The story of today was capitalizing on opportunities. The Cardinals actually left 12 men on base and were 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position. It sounds like that would be problematic, but the club was able to cash in twice and got two two-run homers from the bottom of the order, with Bader hitting a homer in back-to-back days. The Reds only left 6 on base, but went 0 for 4 on their limited chances with runners in scoring position. The Cards’ pitching staff had more walks (6) than strikeouts (3), but the Reds responded by allowing 6 walks to Cardinal hitters despite striking out 8.
Daniel Ponce de Leon started the game for the Cards, and at 4.2 IP, he went the deepest into a game he has gone thus far, but it too him 93 pitches to get it done, and he walked 4 to only 2 strikeouts and allowed a 2-run homer. This circumstance did not come back to haunt the Cards because of the Cardinal home-run hitting and because our bullpen once again allowed no hits. The Cards used 4 relievers in the ballgame, including John Gant and Andrew Miller on no rest. Genesis Cabrera helped out by going two innings. Hopefully the trend continues and the rest of the starters can continue to go deeper into games.
Joey Votto half swung at a 1-2 hanging cutter for a fly to short right to lead off the top of the 1st. Cards’ starter Daniel Ponce de Leon had Nick Castellanos down in the count 0-2, but lost him to a 3-2 walk. Jesse Winker struck out swinging at 3 straight fastballs. But with 2 out, Eugenio Suarez smoked a middle-in 3-1 fastball over the bullpen in left-center and onto the concourse for a 2-run HR to give the Reds a 2-0 lead.
After Mike Moustakas walked on 5 pitches, Shogo Akiyama flied a 3-1 fastball to short left field to end the inning. This was not the inning that Ponce hoped for, as it took him 29 pitches to get out of it. Righty Tyler Mahle had to make a spot start for the Reds due to their doubleheader earlier in the week. Kolten Wong led off the bottom of the 1st by slicing a middle-in 2-2 cutter up the middle for a base hit to beat the shift. Wong stole 2nd base as Brad Miller struck out swinging at a 2-2 splitter in the dirt. Paul Goldschmidt worked a 3-2 walk, with the last pitch being a fastball just off the outside corner. Matt Carpenter was ahead in the count 3-0, but struck out swinging at a low-and-away 3-2 splitter. Tyler O’Neill struck out waving at a 2-2 slider outside the zone to end the inning.
After Mark Payton grounded a 3-1 low-and-away fastball to 1st to lead off the top of the 2nd, Ponce hit Freddy Galvis on the top of his right foot with a first-pitch curve and walked Tucker Barnhart on 4 pitches. But Ponce would get out of the jam, as he got Votto to fly to short left on an outside 1-2 change and Castellanos to chase an outside cutter and ground it to 2nd to end the inning. Yadier Molina lined a center-cut 2-2 fastball to center for a base hit. He got lucky he wasn’t punched out on a 1-2 splitter a couple of pitches before. Paul DeJong came to the plate for the first time since July 29th and struck out swinging at a slider that was nowhere near the zone. Dylan Carlson chased an outside 3-2 splitter and tapped it in front of the plate for Barnhart, who fired to 2nd base to get the lead man. The play actually went 2-5, because the 3rd baseman Suarez was in that area for the shift. Bader then drove an 0-1 hanging slider just over the center field wall for a 2-run HR to tie the game 2-2.
Before Mahle could pitch to Brad Miller, he balked by moving his back leg slightly forward while engaged with the rubber and moving his shoulders to the left. It turned out not to matter, because Miller grounded an outside 2-0 splitter to Galvis, playing the deep 2nd base position in the shift.
Winker sharply grounded a hanging change down the 1st base line to start the top of the 3rd, but Goldschmidt made a diving stop and flipped to Ponce at first for the out, saving a double in the process. Suarez chased a low-and-away 3-2 cutter and grounded towards the left side hole, but Brad Miller charged over and made an off-balance throw for the out. Moustakas chased a 1-2 curve in the dirt and tapped it in front of the plate for Molina, who fired to 1st base to end the inning. To lead off the bottom of the 3rd, Goldschmidt sliced a low-and-away 0-2 slider into the right field corner for a double. Carpenter struck out swinging at a slightly elevated 1-2 fastball. O’Neill popped a first-pitch center-cut fastball to Votto at 1st. Molina lined a 1-1 fastball at the top of the zone for a base hit to center to score Goldschmidt and give the Cards a 3-2 lead.
