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Ponce Throws Six Innings of 1-Hit Ball as Cards Salvage Split with 9-1 Win

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Milwaukee Brewers v St Louis Cardinals - Game Two Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Daniel Ponce de Leon continued his run of high fastball magic tonight. He kept the Brewers off balance enough with is cutter and curve ball, but threw his 4-seam fastball 59% of the time tonight. Brewers hitters whiffed on 38% of their swings against the pitch, and overall, 40% of his fastballs were either a called strike or a whiff. Those hitters let most of his other pitches go, only swinging at 10 other non-fastball pitches, and only putting one of those non-fastballs in play. While the Brewers did hit his fastball at an average exit velocity of over 90 mph, their only hit was the Arcia solo bomb in the 6th inning. Essentially, the Brewers waited for a high fastball thinking that they could so something with it, but were foiled the overwhelming majority of the time, playing right into Ponce’s hands. If Austin Gomber has earned the rotation spot vacated by Dakota Hudson, with this performance, Ponce may have secured the rotation spot vacated by Carlos Martinez. The Cards bats also came alive at a critical time, busting out for 9 total runs, with 6 runs in the 5th inning. The club hasn’t scored this many runs since they put 16 on the Reds on September 1st.

Righty Josh Lindblom took the mound for the Brewers. Kolten Wong led off the game by lining a first-pitch low-and-away fastball to left. Tommy Edman softly lined an 0-1 outside change to right-center for a base hit. Paul Goldschmidt ripped a 3-0 center-cut fastball towards the 3rd base line. Third baseman Eric Sogard made a diving stop by the bag and made a strong throw to 1st, with Jedd Gyorko picking the throw out of the dirt. That play might have saved a run, and instead Edman just advanced to 2nd base. Matt Carpenter lined an inside 1-2 fastball down the right field line and into the corner for a 2-out double to score Edman and give the Cards a 1-0 lead.

Dexter Fowler grounded a high 2-1 cutter to the shortstop Arcia into the shift on the right side of the 2nd base bag to end the inning. Daniel Ponce de Leon took the hill for the Cards. Avisail Garcia flied a high 0-1 fastball to center to lead off the inning. Christian Yelich flied an inside 3-1 fastball to Edman in shallow left. Ryan Braun flied a high 3-1 fastball to center to end the inning.

Brad Miller struck out swinging at an outside 1-2 backdoor cutter to lead off the top of the 2nd. Paul DeJong hit a 2-2 low-and-away fastball for a sinking liner to left and a base hit. Lindblom’s 1-1 pitch to Dylan Carlson was a high-and-outside change that bounced off of the top of the catcher Jacob Nottingham’s glove and got away for a wild pitch to move DeJong to 2nd. Carlson then corked a 2-1 low-and-in cutter deep to center, but Garcia tracked it down at the track while running into the wall. DeJong tagged up and went to 3rd base on the play. Matt Wieters walked on 4 pitches. Lindblom’s 1-2 pitch to Wong was a slider in the dirt, low-and-in that bounced in front of Wong’s right foot, and off of the catcher to his right, getting away for a wild pitch to score DeJong and extend the Cards’ lead to 2-0.

Wieters also moved to 2nd base on the play. Wong then lined an outside 2-2 cutter to the gap in left-center. Garcia was playing shallow in center, and the ball rolled by him all the way to the wall for a triple to score Wieters and give the Cards a 3-0 lead.

Edman golfed a low-and-in 0-1 cutter to the gap in right-center, but Braun drifted back and made the catch on the edge of the track to end the inning. Daniel Vogelbach struck out chasing a 2-2 inside cutter. Keston Hiura struck out chasing a 1-2 elevated 95 mph fastball. Jedd Gyorko struck out looking at a 1-2 outside curve that looked like it was a bit outside to end the inning.

