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Facing Dire Straits, Cards Do the Walk...Do the Walk-Off Life to Cap 4-Run Comeback in 6-5 Win!

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Here comes Kolten, goin’ tell you the story; hand him down his walkin’ shoes

Kansas City Royals v St Louis Cardinals
Trivia Question: Who’s responsible for both Cards’ Walk-Offs this season?
Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

First, a Serious Note

The 7:15 CT game-time start came and went with no players in sight. At 8:20 CT, my TV showed Cardinals finally taking the field. As we later learned, Dexter Fowler and Jack Flaherty chose not to participate in tonight’s game in solidarity with NBA and MLB players (and entire teams; e.g., the Reds and Brewers postponed their game) protesting the events in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In response, Mike Shildt moved Tommy Edman from his original 3B spot to RF and Matt Carpenter, who was to have the night off, instead came in to play 3B. An unrelated, but unexpected event was that a migraine that Harrison Bader experienced overnight still was giving him issues. So Dylan Carlson played CF.

The Bird’s-Eye View

Today, I saw that Tuesday was Sean Connery’s 90th birthday. When you’re James Bond, nothing’s easy, or it doesn’t stay easy long. One minute you're sipping a vodka martini, the next minute there’s a giant laser pointed at your groin. There’s always a dangerous situation against an evil villain, but through determination (and luck), in the end, you prevail.

Welcome to Wednesday’s game.

What Thunderball?

At the start of tonight’s game, I was still chapped that in Tuesday’s contest, a guy named McBroom helped prevent the Cards from going for a sweep in tonight’s contest. Instead game three became the rubber match of the 2020 BBQ Series.

A frustration from Tuesday night—several run-scoring chances not cashed in—reappeared tonight. Part of the story for the offense this game, this season (and last season) is (and was) that if the Cards don’t dinger, they have trouble scoring. Too many strikeouts sabotage singles, preventing run-producing hit clusters.

That was all exhibited tonight, as the Cards’ hitters produced just 6 singles, 1 double, and 4 walks through 8 innings but just 2 runs to show for it, single tallies in the third and fourth.

The key phrase in that last sentence: “through 8 innings.

The other part of the story also on display were strikeouts, as the Cards K’d 12 times...
“through 8 innings.”

Dr. No (Eventually)

Dakota Hudson clearly didn’t have it early on, especially with command on his curve and slider. Even the old reliable sinker was not sinking consistently. It took him 51 pitches to get through the first three innings, with just barely over half (26) of them strikes.

Dakota was dinged by his old nemesis the homer, as in the third inning, the Royals touched him for a 2-run shot off the bat of 9th-place hitter Cam Gallagher.

But after an intentional walk in the 3rd inning with a man on second and 2 outs, Dakota sat down the next 10 Royals in a row, lasting trough the 6th. And at that point, he exited with a tie game 2-2.

The McBroom Gadget

After the teams traded zeros in the 7th, the Royals busted out their secret home run hitter who wields a bat disguised as a broom. Pinch-hitting in the 8th, McBroom hit a solo shot off Genesis Cabrera to break the tie and go on top 3-2. The Cards had no answer in their bottom of the frame, and while suddenly it was the 9th, it was just a one-run deficit.

Shaken and Stirred

The ninth inning saw a horrible cocktail of events. After a one-out single, Mondesi then stole second with an errant throw by Yadi into center allowing the runner to get to third. A walk made matters worse, but a 2-out liner into left that O’Neill over-ran became a double (really another error) the plated 2, to make it 5-2.

That was a seemingly insurmountable deficit, given the state of the offense, which, like never puts up crooked numbers unless it’s via the homer.

Never Say Never Again

Remember that key phrase from the beginning of the recap? “through the 8th inning.”

Well, in the 9th, the Cards flipped the script for an action-adventure ending with very little violence! Goldyfinger started the rally quietly, with a one-out walk. Then a Brad Miller ground-rule double made it 2nd and 3rd. A strikeout then put the Cards down to their final out with the credits ready to roll on a sad ending.

