Keep Your Arms Inside the Ride at All Times: In all four starts in his abbreviated 2020 season, Carlos Martinez has made it into (and once, out of) the 4th but no further (farther?)
If his defense had not utterly failed him in his last start vs. the Pirates last Friday, he mighta lasted longer than 3.2. In a truly bizarre game, he was charged with just 1 of the 5 runs as the fielders made 4 errors. And while he gave up just 3 hits, he walked 4 and struck out just one.
He’s often like a carnival ride with a strange little man at the controls. You never know about that little man. Many nights, he works by the book, the ride is smooth, and everybody has a great time. Other nights, he feels like messin’ with the levers, the ride is jerky and bumpy and everyone nearly pukes.
Mike Check: Manager Mike—no, not that one, the other one—threw a lefty tonight, Danny “Daffy” Duffy, a 10-year vet with over 1,100 mostly non-descript innings on his resume. Although, his career ERA is a hair over 4 at 4.02 (4.23 FIP), which is p good for the AL. He’s spent his entire career with the Royals, but you never hear “Face of the Franchise” bandied about in sentences containing his name. But hey, they seem to like him.
The Other Other Manager Mike countered with a lineup of all righties except for Kolten, who led off to get his left-handed ness out of the way. Rangel Ravelo batted 6th and played right while Dex batted 7th and was your DH. [Pause for effect...]
Nah, just kiddin’. Tommy was in right, Rangel was at third, and Dex was in center. [Hee-hee.]
Okay, okay...Tyler O’Neill, Matt Carpenter, and Brad Miller were the odd-men out...
I prefer to think of it as the BBQ Sauce Series
Shrug Emoji: FanGraphs wanted to have confidence in El Gallo but couldn’t muster much up. When they ran the pre-game algorithm, it spit out: “Your Guess is as Good as Mine” and gave the Cards a hair-over-coin-toss odds with a 50.5% Win Expectancy, 49.5% for the Royals.
The Bird’s-Eye View
Carlos Martinez throwing a very high percentage of strikes (71%) normally would be a very good thing. Tonight, however, too many of those strikes caught the meat of the zone, and the Royals didn’t miss many, touching him for 8 earned runs (gulp). But even after he was out of the game, the Royals teed off on Cards’ relievers for 5 runs in the 6th off Seth Elledge (4 runs) and Kodi Whitely (1 run).
And while the Royals banged out 14 hits, they weren’t exactly using the station-to-station strategy, as they had an eye-popping 9 of the extra-base hit variety, including four doubles, a triple, and 4 homers(!). And those four homers were by just 2 hitters: Salvador Perez and 8th-place hitter Franchy Cordero.
But hey, Yadi played first for the final two innings. That was fun.
Carlos was hurling hanging sliders, sinkers that didn’t, and changeups left up that were banged repeatedly, as the Royals had 7 hits already by the 3rd inning.
And as you might expect with that many base knocks in the initial third of the game, they probably scored early. Yes. In fact, they scored in each of the first three innings. The big blows were 2 homers both off the bat of catcher Salvador Perez, one a 2-run homer in the first and another a 3-run jack in the third. Just for good measure, the Royals also tallied one in between those homers, creating a run in the second that started with a lead-off triple. (Always a good way to start an inning.)
So if you’re scoring at home, that was 6 runs by the Royals by the first third of the game. But hey, there was still lots of game left. Unfortunately, the Cards were going nowhere fast, with just one runner in scoring position (a Yadi double in the 2nd) through 4. They finally scratched across a tally in the 5th with 2 singles bookending a wild pitch.
Carlos finally started pitching to the edges and kept the Royals off the board in the 4th and 5th.
The Cards had their last good shot to stay in the game in the 6th, getting first and third with one out (followed by a DeJong strikeout), then bases loaded and 2 outs (ironically the first bases-loaded instance by either team), but it ended with a pinch-hit ground-out by Brad Miller.
The Royals then turned the game into a laugher in their half of the 6th. After giving up a single and a walk to start the frame, Carlos felt a sharp twinge in his left side after throwing a pitch, and he was immediately removed. Seth Elledge couldn’t keep those runs from scoring, and then some, as after a strikeout for the first out, the Royals nailed another 3-run homer, 3 doubles and a walk to balloon the score to 11-1, sending 10 hitters up in the inning.
The Royals tacked on another tally in the 7th on a solo homer by Cordero (why not?) to make it a dozen.
The Cards did load the bases with 2 out in the 9th and a 2-run single by Bader made the final 12-3, which didn’t look any better.
The Flight Path
Top of 1st - Two K’s book-ended a long, teasing out.
