[Uncle Charlie reads by little jdog’s bedside]...
Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Jack, who was raised on a small farm by the Banks of Burb in the land of California. His favorite pastimes were striking m’f’s out and tormenting the hitters that played baseball there. One team was named the Giants, but he never called them that. Nothing gave Jack as much pleasure as mowing Giants down.
When he grew to be a man, Jack had perfected the art of Giant-slaying. But he knew he could not defeat them all on his own. As luck would have it, he met a bear of a man named Marcell, who offered his assistance. Their strengths peaked one early September eve, as Jack felled all but two Giant he faced, and Marcell smote a ball beyond the Land of ac for victory.
As the story went, it was a night for lots of weak contact produced by pitchers who went about it in very different ways. The Giants’ Rodriguez beguiled Cards hitters with changeups and fastballs that topped out barely at 90. Oppositely, gunslinger Jack hurled 95+ mph heaters, mixed in with sliders and knuckle curves. It was as frustrating to watch Cards’ hitters as it was fun to watch another masterful outing by Jack.
Jack held the Giants hitless through 5.2 innings before giving up a clean single. He also allowed but one walk through his 8 full innings of work. Thankfully, the Cards finally got on the board in the 6th thanks to an Ozuna 2-out solo homer. Carlos Martinez was called upon to make the lone-run lead stick, and he was fortunate to do so. With his fastball peaking not much higher than Rodriguez’ (92), he survived a one-out single, thanks to a nice catch in right at the wall by Dex and a slider that backed up juuust right to strike out Longoria.
With still plenty of offensive ineptitude to shake our heads at, everyone still went home smiling, thanks to outstanding starting pitching, defense, and the almighty homer.
Top of 1st
Mike Yastrzemski started the game by getting jammed on a fastball in his kitchen and popping out to Edman in foul territory just outside of 3rd. Veteran Brandon Belt then whiffed over a sharp back-foot slider for Jack’s first K. Next, on a 1-2 count, Evan Longoria got fooled with dat slider, going down on one knee while swinging, but his prayers went unanswered, and he became Jack’s second strikeout victim. But Evan’s a winner anyway, seeing as he’s married to actress Eva Longoria.
Bottom of 1st
Dex celebrated his 1,400th career game by striking out looking at a changeup that kissed the lower-outside corner. Having some ice cream probably would’ve been more fun. Kolten Wong had the same fate, as he also was a backward-K victim, but he stared at a well-placed fastball low and away. He seemed to be expecting the change.
Paul Goldschmidt became the first baserunner by earning a walk on 5 pitches. Ozuna then followed by wasting no time, swinging at the first pitch he saw, slamming it off the glove of third baseman Longoria. It then ricocheted into short left-center, as shortstop Crawford scampered after it.
With a 2-out rally going with runners on first and second, Paul DeJong did his best Minnesota Fats impression, full-swinging ahead of a changeup, cuing one down the first-base line. He briefly paused, initially thinking it was going foul, then sprinted, out-running the pitcher to first to load the bases with an infield hit.
Molina then strode in with a chance to throw his Player of the Week award in the Giants’ faces, but he jammed himself, mis-timing his swing on an inside, slightly-up “fastball” (88 mph) and flew out weakly to right to end the inning.
Top of 2nd
Jack started cleanup hitter Stephen Vogt with a curve and slider for two quick strikes, but then lost him by just missing with 4 straight fastballs for a leadoff walk. Jack seemed to suddenly lose fastball command for a bit, missing with 2 of 3 of those to Alex Dickerson. His breaking pitches remained sharp, however, and Jack had him at 2-2 then retired him on a better fastball, placed just beyond the bottom of the zone. Dickerson got pretty good wood on it, though, sending a fly to deep left on the 8th pitch, but Ozuna backpedaled in front of the track to snag it.
Kevin Pillar was a quicker victim, as he popped out to Edman at third just to the left of the mound on the third pitch. Likewise, Jack had an easy time with the next batter Brandon Crawford, who grounded out right back to the mound for the third out.
Bottom of 2nd
Hitting in the lineup about where he should be (7th), Edman led off the second by sending a full-count outside fastball down the left field line, but it hung up and the left fielder ran it down for the first out. Harrison Bader then followed by reaching for a low-and-away cutter, topping it to the third baseman, but actually not hitting it slowly enough to out-run it, as he was nailed at first easily. Flaherty made it a 3-up, 3-down inning for Rodriguez by striking out un-athletically, waving at a cutter way beyond the zone wherein pitches are not hittable.
