THE HUNT FOR REDBIRD OCTOBER
You wanna know how the Cards can make the playoffs?
Read Skyriceq’s scenarios, yo.
The short version?
JUST WIN ONE
Waino’s World: Pitching and defense and just enough offense. It’s carried the Cardinals this far, and it needs to do so just one more time to carry them into the playoffs. And standing tall on the hill was a 39-year-old father of five from St. Simons Island, Georgia, there once again to pitch the next “Biggest Game of the Year.”
It actually could be the last time Adam pitches—or at least pitches as a Cardinal—as his contract is up after this season (as is Yadi’s). But right now, we’re focused on tonight.
So We Meet Again: Tonight’s pitching match-up was a re-match between Waino and the Brewers’ righty Brandon Woodruff, in game 1 of a double header just 10 days ago in Milwaukee. Both went the 7-inning distance. Woodruff gave up 3 ERs on 7 hits, 2 of which were homers.
But we know Adam has been succepitble to dingers, especially early in games, and he got touched for one in that Sept 16 contest, but gave up just 2 ERs on 4 hits.
The most important stat last time? The score was 4-2 Cards.
The Bird’s-Eye View
Adam gave up 3 earned runs through 6.2 innings, which wouldn’t have been a big deal if the Cards had a potent offense. But the Cards made Brandon Woodruff look nearly unhittable, getting just 2 harmless lead-off singles off him in the first and second—and just 1 walk not until the 8th. So even though Adam kept it a game, a 3-run deficit felt like 6.
Early on, Adam was extremely efficient, retiring the first 7 of the game, needing just 14 pitches to do that. The Brewers started to time him up in the 3rd, however, touching him for a one-out double and infield single. Waino had to use 19 pitches just to get through the frame, but they were well-spent as he escaped the jam hangin’ a donut on the scoreboard.
Adam didn’t get so fortunate in the 4th, as the gave up back-to-back solo homers by Ryan Braun and Daniel Vogelbach, both on mis-placed sinkers to make it 2-0 Brewers.
Woodruff was just a strikeout machine, notching 6 Ks already through just the 4th. He used mainly his mid- to high-90s fastball, but he spotted it well on the corners, staying away from the heart of the zone. Dude only had 4 three-ball counts all night for GOB’s sake. And 2 of those didn’t come until the 8th.
There are several ways to characterize the Cards’ punchless offense. No runner reached second on the night at all; Woodruff sat down 19 in a row since Yadi’s lead-off single in the 2nd; the Cards didn’t have anyone reach until a one-out walk by Carpenter in the 8th.
The Cards had just 5 instances of hard contact against him (over 95 mph EV), and all but one of those went for outs. Meanwhile, Adam gave up hard contact 7 times, and 6 of those resulted in hits.
The Brewers tacked on another run in the 7th after Adam got 2 outs. A double and a single made it 3-0, and after another single after that, Adam’s night was done.
Josh Bader replaced Woodruff in the 9th, and it suddenly felt like, “Okay, we have a chance now!” Despite Hader going to full counts on each batter he faced (Kolten, Tommy, Goldy), the top of the order went down in order to end it.
The Flight Path
Top of 1st - Uncle Charlie was cruisin’ slow, yo. Six pitches, 3 outs.
Adam started Avisail Garcia with a 70 mph curve for a strike (LOL) then induced a fly-out to right on a down-and-away cutter for out 1. Christian Yelich then got one of those slowww hooks on 1-1 below the zone, and he tapped it in front of the plate. It rolled far enough that Adam hopped off the mound to throw him out.
Wasting no time, Ryan Braun offered at pitch 1, a sinker that he flew to right, caught easily by Dexter Fowler.
Bottom of 1st - A lead-off hit was nothin’ but a tease.
Kolten Wong did a nice thing, banging a single through the hole between first and second on an 0-1 down-and-in 95 mph heater. Tommy, however, grounded to short, and Arcia had to charge it. He got the force at second, but they didn’t bother trying to turn it, as Edman reached. Paul Goldschmidt got down 1-2 and ultimately got rung up on a 96 mph fastball down and in at the knees for out 2.
