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Meh Opening Act, But Headliners Rocked Into the Night Only to Lose 9-8 to They Might Be Giants

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They didn’t play Free Bird!!!

MLB: San Francisco Giants at St. Louis Cardinals
The decisive sour note
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

If I write here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be blathering on, now
Cause there’s too many pitchers I got to see...


The dominoes falling from the cray-cray back-to-back double headers over the weekend forced the Cardinals to make a decision about their rotation for tonight’s game, the third in this 4-game tilt vs. the Gigantes. They could’ve started a recent call-up from the expanded roster or used a long reliever to begin a “bullpen game.”

Instead, they chose to initiate the game with Michael Wacha on 3 days’ rest, with usual bullpen guys (or sure, another starter) backing him up. Ergo, he became both the “starter” and the “opener.” This way, the reasoning went, the Cards can keep the rest of their rotation on their regular turns (and not force Wacha to miss several days of pitching).

San Francisco countered with Madison “MadBum” Bumgarner, who is having a good year, over 176.2 IP, sporting a 3.73 FIP, 1.8 BB/9 and 9.0 SO/9.

So the pitching duel at least started with a guy who pitches on a downward plane vs. a guy who smiles on a downward plane.


Long. Game: 4:05

For the first three innings, the Cards replayed their offensive performance from Tuesday night, failing to do much against a pitcher maxing out a fastball at 90. Bumgarner was holding the Cardinals in check with cutters, curves, and good fastball control.

Wacha pitched okay for 2 innings, in the sense that he gave up no runs, but it took him 38 freakin’ pitches to get his 6 outs. So he was marched out, and Shildt thus began the Parade of 6 Relievers. Ultimately, Bochy used 5 relievers of his own, but they didn’t start appearing until the 6th, helping make this a marathon game. (That, and the 28 hits and 8 walks the teams combined for.)

It didn’t take long for the Giants to jump on the first Cards relievers, as the third inning was a crazy microcosm of this insane game. The Giants sent 9 hitters to the plate and parlayed a solo homer, double, 3 singles, 1 walk, and 2 wild pitches into 4 runs. Typing that sentence, it seems like they shoulda scored more.

But with a little better luck, that inning would’ve been a lot different. The double was an almost great catch Bader couldn’t quite make, and the single was a knuckling soft liner off DeJong’s glove.

The Cards answered in their half of the 3rd with one run on a double, 1 wild pitch, 2 singles, and a walk. And that seemed like it shoulda been more, doesn’t it?

Things went back and forth from there, with the Cards tying it 4-4 in the 5th. But if you thought the 3rd was wild, the 6th was nuttier, with Giants briefly going back up 7-4 (including an unfortunate, sort-of umpire-induced E-6 that came right before a 3-run dinger) only to have the Cards take the lead for the first time by scoring 4 in their half of the 6th to make it 8-7!

The Death Blow came in the 8th, however, when Giovanny Gallegos gave up a 2-run homer that put the Giants up 9-8 for good. Sigh.


Top of 1st

Michael Wacha opened the show with an extended monologue against young leadoff hitter Mike Yastrzemski, and his opening joke fell flat, as he walked him, taking 8 pitches to do it. Batting 2nd was catcher Buster Posey, something you don’t see every day. With the runner going, Wacha played right in to Bochy’s hands, throwing a low-and-away fastball that Posey grounded through the unoccupied hole between first and second, sending the runner to third.

Michael re-grouped, striking out Brandon Belt swinging on a 95 mph heater just above the top of the zone for the first out. Ready of the double play now, Wacha faced Evan Longoria, who made the final out last night and lost sleep over it. Looking sleepy and unshaven, Longoria flinched at an inside changeup that dove just across the lower inside quadrant of the zone, called for strike 3.

Now needing but one out not two, Wacha got Brandon Crawford to tap a high fastball for a slow roller to the only guy he shouldn’t have, as third baseman Tommy Edman charged, bare-handed, and slung the ball to first, like the entire way in the air, to collect the third out, much to the delight of the gushing Danny Mac and McCarver.

Bottom of 1st

Danny Mac and McCarver were still slobbering over Tommy’s play from the top of the first.

Bumgarner threw a grand total of 7 pitches to set the Cards down in order. Dex began his night by bouncing a cutter to short for an easy out (3 pitches). He missed a good one, as it actually caught a lot of the plate. Madison retired Kolten just as easily, on a 90 mph fastball just slightly inside that Wong grounded weakly to first (3 pitches). Paul Goldschmidt wasted no time becoming the third out, as he swung on the exact pitch that got Kolten, but he popped his up to second (1 pitch).