But wait!

The good guys pulled it out in the end with a flurry, including a HBP of Yadi to load the bases, then a clutch 2-run single by TON (in his reclamation story) to tie the score at 5-5!!!

After a re-loading of the bases on a walk by Dylan, the crushing blow came: The Walk-Off Walk by Wong!!!

Good thing you didn’t walk out of the theater after the 8th!!!

The Flight Path

Top of 1st - Kolten flashed the Gold.

One pitch, one hit on a high sinker for a line-drive single to center, off the bat of lead-off hitter Whit Merrifield, started the game. Hunter Dozier next got rung up looking at a high strike that kissed the top of the zone for strike 3. Yadi snap-threw down to first but Whit got back safely.

Dakota Hudson was all over the place against Jorge Soler, pitching him carefully and ultimately walking him on 5 pitches. In danger of loading the bases by going to a full count to the next hitter, young lefty slugger Ryan O’Hearn, Day induced a grounder right to Matt Carpenter at third, who slung it toward second, as Kolten Wong, positioned well to the right of the bag in the shift, in a series of fluid motions, gloved the perfect thrown on the run, tagged the bag, and jump-threw to Paul Goldschmidt for a sweet, sweet, inning-ending double play.

Bottom of 1st - A lead-off single wasted due to poor timing on sliders.

Kolten led off and confirmed the theory that when a player makes a great play to end an inning, he gets a hit immediately in the next one. The Tryin’ Hawaiian singled on a sharp liner to right to start things off.

Tommy Edman couldn’t advance the runner, however, striking out swinging on a slider that hung way up just below the top of the zone for out 1. Paul Goldschmidt slapped a firm grounder right to first baseman O’Hearn, who gloved it close to the bag, so he stepped on first then fired to second, but Kolten beat the tag.

So with Wong on second and 2 out, Brad Miller couldn’t cash in, swinging over a slider that spun right down central.

Top of 2nd - Dakota got a clean inning with a little luck.

Dakota tamed a first-pitch sinker, getting it to do what it’s supposed to, resulting in a ground-out to Carpenter at third, who charged it and threw on the run accurately for the first out.

Alex Gordon then skied a high pop-out to Goldy at first on a 3-2 slider, which Gordon likely wasn’t expecting. Then in a piece of good hitting and piece of bad luck, Adalberto Mondesi lined a below-the-zone sinker hard (99 mph EV) but it zipped just to Paul DeJong’s left, as he back-handed it for the out.

Bottom of 2nd - A good 1-out scoring chance was done in by back-to-back strikeouts on sliders.

DeJong got robbed of a sure double by timing up a center-cut slider perfectly, sizzling it on a short hop to third baseman Maikel Franco, who backhanded it slickly on one knee, rose quickly, and gunned it to first for the out.

Carpenter followed by getting plunked on the elbow by an up-and-in 92 mph fastball, but he didn’t even rub it or nuthin’. Yadi then made Carpenter run a little, by slamming a 1-1 sinker that wasn’t down nor in enough, lining it into CF for a single, with Matt jogging into second.

Now with first and second and one out, Tyler O’Neill got jobbed twice on calls with two sliders that were outside the zone but called strikes for the backward K.

Dylan Carlson, continuing his on-the-job training, fell behind 0-2 then ultimately swung over a 1-2 (guess what?) slider that dove well under the zone and kissed the dirt and missed his swinging bat to end the inning.

Top of 3rd (In Play, Run(s)) - Dakota was determined to correct a not-working slider, and he got burned.

Nicky Lopez singled on a line drive to left on a pitch Dakota left up in the zone. Dakota repeated that bad location, leaving a spinning slider middle-middle that Cam Gallagher deposited into left field to give the Royals a 2-0 lead.

Dakota rebounded to get Merrifield to ground a decent slider to Goldy for the first out.