Woodruff then struck out Brad Miller on a 2-2 98 mph sinker that tailed away from the zone and from Miller’s swinging bat.
Top of 2nd - Three up, three down, with a nod to positioning.
Waino had good feel on the slow hook, and he used it for back-to-back called strikes to get Daniel Vogelbach behind 0-2, then he messed up his timing by sneaking a 89 mph sinker for another called strike for a backward K.
Keston Hiura followed by obligingly popping out to Wong on the grass on his third pitch. Adam then got fortunate as Jedd Gyorko made loud contact (98 mph EV) on a 1-0 cutter that stayed up, lininging it up the middle. But that’s where Kolten was positioned, and he gloved it easily for the final out.
Bottom of 2nd - Another lead-off single went nowhere.
Yadier Molina yanked a high 0-2 sinker, grounding it sharply off the glove of third baseman Eric Sogard, and it rolled into the hole. Shortstop Arcia fetched it, but he had no time to make a throw as Yadi reached on the infield hit.
Paul DeJong got behind 0-2, worked the count even, but then waived over a changeup that was over but dove to the bottom of the zone for out 1.
Matt Carpenter tried to bunt for a hit on pitch 1 to beat the shift, but fouled it beyond the third-base line. On an 1-2 pitch, Carpenter got a fastball in a good spot to hit, middle, slightly away, but he was late, and golfed a high fly to left. Yelich temporarily lost it, and he had to backpedal to recover, but he was able to catch it for out 2.
Dexter then ended the inning by striking out swinging on a 2-2 sinker on the outer edge.
Top of 3rd - Adam had to work much harder, but it was fine in the end.
Adam got a break as first batter Sogard timed up a first-pitch cutter that was up and out over the plate, lining it left, but Tommy Edman raced in and made a nice sliding catch for out 1. Orlando Arcia, however, got better luck, lining an 0-1 sinker that was able the zone into left-center for a double.
Omar Narvaez then grounded one up the middle. Wong had been shifted toward right-center in the grass, ranged way over to his right to back-hand it, jump-throw, but was just late as the runner reached. More importantly, Arcia advanced to third but no farther.
Now with 1st and 3rd 1 out, Adam got ahead of lead-off hitter Garcia 0-2, then got him to swing through an elevated 1-2 fastball at 89 mph, tipping it into Yadi’s mitt for a big second out.
Now with Yelich up, Adam used 4 different pitches: cutters, a fastball, sinker, and curve, the last of which induced Christian to hit a harmless grounder right to Goldy, who took it himself to the bag to end the threat.
Bottom of 3rd - The first three-up, three-down inning.
Hitting 9th tonight, Dylan Carlson tapped a meek grounder directly back to Woodruff on an 0-1 curve for out 1. Kolten watched 3 called balls go by; then, in a good-hittin’ 3-1 count, he swung at a 96 mph sinker that stayed up just above the belt, but it was inside enough, that Kolten couldn’t catch up to it, and he popped out to third.
Tommy followed by grounding a 1-2 curve to second. The throw almost pulled Gyorko off the bag, but he completed the transaction for the final out.
Top of 4th (In Play, Run(s)) - Adam threw bad sinkers to the first two batters, and they didn’t miss them.
Ryan Braun and Daniel Vogelbach started the inning with back-to-back homers off bad sinkers to suddenly make it 2-0 Brewers. Braun got a mistake 0-1 sinker that was up and away, and he didn’t miss it, smacking it oppo for a homer to right-center. Vogelbach’s was on a 1-2 sinker down the middle that he launched into center.
Paul DeJong was mic’d up during this inning for the Fox national broadcast. On Vogelbach’s homer, you could hear Pauly say “Uh oh.”
