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Wacha Exits with Injury and Bullpen Melts Down in 9-7 Loss to D’backs

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MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

My recap of the 19-inning game that I published this morning talked about the fact that Mike Shildt played every single regular, including Molina, for the whole 19-inning game. We can debate the merits of that all day long, or the merits of how Shildt has rested or not rested his regulars during the final month since roster expanded, or even before. Whatever your conclusion on that is, today was a true getaway game, and here was the lineup Shildt went with:

Edman 3b

Jose Martinez rf

Ravelo 1b

Wieters c

O’Neill lf

Arozarena cf

Munoz ss

Sosa 2b

Wacha p

I found it mildly interesting that Edman’s best position is probably 2B, Munoz’s best position is probably 3B and Sosa’s best position is probably SS, but Shildt played each of them somewhere else. The even more interesting issue now is whether Michael Wacha will pitch in the playoffs or not, having left the game in the second inning with tightness in his right shoulder. Some feel like he should have been left off the playoff roster, but we all know that was not going to happen. That opens up a second relief job that I predict will go to Cabrera, but it could go to Ponce de Leon. We will have to wait and see the outcome of an evaluation Wacha will have when he returns to St. Louis. Meanwhile, Randy Arozarena made his best bid for a bench job in the playoffs with a delayed steal of home, outfield assist and home run.

Tommy Edman grounded a fastball through the right side for a leadoff base hit. The pitcher Merrill Kelly then tried to pick Edman off of 1st base, but threw wide for an error and the ball scooted to the sidewall in foul territory. Edman advanced to 2nd base. Jose Martinez struck out swinging at a hanging cutter. Rangel Ravelo struck out swinging at an outside cutter that looked like it was off the plate by a few inches. Matt Wieters grounded out to 1st base down the line for the 3-1 putout to end the inning. In the bottom of the 1st, Tim Locastro lined low-and-outside fastball down the right field line for a leadoff double. Abraham Almonte walked on 4 pitches. Wilmer Flores smoked a hanging cutter down the left field line that rolled to the wall for a double. Both runs scored to give the Diamondbacks a 2-0 lead with nobody out.

After Jake Lamb struck out swinging at a low changeup, Kevin Cron sharply grounded a low-and-away change through the hole to left for a base hit to move Flores to 3rd base. Josh Rojas struck out swinging at an outside fastball, and Nick Ahmed struck out swinging at an inside fastball to end the inning.

Tyler O’Neill struck out swinging at an elevated fastball to lead off the top of the 2nd. Randy Arozarena chopped a low-and-outside fastball to the hole near short. Ahmed charged in and had to get his balance before throwing to 1st. The umpire called Arozarena out at 1st base, but the Cards challenged, and on review, it was clear that he beat the throw for a base hit. But Arozarena was erased when Yairo Munoz grounded a low cutter into a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play. With 2 out in the bottom of the 2nd, Locastro blooped an inside fastball over the shortstop for a base hit. After Wacha threw 2 balls to Almonte, the training staff came out to check on Michael Wacha, accompanied by Shildt and pitching coach Mike Maddux. We did not know this at the time, but Shildt said after the game that Wacha had informed him after he pitched the 1st inning that he had tightness in his right shoulder, but that he felt he could pitch through it. He was removed from the game, and Mike Mayers came in to pitch on 18 days of rest. Mayers was the only reliever other than Carlos Martinez that did not pitch in the 19-inning game last night. With the count 2-1 on Almonte, Locastro stole 2nd base, and Almonte ended up walking anyway. Flores softly lined an up-and-in 2-2 fastball to center, but Arozarena raced in and caught it to end the inning.

Edmundo Sosa walked on 4 pitches to lead off the top of the 3rd. Mayers could not lay down the sacrifice, and struck out trying to bunt a curveball. Edman grounded an 0-2 hanging curveball through the middle for a base hit to move Sosa to 2nd. Jose Martinez lined a hanging cutter to the gap in left-center that rolled to the wall in the deepest part of the park for a double. Both runs scored to tie the game 2-2.

Ravelo sharply lined out to center and Wieters flied to left to end the inning. Mayers retired the side in order in the bottom of the 3rd.

