With the short sprint nature of this season, the Cardinals were hoping to put their foot on the gas and sweep the struggling Pirates. After dispatching the first two members of the Pirates’ rotation, it would have been nice to take advantage of Pirates’ # 3 starter, who was struggling today with both control and command. But despite some nice early defensive plays and baserunning, the Cards’ offense could not properly capitalize on Keller’s mistakes and came up short. Cards’ starter Dakota Hudson started out strong early, scattering 3 singles over the first 3 innings with no walks. But the Pirates’ bats caught up to him in the 4th, and the Cards’ offense could not pick up the slack.
Adam Frazier softly lined a 2-2 low curve from Dakota Hudson to the gap in short right-center for a base hit to lead off the top of the 1st. Dexter Fowler made a good play in right to cut it off and prevent Frazier from taking an extra base. After Bryan Reynolds got jammed on an inside slider and popped up to short, Josh Bell took an 0-2 low-and-in sinker that looked like a strike, but was called a ball. Frazier took a lead that was a little too large, and Yadier Molina made a snap throw to nail him trying to dive back to first base. Frazier came up short on his slide.
Then Hudson got Bell to ground the next pitch, a low curve, to 2nd to end the inning.
Kolten Wong led off the bottom of the first by driving a center-cut fastball to the track in right-center that kept carrying. Center fielder Jarrod Dyson tracked it down at the track and slammed against the wall to get it. Mitch Keller then got Tommy Edman to ground out to the mound and Paul Goldschmidt to ground to 3rd to end the inning.
Hudson struck Colin Moran out on a nasty 0-2 down-and-in slider for the first out of the top of the 1st. After Phillip Evans grounded a sinker through the hole to left for a base hit, he tried to steal 2nd base on the 1-1 pitch to Jose Osuna. The hit-and-run play might have been on, but Osuna swung late, almost as it entered Molina’s glove. Molina’s throw to 2nd was a little wide, but Wong made a quick snap tag to nail Evans.
Hudson then struck Osuna out on a slider outside of the zone to end the inning.
Paul DeJong worked a walk to lead off the bottom of the 2nd. Matt Carpenter was down in the count 1-2, but took a close curve and worked a 3-2 walk. Molina got ahead 2-0 on Keller, but grounded an outside 2-2 94 mph fastball to short for a 6-4-3 double play. DeJong moved to 3rd on the play, but Dexter Fowler flied a high 3-2 curve to right to strand him there.
After Hudson made quick work of Jarrod Dyson and Jacob Stallings on grounders to start the top of the 3rd, Erik Gonzalez grounded a center-cut fastball towards the line at first that snuck under Goldschmidt’s glove for a base hit to right. Frazier then popped a high fastball foul to Edman at 3rd to end the inning. Tyler O’Neill popped a center-cut fastball to right to lead off the bottom half. Lane Thomas took a 2-1 fastball low that catcher Stallings tried to frame to make it a strike. All of a sudden, we heard the home plate umpire turn towards the Pirates’ dugout and yell “Knock it off. I said it was down.” Then he threw someone out of the game. Pirates’ manager Derek Shelton came out to argue, as the umpire quickly put his mask to his face, and Shelton backed off a bit. After the argument, Shelton took his place back in the dugout, so someone else must have been ejected. Here’s a video of the whole thing unfolding.
After Thomas walked on the 3-1 pitch, Keller bounced a 1-2 curve to Wong. Thomas tried to engage in a delayed steal of second base on the play. He was initially safe, but his slide took his hand off the base and he was tagged out. Although I unartfully labeled it a delayed steal, it was really an attempt to advance on a wild pitch that bounced just in front of Stallings. For those of you scoring at home, it was not scored a caught stealing when Thomas was thrown out. Wong then sharply grounded a center-cut 2-2 fastball through the hole to left for a base hit. We learned during Wong’s plate appearance that the umpire actually ejected Pirates’ # 4 starter Derek Holland, who was sitting on the bench. I had thought it might have been Dyson, because Dyson had chirped at the home plate umpire earlier in his plate appearance when the umpire called a low pitch right on the edge of the zone a strike. Wong advanced to 2nd when Keller bounced a 1-0 slider to the plate for a wild pitch that got away from the catcher. Edman then chopped the 2-0 fastball to Moran at 1st. Moran decided to flip it underhand to Keller covering at 1st, but the flip allowed the speedy Edman to actually beat Keller to the bag and beat out the throw on a close play at 1st! Meanwhile, there being 2 outs, Wong kept running the entire time, and broke for home plate. Keller, who has his back to home plate, spun around and bounced his throw. Stallings couldn’t come up with it, and Wong scored. Base hit and RBI for Edman and the Cards lead 1-0. The ball ricocheted in front of Stallings, and Edman raced to 2nd base. This is the kind of Runnin’ Redbirds we love! Here’s the play.
