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Tigers Roar Past Cards with 5-Run 7th

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3-1 DH-sweeping win becomes 6-3 DH-splitting loss

MLB: Game Two-Detroit Tigers at St. Louis Cardinals
It was funny for a while.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

FanGraphs liked the odds of you ending your double-baseball-watching experience happily, as it posted a 79.7% Win Expectancy for the Cards, and 20.3% for the Tigers.

Boy did Win Expectancy come into play late.


The Bird’s-Eye View

Things looked perfectly fine for 6 innings. The 7th was a hellscape of a 3-1 lead becoming a 6-3 loss.

The Cards got base runners on in every inning except the 7th, notching single tallies in the 2nd, 4th. 5th, in a variety of ways. And they didn’t even need their popular bases-loaded strategy to do so.

In the 2nd, they book-ended two singles around a Tigers’ error to plate their first run. In the 4th, a walk and a double did the trick. And in the 5th, a Tommy Edman Big Mac Land solo homer had Cards’ nation all happy and stuff, ‘cuz that made it 3-0 at that point with just innings to go!

Gomber made it into the fourth with zeros on the Tigers’ side of the ledger, but he couldn’t get an out in that frame. No matter, as Alex Reyes came to the rescue, but not after he put himself in more peril by loading the bases with nobody out. But he pulled himself right out of by retiring the next three in order to preserve the Cards’ slim 1-0 at that point.

Likewise, the Tigers themselves had base runners in each inning through 4, but after they came up empty after their bases loaded nobody out 4th, Reyes stayed in and got the first 3-up, 3-down inning on the day for Cards’ pitching.

After tacking on the run in the 5th to make it 3-0, the Tigers got on the board with a single run of their own against Genesis Cabrera, who gave up a lead-off homer to Jeimer Candelario.

The Cards entered the top of the fateful 7th with a 3-1 lead that felt way more comfortable than it should’ve. I mean, at that point, FanGraphs gave them a 92.8% chance of winning, which we call can agree is good.

Unfortunately, FanGraphs didn’t know that the Tigers were going to suddenly explode for 5 runs to steal a 6-3 win. If computers couldn’t have seen that, did you?

The horror began when lights-out reliever (Closer?) to this point, Giovanni Gallegos, gave up a walk and two singles against the first three batters to cut the Cards lead to 3-2. An errant, over the cut-off throw from Bader on the second single allowed the trailing runners to advance to second and third. Then, Gio had to come out for some unknown injury reason.

With second and third and nobody out, the Cards’ Win Expectancy plummeted to 39.1%.

Ryan Helsey was thrown into the fire to face Miguel Cabrera with the tying run at third and go-ahead run at second with nobody out. But Shildt prevented that match-up, intentionally walking Miggy (who entered the at-bat 0-3 with a hat-trick of strikeouts) to load the bases.

The intentional walk to load the bases reduced the Cards’ Win Expectancy to 35.8%.
But the winning run was already at second, and it set up the double play.
Good call?

Well, Helsley promptly gave up a a 2-run single on an 0-2 count to Candelario to flip the lead, making it 4-3 Tigers. With first and second nobody out, the Cards got a lucky line-drive double play and there was brief hope they could go to their half having to make up just the one run. But Jorge Bonifacio took care of that by rocketing a 2-run homer to bump the lead to 6-3.

The Cards then went 3-up, 3-down. With a thud.


The Flight Path

Top of 1st - A nifty bunt base hit, but Gomber called his best friend.
GomberWatch: 16 P (10 S)

Lead-off an Victor Reyes pushed a bunt to the right side on a 1-0 count that rolled all the way to Kolten Wong, who sorta tried to shovel it to Goldy with his glove, but he had no shot anyway, as Reyes reached.

No matter, as Gomber got #2 batter Jonathan Schoop to ground a 2-2 slider directly to Wong, who niftily tossed to DeJong via back-hand toss. Pauly D’s relay to first was dug out (per usual) by fellow Pauly, the G version for the twin-killing.

After going 3-2 to Miguel Cabrera, Gomber elevated a 93 mph heater past the veteran, striking him out swinging to end the frame.

Bottom of 1st - A lead-off single was not advanced beyond third.

Kolten wasted no time, dumping a bloop single (74 mph EV) to center on the first pitch. Zimmerman went 3-0 to Tommy, who walked on a 3-1 slider Zimmerman attempted to wrap around the outside corner, but the ump was having none of the catcher’s framing.