Hiura became the first out by flying out to Dylan in center. Gyoroko followed by lining out sharply for the second time on the night, with this one finding the glove of left-fielder Edman for out 2.
Edman took care of the final out as well, gloving Sogard’s fly ball.
Bottom of 4th - The 3, 4, 5 hitters went down in order.
Goldy got good wood on a 1-2 changeup (96 mph EV), lining it toward right-center, but it hung up long enough for center fielder Garcia to grab on the run a few steps in front of the track (373 ft).
Miller was next sat down on a 98 mph heater on the outer edge, whiffing for the second time on the night.
Yadi then became Woodruff’s 6th strikeout victim, unable to catch up to a 98 mph fastball in the upper third of the zone, slightly in.
Top of 5th - A lead-off single was erased in a 2-for-1 deal.
Arcia started things right back up for the Brewers, singling up the middle on a sharp grounder. Looking for a grounder at a fielder, Adam got it off the bat of Narvaez, who pounded one to Goldy near the bag. Pauly G stepped on first, turned and fired to Pauly G, but Arcia stopped half-way and returned to first. It took just one more throw back to Goldy, who ran down Arcia himself and tagged him out for the DP.
Garcia then flew out Tommy in left to end the inning.
Bottom of 5th - Nuthin’. Nada. Zip. Bupkis.
Pauly G popped a high foul ball toward the tarp beyond first, and Jedd had enough time to get under it, making a nice basket catch for out 1. Carpenter went the other way on a 2-2 sinker toward the middle of the zone (a rarity tonight), but it was in enough, that he couldn’t drive it to the wall. Instead, center fielder Garcia flagged it down in front of the track for out 2.
Dex went down quickly, grounding out to second on the second of two-straight changeups he saw on pitches one and two.
Top of 6th - Adam worked around a lead-off walk to keep the Brewers from adding on.
Mixing pitches up against first batter Yelich, Adam walked him on a 3-2 elevated fastball that was too high to be tempting for Christian to chase. Adam then floated a 74 mph curve in on Braun’s hands that he couldn’t resist, and all he did was jam himself, sending a harmless floater to Kolten as Yelich went back to first.
Vogelback then sent a scan liner right back to Waino, but he was able to knock it down with his glove (as he was turning away). It rolled a little toward first, but he was able to bare-hand it and use a back-hand toss to get the runner at first as Yelich advanced to second.
Adam then retired Hiura on a 1-0 curve, getting him to ground out to Carpenter at third.
Bottom of 6th - Another 1, 2, 3 inning.
Dylan Carlson, who you would be a lead-off hitter in a Tony LaRussa lineup, started the 6th by getting down 0-2 immediately on two called strikes: a fastball dotted on the bottom of the zone, and a changeup that fell into the down-and-in corner. He did foul one off, but then watched another fastball at 97 that nicked the down-and-in part of the zone.
To signify how the Cards’ hitters felt about their chances against Woodruff, Wong next attempted to bunt for a hit. It rolled down the third-base line, but Woodruff was able to hop off the mound, cut it off, and fire to first to nab Wong for the out.
Tommy got only the 2nd three-ball count of the night. On 3-1, he fouled one off to make it full. As was happening all night, he couldn’t connect on a high fastball, striking out to end the inning.
Top of 7th (In Play, Run(s)) - Waino couldn’t get that third out before the Brewers added on.
Adam made Gyorko just his third strikeout victim on the night, getting him on a 1-2 cutter. Sogard next grounded a 0-1 changeup softly to DeJong, who circled it and fired to just beat the runner for the second out.
Arcia ruined the clean inning by banging his third hit of the game, a double to left-center off a first-pitch cutter. Narvaez took advantage, knocking a hanging first-pitch curve that was middle-middle, singling to center. Carlson’s throw was not in time and up the line toward third to make it 3-0 Brewers.
After a mound visit, Adam gave up the third-straight hit of the inning, as Garcia singled against the shift, sending a grounder to the right of second base, making it first and second, 2 out.