BCIB— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 23, 2020
(Best Catcher In Baseball) pic.twitter.com/mOTAvSiunm
DeJong lined an outside slider to Castellanos in right-center to end the inning.
Akiyama lined a center-cut fastball up the middle for a base hit to lead off the top of the 4th. Payton drove a low-and-in 3-2 fastball to right, but Carlson caught it at the track. Galvis popped a high fastball to Bader in short center. Barnhart tried to bunt a 1-1 center-cut fastball opposite the shift for a base hit. But Brad Miller barehanded the ball and fired a strong throw to 1st base for the out. The play was close and the Reds looked like they might try to argue that Goldschmidt’s foot came off the bag, but they decided not to. With Mahle already at 71 pitches, the Reds brought in righty Michael Lorenzen to pitch for the bottom of the 4th. Carlson ripped a low 97 mph fastball to right field through the shift for a base hit. Bader walked on 5 pitches, having to hit the deck because the last pitch came close to his chin. Wong laid down a bunt to the left and in front of the mound, and Lorenzen fired to 1st to nip Wong. The runners advanced to 2nd and 3rd on the sacrifice, which this community is not going to be a fan of. With the infield in, Brad Miller chased an outside change and grounded it to Moustakas at 2nd. Moustakas bounced a throw home, and Carlson was thrown out by a step with no lane to slide in. Goldschmidt flied a high 0-1 fastball to right, and the Cards let Lorenzen off the hook.
At 78 pitches, Ponce came back out for the top of the 5th, and got Votto to ground a first-pitch low curve to 2nd for the first out. Castellanos lined an inside fastball to the gap in left-center. O’Neill cut it off before it rolled to the wall, but Castellanos still made it to 2nd for a double. After Winker walked on 5 pitches, Suarez struck out looking at a nasty 1-2 curve on the outside corner. With Ponce now at 93 pitches and the lefty Moustakas coming up next, Shildt brought in Genesis Cabrera to pitch. Moustakas flied a low-and-in fastball to left to strand the runners and the Cards preserved the lead. To start the bottom of the 5th, Carpenter grounded an inside cutter down the 1st base line past Votto and towards the side wall for a base hit. O’Neill chased a low-and-away slider and blooped to center, where Akiyama made a running catch forward. Molina lined a high hanging first-pitch cutter to center for a base hit to move Carpenter to 2nd. DeJong popped an inside 2-1 fastball to Castellanos in right-center. With 2 out, Carlson chased an outside 3-2 change and tapped it back to the mound to end the inning.
Phillip Ervin pinch hit for Akiyama and flied an outside 1-0 fastball to short center to start the top of the 6th. Matt Davidson pinch hit for Payton and lined a hanging curve to right. Galvis drove an inside fastball to the track in center, but Bader turned around and backpedaled to make the grab before reaching the wall. For the bottom of the 6th, Ervin stayed in the game in the #6 spot to play LF. Travis Jankowski came in to play CF in the #7 spot. Righty Tyler Thornburg came out to pitch. Bader struck out looking at a fastball at the bottom of the zone, and he must have been looking for something else. Wong popped an inside fastball to Galvis on the outfield grass. With 2 out, Brad Miller walked on 5 pitches. But Goldschmidt drove a center-cut fastball to the track in center to end the inning.
Curt Casali pinch hit for Barnhart to start the top of the 7th and walked on 4 pitches. But he was erased when Votto grounded an outside fastball into a 4-6-3 double play. John Gant then came in to pitch to Castellanos and got him to ground a low fastball to short to end the inning. Righty Nate Jones came out to pitch the bottom of the 7th for the Reds. Carpenter softly lined an inside 0-2 fastball down the line down the right field line. Due to the positioning of the fielders, Carpenter was allowed to slide in safely with a double. Carpenter drove an outside 3-2 fastball deep to right-center that Castellanos caught up against the bullpen fence. Carpenter tagged up and went to 3rd on the play. Molina chased a high-and-outside 1-2 fastball and tomahawked it into right-center for a base hit to score Carpenter and extend the Cards’ lead to 4-2.