Lone lefty Kolten Wong battled well to get the count full. Alas, he watched pitch 8 dot the outside corner for a called strike 3. Tommy was ready to get goin’, as he swung on pitch one and drove it deep to center. But Franchy Cordero ran it down, making a nice catch reaching above his head with his left-gloved hand to snag it for out 2. Duffy then totally fooled Paul Goldschmidt with a 2-2 changeup, as Goldy gave it a half-hearted wrist-only swing, unable to foul it off, striking out to end the frame.
Bottom of 1st (In Play, Run(s)) - The clean-up hitter wiped away a hanging slider.
Whit Merrifield got out in front of nice a 1-2 changeup, topping it to Edman, who fired from third for the out. Adalberto Mondesi reached next, firmly grounding one off the glove of Goldy, who dove to his right, but couldn’t come up with it.
Carlos’ first offering to Salvador Perez was a mistake. A big one. It was a hanging slider that sat at the top of the zone, and the burly catcher hammered it deep into dead center for a 2-run homer (106 mph EV, 437 ft).
Jorge Soler then struck out on a 1-2 backup slider that hung over the inside corner and was deemed strike 3 by the ump for the second out.
Maikel Franco then topped a 1-2 change-up to Tommy, who took care of the final out.
Top of 2nd - A one-out double was erased unceremoniously.
DeJong reached for an 0-2 slider and lofted it to right toward the line, but it hung up for an out. Yadi got the Cards’ first hit, slamming a first-pitch sinker in the heart of the zone to deep center. Cordero didn’t catch up to this one, seemingly taking an erroneous route, as the ball one-hopped up against the wall. Hilariously, Yadi had to hit the after-burners to just barely beat the throw to second, standing up.
Ravelo got jammed on an up-and-in 94 mph fastball, clunking a soft liner to Hunter Dozier at first, who flung it to second to catch Yadi at second for the double play.
Bottom of 2nd (In Play, Run(s)) - Teams usually find ways to score when they get lead-off triples. The Royals did.
Hunter “Bull” Dozier ambushed a first-pitch 93 mph fastball right down central, lining it deep into right-center. He motored to third for a close play, but he was safe with a lead-off triple.
Alex Gordon followed by grounding out to Goldy, with Dozier staying put at third.
Now with one out, Cordero grounded one back to Carlos, but he couldn’t field it, instead merely deflecting it toward the hole between first and second, allowing Dozer to score to make it 3-0 Royals. If he had fielded it, he woulda had Dozier hung up. If he had let it go, they woulda at least had an out.
Carlos redeemed himself against next batter Lopez, who also grounded one to Martinez. He plucked this one cleanly, and feeling his shortstop arm from his youth, he whipped a fastball to second, to start an inning-ending double play that was turned in a flash.
Top of 3rd - A two-out single was just that.
Former lead-off hitter Dexter Fowler started this inning, grounding out to short on a 2-2 changeup. Next, Dylan Carlson looked like a lead-off hitter, fouling off 5 in a 9-pitch at-bat; unfortunately, the last pitch resulted in a bad-luck line-out to deep right-center for out 2 (98 mph EV, 367 ft).
With the Royals shifted against 9th-place hitter Harrison Bader, Tots went the other way, grounding one through the big gap between first and second. After Kolten got down 0-2, he had to reach down to swing at a nicely placed slider (that likely woulda been a called strike), flying out to medium right for the final out of the inning.
Bottom of 3rd (In Play, Run(s)) - The top of the lineup produced more damage, and a repeat offender doubled their run total.
The lineup turned over with Merrifield singling to right, a liner off a 95 mph fastball down the middle. Carlos then invited more trouble, walking Mondesi on a full count, with none of the called balls close at all to the strike zone.
Fresh off a 2-run homer already this game, Perez stepped in with first and second, nobody out. Make that 2 home runs. A 1-0 changeup fluttered down and in. It was below the zone, but Perez golfed it, smacking a loud 3-run homer to deep left center to make it 6-0 Royals.
Soler followed with hard contact, but luckily it was on the ground, and Kolten made a slick backhanded play on the shortstop side of second for out 1.
Franco started things up again, as he singled on a hot grounder past DeJong into left. After brushing back Dozier with an up-and-in 91 mph “sinker,” Carlos eventually got him to tap a 3-1 grounder to short. It was hit too slowly to turn the DP, as Pauly D threw to Pauly G for out 2.
Now with another RISP at second, Carlos finally ended another run-scoring frame by striking out Gordon swinging through a not-hanging slider down and in.
Top of 4th - Hitters 2, 3, 4 went down 1, 2, 3.
Tommy Edman started the 4th with a bad-luck hard liner ( 97.1 mph EV) right to Merrifield in right for out 1. Goldschmidt pulled a grounder right at the third-base bag and Franco made a nice back-handed pluck and quickly threw across his body to nail Goldy at first. Paul DeJong then tapped a 1-1 change-up back to Duffy for an easy third out.