That ended Adam’s night, as Andrew Miller entered.
Miller went to a full count to Yelich but walked him to load the bases for Braun. Miller threw him three-straight sliders and snuck a 90 mph fastball by him on the outside edge to end the inning.
Bottom of 7th - Tyrone Tayler replaced Braun in right. Three batters, three grounders, three outs.
Goldschmidt started the inning by grounding out to first, with Jedd making it an unassisted out. Brad Miller quickly grounded out to short on a 1-0 changeup. Yadi, like his teammates this inning, grounded out, his to third-baseman Sogard.
Top of 8th - Miller remained in just to face lefty Vogelbach. Ryan Helsley came in and plunked Jedd but took care of the rest.
Miller struck out Vogelbach on a good 2-2 slider that dove down at the knees. Ryan Helsley then entered, and the count went full against Hiura. On pitch 6, Hiura hit a down-and-in 96 mph fastball sharply, but on the ground right to DeJong, who threw across for the 2nd out. Helsley then let a 1-1 96 mph heater get away from him, plunking Gyorko on the left arm just above the elbow, and Jedd was not wearing any protection there. The ricochet even nailed Yadi.
Sogard next got down 0-2 on two cutters. Then on a 1-2 count, Helsley broke out his first curveball of the night, and it surprised Sogard, who waved over it despite it flopping into the dirt.
Bottom of 8th - Luis Urias came in to play third. Sogard went from third to second to end Hiura’s night. The Cards finally got a baserunner!
DeJong led off by becoming Woodruff’s 9th strikeout victim of the night, whiffing on a 1-2 slider that was over but dove below the zone. Carpenter got ahead 3-0, laying off 2 changeups and a sinker. He laid off pitch 4, which was well outside the zone for the Cards’ fist baserunner since a lead-off single in the 2nd.
Dex worked a full count for himself, but swung out swinging on a 97 mph fastball right...down...the...middle to get to double-digit strikeouts for Woodruff.
Dylan offered brief excitement, as he lined a 1-1 sinker sharply (105 mph EV), but Yelich didn’t have to range very far to his left, and he was able to reach up and snare it for the final out.
Top of 9th - Tyler Webb replaced Helsley and after a lead-off single, struck out the side.
Arcia greeted Webb with a sharp single to right. Next batter Narvaez squared early to sac bunt on a 0-1 count, and Webb sent a curve up and in that Narvaez backed away from, but the ball contacted the bat for a foul. Webb then struck him out, sneaking an 89 mph fastball by him for out 1.
Webb repeated that result against Garcia and Yelich, striking the former out swinging on a high fastball and the latter watching a 1-2 70 mph curve.
Bottom of 9th - Josh Hader replaced Woodruff.
Kolten led off and despite getting down 0-2, battled to a full count, laying off three-straight sliders. After then fouling off 2 heaters, he succumbed on pitch 8, grounding out to Gyorko, who tossed to Hader covering.
Tommy also got down 0-2, and like Kolten, worked the count full. Alas, he was called out on strikes on pitch 6, a slider that was actually not a strike, above the zone. The ump was fooled on catcher Narvaez pulling it down.
Goldy likewise got to 3-2 but popped out to Gyorko in foul territory to end the game.
Cards lost, 3-0.
The Bottom Line
- Adam’s line: 6.2 IP, 3 ER on 8 H (including 2 solo HRs), 1 BB, 3 SO
With past Cards’ teams, that woulda been fine for a win.
- Kolten and Yadi had 1 single each. Carpenter had a walk.
- That was the offense.
- For good measure, the Cards K’d 11 times.
- When you don’t get anyone to at least second, that means your team went 0-0 with RISP;
the Brewers were 2-6.
- If the Cards had won it woulda punched their ticket for the playoffs and knocked the Brewers out.
- Keep the faith, yo. If the Cards win tomorrow, they will make the playoffs without needing help from anyone else.
- The Cards had no answer tonight.