O’Neill walked to lead off the top of the 4th. Arozarena chopped a low-and-away cutter to the mound to force O’Neill at 2nd. He then stole 2nd base with Munoz at the plate. Munoz drove a low-and-in cutter to left for a base hit to move Arozarena to 3rd base. The ball was hit too hard to score Arozarena. The pitcher Kelly tried to pick Munoz off of first base, and the first baseman Cron briefly dropped the ball. Arozarena seized this moment to rush for the plate. Cron’s throw was a bit high, but beat Arozarena to the plate. The catcher Caleb Joseph missed tagging Arozarena’s hand when he dropped his glove down. The Diamondbacks challenged the call, but the safe call on the field was upheld. The Cards had a 3-2 lead and Arozarena was credited with a steal of home.

Sosa lined a low-and-in curveball for a base hit to center to move Munoz to 2nd base. Matt Carpenter pinch hit for Mayers and lined a changeup to right. Edman drove a hanging 3-1 cutter to the track in right-center, but it was caught to end the threat. John Gant came out for the bottom of the 4th and struck out the side. Ahmed’s strikeout was looking at a fastball that looked like it could have been called a ball a few inches off the plate. The other two strikeouts were on filthy changeups low.

Jose Martinez hit a 3-2 up-and-in fastball for a bloop to right field to start the top of the 5th. Almonte raced in for it, and tried to catch it near his shoe tops, but missed, and the ball went by him. Almonte hurt himself on the play, and he limped away. Locastro had to race over from center field, and Martinez wound up at 3rd base with a triple. Adam Jones had to come out and replace Almonte in right field. Ravelo flied a center-cut fastball to center to score Martinez on a Sac Fly to give the Cards a 4-2 lead. Wieters grounded out to the pitcher and O’Neill struck out swinging at a curveball in the dirt. With 1 out in the bottom of the 5th, Jones walked. Flores lined a 1-0 high-and-outside fastball to right-center for a base hit. Jones decided to test Arozarena’s arm and try for 3rd, but Arozarena threw him out on the fly.

Shildt made a double switch to bring in Genesis Cabrera to pitch in the #5 spot and Bader in to play CF in the #9 spot. Arozarena moved from CF to LF. Cabrera struck Lamb out swinging at a slider in the dirt to end the inning.

To lead off the top of the 6th, Arozarena laced a center-cut fastball over the left field wall for a solo HR to give the Cards a 5-2 lead.

Munoz grounded out to short, Sosa struck out swinging at a curveball in the dirt and Bader struck out swinging at a fastball to end the inning. The bottom of the 6th was the time of the Cards’ meltdown, and it started with an error. Cron sharply grounded a ball to Edman at 3rd base that he had to go to his left to get. He bobbled it, but came up with it. Cron does not run well and Edman had time, but when he spun around and threw, his throw took Goldschmidt off the bag. This was ruled a fielding error on Edman. I thought if it was an error at all, it should have been a throwing error, because a good throw would have retired Cron at 1st base. Cabrera’s 2-2 pitch to Rojas was a low-and-away slider that got away from Wieters to the backstop. It was a wild pitch, but Wieters could have done a better job to block it. Cron went to 2nd base on the play, then Rojas worked a 3-2 walk, despite being behind in the count 0-2. Ahmed drove a high-and-outside changeup towards the right field line and high. Martinez raced over and tried to make a sliding catch, but he missed it, and the ball bounced on the track and off of the foul pole for a ground rule double. Cron scored to cut the Cards’ lead to 5-3, with Rojas advancing to 3rd base. Junior Fernandez came in to pitch, but he couldn’t stop the bleeding. Domingo Leyba pinch hit for Joseph, and Fernandez walked him on 4 pitches to load the bases. Christian Walker pinch hit for the pitcher Kelly. Fernandez threw him a 2-1 changeup in the dirt. Wieters tried to backhand it instead of getting his body in front of it to block it. The ball got away for a wild pitch. Rojas scored to cut the Cards’ lead to 5-4 with the other runners moving to 2nd and 3rd. Walker grounded out to short for the first out of the inning.