So with a RISP shot already for Paul Goldschmidt, he didn’t do the worst thing (hit into a triple play), but the next-worst thing, rolling over a 1-1 slider, grounding it to short for the easy 6-4-3 double play as Kolten scampered to third.

Zimmerman then threw a first-pitch fastball followed by 5-straight sliders, to Brad Miller, which produced a full count. Miller’s timing was successfully messed up, as Jordan went back to the fastball on pitch 7, which Miller whiffed through for out 3.

Top of 2nd - Gomber went 0-2 on 3 of the 4 hitters but gave up 2 singles; plus, he needed 15 pitches to get the last 2 outs, which all conspired to bloat his pitch count, but everything ended fine.
GomberWatch: 42P (30S)

Clean-up hitter Jeimer Candelario got the Tigers a lead-off base runner again, as he hit a sinking fliner to center. Bader raced in, slid, and gloved it on the short hop to his left side, attempting to deke the ump with the “I caught it!” sign, but to no avail. He was lucky it didn’t get by him for extra bases.

Gomber got ahead of Willi Castro 0-2 and broke off a diving slider that Willi waved over, losing his bat in the process, which helicoptered toward, but not dangerously near his teammates’ dugout.

With one out, Gomber again got ahead 0-2, but he left a fastball away but inside the zone, and Jorge Bonifacio drove it to right for a single, making it first and second for Daz Cameron.

Again, Austin powered ahead 0-2, but Daz put him to work, fouling off 5-straight offerings. After a mound visit from Matt Wieters, during which the veteran backstop told Gomber to just use one more pitch, Austin complied, K’ing Daz on his next toss, a nice down-and-away change-up for out 2.

The pitch count kept elevating, as Gomber went to another full count against Grayson Greiner. All ended well, however, as Austin flashed his signature knuckle curve on pitch 7, that Grayson could only marvel at, as it bit the top of the zone to end the inning.

Bottom of 2nd (In Play, Runs(s)) - The Cards took advantage of an error to get on the board.

DeJong singled to left to start things off, followed by Canadian Strongman Tyler O’Neill banging a grounder under the backhanded glove of third baseman Sergio Alcantara (ruled an error). DeJong motored to third, and Tyler hustled (eventually, after hitting first), to arrive safely at second.

Matt Carpenter, not inspiring optimism lately, used his patented 9-iron half swing on a full-count slider in the lower-outside corner of the zone, serving a chip-shot fliner that rolled to the green in center (82 mph EV), scoring DeJong with O’Neill held up at third, making it 1-0 Cards!

Matt Wieters then hit into an easy double-play, as with Carpenter running on a 3-2 count, he hit a soft liner right at first baseman Candelario, who barely had to move to step on first.

Zimmerman ended the inning by striking out Harrison Bader, mixing sliders and fastballs, getting him to chase a high 90 mph “heater” above the zone.

Top of 3rd - Gomber was much more efficient, needing just 15 pitches to get through the inning, facing 4 batters.
GomberWatch: 57P (42S)

Gomber induced first hitter Alcantara to bang a firm grounder to Carpenter, who ate it up near his belly and threw successfully across the diamond to get him. Victor Reyes, however, aimed a hard grounder better, scooting it under the skipping feet of Gomber and rolled into center for a single.

In a pretty bit of pitching, struck out Schoop, tying the righty up on a 1-2, 93 mph fastball diving toward his hands. Thinking Cabrera has lost some zip in his swing, Gomber started him off with nothing but fastballs, going 0-2. After a called-ball change-up, he returned to the swifty, pinpointed down and away that Miguel watched the ump call strike 3.

Bottom of 3rd - Two great plays by the Tigers put a stop to the Cards’ inning before it got too far.

With the line-up turning over, Wong grounded out to his counterpart at second. Tommy had his back, though, as he singled on a sharp line drive to left on a change-up, a pitch that’s given him trouble in his young career.

Goldy then got robbed of extra bases, slamming a sizzling liner to deep right, curving away from RFer Daz Cameron who stretched out his glove at the last second and snagged it, banging into the wall. Tommy was able to return to first safely as Cameron’s hurried off-target throw rolled toward the infield.

Trying to make something else happen, Tommy took off on a 1-0 count with Miller at the dish. He got a good jump, but catcher Greiner’s throw was pinpoint perfect, as the second baseman merely had to lay his glove on the dirt at the bag and catch the throw.