Hudson used the sinker to then get ahead 0-2 against Hunter Dozier but lost him, granting him a free pass to first. (But the 3-2 pitch, a backed-up slider, actually was a strike in the upper-right of the zone. The pitch’s hump fooled the ump.)

Soler then got a full count, but chopped a sinker on a high bounce to Goldschmidt, who under-handed the ball to a covering Hudson for the second out, as the runner was going and safely made it to second.

With first base open, Dakota seemed to be doing the unintentional intentional walk, trying to work O’Hearn safely off the plate inside with the first three pitches. Instead of risking a runs-scoring hit in a hitter’s count, they said, “Just take first,” intentionally intentionally walking him instead of making another pitch.

Check the blood pressure of VEBers who anger over IBBs, especially early in the game. Shildt will tell you the strategy worked, as Dakota next got the final out against next hitter Maikel Franco, on an easy fly ball to shallow center.

Bottom of 3rd (In Play, Run(s)) - Cards get on the board with a sac fly that coulda brought rain (but didn't really).

With the lineup turned over, Kolten came up for the second time tonight. He got a 3-1 count then ignored a teasing high slider called for a strike. On the full count, he drew a walk, exhibiting a very lead-off hitter at-bat, getting on base for the second time.

Shildt pushed the right button (again, if you count the IBB in the top of the inning, LOL), and pulled the ol’ run and hit, as Wong took off and Edman dutifully banged a grounder to the right side in the vacated space, as Kolten chugged easily to third.

Next, Goldy hit a high, High, HIGH fly ball that sent left fielder Alex Gordon to the wall, who waited, Waited, and WAITED for it to descend from Heaven and into his glove, as he merely had to flex on his tippy-toes, reach, and snag it for the out. Wong tagged and scored easily to make it 2-1 Cards. Edman had to stay at first. Goldy hit it 371 feet long (he needed about another foot) and like 800 feet high.

Tommy then used his speed tool and stole second. The throw went wild into center, and he scampered to third to give Brad Miller the dreaded runner on third, one-out situation.

Junis worked Miller up and away on all but one pitch. On a full count, Brad swung through a high fastball that was only 90 mph but he swung through it to end the threat.

Top of 4th - The Good Dakota showed up for a quick, clean inning.

Looking to settle his command, Dakota started the fourth nicely by getting Gordon to pop out to DeJong on pitch 2 and Mondesi to ground out to Wong on his pitch 1. Then on a 1-2 pitch, he used a rare change-up (just the 5th one he used to that point) to get Lopez to roll over on it and ground out on an easy grounder to Kolten.

Bottom of 4th (In Play, Run(s)) - 2-out RISP execution by young Dylan!

For the second time tonight, Carpenter got hit by a pitch, this time, on his back foot by a 77 mph slider. If you’re gonna get plunked, that’s a good pitch to get. Yadi’s patented flop a bloop to RF swing failed him, as he popped a low, good slider up in foul territory beyond first base.

With Canadian Strongman Tyler O’Neill up next, Carpenter used his eyes and instincts well, as he advanced to second on a wild pitch that did not bounce far from catcher Cam Gallagher, but his throw was rushed, wide, high, and late.

TON unfortunately struck out looking for the second time tonight, as he watched a well-placed fastball down and away that perfectly settled in that corner of the zone, aided by some catcher framing.

With another RISP chance for young Dylan, he came through, inside-outing a slider, slicing a liner down the LF line to score Carpenter and trade places with him at second with a hustling double to tie the score 2-2!

The knocked out Junis, as Matheny brought in righty Jake Newberry in to try to prevent more scoring, because Mike knows that’s what good managers do.

Wong now had a 2-out, RISP chance but flew out to left to end the rally and the inning.

Top of 5th - The second 1-2-3 inning in a row for Dakota was nice to see.

Dakota got his second K of the night by punching out 9th-place hitter Cam Gallagher swinging on a pitch that looked like it was supposed to be a slider but acted like a sinker. Bad command, good result.

