Time has taken on a weird role in 2020 for many in CovidWorld. If you’re like me, sometimes every day feels like a Wednesday. (Maybe that’s not so bad.) Time during the baseball season won’t be marked by a calendar stretching across 6-plus months but a stopwatch clocking a 60-game sprint. Perhaps a visual helps:
Your Birdo Battery today has marked their time wearing birds on a bat in years. They debuted as teammates on September 11, 2005, and since then, together they have:
- Played the most regular season games as teammates (320 games)
- Been the longest active battery
- Have the 7th all-time starts by a battery (266)
Of course, that’s even with Waino having missed all of 2011 and most of 2015 & 2018 with injuries. And while Yadi missed chunks of a few seasons, the only time he’s not played in at least 110 games was his rookie year in 2004 (51 games).
While a bit surprising to see Waino get the ball for the second game of the season, the Cards reasoned he was the most “built up” arm outside of Flaherty. And while the team didn’t reference his 2019 huge performance advantage at home vs. the road (2.56 ERA at home, 6.22 on the road), getting him this start slates him to have 6 home starts and 6 on the road instead of 5 at home and 7 on the road if he was 5th in the rotation. J.P. analyzed this last week.
The Pirates countered with righty Trevor Williams and his catcher John Ryan Murphy, who’ve formed a battery for [searches Google]...zero....zero previous major-league games. I mean, I’m sure they did during the shortened Spring Training season, but there you go.
Despite it being a day game after a night game, Shildt ran out the same lineup as in game 1, because why not?
THE BIRD’S-EYE VIEW
This was an extremely satisfying win in a “The Cards Should Destroy the Pirates” kinda way.
Adam Wainwright displayed veteran-y goodness, pitching 6 excellent innings when it looked like he could’ve been done in the second. He burned through the Pirates in order in the first inning needing just 10 pitches (7 strikes). But two of the outs were over 95 mph Exit Velocity.
But after Paul Goldschmidt launched his first dinger of 2020 in the 1st (a solo shot), Waino suddenly lost command in the second and gave the run right back to tie things at 1-1. Several Uncle Charlies were left up. But it could’ve been much worse, as the Pirates had the bases juiced with nobody out.
I must say, early on, at least according to Game Day (and Shannon and Rooney), the ump’s strike zone was all over the place for both sides. But hey, umps can be rusty too.
Waino re-grouped after that, ditching the slow curve for a while in favor of a faster one and cutters. He also regularly hit 91 mph, which was nice to see. After giving up 2 singles, hitting a batter and walking one in the 2nd, he gave up just one harmless single in the 5th.
I was worried when Shildt left Waino in for the 6th with the heart of the order up (and the third time through the order happening). But he had a 1-2-3 inning to end his day.
Gant and Webb covered things expertly through 2 outs in the 9th, giving up no hits and just one walk (Gant). Then Shildt brought in Ponce de Leon for the last out. I’m sure there was a good reason.
After Goldy’s first-inning dinger, the offense was quiet until the 4th, when they tallied two more on 4 singles to make it 3-1, but they coulda busted it open, letting the Buccos off the hook a bit. That would come later.
The big inning came in the 7th, during which the Cards parlayed luck on 2 come-backers that allowed runners to reach, a clutch 2-out hit from Pauly D, followed by a 2-run double by Carpenter, his first hit of 2020. At 7-1, it was all but over but the bullpenning.
But just for good measure, the Cards tacked on 2 more in the 8th courtesy of a Tommy Edman 2-run triple. And like O’Neill’s homer in game one, it seemed to just carry, and carry, and carry. So Busch is now a hitter’s park?
THE FLIGHT PATH
Top of 1st - Adam didn’t mess around, needing just 10 pitches (7 strikes) to have a 1-2-3 inning.
Waino retired Kevin Newman on a grounder to Wong that ricocheted off the mound for out 1. Old guys use all resources at their disposal.
Bryan Reynolds popped one up that carried like crazy, sending Tyler O’Neil to the wall, but unlike Tyler’s homer last night, he caught this fly for the second out, and he then got Adam Frazier to likewise fly out, just a little shallower and to Dex in right. However, both had 95+ exit velocities.
