The Comeback Cards strike again, pulling out a victory for the 3rd game in a row from the Pirates after being behind. Once again, the 7th inning proved to be the difference. Before that point, the game was a pitcher’s duel between Jack Flaherty and Pirates’ starter Joe Musgrove, who both had 11 strikeouts on the afternoon. Flaherty pitched his best game of the year, and looked the best he has since opening day back in July. Musgrove also had his best outing, and matched Flaherty strikeout for strikeout. With 28 strikeouts total in this game, there wasn’t much offense at all, but the Cards had just enough and Yadier Molina came through with the key hit at the right time after an injury scare yesterday. In short, it wasn’t pretty, but the Cards took care of business, taking 4 out of 5 from the Pirates in the series. Hopefully the bats give our starters some more leeway over the final 7 says of the season.
Joe Musgrove took the mound for the Pirates. Tommy Edman flied an up-and-in 3-2 slider deep to right, but Gregory Polanco caught it at the track near the wall. Paul DeJong struck out swinging at an 0-2 slider low-and-and-away and out of the zone. Paul Goldschmidt lined a middle-in 2-1 fastball to center for a 2-out base hit, but he was stranded there when Brad Miller struck out looking at a 3-2 curve that looked like it was below the zone. Jack Flaherty took the hill for the Cards. Bryan Reynolds popped a 3-2 hanging slider to Edman at 2nd base to lead off the bottom of the 1st. Adam Frazier struck out chasing a high-and-outside 2-2 fastball. Colin Moran struck out chasing an 0-2 low-and-in slider to end the inning.
Tyler O’Neill struck out swinging at an 0-2 high hanging slider to lead off the top of the 2nd. Matt Carpenter struck out looking at a 2-2 curve that was clearly outside. Yadier Molina grounded an outside 1-2 fastball up the middle, but the shortstop Erik Gonzalez drifted to his left and threw Yadi out to end the inning. Josh Bell struck out struck out swinging at a low 2-2 slider to lead off the bottom of the 2nd. Erik Gonzalez drove a 1-0 middle-in fastball deep to right, but Justin Williams made the play crashing against the wall. Gregory Polanco struck out chasing a 3-2 low-and-in slider to end the inning.
To lead off the top of the 3rd, Dylan Carlson lined an inside 2-0 fastball down the right field line and into the corner for a double. Justin Williams struck out swinging at an inside 2-2 fastball. Edman struck out chasing an 0-2 low-and-in curve in the dirt. DeJong popped an 0-1 low-and-away slider to Bell at 1st in foul territory to end the inning, and the Cards strand a runner in scoring position. Jose Osuna poked a low-and-away 2-2 slider off the end of the bat and just over DeJong’s head at short for a base hit to left to lead off the bottom of the 3rd. With the count 2-1 on JT Riddle, the Pirates put on the hit-and-run play. Osuna tried to steal 2nd base. Riddle swung and missed and Molina nailed him at 2nd by a mile.
Riddle flied a low-and-away 3-2 fastball to center. John Ryan Murphy grounded a first-pitch center-cut fastball to short to end the inning.
Goldschmidt grounded a low-and-away 0-2 slider to the first-baseman Bell opposite the shift for the 3-1 flip to start the top of the 4th. Brad Miller grounded a 1-0 center-cut fastball for the shortstop Gonzalez into the shift to the right side of the 2nd base bag. But Gonzalez played back on the ball and it went through his legs for an error. O’Neill grounded a first-pitch center-cut fastball deep in the hole for Gonzalez, who fired to 2nd for the 5-4 force. Carpenter chased a low-and-away 0-1 change, broke his bat, and tapped the ball back to Musgrove on the mound to end the inning. Reynolds lined a first-pitch low-and-away change to the gap in left-center. Carlson raced over to cut the ball of, spun around, and fired to 2nd, but Reynolds slid in safely to 2nd with a double. After Frazier sacrificed Reynolds to 3rd, Moran flied a hanging 2-2 curve to center, deep enough to score Reynolds on the Sac Fly to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead. Bell struck out looking at a low-and-away 2-2 fastball that just caught the edge of the zone.
Molina struck out looking at a 2-2 low-and-in backdoor slider to lead off the top of the 5th. Carlson struck out looking at an 0-2 low-and-away change that was clearly below the zone. After Justin Williams worked a 2-out 3-2 walk, Edman struck out chasing an 0-2 low slider to end the inning. After Gonzalez walked on 5 pitches to lead off the bottom of the 5th, Polanco struck out looking at an outside 2-2 fastball. Osuna struck out looking at a 1-2 low-and-in fastball on the edge of the zone. Riddle struck out swinging at a low 3-2 fastball to end the inning, and that’s now 17 strikeouts between both starters through 5 innings.
DeJong struck out looking at a 2-2 fastball on the outside corner to lead off the top of the 6th. Goldschmidt ripped a low-and-in fastball to left that went over Osuna’s head in left, bounced on the track and went over the wall for a ground rule double. But once again, the Cards could not capitalize. Brad Miller flied a hanging 2-2 slider to shallow center. O’Neill chased a 3-2 low-and-away slider after being ahead in the count 3-0 to end the inning. After Murphy worked a 3-2 walk to lead off the bottom of the 6th, Reynolds struck out looking at a low-and-away 2-2 fastball. Frazier struck out swinging at a low-and-in 3-2 slider on the 10th pitch of the plate appearance. Moran struck out swinging at an up-and-in 2-2 fastball to end the inning. Each starter now has 11 strikeouts.