Top of 2nd

Okay, field reporter Jim “The Cat” Hayes talked more about how awesome a fielder Edman is at third.

Right on cue, Kevin Pillar grounded sharply to Tommy’s backhand, which he picked cleanly and threw to first for out 1. Tommy’s head obviously got too big, as the next batter Jaylin Davis sent a slow roller his way that he charged, fielded cleanly, but threw high, allowing the runner to reach. Of course, it was ruled an infield single, the first of Jaylin’s career.

Defense matters, yo, displayed this time by Koten, who dove to his right to snag a liner off the bat of Corban Joseph (EV 100 mph), and he had the runner doubled off of first, but he rushed his throw, which Goldy had to dive for off the bag to prevent from rolling away. No matter, it was 2 outs and pitcher Bumgarner was up. Yes, he’s been a very good hitter over his career for a pitcher, but still a hitting pitcher. Wacha induced him to fly out to Dex in shallow right.

Tyler Webb began warming up already, signaling Wacha’s night was not to go on much longer, if at all.

Bottom of 2nd

Last night’s homer hero Ozuna stepped in to lead off the 2nd. As he is wont to do, Big Bear made hard contact (97 mph), shooting a liner toward right center, but right fielder Davis took a good route right toward it, catching it right in his glove. Paul DeJong made slightly softer contact (63 mph), missing a meaty high, but still under the top of the zone strike, popping it up to second.

With 2 outs, Yadier just missed one of those high, not-so-fast fastballs, tomahawking one deep to left, but it died at the track at 367 feet.

Top of 3rd

The wheels completely came off in this long inning, and it was tough to watch. Lefty Tyler Webb entered and did not open his inning in good fashion. Making this worse, the Cards’ outstanding defense failed to show, albeit on a couple of tricky plays. Facing lefty Yaz, Webb threw a full-count fastball down and in where lefty hitters supposedly like ‘em, and Yaz supported that theory, as he golfed it above the Cards bullpen for a homer to make it 1-0 Giants.

Buster Posey then thankfully mis-timed Webb’s changeup, grounding out softly to Edman at third.

Sticking with changeups, on the second one he threw to next batter Belt, Webb jammed him, and a dying liner floated toward Bader. Everyone—you too—was like, “Oh, Bader’s gonna dive and snag that one.” Well, he did race straight in and dive as he do, but it tipped off the top of his glove, glancing toward left center. Ozuna was backing up, but Belt was able to make it to second.

Then next batter Longoria sent a liner to DeJong, who had to leap for it, but it clanked off his glove, dropping to the grass, rolling far enough away to allow Belt to scurry to third, giving Longoria what was scored an infield single. Replay showed the ball knuckled on him.

Now with first and third and one out, Webb decided to get more efficiently ineffective, walking Brandon Crawford while simultaneously throwing that same pitch wildly, allowing Belt to score, making it 2-0.

That was more than enough, as Webb was replaced by hard-throwing Ryan Helsley. Wasting no time, Helsley threw a first-pitch, center-cut fastball that Kevin Pillar turned into a seeing-eye groundball single through the hole at short, scoring Longoria easily as Ozuna’s weak-armed throw sailed way late to the plate, bumping the score to 3-0.

Helsley got another ground ball, this one from Jaylin Davis to deep short, but this time DeJong was able to glove it, throwing back across his body strongly to Wong for the force at second for out 2, with Davis reaching first.

The Giants went right back to it, however, as Corban Joseph singled on a line drive to left to plate Brandon Crawford, upping the score to 4-0. Jaylin Davis went to second. Helsley compounded things by spiking one in the dirt for a wild pitch, allowing the runners to move up to second and third.

Pitcher Bumgarner came up next and was a pain, forcing Helsley to throw 8 pitches, but the 8th was a 99 mph fastball up and away that MadBum couldn’t catch up to for strike three, inducing a swear on his way back to the dugout.

Bottom of 3rd

But all hope was not lost as long as there was Tommy. Edman led off this inning by rapping a high cutter into the left-field corner for a cruise-in double. Bader Tots popped in next, looking at least to contribute a productive out. He didn’t, grounding out to short, forcing Tommy to remain at second.

Now with one out, Helsley’s spot was up, and everyone—including you—was certain Shildt would hit for him, seeing as there were like 42 other pitchers in the pen. He did not. Predictably, Helsley struck out swinging like I’d look swinging against Major League pitching. The one silver lining was Bumgarner flung a wild pitch during the at bat, allowing Tommy to advance to third.