Bottom of 4th - Carlos finally stayed away from the middle of the zone and got his first inning without a run.
Carlos convinced first batter Cordero to swing at pitch 1, which produced a fly-out to Dylan in left. Going 3-2 then to Nicky Lopez, El Gallo fanned him by going up and away with a good, 93 mph fastball. Merrifield then made a bid for a single up the middle, but Kolten had other ideas, as he ranged far to his right, gloved it on the shortstop side of the bag, jump-threw, and Godly dug it out for the final out.
️ Kolten Wong deserves the Gold Glove! pic.twitter.com/qaCmWZtaSG— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 24, 2020
Top of 5th (In Play, Run(s)) - The Birds finally got on the Board.
Remembering that he got a double by swinging on pitch 1 earlier in the game, Yadi tried that again. This time, though, he inside-outed a down-and-in slider that he could only flair into shallow right toward the line that Merrifield raced in and caught with a basket catch. Ravelo followed by singling off Duffy’s glove. It rolled toward the line at third, and Rangel made it to first without a throw.
With Dex up, a ball in the dirt rolled slightly behind Perez. Ravelo broke for second, the catcher located the ball and fired a bb to second that nearly got Rangel on a good slap-tag. Dex then came through, singling up the middle to plate Ravelo to get the Birds on the board to make it 6-1. Dylan couldn’t keep the line moving, waving over a 2-2 diving changeup to strike out.
Now with 2 outs, Bader also struck out on a changeup, but he didn’t offer at it, instead succumbing to a backward K to end the inning.
Bottom of 5th - A one-out double was stranded.
Perez led off the frame by knocking a grounder to Goldy’s left that he had to quickly get his glove to the dirt to grab; then, he took it to the bag himself for the out. With Salvador Perez up, Carlos finally got the better of him pitch-wise, jamming him on a 1-2 up-and-in fastball. But luck was on Perez’ side, as he flopped it down the line in right, and Dex had too far to go, as it fell to the turf as Dex slid but couldn’t come up with it. By that time, Perez was at second.
Soler then grounded into the shift for the second time on the night, as Kolten took care of him, with Perez remaining at second. Carlos got ahead of Franco next 0-2, ultimately getting him to fly out to Bader in center for the final out.
Top of 6th - Good run-scoring situations ended up as goose eggs.
Kolten led off the inning by floating a good-luck looper barley over the infield into shallow left for a single. Tommy grounded sharply to short, but Mondesi could only get the force at second, as Edman legged it to first safely.
Now with a runner on first and one out, Goldy broke through with a hard single to left-center that pushed Edman to third.
Now with the dreaded runner at third and less than 2 outs, it was up to DeJong to cash in. He didn’t, not even making contact, striking out swinging on his nemesis the elevated fastball, the third-straight pitch in that area during his at-bat.
So it fell to Yadi to not strand the runner 90 feet away from paydirt. Duffy pitched him carefully, but Yadi didn’t chase, and the count went to 3-0 with Yadi ultimately walking on 3-1.
That loaded the bases, so Matheny pulled Duffy and replaced him with righty Scott Barlow to face Ravelo. Mike Shildt countered by telling lefty-swingin’ Brad Miller to grab a bat. Working the count full, the runners took off with the pitch. Barlow fooled him with a slider over but in the bottom-third of the zone. Expecting heat, Miller was ahead of it and tapped it slowly up the first-base line. Dozier fielded it well before the base and tagged Miller out to end the threat.
Bottom of 6th (In Play, Run(s)) - Another big blow and more blew open the game even more.
Hunter Dozier kept the Royals’ hits coming, singling up the middle just past a diving Wong. Gordon then took Carlos to 3-2. With Dozier running, Carlos threw ball 4 (just his second of the night) to make it first and second, nobody out.
After throwing ball 1 to next batter Cordero, Martinez immediately grabbed his lower-left side in pain. They immediately pulled him, bringing in Seth Elledge. Franchy Cordero picked out an actually good sinker at the bottom of the zone, golfing it into right-center for another 3-run Royal homer to bulge the lead to 9-1 Royals.
Things didn’t get better, as next batter Lopez doubled to left to return a RISP to the base paths. Upon spiking a first-pitch slider to Merrifield, Lopez trotted to third. Elledge bucked up, though, getting Whit to watch a tight slider nip the lower-outside corner for the first out.
Mondesi leveraged the runner on third one-out situation by lining a
single double to right to make it 10-2. The hit only took Dex slightly into right center, but he had to back-hand the ball, and that was enough for Mondesi’s lightning speed to carry him to second.