Bottom of 1st (In Play Runs) - Cards re-applied the secret formula for run-scoring!
Lead-off man Kolten grounded to short on an 0-2 count, and Tommy Edman grounded to second.
Paul Goldschmidt’s a smart man, so he studied those at-bats and realized that wasn’t going to cut it. Despite getting down 0-2, he jumped all over a mistake pitch that wasn’t up and in enough, launching it for a homer to left (101 mph EV; 41-degree LA), quickly making it 1-0 Cards!
Paul DeJong then also got a mistake fastball up and not very away, but he popped out to shallow right to end the inning.
Top of 2nd (In Play Runs) - Waino suddenly had no command, loading the bases with no out. He got bitten, but minimized the pain. Gomber already started warming up(!)
Cleanup hitter Josh Bell sent an Uncle Charlie that was up in the zone too much for a sharp liner to right for a single and Colin Moran did the same thing on a curve in the same spot, singling to right, making it first and second, no out.
Adam then unfortunately plunked Phillip Evans in the helmet with a fastball, but the hitter was okay and took his base, loading them up.
Getting behind 3-1 to Guillermo Heredia, Waino fooled him with a hook to get the count full, then struck him outwith a fastball down and away at 91 mph.
Now looking to escape with a double play, he got behind again 3-1 to John Ryan Murphy. Once again, he got the count full and went back to the hook, but it stayed high and away, walking in the Pirates’ first run to tie the score 1-1.
Waino re-grouped to get Cole Tucker to pop out to shallow left that was actually called the IF Fly Rule that DeJong caught for out 2.
That brought lead-off man Newman back around. after getting a gift called strike on a wide curve, Waino finally got out of the inning by getting Newman to chase another curve down and away, producing a ground-out to Wong.
Bottom of 2nd - Nope. Nada. Nothin’. Zero.
The Cards’ main DH Matt Carpenter got two pitches called balls that seemed to be strikes, then at 3-2, got rung up on a not strike that was called one for the first out. Yadi then quickly was retired on his second pitch, which he grounded to third for out 2.
Dexter Fowler then stepped in, still smiling to himself about his Opening Night homer. He did just the opposite of that, striking out on a good slider at the bottom of the zone.
Top of 3rd - Waino told Gomber to just hold on, young fella.
Waino dispatched the first two hitters Bryan Reynolds and Adam Frazier on grounders to Wong. He then struck out the dangerous Josh Bell looking on an inside 91 mph heater just off the inside edge.
Bottom of 3rd - A promising small-ball start fizzled.
Tyler Bro’Neill came out swingin’, whiffing on the first two pitches to get in the hole 0-2. To his credit, he worked the count full (including laying off two close low breaking balls). Williams went to the playbook of low breaking pitches followed by high heat, but Tyler laid off the fastball barely out of the zone for a lead-off walk.
The Pirates shifted on next batter Harrison “Tots” Bader, also who has a history of chasing sliders. With speed to burn at first and at the plate, Bader got plunked on the left elbow, putting all the speed on the bases.
That brought up Wong, who felt bad about pitchers no longer being able to bunt, so he tried one on the first pitch, but it rolled foul down third. He stopped that, but couldn’t otherwise advance the runners, popping out to short.
Edman next grounded out weakly to second for the second out, as it was not struck firmly enough for a double play. Now Pauly G had a 2-out RBI shot as Tyler and Bader advanced to third and second.
Williams pitched carefully at first to fall behind 0-2. Then after Goldy missed a meatball fastball, he lined the next pitch, but it was right at the third baseman for out 3.
Top of 4th - Adam repeated another good inning, setting down the 5, 6, 7 hitters 1, 2, 3.
DH Moran made a bid for an infield single, but Kolten had none of that, backhanding a grounder deep beyond normal 2B territory for out 1. Next he went to a full count on Phillip Evans, finally getting him to chase a high cutter at the top of the zone. Ready to be out of the inning, Waino got next hitter Heredia to fly out to Bader on the first offering.
Bottom of 4th (In Play Runs) - Cards produced non-HR runs, knocking out the Pirates’ starter.