Now with 2 outs, Fowler came in to get a 2-out RISP hit. Technically, he did, albeit by not hitting it at all well, topping a low cutter slowly to third Longoria couldn’t bare-hand, allowing Tommy to score, to get the Cards on the board, making it 4-1.

With Dex on first, Wong went after the first pitch, an inside fastball that he fisted into center for a bloop hit, making it first and second, two out. Getting ahead 3-0, Goldy surely had the green light, but he watched a down-and-in fastball dive outside of the zone for the 4-pitch walk to load the bases.

Salivating big bears are dangerous, and Marcell was no exception. Watching the first two pitches go by for balls (the 5th and 6th-straight from MadBum), Marcell swung out of his shoes but fouled off the third one. Crafty Madison caught Marcell off guard next with a curve that floated over the top of the zone for a strike, making it 2-2. Getting the count full, with the runners going, Ozuna watched a middle-down fastball go by for strike 3. He strode away quickly, embarrassed at getting fooled with such an eminently hittable pitch, as the air was sucked out of the crowd and the long rally died a sad death. At least the Cards dinged the lead.

Top of 4th

Helsley remained in the game and got Yaz out quickly in one pitch, getting him to pop out to Edman in foul territory. Posey came in and worked an 8-pitch at bat, ultimately singling past a diving DeJong, who couldn’t get to the grounder in the hole for a single. Helsley then got fortunate against Brand Belt, who skied a meatball cutter to deep right that Dex grabbed with his back at the wall for the second out, as Posey remained at first.

Evan Longoria couldn’t extend the inning for the Giants, as he grounded into a force out from Edman to Wong.

Bottom of 4th

Finally, finally, a Cardinal really timed up one of Bumbarner’s slow fastballs, as Pauly D
cuh-rushed an elevated one into Big ac Land, to cleave the Giants’ lead in two, 4-2!!! (Dat ball went 414 feet at 106 mph.)

Yadi attempted one of his Yadi things, reaching for a pitch off the top of an ant’s head at home plate, clunking it weakly on a fly to right for out 1. Next, Edman got poor wood on a curve, tapping one back off the end of his bat to MadBum for the second out. Bader closed the inning out by briefly exciting everyone, banging a hard liner to deep left that alas, was tracked down for the third out.

Top of 5th

Continuing into his third inning of work, Helsley followed two fastballs with two curves, getting Crawford to strike out swinging for out 1. Kevin Pillar, however, didn’t wait for a curve, sending a first-pitch cutter to left on a hard grounder for a single. Next batter Davis didn’t have to worry about moving the runner over, as Helsley sent another wild pitch to the backstop, allowing Davis to trot to second. Trying to nail the outside edges of the zone, Helsley didn’t, and walked Davis.

Dominic Leone began warming up.

With first and second and one out, Helsley was all over the place, but did get Joseph to a full count. The Cards got fortunate on the next pitch, as it was a cutter in the middle-third of the zone that Joseph lined semi-hard to Dex in right for out 2. MadBum stepped in next and hacked at a first-pitch 98 mph heater up and away, and he skied it to left for the third out.

Bottom of 5th

Hey, look! It’s Randy Arozarena! He pinch-hit for Helsley and made the most of a rare chance by ripping an over-but-low curve into the left-field corner for a lead-off double. On Dex’s second pitch, he attempted to bunt, but fouled it off. Going back to swinging, Fowler got out on his front foot, flying out to very shallow left on a curve.

Now with one out, Wong got ahead 3-0 then watched strike one and fouled another to make it a full count. Then he came through, ripping a single to right just beyond the second baseman’s glove. That forced Randy to initially pause to make sure it went through, so he could only advance to third.

Goldy came in with first and third, one out, and great speed on the bases. He got behind immediately 0-2. On a 1-2 count, Wong got a great jump and stole second without a throw from Posey.

Looking to produce at least a good fly ball, Goldy did more than that, blasting a low and away curve to right center. The center and right fielders converged, but neither could glove it, as it caromed off the wall far enough to allow Pauly G to reach third for a 2-run triple, tying it 4-4!!!

Ozuna came in to break the tie and atone for his last inning’s bases-loaded strikeout. He did everything right this time but still got no satisfaction, as he scalded a screaming grounder that Longoria somehow backhanded. It was easy from there on, as he threw Marcell out at first.

Pauly G remained at third for Pauly D at the plate. At last, no PBI occurred, as DeJong flew out to left to end the inning. But now it was a whole new ballgame.