At this point, Shildt ordered the infield in. Locastro chopped a ball to Sosa at 2nd base. Sosa threw home, but Wieters had to stretch to his right a bit, dropped the ball, and the ball went to the backstop as Wieters tried to apply the tag on Ahmed without the ball. Wieters did not immediately realize the ball got away, did not throw off his mask, and did not seem to be in a hurry to go get the ball. Not only did Ahmed score, but Leyba scored and Locastro, the man who hit the grounder, raced all the way to 3rd base. Wieters was charged with a fielding error and now the Diamondbacks had a 6-5 lead.

Jones grounded a low fastball up the middle for a base hit to score Locastro to extend the D’Backs’ lead to 7-5. Flores then hit an outside fastball just over the left-center field wall for a 2-run HR to give the D’Backs a 9-5 lead.

Tyler Webb had to come in to pitch, and he retired Lamb on a groundout and Cron on a flyout to the track in center to get out of this inning.

The Diamondbacks made a double switch for the top of the 7th. Righty Yoan Lopez came in to pitch in the #5 spot. Leyba stayed in the game at 2B in the #8 spot and Walker stayed in the game in the #9 spot at 1B. Alex Avila came in to catch in the #3 spot. Lopez retired the Cards in order with 2 strikeouts. Webb retired the Diamondbacks in order in the bottom of the 7th with 1 strikeout. Lefty T.J. McFarland came out to pitch the top of the 8th. With 2 out in the inning, Arozarena grounded an outside changeup to Leyba at 2nd, but he booted it for an error. Munoz worked a 3-2 walk, but Sosa grounded out to 3rd to end the inning. Leone came in to pitch the bottom of the 8th. With 2 out, Jones worked a 3-2 walk and almost got beaned with a fastball. Avila walked on a close fastball just off the outside corner, but Lamb flied out to center to end the inning.

The Cards rallied a bit in the top of the 9th, but it was too late. The Diamondbacks made a double switch to bring in righty Jimmie Sherfy to pitch in the #4 spot and Ildemaro Vargas to play 3B in the #5 spot. After Bader struck out swinging at a 3-2 slider, Edman was hit on the backside with a 2-2 69-mph curveball. Jose Martinez lined a hanging curveball toward the line in left for a base hit to move Edman to 3rd. Closer Archie Bradley then came in. Ravelo walked to load the bases. Wieters lined a low fastball to right-center for a base hit to score both Edman and Martinez, move Ravelo to 2nd and cut the Diamondbacks’ lead to 9-7. Fowler ran for Wieters and Goldschmidt pinch hit for Leone. Goldschmidt grounded a low-and-in sinker into a game-ending 5-4-3 double play to give Bradley his 17th save.

Odds and Ends

The Cubs have been eliminated from the playoffs with their 4-2 loss to the Pirates. The game was tied 2-2 going into the bottom of the 8th, but 3 walks, 2 wild pitches and a Sac Fly combined to give the Pirates 2 runs. Brad Wieck walked 1 and David Phelps took care of the rest. With the Twins’ victory over the Tigers and the Indians’ loss to the White Sox, the Twins clinched the AL Central division crown. The Yankees, Astros and Twins have all clinched division titles now, and the 2 AL Wild Cards spots are still up for grabs between the Athletics, Rays and Indians. The Brewers put a 6-spot on Tyler Mahle and the Reds in the first inning and won 9-2. That victory not only eliminated the Mets from the playoffs, but clinched a postseason birth for the Brewers. Now the National League field is set, but it still remains to be seen where they all line up. All we know right now is that the Braves have clinched the NL East, the Dodgers the West, and the Nationals one of the 2 wild card spots. The Cardinals and Brewers still have to fight it out for the NL Central crown with the Cards’ magic number still at 3. The Cards have the day off tomorrow before ending the season with a 3-game series against the Cubs at Busch Stadium. The Brewers have 4 games left. Tomorrow morning at 11:35 Central time, they finish a 3-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati before going to Colorado for their final 3 games. The Brewers are 19-4 in the month of September. Christian Yelich played his last game on September 10th. Since that date, the Brewers are 12-2 with the best record in baseball. A 3-way tie is still possible between the Nationals, Cardinals and Brewers, which would require the Cards to play a game 163 against the Brewers for the division crown.