Goldschmidt popped to short to end the inning.
After Hudson struck out Reynolds (foul tip outside sinker) and Bell (curve in the dirt) back-to-back to start the top of the 4th, Moran lined a 2-2 hanging slider over the wall near the bullpen in right-center for a solo HR to tie the game 1-1.
Evans grounded a low 2-2 slider deep into the hole. DeJong made a diving stop and threw, but he had no chance to get Evans, who had an infield hit. Osuna then launched a tailing inside sinker well over the left-center field wall into the seats for a 2-run HR to give the Pirates a 3-1 lead.
Dyson popped a curve to DeJong on the outfield grass to end the inning. DeJong chased a 3-2 low-and-away slider outside of the zone for a strikeout to start the bottom of the 4th. Carpenter grounded a center-cut 3-2 fastball to the 2nd baseman Frazier on the outfield grass for the 2nd out, and Molina flied out to left short of the track to end the inning.
Stallings led off the top of the 5th by driving a low-and-in sinker to the gap in left-center that went to the wall for a double. Gonzalez grounded an inside sinker to 2nd to move Stallings to 3rd. After Frazier walked to put runners at the corners, Shildt brought in Austin Gomber to turn the switch-hitters Reynolds and Bell around to the right side. It was unclear why he didn’t just bring Gomber in to face the lefty Frazier to begin with. Gomber is making his first MLB appearance since September 30th, 2018. Gomber walked Reynolds on 4 pitches to load the bases. Bell flied a 3-1 fastball to center for a SAC FLY to score Stallings and extend the Pirates’ lead to 4-1. Frazier also advanced to 3rd on the play to put runners at the corners. Gomber was squeezed on 2 of those pitches to Bell. Moran grounded an 0-2 curve to Goldschmidt at 1st to end the inning without any further damage. Fowler popped a center-cut fastball to shallow left for the first out to start the bottom of the 5th. O’Neill grounded a down-the-middle fastball to short. Thomas struck out looking at an 0-2 slider on the corner that looked like it could have been a bit outside. The home plate umpire is giving both clubs a little extra on the first base side corner today.
Evans grounded a curve to 3rd, and Goldschmidt made a nice pick of Edman’s throw in the dirt to ensure the out. Osuna drove a fastball to the gap in right-center, but Thomas made a good play to run it down at the track. Gomber got behind Dyson in the count 3-0, but nonetheless got him to fly a low-and-in 3-2 fastball to right to end the inning. The Pirates brought in righty JT Brubaker to make his major league debut in the bottom of the 6th. He showed good stuff, striking out Wong on a 3-2 nasty slider that dropped. Edman struck out on the same slider on the 1-2 pitch that was in the dirt. Goldschmidt ripped a center-cut fastball to left for a two-out base hit. The left fielder Reynolds had to run to his right for a bit to get it, and he bobbled the ball for a split second. Golschmidt decided to try for 2nd base (or maybe 1st base coach Stubby Clapp sent him), but Reynolds made a strong, accurate throw on one bounce to nail him for the 3rd out of the inning. At first, I was a tad critical, but in fairness, it took a near perfect throw to get Goldy on the play.
Shildt brought Kodi Whitley in to make his major league debut in the top of the 7th. Stallings grounded a 3-2 fastball to short. Gonzalez lined an outside fastball to left. Whitley got his first ever clean inning by striking out Frazier on a high fastball to end the frame. He was a little wild high, but flashed some plus pitches.
DeJong smacked a hanging slider down the line in left to the wall for a double to lead off the bottom half. Carpenter struck out when he failed to check his swing on a 2-2 changeup low-and-away and outside the zone. Molina smoked a center-cut fastball to left for a base hit that went right to Reynolds on one bounce. It was hit far too hard for DeJong to score, so he was held at 3rd base. With runners now at the corners, Fowler struck out swinging at a nasty 2-2 slider that looks a lot like Hudson’s where it breaks sharply down and in. O’Neill hit an outside fastball for a lazy fly to center to strand 2 more runners.
