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Cards’ Extra-Inning Comeback Falls Short in 4-3 8th Inning Loss to Pirates in Game 1

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Pittsburgh Pirates v St Louis Cardinals - Game One Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Another frustrating loss for the Cardinals. I’ll stay light on the commentary, since we’ve got another game after this, but the following were notable features of the game

*Kim continued to go deeper into games, but gave up a lot of deep flyballs, was fortunate that a couple of them were not home runs, and was greatly helped by O’Neill on defense.

*Although O’Neill’s speed has led him to overrun the ball at times, he speed allows him to be a plus defender out there in left field and he showed that today.

*The Cardinals still struggle with their approach with runners on base and less than 2 out.

*Their defense let them down again today. Miller has the strongest arm of the candidates, but he’s not as sure-handed as the other options, and he belongs in the DH spot.

Erik Gonzalez grounded a 1-1 inside fastball up the middle for a base hit to lead off the game. Cole Tucker popped a first-pitch center cut fastball to shallow right. Kevin Newman lined an up-and-in curve down the 3rd base line that was curving foul, but Brad Miller made a diving snow cone catch for the out.

Josh Bell struck out swinging at a low-and-in 2-2 slider to end the inning. Kolten Wong grounded an outside fastball to short to lead off the bottom of the 1st. Tommy Edman tried to bunt a first-pitch center-cut fastball for a base hit, but tapped it too close to the mound, where Pirates starter Chad Kuhl grabbed it for the easy out. Paul Goldschmidt grounded a low 0-2 slider to 2nd baseman Brad Newman, who was playing on the right side of the 2nd base bag in the shift.

Brad Reynolds flied a hanging 3-2 slider to left. Jacob Stallings drove an up-and-in fastball deep to left-center. Tyler O’Neill drifted back and caught the ball while slamming against the wall.

Gregory Polanco struck out swinging at a low-and-away 1-2 slider. Brad Miller grounded a low-and-away 1-1 change to 2nd to lead off the bottom of the 2nd. O’Neill grounded a 2-2 low-and-away slider to 3rd. Jose Osuna hesitated just a bit in getting the ball out of his glove, and O’Neill flew to first and beat out the throw for a base hit. Yadier Molina popped a high-and-in slider foul towards 3rd base. Osuna made a sliding catch on the play. O’Neill decided to tag up and race for second, but Osuna got up, spun around and fired to 2nd base where O’Neill was nailed by a mile for a double play to end the inning.

Osuna flied a low-and-in 1-2 slider to left to start the top of the 3rd. Will Craig stepped up to the box to make his major league debut and grounded a high fastball to 3rd. Gonzalez tapped an outside 1-1 change back to the mound to end the inning. After Matt Carpenter grounded a low-and-away first-pitch fastball deep into the shift on the outfield grass to the 2nd baseman, Fowler walked on 5 pitches. But Carlson got confused and check-swung at a low-and-away fastball, tapping it back to the mound for a 1-6-3 inning-ending double play.

To lead off the top of the 4th, Tucker grounded a 1-2 inside fastball to Miller at 3rd, but he threw the ball over Carpenter’s head and into the Cardinal dugout. The error allowed Tucker to reach 2nd base. Newman drove an up-and-in 1-1 fastball deep to left-center. O’Neill raced over and caught it on the track and crashed against the wall again. Tucker failed to tag and stayed put at 2nd base. Bell walked on 4 pitches. Reynolds struck out swinging at an elevated 1-2 fastball. Stallings softly lined a 1-0 hanging 71 mph curve to left for a base hit to score Tucker and give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Bell moved to 2nd base on the play. Polanco chased a low 1-0 slider and flied it to shallow center to end the inning. Wong popped an 0-1 fastball to no-man’s land past 3rd base into shallow left that looked like it might drop. But Gonzalez raced over and made a running catch for the out to start the bottom of the 4th. Edman blooped a low-and-in 1-0 slider to center for a base hit. Goldschmidt flied a low-and-in 1-1 fastball to center. After Brad Miller walked on 4 pitches, O’Neill drove a low-and-away slider deep to left-center but it was caught at the track to end the inning.

Osuna drove an outside fastball deep to right-center to start the top of the 5th, but Fowler made a great leaping catch at the track. Craig drove a low-and-in slider deep to left-center, but O’Neill grabbed that ball at the track. Gonzalez grounded a slider to Miller at 3rd, whose throw almost pulled Goldschmidt off the bag, but Goldschmidt kept a toe on there for the out. To lead off the bottom of the 5th, Molina lined a center-cut fastball off of the scoreboard at the back of the left-center field bullpen for a solo HR to tie the game 1-1.

Carpenter flied a hanging 1-1 slider to left. Fowler beat the shift by sharply grounding a low-and-in fastball through the right side. Carlson flied an outside slider to shallow left. With the count 1-1 on Wong, Fowler was caught stealing 2nd base by Pirates’ catcher Jacob Stallings. The Cardinals challenged the play, but it looked like that although Fowler had a good chance to make it, Gonzalez made a very quick tag just before Fowler’s hand touched the base. The ruling on the field was upheld and the inning was over.