DeJong drove a 96 mph fastball to right towards the corner, and Castellanos made a great running catch, extending his glove at the track. Carlson then drove a 3-2 hanging belt-high slider into the bullpen for a 2-run HR to give the Cards a 6-2 lead.
Bader lined a hanging slider to the gap in left-center that bounced on the track and over the wall for a ground rule double. Wong grounded a low 3-2 slider to left to end the inning.
Andrew Miller came out to pitch the top of the 8th for the Cards. Winker was hit on the right elbow by an inside slider on the 3-2 pitch. The home plate umpire called him out on the apparent grounds that he leaned his right front elbow into the pitch. When they showed it on the television replay, it looked fairly obvious that Winker stuck his elbow out towards the plate.
Since I couldn’t recall an umpire calling that play, I looked up the actual rule, which is interesting. The Rule at issue is Official Rule 5.05(b)(2), which states that the batter becomes a runner without liability to be put out when:
He is touched by a pitched ball which he is not attempting to hit unless (A) The ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, or (B) The batter makes no attempt to avoid being touched by the ball;
If the ball is in the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a strike, whether or not the batter tries to avoid the ball. It the ball is outside the strike zone when it touches the batter, it shall be called a ball if he makes no attempt to avoid being touched.
The pitch at issue was a 3-2 pitch. By calling Winker out on the play, the umpire must have necessarily concluded that the slider Miller threw was in the strike zone. In that case, Winker would have been called out on strikes, regardless of whether he tried to get out of the way. If the umpire had concluded that the pitch was not in the strike zone, the pitch would have been called a ball instead of an automatic award of first base. But because the count was already 3-2, Winker would have been awarded first base anyway on a walk. That’s how we know exactly what the ruling was—the pitch was in the strike zone when it hit Winker, and it didn’t matter whether he leaned into it on purpose or tried to get out of the way. The ultimate official ruling was that Winker was called out on strikes, and Miller was credited with a strikeout. Suarez flied an outside slider to right. Moustakas flied a center-cut fastball to center to end the inning. Lefty Cody Reed came out to pitch the bottom of the 8th for the Reds. After Brad Miller worked a 3-2 walk, Goldschmidt struck out swinging at a 1-2 slider low-and-in and out of the zone. Then Carpenter worked a 3-2 walk. O’Neill struck out looking at a hanging 2-2 back door slider. Molina flied an up-and-in 1-2 fastball to Jankowski in short left-center to end the inning.
Alex Reyes came out to pitch the top of the 9th. Ervin flied an up-and-in 0-1 fastball to short left. After Jankowski worked a 3-2 walk, Galvis grounded a center-cut fastball to Goldschmidt for a 3-6-3 game-ending double play.
Ponce de Leon (4 days rest) 4.2 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 SO, 1 HR; Cabrera (1 day rest, top 5, 2 out, men on 1st and 2nd, ahead 3-2) 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 SO; Gant (no rest, top 7, 2 out, bases empty, ahead 3-2) .1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO; A. Miller (no rest, top 8, ahead 6-2) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO; Reyes (2 days rest, top 9, ahead 6-2) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 SO.
ODDS AND ENDS
The Cubs nipped the White Sox 2-1 at Wrigley. Cubs starter Yu Darvish went 7 IP, with 10 strikeouts and only 1 walk. After Jeremy Jeffress got 2 outs in the top of the 9th, he loaded the bases on 1 single and 2 walks, but got Yoan Moncada to ground out to 2nd to end the game. Kyle Schwarber’s 2-run HR was the Cubs’ only scoring play and proved to be the difference...Brewers’ first baseman Justin Smoak hit a 2-run HR off of Pirates’ reliever Geoff Hartlieb to break a 2-2 tie in the 6th inning. But the Pirates came back to win 5-4 on Gregory Polanco’s 2-run HR in the bottom of the 8th off of David Phelps. This victory gave the Pirates a 3-game sweep over the Brewers. The bad news for the Bucs, however, is that both IF Kevin Newman and IF Colin Moran left the game with injuries. Moran was playing 1B and collided with Brewers’ OF Avisail Garcia at the base. Newman felt abdominal discomfort after striking out swinging. Former Cardinal Patrick Wisdom was released by the Seattle Mariners on August 14th and signed a minor league deal with the Cubs today. He has not appeared in a game this season, and is now part of that club’s Club Player Pool.