This game was not good, not fun, and very bad. Not much else to say. A “bullpen game” with mostly ineffective pitchers from the bullpen will wind up like this more times than not, especially against a good team like the Rays.
Tyler O’Neill looked great with a homer and three RBI, but other than that, not much else to talk about. Nolan Arenado was held out of the lineup with a sore knee after getting plunked Tuesday night, but it doesn’t sound like he will miss time.
We’ll see if tonight’s fiasco will prompt any big moves with the bullpen moving forward.
Here’s how it went down at the Trop:
St. Louis went down 1-2-3 against one-time Cardinals prospect Corey Kluber in the top of the first. Tommy Edman grounded out to second, Nolan Gorman flew out to left field, and Paul Goldschmidt flew out to Manuel Margot in foul territory.
Tampa Bay jumped all over Packy Naughton in the first inning, scoring more runs in the opening frame Wednesday night than they did over the first nine innings Tuesday. Margot led off by hitting a ground ball up the middle that Naughton tried to grab with his bare hand, and it deflected off him towards short for an infield single. Had he let it go, Gorman was waiting behind him to make a routine play. Harold Ramirez then grounded out to Brendan Donovan at third base, advancing Margot to second. Ji-Man Choi then hit an 0-1 slider all the way to the wall in left-center field for a double, scoring Margot and getting Tampa Bay on the board first, 1-0.
Yandy Diaz grounded out to Donovan at third for the second out of the inning, with Choi staying put. Another former Cardinal, Randy Arozarena, doubled off the top of the wall (not far from where Choi hit it) for a double, which drove in Tampa Bay’s second run of the game.
Vidal Brujan has a .364 OPS this season, but he ripped the first pitch he saw from Naughton down the left field line for a double, easily scoring Arozarena, and making it 3-0 Rays in the first inning.
Francisco Mejia grounded out to Edman at shortstop for the final out of the inning.
Tyler O’Neill, in his second game back from the IL, worked an eight-pitch at-bat in the second inning before eventually popping out to Choi in foul territory near first base. Donovan flew out to Arozarena in left field for the second out of the inning. Juan Yepez and Harrison Bader then hit back-to-back singles with two outs, which brought up Lars Nootbaar with runners on the corners and a chance to cut into the Rays’ lead. Nootbaar worked the count full and then popped out to Diaz in foul territory for the third and final out.
Kevin Kiermaier led off the second inning by chopping a ground ball to Goldschmidt at first. Goldy flipped it to Naughton covering first, but Kiermaier beat him to the bag for an infield single. Taylor Walls — last night’s hero — flew out to Bader in center field, and that was all for Naughton. Oli Marmol went and pulled Naughton and called on recently-recalled right hander Johan Oviedo. Margot grounded out to second base for the second out of the inning, advancing Kiermaier to third base after he stole second during Margot’s at-bat. With two outs, Harold Ramirez doubled into the right-center field gap, scoring Kiermaier to make it 4-0 Rays in the second inning. It was Tampa Bay’s fourth double of the game through two innings.
Choi struck out swinging to end the inning.
Naughton’s final line: 1.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 0 K’s (25 pitches)
St. Louis went 1-2-3 on 11 pitches in the third inning against Kluber. Andrew Knizner struck out swinging, Edman flew out to Arozarena in left field, and Gorman grounded out to Brujan at second base.
The Rays scored in the first and second innings, and continued that trend in the third. Diaz and Arozarena hit back-to-back singles to start the inning, setting up Brujan with runners on the corners and nobody out. He hit a scorcher up the middle that Edman was able to snag and step on second base for a force out, but not turn the double play. Brujan reached first and the run scored to make it 5-0 Tampa Bay.
Mejia then grounded out to Donovan at third base, and Brujan was running on the pitch. He rounded second and made it to third on the groundout with two outs. Kiermaier then flew out to O’Neill in left field, stranding the runner and ending the inning.
Goldschmidt struck out looking to start the fourth inning. O’Neill then stroked the first pitch he saw — a high sinker that did not sink — 378 feet into the right field seats for a home run.
It was his third homer of the season and his first since May 4. Donovan and Yepez both struck out to end the fourth inning with St. Louis trailing 5-1.
Facing Oviedo, Walls flew out to O’Neill in deep left field for the first out of the fourth. Margot walked on six pitches with one out, but both Ramirez and Choi struck out to keep Tampa Bay off the board in the fourth inning after they’d scored in each of the first three frames.
Bader struck out looking on a check swing that he did not believe was a full swing. Nootbaar grounded out to Brujal at second base for the second out. Knizner grounded out to Walls at shortstop to end the top of the fifth.
Nick Wittgren took over on the mound after Oviedo went 2.2 innings, surrendering one earned run. Diaz drew a leadoff walk, and then Arozarena was called out on strikes on a 2-2 fastball at the knees. Brujan flew out to O’Neill in left field for the second out of the inning. Mejia doubled to right-center (Tampa Bay’s fifth double), advancing Diaz to third with two outs. Kiermaier could have put this game way out of reach with a base knock, but he grounded out to Gorman at second base for the final out of the fifth inning.