Tucker grounded a center-cut 1-2 fastball to 2nd to lead off the top of the 6th, but Wong booted it for an error. Newman softly line a hanging outside slider to right for a base hit to move Tucker to 2nd. Shildt would stick with Kim here and he would get out of this mess. Bell chopped an up-and-in 2-2 fastball to Wong for the 4-6-3 double play. Tucker moved to 3rd on the play, but he was stranded there, as Kim got Reynolds to fly out to right to end the inning. Wong ripped a 2-1 low fastball to right to start the bottom of the 6th, but it was right at Polanco. Edman grounded a low-and-away 1-0 change right into the shift on the right side. After Goldschmidt worked a 2-out, 3-2 walk, Brad Miller also worked a 3-2 walk, laying off a close pitch that was outside by a bit. But O’Neill struck out swinging at a 2-2 slider low-and-away and out of the zone to end the inning. After 81 pitches, Pirates starter Chad Kuhl was also finished, and righty Chris Stratton came on in relief. Molina slowly rolled a low-and-away slider to 3rd. Osuna charged forward, barehanded the ball, and made a strong throw to 1st, where Craig made a great stretch to make the catch, getting into the splits to make the grab. Carpenter flied a low 2-2 slider to Tucker in left-center for the 2nd out. With the outfield playing deep, Fowler flied a low 2-2 curve to shallow center. Tucker raced forward and made a sliding catch to end the inning and take us to extra innings.

This is the Cards’ first extra inning game this year, and the special rules apply even for 7-inning doubleheaders. Because Craig made the last out of the prior inning, he was set to be placed at 2nd base to start the top of the 8th. Instead, speedy Jarrod Dyson pinch-ran for Craig in the #9 spot. John Gant came out to pitch for the Cards. Gonzalez struck out looking at a 1-2 low-and-in fastball right on the edge of the corner. Tucker blooped a low-and-away 1-2 change off the end of the bat to center for a base hit to score Dyson and give the Pirates a 2-1 lead. Dyson read the situation perfectly off the bat and raced immediately for home plate.

Gant gets charged with a run in that situation, but not an earned run. With the count 2-2 on Newman, Gant threw a change in the dirt short of the plate that got away from Molina for a wild pitch to move Tucker to 2nd. Newman slowly rolled a low-and-away 3-2 fastball to 2nd for the 2nd out, with Tucker moving to 3rd base. After Bell walked on 5 pitches, Reynolds lined a low-and-in 0-2 fastball to center for a base hit to score Tucker and extend the Pirates’ lead to 3-1. Bell went to 2nd. Stallings sharply grounded an inside fastball to Miller at 3rd. It was hit hard, but Miller decided to give us that o’le bullshit instead of getting in front of it, and it took a hop and bounced off of his glove into left field. Bell scored on Miller’s 2nd error of the afternoon to give the Pirates a 4-1 lead, with Reynolds moving to 3rd base.

Tyler Webb came out to pitch to Polanco and got him to ground a first-pitch high curve to 2nd to end the inning.

Dexter Fowler made the last out for the Cards, so he was placed at 2nd base to start the bottom of the 8th. Righty Richard Rodriguez came out to try to close things out for the Pirates. Dyson stayed in the game in the #9 spot to play CF. Tucker moved from CF to RF. Adam Frazier came in to play 2B in the #7 spot. Newman moved from 2B to SS. Gonzalez moved from SS to 3B, and Osuna moved from 3B to 1B. Carlson drove a 2-2 high-and-outside fastball to the gap in left-center. Reynolds dove for it in a valiant attempt, but was only able to trap it. Fowler was only able to go to 3rd because he had to make sure Reynolds didn’t make the catch. With runners at the corners, Wong sliced a fastball towards the left field line towards the side wall. Reynolds, who was playing off the line, raced over and made a sliding catch. The ball would have been fair. Carlson had to hustle back to 1st just to not get doubled off. Edman lined a high-and-outside fastball for a base hit to left-center to score Fowler, cut the Pirates’ lead to 4-2, and move Carlson to 2nd. With 1 out and runners at 1st and 2nd, Goldschmidt lined a 2-2 outside fastball off of the pitcher’s leg by his right ankle. The ball ricocheted into shallow right field for a base hit. Carlson scored to cut the Pirates’ lead to 4-3, and the ball slowed down enough off of the carom to allow Edman to move to 3rd base. But again, the Cards can’t get the tying run home from 3rd base. Brad Miller struck out swinging at an 0-2 high fastball. Max Schrock pinch hit for O’Neill and, in trying to uppercut every pitch, struck out swinging at an elevated 0-2 fastball to end the game.

Kim (4 days rest) 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO; Gallegos (4 days rest, top 7, tied 1-1) 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO; Gant (1 day rest, top 8, tied 1-1) .2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO; Webb (1 day rest, top 8, 2 out, men at 1st and 3rd, down 4-1) .1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO.

ODDS AND ENDS

The Cubs have the day off today before going to Cincinnati to play the Reds for 4 games in 3 days. After the Reds and Brewers agreed not to play last night, they are scheduled for a doubleheader today to close out their 4-game series. The Reds are currently ahead 3-0 in the 4th behind solo homers by Nick Castellanos and Jesse Winker. The Pirates leave this doubleheader with the Cardinals to play the Brewers for a 4-game series in Milwaukee starting tomorrow