The top of the lineup came around now with Merrifield, who grounded out to Carpenter on an actually good curve ball for out 2. Then against Hunter Dozer, Dakota got behind 2-0 and totally got away with a sinker the didn’t drop but instead sat middle-middle, and Hunter just mis-timed it, popping out to DeJong to end the inning.

Bottom of 5th - Former Cardinal (and sure, other teams) Greg Holland came in, because Mike had to “show confidence in him” after his disastrous outing Monday. The Cards cranked two hope-lifting deep fly balls that merely exhibited Warning Track Power.

Holland got a gift called strike on an egregiously wide pitch to make it 2-1 instead of 3-0 on Edman. Then on a full count, Tommy hit a one-hop liner to second. Lopez knocked it down, retrieved it, and fired to first to get speedy Tommy by half a step.

Goldschmidt then sent another deep fly, this time to right (381 feet), but it was caught at the track for the second out. Miller matched that “dang it!” moment by launching a deep fly of his own to center, also caught at the track (398 feet).

Top of 6th - Dakota set down his 8th, 9th, and 10th hitters in a row. Prob was a good inning.

Dakota notched his third strikeout, this one on a curve way beyond the lower-outer zone that Soler offered at and missed greatly. Ryan O’Hearn then pulled an 0-2 curve to Wong in shallow right for an easy second out. Then on a 3-2 count to Franco, Hudson jammed him with an up-and-in sinker (on purpose?), resulting in an easy roller to Carpenter, the he charged and flung to Goldy to finish the inning.

Bottom of 6th - Veteran righty and former starter Ian Kennedy came in to replace Holland. A 2-out rally started but fizzled without breaking the tie.

Pauly D didn’t time up a hittable 91 mph cutter, getting under it a bit, popping out to shallow RF, with Dozier catching it for the out. Next, on a 2-2 count, Carpenter struck out swinging over the top of a sharp, diving cutter down and in.

Yadi then kept the inning alive by singling just beyond shortstop Mondesi’s diving attempt to his right, as the ball glanced off his glove and trickled into left for his second hit of the night. O’Neill, having a rough 2-backward-K night, bucked up and singled to center to nudge Yadi to second.

Now with first and second, two out, Dylan Carlson stepped in for an RBI chance. On a 2-2 count, Dylan was looking for a breaking ball but instead got a 95 mph heater down the middle and down, as he watched it go by then heard the pop of the catcher’s mitt followed by the ump’s “Strike Three!” bark.

Top of 7th - Dynamic lefty Genesis Cabrera relieved Dakota Hudson and continued the streak of retiring hitters without incident.

Alex Gordon led off and flew out to RF on on elevated 2-2 94 mph fastball. That same pitch on a 1-2 count also worked against Mondesi, who instead whiffed through it to strike out. Genesis then left a first-pitch 81 mph curve ball up in the zone, but merely the fact that a breaking pitch appeared on pitch one was enough to fool Lopez, who was out and front, ad topped it, grounding out to Wong.

Bottom of 7th - Righty reliever Scott Barlow replaced Kennedy to face the top of the Cards’ lineup. A 2-out walk was all she wrote.

Lead-off hitter Wong led off but couldn’t start anything, as he grounded out to his counterpart Lopez at 2B. Facing a mixture of fastballs and curve balls, Tommy ultimately struck out swinging on a center-cut 1-2 fastball (for his strikeout hat trick), but it was at 95 mph and he couldn’t catch up to it, tipping it into the catcher’s mitt for out 2.

Barlow and Goldy battled over a 9-pitch at-bat, but Pauly G prevailed, walking to reject the 1-2-3 inning. Miller, looking for his first knock of the night, did not get close, instead getting a hat trick (3rd strikeout), watching a BB fastball dot the outside corner for out 3.

Top of 8th (In Play, Run(s)) - McBroom lowered the boom against Cabrera. Alex Reyes came in to get out of a runner on second, no-out situation.