Top of 6th

Leone now came in to relieve Helsley and faced the top of the order. After going full to Yaz, Dominic threw an unexpected cutter that barely touched the upper-right of the zone with framing help from Molina. Going to 3-2 likewise to Posey, Buster went the other way, shooting a fastball down and away to right for a single.

Brandon Belt then sent a meaty fastball deep in front of the track in right for out 2.
Baseball Weirdness Alert! Longoria sent the easiest of easy grounders right to DeJong, who initially looked to throw to first, but then decided to underhand to Wong for the force-out. Wong was initially at the base, but continued trotting past it when he believed Paul was going to first. So the underhand toss to him was not on the bag, and in fact almost went over his head.

So the brain-fart* E-6 on DeJong left the inning with 2 out and now runners at first and second. Forcing Leone to throw more pitches than absolutely necessary is never good. It came back to bite the Cards in the worst way possible, as on a 3-2 count, the runners ran, but they were allowed to soon trot, as Crawford sent a slider served on a silver platter down the middle to center for a freakin’ 3-run homer to give the lead back to the Giants 7-4.

Leone remained in for some reason, and gave up a single to Pillar. Maddux, not Shildt, came out and put two—two hands on both of Leone’s shoulders. He left, then Dominic got Jaylin Davis to ground (sharply) to DeJong’s backhand, who this time decisively went for the force-out to Wong, firing an angry fastball to second for the final out. Oh, if only that decision had been made 3 batters ago.

*Recapper’s Note: Actually, replay shown at the top of the 6th revealed Pauly’s initial move to throw to first was blocked by the ump, (whose positioning indicated he thought DeJong was going to second). Thus, this situation produced Pauly’s last-moment decision to go to second and created the mis-timing that derailed the play.

Bottom of 6th

Not one to let such shenanigans get him down, Molina answered by cranking a middle-middle first-pitch fastball off the top of the wall in left inches from being a homer, instead settling for a double. Tommy did that one better, shooting his own liner off the top of the wall in right center, and with slightly better speed than Molina, produced a triple to make it 7-5!

That was the end of MadBum’s night, as Bochy sent in righty Jandel Gustave. Harrison Bader was his first opponent, and he sent a hard liner to medium-left that was caught. Tommy immediately tagged up and scurried home to make it 7-6! Speed, yo.

Now with the bases empty and 1 out, Rangel Ravelo came in to pinch-hit for Leone. He started things up again, pulling his hands in on an up-and-in 98 mph fastball, shooting it into left for a clean single. The Cards then got fortunate when Fowler dribbled a slow grounder that the second baseman charged, booted, and couldn’t control in time to throw out Dex, who made it safely on.

Now with first and second and 1 out, Gustave was replaced with lefty Abad to face Wong, who rolled a slow grounder to the second baseman, who this time gloved it cleanly, but he could only go to first for the second out.

Goldschmidt, with a chance to put the Cards ahead with 2 RISP and 2 out, faced the sub-submariner Tyler Rogers, the third reliever for the Giants in this inning. Goldy did just exactly what I just typed, as he inside-outed a sinker at the bottom of the zone and a tad in to the right-center gap, clearing the bases with a double to put the Cards ahead 8-7!!!

Ozuna could not send Goldschmidt home, however, as he grounded out actually softly to third for the final out of this wild, long, come-back inning.

Top of 7th

John Gant now came in for the Cards, he of that unique 10-0 record out of the pen. He sat down Corban Joseph on a nice Vulcan Changeup for the first out. Keeping things cool, Gant got the next batter Austin Slater (apparently a teammate of Edman and Piscotty at Stanford) to ground out to Wong for out 2. However, leadoff hitter Yaz doubled down the right-field line to keep the inning alive for the Giants. With Posey up, Gant got ahead 1-2 but lost him, walking him on a very close, but honestly beyond the lower-inside zone to make it first and second.

That got Gant a trip to the showers, as Shildt brought in Andrew Miller to face lefty hitter Brandon Belt. Bochy countered by sending up righty batter Joey Rickard. It took just 3 pitches for him to set down Joey on a medium fly ball to Ozuna to squash the scoring threat.

Bottom of 7th

Under-armer Rogers remained in the game to get more lawn bowling in. Prob still annoyed at his previous fielding error, DeJong didn’t show it, as he slammed a liner into left for a single. Molina then sent one to the gap in right-center, but it hung up long enough for the center fielder to chase down, with DeJong having to remain at first. Tommy Edman was next, hitting his second pitch to short slowly enough that DeJong made it to second, but Tommy was thrown out at first. Bader then popped up behind second base to end the inning.

