Tonight was a rough pill to swallow. Maybe it’s just because the Cards lost to the Royals and Mike Matheny. We all know that the Cardinals’ offense has struggled to start the season, and even that is without facing a lot out stellar pitching. In a shortened season, the Cards must beat up on the weaker teams to make the playoffs. Maybe it’s because the club failed to win after knocking out the opposing starter after only 2.2 IP. Maybe it’s because we respect Adam Wainwright but some of us get nervous watching him walk the tightrope with his 90 mph fastball and hanging breaking pitches, especially when facing a hitter for the third time that handled him well the other two times. And maybe it’s because we hate to see the defense cost the Cards runs again. And maybe it’s because one of our relievers allowed the winning run to score on a pitch that wasn’t his best pitch. Maybe it’s because we had a chance to tie the game but fell short on the bases. And maybe it’s because we couldn’t tie the score after a 1-out triple. Maybe I’m just full of shit, as I was in the comments section tonight.
Whit Merrifield flied a low-and-away 2-2 cutter to medium center to lead off the game. Hunter Dozier grounded an 0-1 hanging cutter to 3rd. Jorge Soler popped a 1-2 outside fastball to Kolten Wong just past the pitcher’s mound to end the inning. Matt Harvey struck Wong looking at a 1-2 low-and-in fastball to start the bottom of the 2nd. Tommy Edman popped a low 2-1 fastball to the shortstop on the outfield grass. Paul Goldschmidt struck out swinging at a 2-2 curve in the dirt to end the inning.
Ryan O’Hearn ripped a hanging 2-1 curve to right-center for a base hit, with Fowler cutting it off to prevent a double. Maikel Franco smoked a 2-2 hanging curve just over the glove of the leaping Edman into the left field corner for a double to move O’Hearn to 3rd. Ryan McBroom grounded a first-pitch inside fastball to short. The Cards were conceding the run and O’Hearn scored to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. Franco stayed put at 2nd base. Adalberto Mondesi bunted a first-pitch outside fastball that Yadier Molina used a basket catch to get in foul territory. Nicky Lopez grounded an inside cutter to Wong at 2nd, who moved to his right and threw across his body for the out to end the inning. After Brad Miller grounded out to short to start the bottom of the 2nd, Paul DeJong ripped a base hit to right on a first-pitch center-cut fastball. But Molina grounded a center-cut fastball to 2nd for an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
To lead off the top of the 3rd, Cam Gallagher softly lined an inside fastball towards left-center, but it was right at DeJong, who made a jumping catch. Merrifield drove a high fastball to deep left-center, but Bader ran it down at the track. Dozier walked on 4 pitches with 2 out, then Soler worked a 3-2 walk. O’Hearn drove a hanging cutter opposite the shift in the place where the shortstop would normally stand and into left-center for a base hit. Dozier scored to give the Royals a 2-0 lead and Soler hustled to slide safely into 3rd base.
With runners at the corners, Franco lined a center-cut fastball to center that was sinking, but Harrison Bader ran forward and made a sliding catch to save a run and end the inning. Dexter Fowler grounded a 3-2 hanging curve into the shift on the right side to lead off the bottom of the 3rd. After Dylan Carlson lined a first-pitch center-cut fastball to center for a base hit, Bader worked a 3-2 walk. With the runners going on the 3-2 pitch, Wong grounded a high-and-outside 3-2 fastball to short to advance the runners to 2nd and 3rd. Jose Oquendo had to stop Carlson from rounding 3rd base and getting thrown out. Edman lined a low 1-0 curve down the right field line that bounced on the track and bounced over the fence for a ground rule double.
Carlson and Bader scored to tie the game 2-2. After Goldschmidt walked on 5 pitches to put runners at 1st and 2nd, Brad Miller grounded a low change through the right side past the glove of the diving Lopez for a base hit to score Edman and give the Cards a 3-2 lead, with Goldschmidt moving to 3rd.
DeJong lined an inside fastball down the 3rd base line. Franco, guarding the line, dove and knocked the ball down. From his knees, he threw the ball wide to the left of O’Hearn, with the ball bouncing off the Cards’ dugout screen. Goldschmidt scored to extend the Cards’ lead to 4-2, Miller went to 3rd and DeJong moved to 2nd on the play. The scorer ruled that a base hit, RBI and E5. Mike Matheny had seen enough of Harvey and brought righty Mike Newberry in to pitch to Molina, who struck out swinging at a 1-2 slider in the dirt to end the inning.