Pauly D lead things off with a liner to center for a long single. Carpenter then lined the first pitch he saw hard to left, but it was right at the fielder, for out 1. Yadi next did was Yadi do, looping one just deep enough (and not deep enough) into right for a single. DeJong read it perfectly, and he chugged to third.
Now Dex had a shot to put the Cards back ahead with some Situational Hitting. He came through, lining a single to center on a 1-2 count, scoring DeJong to make it 2-1 with Yadi at second.
Keeping the line moving (Cards Twitter stole my line below), Meat Pillar came through again, singling to left field, scoring Slim Yadi, with Fowler streaking to third safely. Tyler took a wide turn toward second, but stayed put, making it 3-1 Cards and first and third again, 1 out.
Tyler also was alert on the bases, advancing to second on a wild pitch that squirted to the catcher’s right. Now with the infield in, Bader had a great chance to at least put another tally on the board. After a good 11-pitch battle, he couldn’t seal the deal, striking out on a check swing on his old nemesis the slider, a good one down and away for out 2.
The Pirates then brought in righty reliever Chris Stratton to keep the Cards from tacking on.
Kolten couldn’t come through with the 2-out RISP chance, swinging at a high fastball, popping out to third.
Top of 5th - Waino came into the 5th at 58 pitches to face the bottom of the order.
Adam came into the 5th having retired 8 in a row since the 2nd, not allowing a base runner. But of course, the GOB rewarded that by allowing a bloop single into center in front of Bader of the bat of 8th-place hitter John Ryan Murphy. (Shannon thought he could’ve caught it.)
Adam then K’d Cole Tucker swinging for out 1.
[Third Time Through The Order Alert!] Lead-off man Newman sent a soft liner to center, but Bader flashed sneaky-good defense, quickly closing in on it, catching it for out 2. (He must’ve heard Shannon.)
Waino then jammed Bryan Reynolds, inducing a ground-out to Kolten to end the inning.
Bottom of 5th - Stratton remained in for the Pirates and leaned on an apparently good slider to set down the Cards’ 2, 3, and 4 hitters in order.
Tommy Edman led off the inning, lining out to left, but it wasn’t a hard liner. Goldschmidt (I swear Shannon keeps pronouncing it “Goldsmith”) then got down quickly 0-2 and swung at a low slider, grounding out to third for a quick second out.
Pauly D then went down swinging at a not-strike low slider for the third out in a quiet inning.
Top of 6th - Waino was at 72 pitches with the heart of the order up. I woulda pulled him. Gant was warming up. Shildt didn’t ask me, and Waino set ‘em down in order. What do I know?
Waino started off by getting in Frazier’s kitchen, jamming him to induce a grounder to Kolten for the first out. He then mixed 2 curves and 2 cutters to strike out Bell on a check-swing, with Yadi tossing it to first. Remaining focused, Adam got Moran down 0-2, then got a bit lucky, as Colin grounded out hard (99 EV) to first for a clean inning.
Bottom of 6th - Lefty Nik Turley came in for the Buccos and kept the Cards where they were.
Carpenter led off, still looking for his first hit of 2020 (he has 1 walk). He didn’t find it in this at bat, flying out to right. Yadi then grounded out to deep short for the second out. Batting right-handed now, Dex worked a full count but popped out to the shortstop.
Top of 7th - John Gant came in for Waino. Big John worked quickly and pumped strikes, needing only 9 pitches (8 of which were the good kind).
John K’d Evans swinging on the fourth pitch and got Heredia out on a harmless grounder to Tommy at third. DeJong then made a nice back-handed play on a grounder off of Murphy’s bat to make for a quick inning. Gant was much smoother than the gif below would lead you to believe.
Bottom of 7th (In Play Runs) - I smell the coffee brewing!!!
Crick greeted lead-off hitter O’Neill rudely, striking him out swinging on a slider (the third one of the 4 pitches in the at bat).
Next on an 0-1 pitch, Bader attempted a bunt, but fouled it off, putting himself in an 0-2 hole. Bader then used his legs to get on, beating out a nubber back to the pitcher that glanced off Crick’s glove, which was enough time for Bader to fly safely to first.