Top of 8th

Having thrown just 3 pitches to one hitter the previous inning, Miller stayed in. Longoria greeted him by lining a single to center that almost skipped by Bader, who had to quickly flick his glove to backhand it. Miller than snared a comebacker off the bat of Crawford and went to DeJong for the force, which is all they could get. Giovanny Gallegos then replaced Miller, and Carpenter came in to third, with Edman out of the game now.

Gio, however, gave up a gopher ball to Pillar on the second pitch, a fastball in the upper-middle part of the zone, pushing the Giants back over the top, 9-8. Chris Shaw then pinch-hit for Tyler Rogers and struck out on a slider for the second out. Corbin Joseph finally grounded out to short to end the inning but continue this back-and-forth affair.

Bottom of 8th

With the Cards needing to come back yet again, Carp led off against new pitcher, lefty Tony Watson. Carp inside-outed one, getting just enough of it to shoot it down the line, but he was held to a single. Yairo Munoz (Hi, Yairo!) came off the milk carton to pinch-run for slow Matt. Dex wasn’t bunting, but he got jammed and sent a slow roller that the third baseman had to go to first with to get Dex, allowing Munoz to reach second. So, effectively, a bunt.

But who was bunting, was the next batter Wong, who drag-bunted, slightly popping one just beyond the pitcher, who chased it down quickly, and sprinted like a demon toward first, lunging toward Kolten’s booty with his outstretched glove. Initially called safe, the replay showed Kolten was in fact out.

Lefty Randy Smith now came in to pitch for the Giants.

It was Goldy’s turn in another big spot. (He previously gave the Cards the lead with a 2-out double in the 6th.) Looking at least for the tie, Goldy worked the count full but waived over a slider in the dirt to leave Cards’ fans diasppointed.

Top of 9th

Holy moly, is it actually the 9th? Only took 3 hours and 45 minutes to get here!
Gallegos remained in the game despite coughing up the lead in the 8th. Munoz remained in the game to play third. Austin Slater started it off by grounding to Pauly D for an easy first out. Gio then got Yaz to strike out waving at a nice tailing outside fastball but walked Posey after that. That prompted a quick mound visit from Maddux, who told him to get the next guy out. That guy was Joey Rickard, who got down 0-2 and ultimately watched a pretty, tight slider dip to the outer edge for strike three.

Bottom of 9th

The Cards’ last chance came in the form of Ozuna, DeJong, and Yadi. Will Smith remained in for the Giants. Ozuna’s one career hit against Smith was a homer. This time, though, Smith got him, inducing a slow grounder to the shortstop area that was actually backhanded by the second baseman in a massive shift. He threw him out on a tough play.

DeJong did not put up any kind of fight, as he struck out swinging on 3 pitches. Down to their final out, Yadi kept the game alive by working a walk. Molina was replaced on first base by Tyler O’Neill. Cafecito now pinch-hit, and he quickly got down 0-2, but he did a god job to work it full. After fouling off 2 pitches, Martinez did an even better job, drawing a walk by watching ball 4 go in the dirt.

Jack Flaherty then pinch-ran for Martinez. (Don’t think about that time when he got picked off second to end a game early this year. Don’t.) It was then Bader’s turn, and he immediately got down 0-2. Unfortunately, he couldn’t check his swing enough on the third pitch, a tough slider, and he got rung up for the final out of this wild, marathon game.

Cards lost, 9-8.

THE BOTTOM LINE


  • This was the first time in Wacha’s career that he started on 3-days’ rest.
  • Pre-game, Mo presented Giants’ manager with a bottle of wine as a retirement gift.
    Bochy tipped his cap like he was in a 1920s news reel.
  • Bumgarner is the pitcher Goldschmidt has faced the most in his career.
  • Randy Arozarena’s leadoff double in the fifth was his first extra-base hit of his big league career.
  • Wong’s stolen base in the 5th was 20th, tying his career high.
  • Goldschmidt’s triple in the 5th was his first as a Cardinal.
  • 13 pitchers appeared in this game: 7 for the Cards; 6 for the Giants.
  • The Cards were 5 for 16(!) with RISP with 9 Left on Base (LOB)
  • Four Cards had 5 total bases each: DeJong, Edma, Fowler, and Goldschmidt
  • Cards went over 3 million fans for the 16th straight season; 23rd overall.
  • The Cubs and Brewers were off tonight; each gained a half game on the Cards: Cubs 2.5 back; Brewers 6.5 back. They start a 4-game series Thursday in Milwaukee.
  • The Cards and Giants close out this series tomorrow at 12:15 CT with Webb vs. Hudson.