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Cards’ Staff Walks Nine, but Club Beats Pirates 7-3 Behind Carpenter’s Pinch Hit Homer

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MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Righty J.T. Brubaker took the hill for the Pirates. After hitting a foul ball that just missed being a homer to right, Tommy Edman struck out swinging at a 1-2 down-the-middle fastball on the 8th pitch of the plate appearance. Dylan Carlson drove a 2-1 inside fastball deep to right-center that hit the very top of the 21-foot high wall and missed being a homer by perhaps a foot. Instead, Carlson had to settle for a double. Paul Goldschmidt grounded a 3-1 outside slider to short to move Carlson to 3rd. Nolan Arenado blooped an inside 2-1 fastball to shallow left. Ka’ai Tom raced in from deep left field and tried to make a diving catch, but the ball dropped in front of him and then got by him. Arenado’s double scored Carlson to give the Cards a 1-0 lead.

Arenado was stranded there when Paul DeJong struck out chasing an elevated 1-2 fastball to end the inning. John Gant took the mound for the Cards and retired the Pirates in order on three groundballs. Adam Frazier grounded a first-pitch high-and-outside sinker to Goldschmidt down the line for an unassisted play to start the bottom half of the inning. Erik Gonzalez grounded a 1-2 low-and-in change to 3rd. Bryan Reynolds grounded a low 2-2 change to 2nd to end the inning.

Tyler O’Neill struck out looking at a 1-2 fastball that nicked the corner up and-away. Andrew Knizner fisted an inside 1-0 sinker for a softly lined base hit up the middle. Harrison Bader took his first plate appearance on the season after being activated from the injured list and struck out swinging at three straight sliders. The last one was the worst of the lot, a hanger right over the middle. Gant lined a 1-0 up-and-in sinker to center to end the inning. Colin Moran lined a low 1-2 sinker to left to lead off the bottom of the 2nd. After Jacob Stallings walked on 5 pitches, Gregory Polanco slowly grounded a low 3-2 curve to 2nd for the 5-4 force. On the first pitch to Kevin Newman, Polanco stole 2nd base. Knizner bounced the throw to 2nd and handcuffed Edman, and the ball scooted into center field for an error that allowed Polanco to advance to 3rd base. But the runner was stranded when Kevin Newman grounded an up-and-in 3-2 sinker to 2nd to end the inning.

Edman grounded a 1-2 low slider up the middle for a base hit to start the top of the 3rd. Carlson struck out swinging at a 2-2 low-and-in slider. Paul Goldschmidt swung way too late and struck out chasing an outside slider. That’s 6 strikeouts already for Brubaker. Arenado was swinging on 3-0 and blooped a down-the-middle fastball high to shallow left. The left fielder Tom just barely jogged forward while the shortstop Newman drifted back for it. Newman then gave up for the ball and lost it, while Tom stopped running and the ball bounced between them. Edman hustled all the way to score from first to extend the Cards’ lead to 2-0. It was scored as another gift double for Arenado.

DeJong drove a high-and-outside fastball to left-center for a sinking liner, but this time Tom made a sliding catch to end the inning. Tom drew a 5-pitch walk to lead off the bottom of the 3rd. Brubaker sacrificed Tom to 2nd 1-4, but for some reason Tom rounded 2nd base too far, and Edman fired to DeJong at 2nd to throw him out before he could get back to the bag. It ended up being scored your basic 1-4-6 sacrifice double play. With 2 out now, Frazier popped an up-and-in 3-2 slider. Arenado raced out past the bag, but it dropped just inside the line for a base hit. Arenado made a nice sliding stop to hold Frazier to a single. Gonzalez grounded a hanging 0-1 slider towards the mound. Gant made an athletic jumping play to his right to stop it and throw him out to end the inning.

To lead off the top of the 4th, O’Neill absolutely crushed a first-pitch hanging slider and launched it over the visitors’ bullpen in left-center in the deepest part of the park into the shrubbery for a solo shot to give the Cards a 3-0 lead.