Goldschmidt struck out swinging at an inside 2-2 fastball to lead off the top of the 3rd. With the starter Lindblom only at 47 pitches, Brewers manager Craig Counsell decided to make a pitching change and bring in lefty Alex Claudio to pitch to Carpenter, who grounded a 1-2 low-and-away slider to the shortstop Arcia in the 2nd base position deep on the outfield grass in the shift. Fowler struck out looking at a low-and-in 3-2 fastball that looked clearly out of the zone to end the inning. Eric Sogard popped a first-pitch up-and-in fastball to DeJong on the outfield grass to lead off the bottom of the 3rd. Orlando Arcia flied a high 1-2 fastball deep to center, but Carlson ran it down at the track. After Jacob Nottingham worked a 3-2 walk with 2 outs, Garcia flied a hanging 1-0 curve to the gap in right-center, but Fowler made a running catch to end the inning.

After Brad Miller struck out swinging at a 1-2 low change to lead off the top of the 4th, righty Drew Rasmussen came out to pitch to DeJong, who struck out chasing an 0-2 slider low and out of the zone. Carlson worked a 3-2 walk with 2 out, but he was stranded there when Wieters struck out chasing a low-and-away 2-2 change to end the inning. Yelich grounded a high 2-1 fastball to short to lead off the bottom of the 4th. Braun lined a 3-2 high-and-outside fastball to the right side, but Goldschmidt was playing off the line to his right, and the ball was hit right to him. Vogelbach flied a high-and-outside 0-1 fastball to shallow center to end the inning.

Wong tapped a high-and-outside 1-2 fastball in front of the plate that died a bit down the 3rd base line for a base hit to lead off the top of the 5th. Edman then drove a middle-in 1-0 fastball over the right-center field wall for a 2-run HR to give the Cards a 5-0 lead.

Goldschmidt struck out chasing an up-and-in 2-2 fastball. Carpenter tapped a low-and-away 2-2 slider for a slow roller to short. Arcia charged, backhanded the ball and made a throw across his body. The throw was wide to Gyorko’s left, and the umpire ruled that Carpenter was safe. It was unclear if he was safe because he beat the throw or whether Gyorko was pulled off the bag because of the wide throw. The Brewers challenged the play, but the safe call was upheld. Harrison Bader pinch ran for Carpenter, and the Brewers brought in lefty Eric Lauer to pitch to Fowler. After Fowler walked on 5 pitches, Rangel Ravelo pinch hit for Brad Miller and struck out looking at a 2-2 fastball on the inside corner. DeJong then worked a 3-2 walk to load the bases with 2 out. Carlson ripped a low-and-in 0-1 cutter to left for a base hit, for which Yelich had to run to his right. Bader and Fowler both scored to extend the Cards’ lead to 7-0, DeJong ended up at 3rd and Carlson stood in safely at 2nd with a double.

Wieters lined an inside 3-2 fastball to center for a base hit to score DeJong and Carlson to give the Cards a 9-0 lead. Lauer’s 1-0 pitch to Wong was a low-and-away cutter that got away from the catcher for a passed ball to move Wieters to 2nd. Wong chased a 3-2 outside cutter and grounded it to short. Arcia chose to throw to 3rd base, where Sogard tagged Wieters out to end the inning.

Ponce didn’t return to the mound for the bottom of the 5th in for over 30 minutes in real time. For this inning, Bader stayed in the game in the #4 spot to play CF, with Carlson moving from CF to RF. Tyler O’Neill came in to the game to play LF in the #5 spot to replace Fowler, with Edman moving from LF to 3B. Hiura struck out chasing a 2-2 elevated fastball to lead off the inning. Jace Peterson pinch hit for Gyorko and struck out looking at a 1-2 fastball right down the middle. Sogard popped an up-and-in 3-1 fastball to Wong on the outfield grass in shallow right-center to end the inning.