McBroom struck out swinging at a 1-2 cutter about a foot low and outside to lead off the top of the 4th. Mondesi flied an inside cutter to Bader in right-center. Lopez grounded a looping low curve to 2nd. Fowler worked a 3-2 walk to lead off the bottom of the 4th after being behind in the count 1-2. Carlson then walked on 4 pitches. Bader grounded an outside slider slowly to Mondesi at short, who went over to his left, stepped on the 2nd base bag and fired to 1st for the 6-3 double play. Wong drove a hanging slider to deep center, but Merrifield, who was playing shallow, ran back and caught it just before the track to end the inning.
To lead off the top of the 5th, Gallagher drove an outside 88-mph fastball to the gap in right-center that rolled to the wall for a double. Merrifield chase a low-and-away 2-2 cutter that almost hit the ground and grounded it slowly to 3rd. Edman charged and threw the ball wide past Goldschmidt’s left and into the Cardinal dugout. This was ruled a base hit because a perfect throw probably would not have had Merrifield at 1st anyway. But Edman’s throwing error allowed Gallagher to score from 2nd to cut the Cards’ lead to 4-3 and sent Merrifield to 2nd. Merrifield did not get an RBI there.
Dozier drove a center-cut fastball for a fly to left. Carlson got under it and threw Merrifield out trying to advance to 3rd after tagging up.
After the double play, Soler struck out at a looping curve low and out of the zone to end the inning.
Righty Jesse Hahn came out to pitch to the bottom of the 5th for the Royals. Leading off in the bottom of the 5th, Edman chopped an inside fastball to Franco, who was positioned on the right side of the 2nd base bag. Goldschmidt struck out swinging at an 0-2 slider in the dirt. Miller popped a high hanging curve to Mondesi on the outfield grass to end the inning.
O’Hearn launched a middle-in 3-1 cutter onto the patio over the seats in right-center for a solo HR to tie the game 4-4.
Franco struck out swinging at an 0-2 curve that almost bounced. After McBroom softly lined a hanging curve to right-center for a base hit, Mondesi grounded an outside fastball to Wong at 2nd. It was unclear from viewing the play if Wong tagged McBroom or not, but if he didn’t, he was ruled out of the base line immediately. Wong then fired to 1st for the double play to end the inning. Righty Ian Kennedy came out to pitch the bottom of the 6th for the Royals. DeJong grounded a low-and-away fastball to short. Molina blooped an inside change towards left-center, but Mondesi ran out to the outfield grass and made a nice basket catch. Fowler popped a high fastball foul towards the Royals dugout, but Mondesi, who was the only defender on that side of the Royals’ shifted defense, raced over and caught the ball to end the inning.
At 85 pitches, Shildt left Wainwright out there for the top of the 7th to face 8, 9, 1 in the Royals’ order. Lopez grounded a high fastball to short. Gallagher smoked a 2-2 hanging curve towards the 3rd base line, but hit it right to Edman. Merrifield struck out swinging at a 2-2 curve to end the inning. The Royals brought out righty Josh Staumont to pitch the bottom of the 7th. Staumont struck Carlson out on 3 pitches: 97 mph fastball down the middle for a called strike; 101 mph in the zone up and away swung on and missed; nasty 84 mph curve called strike 3 low-and-in and in the zone.
Bader struck out swinging at a 100 mph fastball elevated above the zone. Wong fought off some tough pitches and worked a 3-2 walk. Edman worked a 3-2 walk of his own to bring up Goldschmidt, who flied an 0-1 curve to right to end the inning.
Shildt brought in John Gant to pitch the top of the 8th, and he gave up a first-pitch base hit up the middle on a high fastball to Dozier. The Cards’ defense was shifted with 3 men on the left side of the infield. Soler struck out looking at a nasty 1-2 curveball on the inside corner. O’Hearn struck out swinging at a 2-2 center-cut fastball on a foul tip. After Franco walked on 5 pitches, McBroom grounded a hanging curve through the hole to left for a base hit. Dozier scored to give the Royals a 5-4 lead. McBroom tried to advance to 2nd on Carlson’s throw home, but Molina cut the throw short and fired to Wong at 2nd, who tagged McBroom out to end the inning.