Knizner lined a high 3-2 fastball to right-center, but Reynolds made a nice sliding grab. Bader softly lined a low-and-away 2-2 slider for a base hit, and Gant sacrificed him to 2nd base 1-3. Edman sharply grounded a high 0-1 fastball to the left side, but right at Gonzalez to end the inning. Reynolds drew a 5-pitch walk to lead off the bottom of the 4th, with the 2-1 pitch looking like it could have been called a strike at the bottom of the zone. It looked like Moran struck out swinging at a 1-2 curve in the dirt, but the umpire said he fouled it off. The television replay did not support the umpire’s conclusion. Moran ended up drawing a 3-2 walk, with the last pitch also a close one at the low edge of the zone. Stallings got ahead in the count 3-0, but Gant struck him out looking at a low-and-in 3-2 sinker that the umpire decided was a strike this time. Polanco lined an outside 2-2 sinker to left, but right at O’Neill for the 2nd out. Newman lined a first-pitch low-and-in sinker to left for a base hit to score Reynolds, cut the Cards’ lead to 3-1 and move Moran to 2nd.

Tom struck out swinging at a 1-2 inside sinker to end the threat.

Carlson grounded an inside 2-2 sinker to lead off the top of the 5th. Goldschmidt struck out on 3 straight pitches, waving at an 0-2 slider about a foot low and outside. His timing looks way off. Arenado smoked a low-and-away 0-1 fastball but lined it right to Polanco in right to end the inning. At 78 pitches, Gant came back out for the bottom of the 5th. Wilmer Difo pinch hit for Brubaker and lined a low 3-2 slider to deep right for a base hit. Carlson happened to be playing deep and was able to snag the ball to hold Difo to a single. Frazier then walked on 5 pitches. After a mound conference, Gonzalez barely tapped a low 0-1 slider just in front of the plate. Knizner grabbed the ball, alertly tagged Gonzalez, then fired to 3rd, where Arendao just barely tagged Difo before he could slide in safely to 3rd base. It went down as a 2-5 double play, with Frazier advancing to 2nd base. Reynolds flied an inside 3-1 sinker to shallow center and Gant got out of the jam.

Brubaker’s night was done after 80 pitches, and the Pirates brought in righty Duane Underwood, Jr. to pitch for the top of the 6th. DeJong hit a 1-0 outside change for a sinking liner to left, but Tom ran forward and caught it. O’Neill lined a low 1-1 sinker to right for a base hit and stole second base on the first pitch to Knizner. After Knizner walked on 5 pitches, Bader flied a hanging 0-1 curve to shallow center. Matt Carpenter pinch hit for Gant. After taking 2 straight changeups for strikes, he drove a down-the-middle 0-2 fastball into the seats over the wall in right-center for a 3-run homer to give the Cards a 6-1 lead. That’s a pinch 3-run homer in back-to-back games for Carpenter.

Edman flied a 1-1 hanging change to center to end the inning. Gant’s evening was finished after 100 pitches and Tyler Webb came out for the bottom of the 6th. Moran smoked a 2-1 down-the-middle fastball opposite the shift, but lined it right to Arenado for the first out of the inning. After Stallings walked on 5 pitches, Polanco slowly grounded a 1-2 low-and-away change to Edman into the shift for your basic 4-5 force at 2nd base. Polanco was running on the 2-2 pitch, and Newman lined a high-and-outside fastball to right-center for a base hit to move Polanco to 3rd. Tom drew a 3-2 walk to load the bases, and Shildt pulled Webb in favor of Kodi Whitley. Todd Frazier pinch hit for the pitcher Underwood. Whitley had his back foot on the rubber, shifted his weight forward and dangled his arm with the ball back and forth so that his arm moved towards the plate. That was a balk, with Polanco scoring to cut the Cards’ lead to 6-2 and the other runners moving to 2nd and 3rd.

Whitley then bounced two straight pitches to the plate. The second one was a slider that bounced in front of the plate. Knizner couldn’t handle it with a backhand and it got away to his left for a wild pitch. Newman scored to cut the Cards’ lead further to 6-3 and Tom moved to 3rd.

Todd Frazier walked on 4 straight pitches, and Whitley has been nowhere close to the zone. Adam Frazier hit a down-the-middle 1-2 fastball sharply, but on one hop to DeJong at short to end the inning.

Righty David Bednar came out to pitch the top of the 7th for the Pirates. Carlson struck out swinging at a high 1-2 97 mph fastball to start the inning. Goldschmidt struck out looking at an 0-2 high-and-outside 96 mph fastball right near the corner. Arenado hit a first-pitch down-the-middle fastball for a sinking liner to center, but Reynolds made a diving catch forward to end the inning. Genesis Cabrera came out to pitch the bottom of the 7th. Gonzalez grounded an outside 2-0 change to 2nd. Reynolds struck out swinging at a 1-2 curve in the dirt. Moran torched a low-and-in fastball on the ground to the left side opposite of the shift. The ball was hit in front of Arenado, who was playing in, and could have easily handcuffed him, but Arenado stopped it falling forward and threw to 1st for the out to end the inning.