On a 1-1 count, Bader took off, stealing second as the throw wasn’t close. With a chance to get an Insurance Run™, Wong got to what he thought was a hitter’s 3-1 count. Initially, he thought he earned a walk on the next pitch, but after an umpire pow-wow, it was deemed the count was 3-2, making it first and second, one out. (The third pitch initially registered as a ball, but it was actually a strike.) He walked on the next pitch, though, making it first and second, one out.
On an 0-2 count, both runners broke, but Tommy fouled off the pitch. Unfortunately, he struck out swinging on a (very) high fastball for out 2.
Echoing Bader’s at bat, next hitter Goldschmidt grounded back to Crick, who knocked it down but couldn’t find it (he was awarded a hit), allowing everyone to be safe, loading the bases.
Cleanup hitter DeJong, in the ultimately cleanup situation, lined a single into left, scoring Harry and Kolten to stretch the score to 5-1 Cards! That knocked out Crick, who was seen yelling at his glove on the way to the dugout. (May or may not be true.)
Now with first and second, two outs, the Pirates brought in lefty Robbie Erlin to face Carpenter. Matt paid no never-mind to the lefty-lefty match-up, banging a hanging 0-1 curve to the base of the wall in right-center to clear the bases with a double to make it 7-1! his first hit of 2020!
Yadi was ready to now just get the game over as quickly as possible, so he struck out on 4 pitches, waving at a 90 mph fastball waaay up and away.
Top of 8th - Gant’s quick work in the 7th earned him more pitching in the 8th. Webb also appeared.
Ninth-place hitter Tucker was no match for strike-thrower Gant, as John got him to pop up to first base. He then retired lead-off hitter Newman on a grounder to DeJong on the second pitch he faced.
But after walking Reynolds, Gant was pulled for lefty Tyler Webb to face lefty Frazier. Webb got Frazier out on a foul-tip strike three off a curve.
Bottom of 8th (In-Play Runs) - Lane Train sighting. Fourth Pirate reliever Robbie Erlin, a lefty. Another long-carrying fly ball!
Lane Thomas came in to pinch-hit for Dex. The youngster got a center-cut 91 mph fastball on a 2-2 count and didn’t nail it, hitting a high fly out to first. Tyler O’Neill continued his good hard contact, smoking a liner to center, but it unfortunately was right at the fielder.
Bader then was hit by a pitch on the foot foot. His 2nd HBP this game.
Wong followed that up with a sharp single off the glove of the shortstop, moving Bader to second. Edman than smacked a deep fly to center that glanced off of Heredia’s glove, banging off the wall, scoring Bader and Wong for a triple to make it 9-1!!!
Goldschmidt then sent a sky-high fly that center fielder Heredia made a sliding catch on for the third out.
Top of 9th - Not a Closer™ situation, so Shildt spread the love.
Tyler Webb stayed in, and big hitter Josh Bell smoked a grounder, but right at DeJong, who retired him. Next, pinch-hitter Erik Gonzalez came in to hit for Colin Moran, and Webb got him to fly out to Lane in right.
With just one out to get, Shildt brought in Daniel Ponce de Leon. Sure, why not? [After an initially confused Mike Shannon wondered about Webb facing the minimum 3 batters, he remembered that he got 1 out in the 8th and these first two in the 9th.]
After throwing two strikes on two pitches to Evans, Ponce got him to line out into Tommy’s glove at third for the final out of the game.
Cards win 9-1!!!
Bottom of 9th
THE BOTTOM LINE
- Waino’s win gave him 163, tying him with Bob Forsch for third on the all-time Cards’ list.
- Everyone in the lineup had a least one hit, except Bader (who was on base twice with 2 HBP).
- Bader initially was awarded a single on his come-backer in the 7th, but they changed it to an error, robbing him of his first hit of 2020.
- The Cards were 6-14 with RISP. Nice.
- The Pirates were 0-3 with RISP. Even nicer.
- The Cards had 10 hits, 7 Ks, and 2 BBs. Hey, no double-digit strikeouts!
- Gant threw first-pitch strikes to all 6 batters he faced (but he walked one dude then got yanked).
- Cards go for the sweep tomorrow at 1:15 CT, with Dakota on the hill.