Top of 3rd
Facing the bottom of the order, Jack ran through the Giants’ 8-9-1 hitters without increasing his sweat production. Mauricio Dubon popped out to short on a slider that actually caught a lot of the middle zone, so Jack got away with one there. Son-of-a-catcher pitcher Rodriguez doesn’t hit like his dad, and he struck out on 5 pitches, sat down on a 95 mph heater. Lastly, leadoff hitter Yaz (so much easier to type), also struck out, swinging on a Jackrabbit fastball on the outer edge.
Bottom of 3rd
The Cards turned their lineup over, starting an inning off properly, with Dexter singling on a grounder to short. But he was quickly erased as Wong grounded into a 4-6-3 double play. Paul Goldschmidt didn’t re-start anything, as he grounded out to short on the second pitch he saw to end the inning. So much for the nice start.
Top of 4th
Little Tommy Edman was all over the 4th inning. Brandon Belt didn’t belt one, as Jack got one in on him and induced a pop-out in foul territory on a nice long running catch by Edman. Edman took care of the next play as well, when Longoria sent a slow roller right down the third-base line that the youngster bare-handed and whipped over to Goldy, who dug it out to bookend a nice play for out 2. With a big shift on lefty Vogt, Jack got a grounder to the shortstop area actually manned temporarily by third baseman Edman, who charged it and flung to first to set the Giants down in order. All that took just 7 pitches, which was nice.
Bottom of 4th
Marcell led off with some bad luck, as he blistered a liner at 98 mph but right at the third baseman for out 1. Rodriguez then got lucky again by hanging a high curve, but he had Pauly D’s timing messed up, getting him to pop it up at the plate. Yadi jumped on a first-pitch elevated fastball that just touched 90, lining it to center for a single. With Edman up and a 2-2 count, Yadi had second stolen, but Tommy fouled it off. Rodriguez then made Tommy his fourth strikeout victim, getting him to swing over the top of a diving changeup.
Top of 5th
With the first batter of the inning Alex Dickerson up, senior citizen and part-time announcer Tim McCarver foolishly blurted out how Jack had a no-hitter going. Watching from his favorite chair in Omaha, Bob Gibson threw something up and in at his TV, swearing at his former battery mate.
Jack waved off the jinx for the moment, striking out Dickerson, who missed Jack’s knuckle curve on the fourth pitch. Jack did one better against next hitter Kevin Pillar, getting him swinging on three pitches, using his 95 mph fastball to record that one. Throwing free and easy, Jack retired Brandon Crawford via slider, getting him to pop out to Wong.
Bottom of 5th
Harry Bader led off the middle-of-the-game inning by reminding us he’s still got work to do, waving through a curve down and away for a leadoff strikeout, Rodriguez’ fifth. Jack then produced a quick out, grounding out weakly to second on the second pitch. Dex didn’t fare much better, topping a changeup (the third of those used in the four pitches he saw) to first for the third out. The on-field mic did pick up a vague sound that seemed to be swear, so at least he showed he cared.
Top of 6th
Entering the 6th having thrown just 65 pitches, Flaherty continued the formula of quick outs by getting 8th-place hitter Dubon to flare meekly out to Wong on the second pitch. Jack induced more weak contact by getting the pitcher also to pop out to Wong. Okay, not hard to do vs. a pitcher, but still.
On a 1-2 count to leadoff man Yaz, Jack threw a decently located outer-edge fastball, just elevated more then he likely wanted. Yay pulled it in front of Dex into right for the Giants’ first hit. After receiving a smattering of applause (BFIB-tough, but fair) to recognize the no-hit effort to that point, Jack then retired Brandon Belt via one pitch that produced a fly-out to Dex.
Bottom of 6th
Hitless on the night, a cooled-off Wong sent a weak grounder to second on the second pitch to lead things off. Burly Goldy also was made to look wimpy, as he got jammed and floated an easy bloop to the second baseman on just the first pitch he saw.
The Big Bear then stepped in and had enough of this, golfing a curve that hung nicely in the lower-middle third of the zone, sending it deep into Big ac Land for a long homer, getting the Cards on the board 1-0!!!