Andrew Miller came out to pitch the top of the 8th, and he struck Frazier out swinging at a good slider down-and-in for the first out. Bell then worked a 3-2 walk. Moran flied out to left. With 2 out, Evans drove a hanging slider to left off the base of the bullpen wall in left-center. O’Neill kicked the ball twice trying to get it, and Bell scored all the way from first to give the Pirates a 5-1 lead. Evans was credited with a double on the play.
Osuna grounded a first-pitch slider to short to end the inning.
Righty Michael Feliz came out to pitch the bottom of the 8th. Guillermo Heredia came in to play RF in the #4 spot, Osuna moved from RF to 1B, and Moran was removed from the game. Thomas popped out on a high fastball that Frazier caught near the mound. Wong struck out swinging at a low slider. Edman lined a 3-2 fastball to center to end the inning.
Junior Fernandez came out to pitch the top of the 9th and got Dyson swinging at a 2-2 changeup in the dirt to lead off the inning. Stallings flied out to left on a hanging slider. Gonzalez smoked a fastball for a hard grounder near the hole, but Edman made a great diving stop and threw him out to end the inning.
Righty Nick Burdi came out to pitch the bottom of the 9th, and struck Goldschmidt out on 3 straight sliders, the last one a hanger that Goldy swung right through. DeJong struck out swinging at a 99 mph fastball that was way high. Carpenter fouled a 98 mph fastball right off the outside his left back knee, and due to the lack of fans, you could clearly him grimace loudly. At first, he had trouble walking, and both Shildt and the trainer came out to take a look. But he stayed in there. The 3rd base umpire ruled that Carpenter failed to check his swing on an 0-2 slider way low-and-inside and the game was over.
Hudson 4.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER (1 actually allowed by Gomber), 1 BB, 4 SO, 2 HR; Gomber (top 5, 1 out, runners on 1st and 3rd, down 3-1) 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 SO, allowed 1 out of 2 inherited runners to score; Whitley (top 7, down 4-1) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO; Miller (top 8, down 4-1) 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO; Fernandez (top 9, down 5-1) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO.
ODDS AND ENDS
Nick Burdi, the relivever that shut us down in the 9th, still has Rule 5 restrictions despite being taken in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft by the Phillies in December of 2017 and traded to the Pirates. Nasty injuries wiped out almost all of the past 2 years...Former Card farmhand Robert Stock, the catcher turned pitcher, lives on as he was claimed by the Red Sox today on an outright assignment waiver claim from the Phillies...The Cardinals have an off day tomorrow, then travel to Minnesota for a 2-game series with the Twins. Giovanny Gallegos is expected to be added to the active roster for that game. The Cards will take RHP Jake Woodford and IF Max Schrock for a 2-man taxi squad. If they had carried the full complement of 3, they would have had to taken a catcher, which would have been Jose Godoy. It is not considered an official transaction to place those players on the taxi squad, and they are not being placed on any official roster. If the Cards were to need one of them, an official roster move would have to be made to activate them...The Cincinnati Reds’ starters made history today. Over the first 3 games, Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo and Trevor Bauer combined for 33 strikeouts, which is the most in Reds’ franchise history since the mound was moved to its current distance in 1893. It’s tied with the 2013 Texas Rangers rotation for the most in MLB history. The Reds’ staff leads all of MLB in strikeouts with 46. Despite all of that, the Reds dropped 2 out of 3 to the Tigers. Their problem is their bullpen, which blew a 3-run lead on Saturday. Michael Lorenzen gave up a 2-run homer in the top of the 9th to break a 1-1 tie. That was his 2nd homer allowed on the year already. The Reds lost 3-2, despite outhitting the Tigers 6-3. The Reds have also had to make some transactions already, losing both 1B Matt Davidson and 2B Mike Moustakas to the COVID-19 Related IL and C Tucker Barnhart to the paternity list. The Reds start a 4-game series at home with the Cubs tomorrow. The Cubs won the rubber match against the Brewers 9-1, outhitting them 11-3. Brewers’ starter Freddy Peralta was knocked out in the 4th after 3 hits and 2 walks allowed, but his bullpen didn’t help. Justin Grimm walked one in the 8th, then gave up a 2-run HR to Ian Happ and a solo HR to Anthony Rizzo. The Brewers travel to Pittsburgh for a 3-game series with the Bucs starting tomorrow.