Ryan McBroom (remember him?) came in to pinch-hit for catcher Cam Gallagher and greeted Cabrera with a long homer (420 feet) to lead off the inning on a changeup that caught too much of the zone on a 2-2 count to break the tie and make it 3-2 Royals.

Whit Merrifield followed that up by bashing a 3-2 curve ball into right-center for a double. That was the end of Cabrera’s night, as Alex Reyes came in to face Dozier.

Alex got a big first out, boring a sinker down and in that Dozier jammed himself on, popping out to Wong. Now with the treacherous Soler up, Reyes got the slugger to top a slider to Carpenter, who converted the play for the second out.

Shildt apparently is afraid of lefty big man Ryan O’Hearn, as he ordered the second IBB to him on the night, to bring up righty Franco. He fell behind 2-0 and came in with a predictable fastball right down the middle at 97 mph (reminiscent of the one he threw Monday that Soler hit for a 3-run bomb) but Franco couldn’t catch up to it, popping out to Wong to put out the fire.

Bottom of 8th - Fire-balling righty Josh Staumont came in to bridge the game. Meibrys Viloria came in to catch, replacing McBroom in the lineup. A bloop and a base on balls started a promising rally, but old friend Trevor Rosenthal was the very definition of a fireman.

Paul DeJong started the comeback hope by flaring a duck-snort to right that Hunter Dozier lumbered in on, slid toward, and got a glove on but couldn’t catch, as it rolled to the turf for a lead-off single. Carpenter then battled in a 7-pitch at-bat, 6 of which were 97+ fastballs, earning a free pass to put runners at first and second for Yadi. Harrison Bader came in to run for Carpenter.

On an 0-2 count, Molina hit a grounder to first, for a seemingly easy double play. O’Hearn fielded it cleanly, made a good throw to the SS covering second for the force, but for some reason, Mondesi did not make the return throw to first, allowing Molina to reach! Master Yadi mind trick perhaps?!

Now with first and third one out, Meat Pillar had a nice at-bat, not getting too anxious and chasing. after letting a first-pitch curve ball go by for a strike, he let the next four go by, none of them very close to the zone, walking to load the bases.

Matheny then brought in Trevor Rosenthal to face Dylan Carlson. With the infield in, Dylan got behind 0-2. Monday night against Rosenthal, Carlson struck out on a change-up. Tonight though, on an 0-2 count, he got the the third of three-straight fastballs: 95 mph, 95 mph, 97 mph, the last high and away for the second out.

Kolten Wong got the exact same treatment from Tevor: “Here it is; see what you can do.” Unfortunately, Wong could only foul off the first two then miss the last one to end the threat.

Top of 9th (In Play Run(s)) - Alex Reyes remained in to keep it a 1-run game. Edman went from RF to 3B, Carpenter out. Bader stayed in to play CF; Dylan moved to RF. None of those moves helped. At all.

Alex Gordon looked good striking out Gordon on three pitches; 2 sinkers and a slider. Mondesi next, however, reached on a single, poking an actually good sinker just off the outer edge into left for a single.

On a 2-0 count to next batter Lopez, Mondesi took off. Yadi threw from his knees, and the throw was low, skipping into center for a throwing error, allowing Mondesi to advance to third. Alex then subsequently walked Lopez to put runners on the corners with one out.

After a Maddux Mound Meeting, Viloria was up. On pitch one, he squared and attempted a bunt, but fouled it off. The runner at third didn’t break, so it was either a safety squeeze, missed sign, or just an attempt to advance the runner to second. He tried again on pitch 2, and popped it out to Reyes for out 2.

Thank you, Mike.

Then on a 1-1 pitch, Merriefield drilled a fastball on a line toward left-center. O’Neill raced toward it, looked like he had it measured, then over-ran it slightly, as he reached up and back a bit over his head, and the ball tipped off the top of his glove and rolled to the wall, allowing 2 runs to score, making it 5-2 Royals. Whit stood on second. (It was ruled a double. Shouldn’t have been.)