Top of 4th - The first two reached on a walk and single, and Alex Reyes relieved. He made bases-loaded trouble but got out of it!
Final GomberWatch: 63 P (44 S)

Gomber missed with his first three pitches to Candelario and walked him on pitch 5. Willi Castro bumped the CandyMan to second by singling up the middle on a first-pitch fastball out over the plate.

That was enough for Shildt, who decided not to press his luck with the young lefty, replacing him with another youngster, righty Alex Reyes.

Reyes gave up a 2-2 hard single grounded through the hole off the bat of sixth-place hitter Bonifacio. It was hit hard enough that the Tigers couldn’t send Candelario.

So now with the bases juiced and nobody out, Reyes bucked up, slinging a 2-0 97 mph fastball up and in that Daz Cameron couldn’t resist, popping it up to Wong at second, with the infield fly rule pronounced for the first out.

Reyes got ahead of Greiner 1-2, mixing curve, slider, and fastball. Then on 2-2, he snapped off a biting, diving slider at 86 mph to strike out his man swinging. Alex didn’t mess around with next batter Alcantara, rifling the 98 mph express up and away that Alcantara check-swung at but made contact, sending a soft liner right at Carpenter to escape the inning!

A masked fist-pump was witnessed from Gomber in the dugout.

Bottom of 4th (In Play, Run(s)) - Lefty Tyler Alexander entered in relief for the Tigers. The Cards used a walk/double combo to dent him for a run.

Brad Miller was up in the third when Edman was caught stealing for the third out, so the rules say he still got to hit in the fourth. Good rule, bad result, as the lefty popped out in shallow left, ran down by the shortstop for out 1.

Paul DeJong earned a free pass after getting down 0-2. Tyler couldn’t move him over, as he got fooled looking at a well-placed 2-2 fastball just inside the upper-inner part of the zone for a called strike 3.

Now with Pauly D still standing at first and two out, Carpenter got the count full, for the “send the runner” count. With DeJong running, Carpenter put a good swing on a low fastball, golfing it to deep right-center, bouncing it off the wall for a double, scoring DeJong to make it 2-0!

Wieters couldn’t cash in on the additional RISP, popping out to second to end the inning.

Top of 5th - Reyes remained and produced a 1-2-3 inning, the first on the day for Cards’ pitching.

First batter Victor Reyes was distracted by facing a pitcher with the same last name and flew out to medium left to start the inning. Schoop then schooped a soft fly ball to shallow right that Wong chased down and gloved with his back to the infield and glove extended palm up, making it look easy.

Reyes finished the Tigers off by making Cabrera look like a rookie, striking him out on three pitches, the last of which was that nasty slider he had no chance to even foul tip.

Bottom of 5th (In Play, Run(s)) - Tommy got him some Mickey-D’s!

Harrison Bader, licking his chops facing lefty Alexander, got ahead of himself, striking out on three pitches: sinker called strike, change-up swinging strike, 89 mph “fastball” way above the zone swinging strike. I guess you could say there is a clear book on Bader.

Tommy Edman liked what he saw in the soft-tossing lefty, though, as he went down almost to one knee to get a low-and-in 1-1 cutter, powering it to deep left off the Big Mac Land sign to make it 3-0!

After Alexander went to 3-0 on Goldy, he eventually walked him on the 6th pitch. MIller then got a break, as he hit a dying quail into the Bermuda Triangle formed by the left fielder, shortstop, and third baseman in shallow left Goldy read it perfectly and motored to third, to make it first and third 2 out.

The Tigers then switched Alexander out for righty Jose Cisnero to face DeJong, and he struck him out on a 96 mph 2-2 heater placed well on the outer edge.

Top of 6th (In Play, Run(s)) - ‘Lectric Lefty Genesis Cabrera came on to show his stuff, but he gave one back.

First hitter Candelario greeted Genesis rudely, turning around a 96 mph fastball middle-middle, cranking it into right-center for a homer to get on the board, making it 3-1.

Perhaps over-adjusting (and coming out of his mechanics), Cabrera walked the very next batter Castro on four pitches, alternating fastballs and curves, but none close to the zone.

Mike Maddux made a masked visit to give John Gant a bit of time to get warmed up without Genesis doing more damage for a bit. He got next hitter Bonifacio to pop out to Goldy in foul territory to record the first out.