Elledge, wisely throwing everything down and away to next batter Perez, getting him to foul-tip a 2-2 slider into Yadi’s mitt for out 2. Elledge repeated the down-and-away strategy to clean-up hitter Soler, unable to get him to chase, walking him on a full count.
Not wanting the fun to stop, next hitter Franco lined a double to right-center to trade places with Mondesi at second to make it 11-1.
On a 1-1 count to Dozier, he offered at a good slider, lifting a fly toward the right-field line that Dex raced over and gloved for the last out, finally.
Top of 7th - Righty Jakob Junis came on in relief. He only needed a catcher. Speaking of which, catcher Perez went to first, with Cam Gallagher coming in to catch. Hunter Dozier moved across the diamond from first to third.
Junis struck out the side: a backward K of Tyler O’Neill (pinch-hitting for Fowler), a forward one against Dylan Carlson, and another of the backward variety to sit Bader (who got jobbed on Perez framing a backup inside slider into the zone).
Bottom of 7th (In Play, Run(s)) - Kodi Whitley relieved Elledge. Matt Wieters came in to catch. Yadi went to first (likely to continue his chance(s) of getting closer to 2,000 hits—or because his counterpart Perez did it for the Royals). O’Neill stayed in to play left. Dylan went to right. After all that, the Royals still scored again.
Gordon struck out on a full count to start the frame. Cordero, however, followed by banging a deep homer into right-center for a homer to make it 12-1.
Nicky Lopez lined hard to right but Carlson didn’t have to move much to catch it for out 2.
Merrifield grounded out to Wong to end the inning.
Top of 8th - Edward Olivares came in to play right to replace Merrifield. Nick Heath replaced Gordon in left. Lefty Mike Montgomery came in on in relief.
Kolten started the inning by grounding out to his counterpart at second. For the first time of the night, Tommy didn’t quite barrel one, and lined out (80.5 mph EV) to left for out 2. Wieters gave one a ride to deep right-center, but it died in front of the track for the final out.
Bottom of 8th - Jake Woodford entered to get some relief work. He did well. Brad Miller went to third. Edman went from third to second, ending Kolten’s night.
Mondesi was called out on strikes to start the inning, with Woodford needing just 3 pitches to do it. After going to 3-0 on Perez, Woodford came back to strike him out swinging, going up and in with a 93 mph fastball. Woodford also got into Soler’s kitchen, jamming him, forcing a pop-up to Yadi at first on the grass.
Top of 9th (In Play, Run(s)) - Righty Scott Blewett came in to end the Card’s misery. Blewitt didn’t blow it.
DeJong led off by striking out, but Yadi next knocked a single to right. Miller followed with a line drive down the left-field line for a double, bumping Yadi to third.
Now with second and third and one out, O’Neill popped out down the right-field line behind first in fair territory, caught by second baseman Lopez. Yadi stayed at third.
Dylan stayed professional, not chasing to waste his at-bat; instead, he worked a walk on 5 pitches to load the bases. Bader then came through with a single to left-center to plate 2 to make it 12-3.
Now with first and third, two out, Matt Carpenter pinch-hit for Woodford.
On a full count, the ump must’ve felt he was done for the night, as he rung Carpenter up on a fastball well below the zone, even with Perez’ framing to end the game.
Cards lost 12-3.
Bottom of 9th
The Bottom Line
- I don’t care for inserting clips of the opposition, but if I hadn’t, you’d have had one clip total.
- Salvador Perez and Franchy Cordero combined to produce 10 of the 12 RBIs:
Perez was 3-5 with 2 HRs and a double.
Franchy Cordero was 3-4 with 2 HRs
- This was the 7th shot for the Cards to get 3 games above .500.
- Hopefully they get there vs. the Brewers.
- Yadi’s double in the 2nd tied him with Johnny Bench for 8th-most 2-baggers all-time for catchers (only his second double of the season).
- Yadi’s 2 hits (double and single) put him 2 shy of 2,000.
- But Yadi’s biggest thrill came when he caught a pop-out in the 8th while playing first.
- 70% strikes was a season high for Carlos
Unfortunately, 8 earned runs was a career high for Martinez.
- Carlos gave up 8 instances of hard contact (over 95 mph EV), just 2 went for outs.
The Cards had 7 instances of hard contact off Duffy, but just 2 went for hits.
Three of the Cards’ 7 were off the bat of Tommy, and all three of them went for outs.
- 8th-place hitter Franchy Cordero’s 2 home runs were the first of the season for him.
- The Reds defeated the Brewers 6-1 to remain in a tie with the Cards for second with identical winning percentages (.509). The Brewers are 1 game back of them both.
- The Cards start their 5-game series tomorrow night vs. the Brew Crew back in the Lou. (Including a Friday double-header of course.)
- The Royals never looked back after the third.