During the next at-bat vs. Dozier, Yadi made his second miscue of the inning, getting charged with a passed ball, allowing Whit to advance to third. (Groan.) Alex did get Gordon striking out, using just 3 pitches: a slider and two 98 mph sinkers.

Bottom of 9th (In Play, Run(s)) - Rosenthal remained in for the Close. The Cards made noise and chased him, Then pandemonium!

Edman led off and saw a mix of sliders and fastballs, the last one a 2-2 slider Tommy watched for strike three, his fourth K of the night. Goldy got the count full and walked to provide a spark.

Brad Miller then finally got good wood (any wood), hacking at a first-pitch slider at the bottom of the zone golfing it into right-center, bouncing over the wall for a ground-rule double. (Goldy would not have likely scored anyway.)

Trevor got ahead of DeJong 1-2, but Pauly D stayed strong, coming back to earn a walk, to load the bases with one out, bringing the winning run to the plate in the person of Max Schrock, hitting for Bader.

Masked Magic Mike came out to ask the veteran Trevor if he wanted to stay in, and of course, Trevor said yes. Is that not the Mikest of things ever?

Schrock got down 1-2, then fouled off 4 straight, actually 5, but that last one was a foul tip into the catcher’s mitt on a high heater well up and in out of the zone for the crushing strike three in a 7-pitch at-bat.

Now down to the final out, it originally was to be the old battery mate facing off: Yadi and Trevor. But that theater was not to be, as Mike pulled Trevor, perhaps worried about the 33 pitches thrown by the burly hurler (and sure, the familiarity Yadi has with the pitcher).

But in a nice moment, Yadi smiled and chatted with Rosenthal (surely giving him a hard time) as Trevor walked grinning off the mound.

Trevor’s replacement was lefty Randy Rosario. Yadi got down 0-2, then on a 1-2 count, Rosario hit Yadi on the foot, to bring in a run to make it 5-3.

That brought up TON, surely looking to atone for his miscue in the top of the inning. And he did just that! On the first pitch, Tyler hacked at a sinker, banging it sharply on a one-hop grounder to third that Franco couldn’t handle, caroming off him into left for a single to score Miller and DeJong to tie the game 5-5!!! Yadi went to second.

Then next against now righty-hitting Dylan, Rosario uncorked a wild pitch on his first offering to make it 2nd and 3rd, two out. Dylan worked the count full and laid off a high-outside fastball for the walk to load the bases!

Now it was Wong’s turn to try to play the hero. Rosario got behind 3-0. Now in take mode, Kolten watched a strike down the middle to make it 3-1.

But the next pitch was over but clearly high beyond the zone for ball four and the walk-off walk!

Cards won 6-5!!!

The Bottom Line

  • Dakota’s night line was good: 6 IP, 2 R, 3 H (1 HR) 3 SO, 3 BB
    Same old story with him. Keep it in the yard and reduce walks, and he can increase is effectiveness greatly.
  • Dak’s 10 ground-ball outs were a high for this season.
  • His 74 pitches were a season high.
  • The teams totaled 20 strikeouts (14!) by the Cards)
    They totaled 13 walks (8 by Cards’ hitters; 5 by Royals)
  • Worst haberdashery ever: Miller had a Hat Trick; Edman, a Golden Sombrero.
  • Cards were 2-14 with RISP; Royals 1-8
  • O’Neill’s single in the 6th snapped an 0-14 skid.
  • In the 6th, Dylan Carlson’s hit with runners on first and second was just his second hit with RISP (2-16).
  • Cards now have 2 walk-offs this season. Both by Kolten,
  • But Tyler O’Neill was the big WPA leader with .47!
  • Cards had a 1.9% Win Expectancy entering the 9th. Heh, heh, heh.
You gotta see the ending!