Now it’s the battle of the bullpens, as lefty Derek Holland came out to pitch for the Pirates in the top of the 7th. Carpenter grounded an up-and-in 2-2 fastball to the left side opposite the shift for a base hit to left to lead off the inning. Molina then drove a low-and-in 2-2 curve into the seats just over the left field wall for a 2-run HR to give the Cards a 2-1 lead.
Carlson grounded a first-pitch hanging curve to 3rd. Bader lined an outside 2-0 curve to left. Edman sharply grounded an inside curve through the hole to left for a base hit. DeJong flied a low 3-2 change deep to center, but Reynolds caught it at the track to end the inning. Tyler Webb came out to pitch the bottom of the 7th for the Cards after Flaherty’s 102-pitch effort. Bader stayed in the game in the #9 spot to play CF, with Carlson moving from CF to RF. Bell chopped a high 1-0 fastball to short to lead off the inning. Gonzalez flied a first-pitch inside change to left in front of the track. Polanco struck out swinging late at a 2-2 center-cut fastball to end the inning.
Lefty Nik Turley came out to pitch the top of the 8th. Goldschmidt struck out looking at a 1-2 curve on the outside corner to lead off the inning. Rangel Ravelo pinch hit for Brad Miller and drove a center-cut fastball to the track in right-center, but Reynolds ran it down. O’Neill struck out chasing a low 2-2 curve almost in the dirt to end the inning. John Gant came out to pitch the bottom of the 8th, and this is the first we’ve seen him pitch since he had to leave the September 13th game with a groin injury. Kolten Wong also came in to play 2B in the #6 spot, with Edman moving to 3B and Carpenter exiting the game. Osuna chopped an outside 3-2 fastball to 2nd to lead off the inning. Riddle flied a high-and-outside 1-2 fastball for Bader in left-center. Murphy grounded a center-cut 0-1 fastball to 3rd to end the inning.
Righty Richard Rodriguez came out to pitch the top of the 9th for the Pirates. After Wong worked a 3-2 walk to lead off the inning, Molina popped a first-pitch up-and-in fastball to Frazier at 2nd on the outfield grass. The hit-and-run play was on, which was likely why Molina offered at the pitch. Carlson must have been guessing for another pitch, because he struck out swinging at a 2-2 fastball right down the middle. Kolten Wong stole second base with the count 1-0 on Bader, and Bader ended up walking on 5 pitches. With the count 0-1 on Edman, Wong stole 3rd and Bader stole 2nd in a double steal without the Pirates paying attention. But it turned out not to matter, as Edman struck out swinging at a high 1-2 fastball to end the inning. Andrew Miller came out to try to get the save for the Cards in the bottom of the 9th. Reynolds popped an inside 2-1 slider to Edman at 3rd in foul territory. Frazier grounded an 0-2 inside slider to 2nd. Moran struck out chasing an 0-2 low-and-away slider to end the game. Miller picked up his 3rd save of the season.
Flaherty (4 days rest) 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 SO; Webb (2 days rest, bottom 7, ahead 2-1) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO; Gant (6 days rest, bottom 8, ahead 2-1) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO; A. Miller (1 day rest, bottom 9, ahead 2-1) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO.
ODDS AND ENDS
Andrew Miller’s 14th appearance today guaranteed his 2021 vesting option for $12 million, so he’s automatically signed for next season...The Reds beat the White Sox 7-3. White Sox starter Dylan Cease walked 7, including walking the bases loaded before retiring any batters in the top of the 4th. That set up a 5-run 4th inning in which the Reds received 6 walks and 1 batter got hit. The Brewers beat the Royals 5-3, with DH Dan Vogelbach getting all the RBIs on a 2-run HR and a 3-run shot. The Cubs have started their contest with the Twins tonight, with Yu Darvish squaring off against Jose Berrios. The Twins are winning 2-0 in the top of the 2nd, with Darvish escaping a bases loaded, 1-out jam in the bottom of the 1st...Today the Cardinals acquired LHP Domingo Robles from the Pirates for an unknown amount of International Slot Bonus Pool Money. That money can only be traded in chunks of $250,000, so that gives you an idea. The 22-year old Robles spent 5 years in the Pirates’ organization before this season and topped out with 18 starts in AA last season. He’s always had decent walk and home run rates, but the highest strikeout rate he ever posted was 18.7% over 10 starts with Class-A Advanced last year...The Cubs travel to Pittsburgh tomorrow for a 4-game series against the Pirates, then close out the season with 3 games on the road against the White Sox. The Reds play the Brewers at home for a 3-game series starting tomorrow, and following a day off on Thursday, the Reds go to Minnesota to finish the season with a 3-game series against the Twins...The Cards have a 3-game series with the Royals in Kansas City starting tomorrow, then come home for 5 games in 4 days against the Brewers, including a Friday doubleheader. The Cards might also be forced to play a doubleheader in Detroit on Monday, September 28th if it would affect the playoff seeding.