That apparently had provided Gant enough time to get his pitchin’ arm warm, as Shildt immediately brought him in to replace Alex. While he was at it, Shildt brought in the extra defense, putting Lane Thomas in RF, and Tommy went from RF to 3B (ending Carpenter’s evening).

Gant came out straight-dealin’, striking out Cameron on three pitches: cutter, sinker, Vulcan Change-up.

Gant was fortunate against next batter Greiner, who hit a long line-drive just foul down the left-field line on a mistake 0-1 change-up left up and in that John helped by waiving foul. He made better pitches thereafter, though, ultimately getting a harmless ground-out to DeJong.

Bottom of 6th - A 2-out double was stranded.

Tyler led off by flying out to shallow right center. Lane Thomas then shot a hot liner on pitch one into left-center that looked destined to reach the wall, but left-fielder Bonifacio kept coming, and coming, and coming, then sliding to grab it just above the turf to steal a certain double from the Lane Train (97 mph EV).

Wieters then crafted the count full then got the bat head out in front of a 96 mph down-and-in 97 mph fastball, driving it just fair inside the first-base line for a chugging 2-out double.

Alas, Bader couldn’t cash in on the 2-out RISP chance, instead striking out for the hat trick on the day.

Top of 7th (In Play, Run(s)) - Giovanni Gallegos came in to close, facing the 9-1-2 hitters. He didn’t get an out and left with a mystery injury after giving up a run. Things got worse after that.

Just missing with a 2-2 up and-in fastball against Alcantara, the hitter likewise just held up on a 3-2 slider in the dirt, earning a walk. (Old-fashioned fan-only instant replay showed that he did check it.)

On an 1-2 count, Gio got burned on a 92 mph fastball over and just barely outside, as Reyes lined it into center for a single, making it first and second, nobody out.

Things got worse, as Schoop singled sharply to center. The Tigers sent Alcantara home, and Bader’s throw was over the cut-off up the line, and scooted under Yadi’s glove. The Cards briefly got a break, as the ball bounced off the on-deck batter and rolled immediately to Yadi, who gloved it and fired to third, as Reyes had kept running. In a bang-bang play, Reyes was just safe (he was, with no challenge needed), as Schoop continued to second, to make it 3-2 Cards.

The trainer was called out to the mound to check on Gio, and whatever was wrong was enough to prevent him from continuing, as Shildt brought in Ryan Helsley to face Cabrera with the tying run at third and go-ahead run at second with nobody out.

Shildt intentionally walked Cabrera (who had the hat trick on strikeouts this game), and the Tigers brought in Derek Hill to run for Miguel at first.

Now with the bases loaded nobody out, the tall order for Helsley started against Candelario, who had singled and homered so far on the day. On an 0-2 pitch, Candelario got jammed on a pretty good up-and-in 98 mph heater, but he muscled it into center for a bloop hit that scored two to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead.

As unlucky as that was, with first and second, nobody out, the Cards got just as lucky against next batter Castro, who lined one right to Goldy, who tagged Candelario out for the unassisted double play.

Looking to stop the bleeding and give it to the Cards hitters with just a one-run deficit, instead, Helsley made things bleed more, as he promptly served up a long, 2-run homer to Bonifacio to double the deficit at 6-3 Tigers.

Cameron almost started things up again, as he grounded out sharply to Edman at third to end the horrible inning.

Bottom of 7th - Tigers’ righty Bryan Garcia came in to protect their shiny new 3-run lead.

The top of the order was up, but Wong did not set the table, as he grounded out to his counterpart at second for out 1.

Tommy tried to catch the Tigers napping via the bunt down third on a 1-0 pitch, but Alcantara took care of it for the second out.

Last hope Goldy gave Cards’ fans brief hope, nailing a liner at 96 mph EV to right, but it was caught instead for the final out.

Cards lost, 6-3


The Bottom Line

  • Gomber’s line was an improvement in control: 3 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 6 SO
  • When DeJong walked and scored in the 4th, it was the 53rd time the Tigers walked a man who then scored, most in the majors.
  • The Cards gave up 4 walks, one of which scored in the 7th.
  • Tommy’s homer in the 5th gave him 4, just one back of Goldy’s 5 for the team lead.
    It also was his 4th-straight game with an RBI.
  • The Cards were just 1-8 with RISP; the Tigers were 4-10.
  • A win woulda put the Cards 3 games above .500 for the first time this season.
  • Pictures are no better than words:
Like Wile E. Coyote off a cliff.