For the top of the 6th, Peterson stayed in the game in the #6 spot to play RF. Ryon Healy came into the game in the #3 spot to play 1B, with Braun also leaving the game. Edman struck out chasing a low-and-in 1-2 slider to lead off the top of the 6th. After Goldschmidt walked on 5 pitches, Bader grounded a low-and-in 1-2 cutter towards the 3rd base bag. Sogard raced over and threw across his body to 2nd to get the lead man on a 5-4 force. O’Neill popped a first-pitch outside fastball to Garcia at 1st to end the inning. To lead off the bottom of the 6th, Arcia smoked a center-cut 3-2 fastball and drove it over the center field wall for a solo HR to cut the Cards’ lead to 9-1. That was the Brewers’ first hit of the game.

Nottingham struck out swinging at an elevated 2-2 95 mph fastball. Garcia flied a high 3-2 fastball to shallow right-center. After Yelich worked a 3-2 walk with 2 out, Healy flied a first-pitch low-and-away fastball to right to end the inning.

J.P. Feyereisen, added today as the 29th man for the Brewers, came out to pitch the top of the 7th. Luis Urias came in to play 3B in the #2 spot. Tyrone Taylor came in to play CF in the #1 spot, with Sogard moving from 3B to LF and both Garcia and Yelich left the game. Ravelo tapped a low-and-in 3-2 change back to the mound to lead off the inning. DeJong popped a first-pitch outside fastball caught by the catcher Nottingham in foul ground. Carlson grounded a 1-0 high-and-outside fastball towards the middle. Urias was playing at the shortstop position in the shift, made a nifty sliding play and threw Carlson out at 1st to end the inning. Kodi Whitley came out to pitch the bottom of the 7th for the Cards. Vogelbach struck out looking at a 3-2 change that just clipped the inside corner. Hiura flied an 0-1 low-and-in fastball to the track in right-center for Bader. After Peterson walked on 5 pitches, Sogard lined a low-and-away 2-1 fastball to left for a base hit to move Peterson to 2nd. Arcia flied a 2-0 up-and-in fastball deep to left, which O’Neill caught at the track to end the game.

Ponce de Leon (6 days rest) 6 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO, 1 HR; Whitley (1 day rest, bottom 7, ahead 9-1) 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO.

ODDS AND ENDS

Keeping track of pitcher wins and losses has fallen out of fashion, but this was Daniel Ponce de Leon’s first career win as a Cardinal starter in his 20th career try (8th this season)...Between games of the doubleheader, the Cards placed John Gant on the 10-day IL after he re-aggravated his groin. Mike Shildt has said he thinks Gant has some more baseball in him, but the baseball rules require him to wait until 10 days have expired before he can be eligible for postseason play. That would make him eligible for return on October 5th, which is the day before the NLDS begins. Gant will thus be out of action for the Wild Card round at least. Nabil Crismatt, who was recalled to take Gant’s place on the active roster, might make the postseason roster after all...I will do my best to have a full playoff scenario article outlining all the possibilities by tomorrow morning. For now, the Miami Marlins have clinched a playoff spot with their extra-inning victory over the Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays’ victory over the Philadelphia Phillies. This is the first time that club has been in the playoffs since 2003, when they were a wild card entry that beat the Yankees in the World Series...Tampa Bay will clinch the #1 seed in the American League if Seattle beats Oakland tonight...The Astros lost tonight, but they will still clinch the final AL playoff spot and #6 seed if the Dodgers beat the Angels...The Braves clinched the #2 seed in the National League with their extra inning victory over the Red Sox...The Cubs beat the White Sox 10-0. Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez hit solo homers, Victor Caratini hit a 2-run homer and Willson Contreras added a 3-run shot and a solo shot. Yu Darvish pitched 7 innings of 3-hit ball...The Reds clinched a playoff spot by beating the Twins 7-2, behind Mike Moustakas and his 2 homer 3-RBI night. A cadre of Red relievers struck out 10 over 6.2 IP while walking only 2. This is the first time the Reds have made the playoffs since 2013...