Righty Scott Barlow came in to pitch the bottom of the 8th. Bubba Starling came in to play CF in the #6 spot, with Merrifield moving from CF to LF and McBroom leaving the game. Brad Miller grounded a low 1-2 curve to 1st. DeJong lined a high fastball through the middle for a base hit to center. Molina drove a low 3-2 slider to left-center that hit the base of the wall near the bullpen. DeJong was running with the pitch, but he curiously stopped running when he got halfway to 2nd base, maybe because he wanted to make sure that Merrifield didn’t catch it. The problem with that is that Merrifield made no serious effort to catch it, recognizing that the ball was going to hit the wall and instead, deciding to play it off the carom. And Merrifield played the ball perfectly, waiting at the edge of the track for the ball to bounce to him. He then made a perfect strike on the fly to the cutoff man Mondesi. It is unclear why DeJong held up when he did or what 3rd base coach Jose Oquendo signaled to him at that time. But once DeJong continued to run, Oquendo was sending him all the way. As Oquendo gave DeJong the go sign, Mondesi had yet to receive the throw from Merrifield. But DeJong made a wide turn around home plate for a couple of extra steps, and was only about one-third of the way to the plate when Mondesi got the ball. Mondesi fired a bounced throw to the plate, which beat DeJong by a significant margin. I had wrongly thought at first that this play was close because I focused on it at full speed and I was misled by the fact that DeJong almost slid under the tag. But watching the slow motion play or pausing the live play makes it abundantly clear that the throw beat DeJong by so much that he had no chance to score unless the catcher dropped the ball. Several things conspired to produce this result: (1) DeJong ran with the pitch, but stopped running full speed, probably because he misjudged Merrifield’s attempt and ability to catch it; (2) Oquendo misjudging both DeJong’s speed and how strong and accurate the arms of both Merrifield and Mondesi were; (3) DeJong’s circling a little too wide around 3rd base; and (4) perfect accurate throws by both Merrifield and Mondesi. Check it out for yourself.
In any case, Molina had a double, but Fowler stranded him there by grounded a 1-1 hanging curve to 1st to end the inning.
Tyler Webb came out to pitch the top of the 9th. Mondesi chased an outside 2-0 fastball and grounded it to Goldschmidt to the left of the bag. Webb charged over to first, and Goldschmidt made an underhand flip, but Mondesi raced to the bag so fast that he beat Webb there for a base hit. With Lopez at the plate, Mondesi stole 2nd on the 2-0 pitch. Lopez sliced a 3-2 center-cut fastball to left-center, but Bader raced over for the catch. Gallagher struck out swinging at an 0-2 high fastball on a foul tip. Merrifield tapped an inside 1-2 fastball back the mound to end the inning. Righty Trevor Rosenthal came out to try to close things out for the Royals. Carlson chased an outside 1-2 change and struck out. Bader drove a 2-2 slider to the gap in left-center that rolled to the wall. Starling bobbled the ball off the carom at the wall, and Bader, hustling all the way, made it safely to 3rd with a triple.
Rosenthal then hit Wong on his right hamstring with a pitch to put runners at the corners. Edman struck out swinging at a hanging 0-2 change. Goldschmidt chopped a first-pitch fastball to short for Mondesi, who stepped on the bag at 2nd to end the game.
Wainwright (4 days rest) 7 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 SO, 1 HR; Gant (1 day rest, top 8, tied 1-1) 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO; Webb (3 days rest, top 9, down 5-4) 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO.
ODDS AND ENDS
Lucas Giolito of the White Sox threw the first no-hitter of the year, taking only 101 pitches to dispatch the Pirates on 13 strikeouts. Only a 4-pitch walk to Erik Gonzalez deprived Giolito of a perfect game...Cubs’ starter Tyler Chatwood was activated from the injured list today after about a two week absence to start tonight against the Tigers. It didn’t work out so well, as he walked 5 and allowed 3 hits (2 for extra bases) in just 1.1 IP. The Cubs got him out of there after only 2 runs scored, but then gave up a 5-spot to the Indians in the bottom of the 6th. Jose Quintana allowed a run to score on a single and double, walked the bases loaded, then turned things over to Casey Sadler, who gave up a grand slam to Jonathan Schoop...Reds’ starter Luis Castillo has one of the best pitching arsenals in the league, but he still hasn’t won a game yet. He took the loss tonight, as the Brewers’ beat the Reds 3-2. Castillo walked 4 in 6 innings, and although he had 9 strikeouts, he was charged with 2 unearned runs. He got outdueled by Brandon Woodruff, who only walked 1 and struck out 8 in 6 IP.