, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks came dangerously close to picking Wong off of 1st base. The first base umpire called him safe. The Cubs challenged the play, but after a decently long look, the call on the field was upheld. With the count 3-2 on Goldschmidt, Wong was running with the pitch. Hendricks threw Goldschmidt a low-and-away 88-mph fastball and Goldschmidt swung right through it. Contreras threw Wong out at 2nd base by a mile for a strike-‘em-out, throw-‘em-out double play.
Strike'em out, throw'em out! pic.twitter.com/wqkkE3UL28— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) September 19, 2019
Jack Flaherty struck Anthony Rizzo out swinging at a curveball in the dirt to lead off the bottom of the 1st. In a surprise twist, Rizzo started tonight’s game after it had been reported that he was in a walking boot and might be out for the rest of the regular season with a sprained ankle. Nicholas Castellanos hit a first-pitch four-seamer hard to right, but it stalled at the track. Kris Bryant took the count to 3-2 after hitting a ball home run distance foul to left, and struck out looking at a fastball right at the low part of the zone.
Hendricks retired the Cards in order in the top of the 2nd, with 2 groundouts. Paul DeJong was the only batter in the inning to get the ball out of the infield on a lineout to center. Kyle Schwarber worked a 3-2 walk to lead off the bottom of the 2nd. Ben Zobrist squibbed a high fastball down the first base line. The ball stayed fair, and Molina had to grab it and throw Zobrist out at 1st base. Schwarber moved to 2nd on the play. Willson Contreras struck out swinging at a low-and-in fastball. Jason Heyward got jammed on an up-and-in fastball and softly lined it to 2nd base to end the inning.
Tommy Edman lined a center-cut fastball to right for a base hit to lead off the top of the 3rd. Hendricks initially had Harrison Bader down in the count 0-2, but Bader ended up working a 3-2 walk. With Rizzo charging, Flaherty bunted the ball perfectly down the 3rd base line. The 3rd baseman covered the third base bag, and Rizzo could only limp towards the ball. Flaherty ended up with an infield hit to load the bases. Fowler grounded a low changeup towards the middle, but Zobrist grabbed it for the 4-6-3 double play. Edman scored to give the Cards a 1-0 lead, with Bader moving to 3rd base. Fowler does not get an RBI, for those of you scoring at home. Wong flied a changeup to the track in right to end the inning. With 2 out in the bottom of the 3rd, Rizzo sliced a low fastball over the left-center field wall a few rows back for a solo HR to tie the game 1-1.
Castellanos grounded a slider down the 3rd base line and right over the bag. Edman made a diving stop, but he kicked it away towards the sidewall, and Castellanos ended up with a base hit. It probably would have been a base hit, even if Edman had fielded it cleanly. Bryant lined out to left to end the inning.
Goldschmidt lined an inside fastball down the left field line and into the corner to lead off the top of the 4th with a double. The Cards, however, would strand him there. Ozuna struck out looking at a 1-2 87-mph fastball that looked outside, but was called a strike on the corner. DeJong struck out swinging at a high 88-mph fastball, and Molina flied a low-and-away curve to right. Flaherty retired the Cubs in order in the bottom of the 4th, including a strikeout of Schwarber.
Edman led off the top of the 5th by lining a low-and-away changeup into the right field corner for a triple. Harrison Bader grounded a low-and-away fastball through Hendicks’ legs and through the middle for a base hit to score Edman and give the Cards a 2-1 lead.
Flaherty sacrificed Bader to 2nd. Fowler struck out looking at a low changeup that dropped right into the bottom of the zone. Wong grounded an up-and-in fastball to 1st to strand Bader at 2nd base. Wong was limping as he was jogging to 1st base. The training staff came out to look at him, and he had to come out of the game with what looked like a hamstring issue. For the bottom of the 5th, Matt Carpenter came in to play 3B in Wong’s #2 spot, with Edman moving from 3B to 2B. Flaherty retired the Cubs in order in the bottom of the 5th, with strikeouts of Nico Hoerner and Hendricks.
Goldschmidt lined an inside fastball down the left field line and into the corner again for another double to lead off the top of the 6th. Ozuna struck out looking at a fastball that the umpire called a strike, but was outside by a couple of inches easily. Hendricks then hit DeJong on the left triceps area with a fastball. Molina lined a low curve to left for a base hit. Schwarber bobbled the ball for an instant, then picked it right back up. Goldschmidt reached 3rd base just as Schwarber picked the ball up. Pop Warner decided to send Goldschmidt around 3rd to test Schwarber’s arm. Schwarber’s throw beat Goldschmidt to the plate easily, with Contreras up the line at the plate with his leg straddling the line. Goldschmidt was forced to go around, but Contreras dropped the ball and Goldschmidt scored to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead. It was an excellent slide by Goldschmidt.
The scorer ruled this a single and E7 on Schwarber and Molina did not get an RBI. DeJong moved to 2nd on the play. Hendricks was done for the day with 95 pitches, and lefty Brad Wieck came into the game to pitch to Edman. With runners at 1st and 2nd and 1 out, Edman struck out swinging at a low-and-in curveball in the dirt. Bader lined a hanging curveball to the gap in left-center for a base hit to score DeJong and extend the Cards’ lead to 4-1.
2️⃣ Hits— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 20, 2019
Harrison Bader came to play! pic.twitter.com/QsHEOQCrGn
Molina went to 3rd and Bader stood up at 2nd with a double. Flaherty struck out looking to end the inning.