Big Bear into Big ac Land! pic.twitter.com/ITaXblRm1h— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 4, 2019
Rodriguez re-grouped, getting a new ball and everything, striking out DeJong on a 90 mph fastball above the zone. Rodriquez must’ve been angry to hump it up there that hard.
Top of 7th
Moving right along, we reached the 7th with just 90 minutes passing since the first pitch. Jack got Mr. Eva Longoria to ground out to third on his 5th pitch, which qualified for a long at-bat on this night. Stephen Vogt then hit a soft liner that DeJong snagged with a leap on the second-base side of the shift. Next batter Alex Dickerson worked the count full, the third time he’d done that against Jack tonight. Flaherty prevailed, however, on the 9th pitch (the longest at-bat to this point), Jack got a bit lucky, striking him out swinging on slider that didn’t bite, but was up and away enough. That at-bat bumped his pitch count up to 93.
Bottom of 7th
Molina got wood on one, a rarity tonight, lining one at 100 mph, but the second baseman Dubon dove to his right, snaring it for the out. The Giants continued the glove work, as Edman sent a slicing liner down the left-field line that Dickerson caught as he slid to his knees. Bader then became the 7th strikeout victim, unable to check his swing enough, as he was called out on a cutter down and away.
Top of 8th
Jack came back out for the 8th, still looking strong and in control. After leadoff man Kevin Pillar faced a 1-2 count, he fouled off 3 before watching strike three zip by on a well-placed fastball on the outside black at 96 mph for his 100th pitch. Brandon Crawford then sent just the fourth ball out of the infield, shooting a fly to left that Ozuna trotted toward and grabbed easily. Pesky Dubon made Jack work harder than normal tonight, as he fouled off 6 pitches (5 straight after a 1-1 count).
Then on the 10th pitch, Jack got a fastball in just enough, and Dubon hit a sinking liner to center, that Bader, racing in from his no-doubles-deep position, dove for and caught, rolling on his side in the soft grass for the third out!!!
We could watch this catch all night long! pic.twitter.com/AYn9cXsgP6— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 4, 2019
Bottom of 8th
With Jack’s spot up as lead-off (and having thrown his 113th pitch in the 8th), Shildt pinch-hit Martinez. Jack accepted hugs in the dugout. The Giants brought in a new pitcher, lefty Tony Watson. Looking to help produce an insurance run, Cafecito flew out to second. Dex, owner of one of just the Cards’ 5 hits to this point, flew out to center batting righty. Up next, Kolten remained hitless by striking out swinging on a down-and-in slider. The Cards had to hope their 1-0 lead would be enough.
Top of 9th
Out to the bump to maximize the run-prevention thing strutted El Gallo. He got very lucky, however, as he didn’t have any zip on his fastball but benefited from loud outs. First, he got lefty pinch-hitter Chris Shaw on a first-pitch fastball (only at 92). Shaw just got under it, flying out to Dex in right. Yaz, owner of the Giants’ only hit, thought what the heck, I’ll have ‘em all, and singled on a changeup he lined to right. Brandon Belt then sent a scare throughout Cards’ Nation, as El Gallo threw another 92 mph sub-par fastball down and in that Belt belted to deep right. Playing deep, Dexter reacted well and fortunately didn’t have to move far, as he extended his glove high above his head to snag it for out 2.
Still-dangerous Longoria then stepped in as the Giants’ last hope. On a 2-2 pitch, Carlos flung a slider that backed up, and remained up and in, but it threw off Evan’s timing just enough, as he swung through it for strike 3!!!
Cards won, 1-0!!!
Bottom of 9th
THE BOTTOM LINE
- The Big Jack Attack: 8 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 8 Ks, 1 BB
- The Giants hit one ball out of the infield through 5.2 innings.
Their second ball into the outfield was the single that ended Jack’s no-hit attempt.
- Jack went a career-high 8 innings, topping his previous longest outing, which was on May 20th vs. the Phillies, when he went 7.2 and struck out 13.
- Yadi’s single in the fourth gave him a 10-game hitting streak.
- Marcell’s homer in the 6th was his 25th, with the Cards’ having 25 games left.
- A mere 9 batted balls total had EVs over 95 mph, with 6 of those by the Cards.
- The Cards never mounted any serious threats, going 1-2 with RISP.
- The Cards host the Giants in the third game of this 4-game set at 6:45 CT. Wacha goes up against MadBum.
- The Cubs beat the Mariners and are 3 back.
- The Brewers beat the Astros and are 7 back.