The Cardinals continued their weekend series against the Padres on Saturday, with Adam Wainwright starting the second game of the set against Yu Darvish. Wainwright wasn’t his sharpest, but the two runs he gave up were the result of a lot of soft, consecutive singles that found holes in the infield in the fourth inning. He settled back in afterward and held the Padres in check through six, after which the bullpen did its job and held the Friars scoreless. The strike zone on the evening was absurdly wide, extending three to four inches off the outside corner for right-handed hitters. Darvish took full advantage and pounded the outside corner of the zone, giving the Cards’ hitters fits as he struck out nine through seven innings. But things fell apart for San Diego in the eighth when Emilio Pagan relieved Darvish. Pagan gave up a sac fly to Edman and a two-run bomb to Tyler O’Neill as the Cards rallied late to snatch a 3-2 victory.
Fernando Tatis, Jr. led off for the Padres and lined a sinker to right for the first out of the game. Jake Cronenworth chopped a changeup to Tommy Edman, who made a spectacular diving stop and throw to get the out. Manny Machado extended the inning with a single to left, but Adam Frazier tapped a changeup back to Wainwright for the final out.
Edman flew out to Tommy Pham in left to open the bottom of the frame. Paul Goldschmidt drove a slider to the warning track in right for out number two. Tyler O’Neill topped a changeup to short, putting the Cardinals down in order in the first.
Pham opened the second with a groundout to shortstop. Wil Myers grounded a fastball back up the middle and Edman made another great play going to his right, sliding and throwing across his body to get the second out. Trent Grisham skied out to center, resulting in a clean second inning from Wainwright.
Nolan Arenado got a sinker at the top of the zone and popped out to third. Yadier Molina was then punched out on a fastball just above the knees and Dylan Carlson popped out to third to end a quick second inning.
Victor Caratini rolled a cutter softly down the first baseline, where Goldschmidt charged it and made the tag for the out. Darvish got a curveball belt-high and shot it into left for a single. Tatis, Jr. got just under a cutter and flew it to the warning track in right for out number two. Cronenworth popped out to third, stranding Darvish on base.
Edmundo Sosa grounded out to third on a great backhand play by Machado. Harrison Bader struck out looking on a fastball that was a good distance off the outside corner. Wainwright struck out looking at a front-door slider for the last out.
Machado got a first-pitch curveball and laced it just over Arenado’s glove for a leadoff single. Frazier singled to right, putting runners at the corners with no outs. Pham worked a seven-pitch at-bat and singled to center, scoring Machado to put the Padres up 1-0.
Wil Myers chased a cutter high and outside, popping it to second for the first out. Grisham struck out looking at a sinker just off the inside corner. Caratini singled back up the middle to score Frazier, stretching San Diego’s lead to 2-0. Darvish grounded into a force at second, sending the game to the bottom of the fourth.
Edman opened the bottom of the frame with a single to right. Goldschmidt worked a 3-2 count and drew a walk to put two on. O’Neill struck out looking at a fastball that was, once again, egregiously off the outside corner.
Yu Darvish, 95mph Paint. ️ pic.twitter.com/tslXlWdohh— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 19, 2021
Arenado struck out looking at a 69-mph curveball that dropped toward the top of the zone far enough that the home plate ump gave Darvish the call. Yadi then flew out to the warning track, stranding both runners in a frustrating inning for the Redbirds.
Tatis, Jr. struck out looking on a fastball that looked as high as the curveball to Arenado, after which the Padres manager Jayce Tingler was ejected for protesting the strike call. Cronenworth then reached with a one-out double. Wainwright worked around the double, however, getting Machado to fly out to second and Frazier to lineout to first to end the inning.
Carlson grounded out to second to begin the bottom of the frame. Sosa struck out chasing a 3-2 slider above the zone. Bader struck out swinging at a fastball off the plate for the final out.
Pham flew out to right in foul territory to lead off the sixth. Myers grounded out to shortstop. Grisham then grounded out to second, sending the game to the bottom of the sixth.
Matt Carpenter pinch hit for Wainwright and doubled off the wall to dead center. Edman singled up the middle off of the glove of a leaping Tatis, Jr. for an infield single. Goldschmidt struck out looking at a cutter just off the outside corner for the first out. O’Neill struck out looking again at another cutter that was well off the outside corner. Arenado grounded out to short as the Cards failed once again to cash in with two on and no outs.
Kodi Whitley replaced Wainwright and would have given up a double to Caratini had Carlson not thrown a strike to second to get him for out number one.
Darvish struck out swinging at a changeup on the outside corner. Tatis, Jr. beat out an infield single to Sosa to extend the inning to Cronenworth, who grounded out to third for the final out.
Yadi led off the bottom of the seventh and grounded out to third. Carlson followed and flew out to second. Sosa grounded out to short as Darvish retired the side on nine pitches.
Justin Miller came out of the bullpen in the eighth for the Cards and retired Machado with a groundout to short. Frazier then flew out to center for the second out and Pham skied out to right to retire the side in order.
Emilio Pagan replaced Darvish on the mound in the eighth as Jake Marisnick came in to play left for Pham. Bader led off the inning with a double off the left field wall. Lars Nootbaar pinch hit in the pitcher’s spot and flew out to center, allowing Bader to tag up on a close play at third. Edman flew another pitch to center, scoring Bader on a sac fly to make it a 2-1 game.
Goldschmidt drew a two-out walk to bring up O’Neill, who jacked a belt-high cutter into the Padres bullpen to give the Cards a 3-2 lead. Arenado closed the inning with a popout to second.
Giovanny Gallegos came in to attempt the save and got Myers to ground out to short. Grisham flew out to left for the second out. Eric Hosmer pinch hit for Caratini and struck out chasing a high fastball, securing the 3-2 comeback victory for the Cardinals.
The Cards improve to 78-69 on the year and now sit two games ahead of Cincinnati and two and a half games ahead of San Diego and Philadelphia for the second Wild Card spot. The Redbirds will go for the series sweep on Sunday, with J.A. Happ facing off against a Jake Arrieta that is sporting a 6.15 FIP and 7.05 ERA in 2021. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:15 PM CT.
Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina have now appeared in 303 games together as a battery, and are four appearances away from taking sole possession of third place all-time in battery appearances. Adam Wainwright also sits one strikeout shy 2,000 on his career, but graciously waited till his next pitching appearance to hit that milestone so that he wouldn’t upstage Tyler O’Neill on his big night:
Adam Wainwright, after singing Tyler O'Neill's praises in tonight's performance:— Katie Woo (@katiejwoo) September 19, 2021
"I could've made this all about me. 2,000 strikeouts, coulda gone nine [innings]. ... I'm just unselfish."
As annoying as the wide strike zone was, it was mostly consistent with a couple of exceptions that went against Wainwright in lower leverage situations, and Darvish deserves at least some credit for adjusting to the zone. That being said, it was extremely frustrating seeing backward Ks in big situations on pitches that, if swung at, would probably just result in foul balls or weak contact, if not a miss altogether. For those wanting a better idea of what the zone looked like, I’ve included the Baseball Savant charts for all called strikes for both teams in the game (Credit obviously to those over at baseballsavant.com).
Final Pitching Lines
Wainwright: 6 IP / 7 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / 0 HR
Whitley: 1 IP / 2 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 1 K / 0 HR
Miller, J. (W, 1-0): 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR
Gallegos (S, 9): 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 1 K / 0 HR
Darvish: 7 IP / 3 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 9 K / 0 HR
Pagan (L, 4-2)(BS, 4): 1 IP / 2 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 1 BB / 0 K / 1 HR