Flaherty retired the Cubs in order in the bottom of the 6th, including a strikeout of Bryant looking at a fastball that looked like a few inches inside and out of the zone. The Cubs made a double switch for the top of the 7th to bring in Ian Happ in the #9 spot to play 1B and lefty Danny Hultzen to pitch in the #1 spot. Fowler lined out to center, Carpenter struck out swinging at sliders, and Goldschmidt grounded out to short for a 1-2-3 inning. Flaherty jammed Schwarber with an inside fastball, but he grounded it up the middle for a base hit to start the bottom of the 7th. Flaherty’s first pitch to Zobrist was a fastball in the dirt that got by Molina for a wild pitch to move Schwarber to 2nd. Zobrist grounded out to 2nd to move Schwarber to 3rd. Contreras grounded a low-and-away slider back to the mound. Schwarber was caught off of third base, and put out 1-5-2-6. Contreras stayed at 1st base on the fielder’s choice, as Schwarber could not stay in the rundown long enough to allow him to advance. Heyward grounded a slider to 2nd base to end the inning.
Righty Duane Underwood came out to pitch the top of the 8th. Although Ozuna was ahead in the count, he grounded a 3-1 fastball to short for the first out. DeJong popped to Zobrist in the outfield grass for out #2. Molina flied out to the track in right near the corner to end the inning. Although Flaherty was at 101 pitches, he came back out for the bottom of the 8th. Hoerner struck out swinging at a slider in the dirt. Hoerner turned around to apparently argue that he got a piece of the ball. The umpires conferred briefly without a video review and the call stood. Happ grounded an up-and-in fastball to 1st for the 2nd out. Switch-hitter Victor Caratini, who was originally scheduled to start at 1st base in tonight’s ballgame, pinch hit for Underwood. Caratini grounded out to short to end the inning, with Flaherty at 118 pitches.
Righty Pedro Stop came out for the top of the 9th. Edman flied a changeup to center. Bader struck out swinging at a slider in the dirt. Matt Wieters pinch hit for Flaherty and flied out to left to end the inning. This being a save situation, Carlos Martinez came out to try and grab it on no rest. Castellanos worked a 3-2 walk to lead off the bottom of the 9th. Bryant lined an inside fastball to center for a base hit to move Castellanos to 2nd base. Although Martinez couldn’t locate anything and immediately got behind 3-0 to Schwarber, Schwarber swung at 2 straight low-and-in sliders that likely would have been ball four. Schwarber struck out when he failed to check his swing on what was either a changeup or a backdoor slider at the top of the zone. Zobrist sharply grounded an up-and-in fastball just inside the 1st base line and past the glove of the diving Goldschmidt into the right field corner for a double. Castellanos scored to cut the Cards’ lead to 4-2 and Bryant moved to 3rd base.
Javier Baez, who is apparently only available to run, ran for Zobrist. Contreras squibbed an inside fastball just to the left of the mound. Martinez raced over for it, but he had no play anywhere other than home. His flip to the plate was not in time, and Bryant scored to cut the Cards’ lead to 4-3. The scorer ruled the play a single. With runners at the corners and still only 1 out, Shildt had seen enough of Carlos Martinez and brought in Andrew Miller to pitch to the lefty Heyward. Robel Garcia ran for Contreras. Miller also pitched yesterday. Heyward grounded an 0-1 outside slider to the right side. Edman had to make a great diving play to save a hit and he threw Heyward out at 1st for the 2nd out. But the damage was done, and Baez scored from 3rd to tie the game 4-4, with Garcia moving to 2nd base.
Hoerner smoked an 0-2 hanging slider to center, but Bader caught it at the track to end the inning. In a statistical twist that tells you all you need to know about holds and blown saves, Martinez got credit for a hold, while it was actually Miller that was charged with a blown save.
The Cubs made several changes for the top of the 10th. They made a double switch to bring in David Bote to play 2B in the #1 spot. Jonathan Lucroy came in to play catcher in the #6 spot that Zobrist was in. Righty Craig Kimbrel, who was just activated from the IL today after dealing with a sore elbow, came in to pitch in the #6 spot that Contreras was in. Fowler struck out swinging at a 3-2 high-and-outside 96-mph fastball. Matt Carpenter launched a low-and-away fastball over the center field wall to give the Cards a 5-4 lead!!!
Matt Carpenter ❤️s Wrigley! pic.twitter.com/33Um2z6SyG— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 20, 2019
Goldschmidt struck out swinging at a slider in the dirt. Righty Steve Cishek came out to pitch to Ozuna with 2 out, and Ozuna grounded out to end the inning.
Who would Shildt bring out for the bottom of the 10th with Gallegos having pitched the previous 2 days? Gallegos, who is pitching for the 3rd day in a row for the first time in his pitching career. Gallegos fell behind to Happ 2-0, but got him to pop a 2-2 fastball to Bader in center for the 1st out. Bote struck out swinging at a high-and-outside 94-mph fastball for the 2nd out, with Molina hanging on the foul tip. Castellanos drove a 2-1 fastball deep to center, but not deep enough, as Bader caught it near the track to end the game. Gallegos picked up his first career save.
Odds and Ends
KMOX radio reported that the club is calling Wong’s injury a mild left hamstring strain. He will have an MRI tomorrow, and is expected to be out for a couple of days at least...The Cards’ magic number is now 7 with the Brewers winning today against the Padres and moving into sole possession of both second place in the NL Central Division and the second wild card. The Cubs are now 1 game behind the Brewers in the race for the 2nd wild card spot...Cole Hamels was scratched from his scheduled start tomorrow with shoulder fatigue and Alec Mills will go up against Michael Wacha tomorrow afternoon at 1:20 Central time instead. The New York Yankees clinched the AL East title with their win over the Angels today, their first division title since 2012. Other divisions locked up include the AL West (Astros) and NL West (Dodgers). The Braves have secured a playoff spot and their magic number to clinch the NL East is 1.