DeJong grounded an 0-1 outside slider to 3rd to lead off the top of the 8th. O’Neill blooped a 2-0 low-and-away splitter to right for a base hit. Knizner grounded an outside 0-1 splitter towards the mound that deflected off of Bednar’s glove and went to Frazier at 2nd. By the time it got to Frazier, it was too late to get O’Neill at 2nd, so he just threw to 1st for the out. With 2 out and a runner on 2nd, Bader struck out looking at an 0-2 outside 97 mph fastball to end the inning. Cabrera came back out for the bottom of the 8th. Stallings flied a low-and-away 3-1 fastball to shallow center. Cabrera blew a 1-2 high fastball past Polanco for a strikeout. Newman torched a high 3-2 fastball, but lined it right to Bader in center to end the inning.

Righty Clay Holmes came out to pitch the top of the 9th. Justin Williams pinch hit for Cabrera and Holmes hit him on the top of his left foot with a first-pitch curve. Holmes also hit Edman on his right foot with a 3-2 slider. Carlson grounded a down-the-middle 1-0 fastball sharply to the right side. Frazier dove to his right, stopped the ball and fired the ball from his knees to 2nd for a nifty 4-6-3 double play. Williams moved to 3rd on the play. Goldschmidt grounded a low 1-1 slider towards the middle. Frazier was standing right there behind the bag, but booted the ball for an error. Williams scored to extend the Cards’ lead to 7-3. Arenado chopped a first-pitch outside slider to the right of the mound, but Holmes ran over, got it and threw him out to end the inning. Ryan Helsley came out to pitch the bottom of the 9th for the Cards. Tom walked on 5 pitches and Helsley is wild high. Phillip Evans pinch hit for Holmes and struck out looking at a low-and-in 0-2 fastball on the corner. Evans didn’t like the call and said something to the umpire as he walked back to the dugout. After the umpire threw him out of the game, Evans circled back to argue some more. The Pirates’ manager came out to argue some, but he wasn’t tossed. Frazier tapped an outside 0-2 fastball to 3rd, but it wasn’t hit hard enough for the Cards to get anything more than a 5-4 force. Gonzalez grounded a low 0-2 cutter to short to end the game.

Gant (5 days rest) 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 2 SO; Webb (1 day rest, bottom 6, ahead 6-1) .2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 0 SO; Whitley (bottom 6, 2 out, bases loaded, ahead 6-1) .1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 0 SO, Bk, WP, allowed 2 out of 3 inherited runners to score; Cabrera (1 day rest, bottom 7, ahead 6-3) 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO; Helsley (1 day rest, bottom 9, ahead 7-3) 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO.

ODDS AND ENDS

The Cardinal minor league affiliates have announced their opening day rosters for the season that will start on May 4th. Look for an upcoming series leading into that opening day, where I’ll outline the rosters and the experimental rule changes for each level... According to the television broadcast, Carpenter is the first Cardinal player to hit pinch hit homers on back-to-back-days since 1906. He is also the first MLB player to hit pinch hit 3-run homers on back-to-back days since 1906. The Brewers are almost out of pitching, but beat the Dodgers 3-1. Freddy Peralta gave up one hit, a solo homer to AJ Pollock, in 6 innings pitched. The difference was Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s 2-run homer, and Josh Hader struck out the side to pick up his 7th save...Alas, the club has more bad news, as starting catcher Omar Narvaez had to leave the game with a leg injury. Their preferred backup, Manny Pina is already on the injured list, and the club just lost Jacob Nottingham to the Seattle Mariners on an outright assignment waiver claim. Youngster Mario Feliciano is the only available catcher on the 40-man other than Luke Maile, who had to come into the game...The Reds had an 8-2 lead over the Cubs going into the top of the 7th behind homers from Joey Votto (his 300th), Eugenio Suarez and Nick Senzel. But Jose De Leon allowed 2 runs in the 7th, and the Reds threatened in the top of the 9th. After Carson Fulmer allowed a single and a walk to Tony Wolters, Lucas Sims came in and threw a wild pitch, and allowed a Sac Fly and 3 walks. Tejay Antone had to come in and get the final out with the bases loaded to preserve an 8-6 win.