St. Louis was able to muster some offense in the sixth inning and make this one interesting — for a moment. Edman drew a leadoff walk, and then Gorman and Goldschmidt’s back-to-back singles loaded the bases up for O’Neill. “Bro” singled up the middle, scoring two and cutting Tampa Bay’s lead to 5-3.
Kevin Cash walked out to the mound and removed Kluber at this point, calling on right-hander Jason Adam. On the very first pitch he threw, Adam induced a 4-6-3 double play, started by Brujan at second base. Yepez then hit a long drive to left field that was a few feet from being a game tying, two-run homer. Instead, it died at the wall and settled into Arozarena’s glove for the third out.
Kluber’s final line: 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K’s (80 pitches)
Tampa Bay got both of those runs back plus another in the bottom half of the sixth inning. Walls doubled to right field leading off the inning, and Margot followed it with a single to put runners on the corners and nobody out. Ramirez then hit a ground ball to Gorman at second base, who tried to fire home and stop the runner but was too late. Walls scored, Margot advanced to second, Ramirez was safe at first, and Tampa Bay led 6-3.
T.J. McFarland took the mound, replacing Wittgren following the Ramirez fielder’s choice.
Choi then hit a slow chopper to shortstop, and Edman’s throw just barely beat Choi at the bag. He was called out, but the Rays challenged the call. After review, Choi was ruled safe, loading the bases for Yandy Diaz. Diaz hit a ground ball to the left of Donovan at third, who made a diving stop and then threw home to cut down the run from scoring and record the first out of the inning.
With one out, Arozarena hit a slow chopper back to McFarland on the mound. Instead of throwing home to set up a potential double play with the bases loaded, McFarland tossed over to first, apparently forgetting how many outs there were. Ramirez scored, making it 7-3 Rays.
With two outs and the Cardinals trailing 7-3, Brujan hit a slow chopper to Donovan at third. It was not hit hard enough to make a play at first, as Brujan reached and another run scored to make it 8-3 Rays. Mejia grounded out to Donovan at third for the final out of the sixth.
Luke Bard replaced Jason Adams on the mound for the Rays in the seventh. Now trailing by five, the Cardinals went 1-2-3 in the seventh inning. Bader grounded out to short, Nootbaar struck out, and Knizner grounded out to short.
It appeared St. Louis had more or less thrown in the towel with their at-bats in the seventh, but Tampa Bay wasn’t finished adding on. After both Kiermaier and Walls struck out, the Rays fired up a two-out rally. Margot singled on the infield and Ramirez drew a five-pitch walk. Choi then singled up the middle, scoring Kiermaier to make it 9-3 Tampa. Diaz drew a walk, advancing Choi to second base. Arozarena struck again, singling to center to drive in the Rays’ tenth and eleventh runs of the game. Brujan flew out to Bader to end the inning.
St. Louis officially gave up in the eighth. Edman led off the inning with a single, but Gorman lined out to Brujan at second, Edmundo Sosa (pinch-hitting for Goldschmidt, who was removed from the game down 8 runs) struck out, and O’Neill hit a line drive back at Bard, which he caught.
Molina took over on the mound in the bottom of the eighth, which is far less fun when you’re losing by eight runs vs winning by eight. He replaced McFarland, who — on his birthday — gave up three earned runs over two innings, with his ERA ballooning to 8.18 and his WHIP to 1.91. Could this be the final time we see McFarland in a Cardinal uniform?
Ironically enough, Molina wound up being the only St. Louis pitcher to not surrender an earned run. Mejia singled to right field, and then Isaac Paredes struck out swinging on a 76 mph “changeup” from Molina.
Walls flew out to O’Neill in left field for the second out, and then Margot doubled to right field on a base hit that took a high bounce off the turf to Nootbaar. With runners on second and third, pinch-hitter Brett Phillips flew out to center field.
Right-hander Shawn Armstrong was tasked with protecting an eight-run lead for Tampa Bay in the ninth. Donovan greeted him with a single to left. But Yepez grounded out and both Bader and Nootbaar struck out to end the game.
FINAL: Rays 11, Cardinals 3
St. Louis (32-25) will try to salvage one game of this three-game series against Tampa Bay (33-23) tomorrow afternoon at the Trop. Miles Mikolas (4-3, 3.02 ERA) will be on the bump for the Cardinals after giving up four earned runs in last week’s 14-5 win over the Cubs. He’s given up 10 earned runs over his last two starts, after giving up 12 total earned runs over his first nine starts. Shane McClanahan (6-2, 2.10 ERA), who is already a candidate for the AL Cy Young award, will start for the Rays. First pitch is at 12:10 p.m.
Around the Central
Diamondbacks 6, Reds 0 (Top 9th)
Tigers 3, Pirates 1 - Detroit’s bullpen gave up just one hit over the final four innings to finish off a two-game sweep.
Cubs - Orioles postponed
Pickle #85 - 5/9
Traded for this guy in fantasy baseball last summer and well... hasn’t panned out too well.