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First Place Cards Cap Wild Weekend With 12-9 Victory and Sweep of Yankees

MLB: New York Yankees at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

What a weekend. Actually, what a week. After taking two out of three games against the Washington Nationals, the Cards’ front office pulled off a couple of trades at the August 2nd deadline that greatly increased the club’s chances to make the playoffs this season. In the course of sweeping the Cubs and taking the first two games from the Yankees, we saw some exciting events for three games in a row. New acquisition Jose Quintana throw six innings of one-hit ball in his first Cardinal start. The club came from behind to beat the Yanks 4-3 when new shortstop starter Paul DeJong smacked a two out, two-run double in the bottom of the 8th inning. And new starter Jordan Montgomery shook off a first-inning homer to deliver a five inning, two-hit performance against the club from which he was traded.

Today’s game, a see-saw, four hour and twenty-five minute affair, offered loads of entertainment, to varying degrees, including lead changes, dramatic home runs, poor umpiring, and ejections. After over 1,600 comments, I thought the readership deserved a recap to top it all off.

Adam Wainwright took the hill for the Cards on four days of rest. Since the deadline, the Cards’ starting lineup has been largely set, but today, Nolan Gorman took a rest and Brendan Donovan, now relegated to the bench served as the club’s designated hitter against a right-handed starter. Home plate umpire Ed Hickox had an inconsistent strike zone right off the kick, calling pitches to the first both strikes and balls that were a couple of inches off the plate. DJ LeMahieu started things off for the Yanks by driving a high 2-2 curve to the gap in left-center that one-hopped the wall for a double. After Aaron Judge moved LeMahieu to third with a groundout over the second base bag, new Yankee sensation Matt Carpenter received a standing ovation from the home crowd and drove in the run with a sacrifice fly to medium right field to put the Yanks on the board 1-0.

The Yanks’ new deadline acquisition Frankie Montas started the game for the Bronx Bombers. Montas came to the hill with 11 days of rest, having last started a game for the Athletics on July 26th. The Cards tied the score in the bottom half of the first. After Dylan Carlson poked an outside 2-2 hanging splitter opposite the shift through a wide-open left side for a base hit, Montas hit Brendan Donovan on the right arm pad with an 0-2 fastball. Paul Goldschmidt popped up on the first pitch, but Nolan Arenado smacked a hanging slider through the left side hole for a base hit to drive in Carlson to tie the score 1-1.

Wainwright got into trouble in the second inning with the help of the home plate umpire. Gleyber Torres led things off by ripping a low 2-2 sinker through the right side for a base hit, and Andrew Benintendi smashed an elevated 87 mph sinker up the middle for a base hit to move Torres to second. Aaron Hicks squibbed a hanging curve off of the end of his bat, but opposite the shift through the vacated shortstop position and into the outfield for a base hit. Torres scored to give the Yanks a 2-1 lead, and Benintendi advanced to second.

Jose Trevino struck out swinging at a 1-2 outside curve, and the umpire actually helped Wainwright here, because the 1-0 fastball was called a strike when it was actually a few inches outside. Wainwright then hit Marwin Gonzalez on the right arm with an inside 1-1 cutter to load the bases and struck out LeMahieu looking at an elevated sinker that tailed right over the heart of the plate. This set up a crucial plate appearance for Aaron Judge. Waino flipped a first-pitch curve that the television box and the Gameday box recorded as crossing the plate several inches below the top of the strike zone, but the umpire called it a ball.

Wainwright would get Judge to whiff at a low-and-away curve to take the count to 1-2. But instead of an inning-ending strikeout with the bases loaded, Judge was alive for at least one more pitch. Unfortunately, Waino grooved Judge a sinker right down the joint and Judge smoked it up the middle for a base hit to score both Benintendi and Hicks to give the Yanks a 4-1 lead.

Carpenter worked a 3-2 walk to load the bases again, and the umpire had problems with the strike zone again when Josh Donaldson came to the plate. This 1-1 pitch was called a ball:

The 2-1 pitch was a low-and-away cutter that looked like it clipped the bottom of the zone, but it too was called a ball. Fortunately, Donaldson swung right through a down-the-middle hanging 3-2 curve to end the inning. By this point, over an hour had elapsed and Wainwright had thrown 55 pitches. Undeterred, the Cards would soar back in the bottom half of the second. Montas walked both Paul DeJong and Yadier Molina on 3-2 pitches to open the frame. The 3-2 pitch to DeJong looked like a strike on the outside corner. Montas had Yadi down in the count 0-2, but lost him. After Tommy Edman struck out chasing a splitter low and out of the zone, Dylan Carlson drove a 97 mph fastball to the gap in right-center that rolled all the way to the wall for a double. DeJong scored to cut the Yanks’ lead to 4-2, with Yadi stopping at third.

Brendan Donovan walked on four straight pitches to load the bases for Goldschmidt, who lined a first-pitch low fastball to medium center field. Hicks flubbed the exchange and decided not to throw, allowing Yadi to score on a sac fly to further cut the Yanks’ lead to 4-3. Arenado launched a first-pitch slider that caught too much plate into the left-center field bullpen to give the Cards a 6-4 lead, and he came out for a curtain call for good measure

The third inning was quiet, as both clubs stranded a runner that had reached first on a two-out single. The hit for the Cards that inning was by Molina, who became the second catcher in major league history to have 1,000 hits in a single stadium. Yogi Berra in Yankee Stadium is the other. Wainwright got into trouble in the top of the fourth, but was able to get out of the jam. After the umpire called a super-close 2-2 low-and-away sinker a ball, LeMahieu ripped a 3-2 inside sinker to the gap in left-center that rolled to the wall for a one-out double. Manager Oli Marmol ordered Judge intentionally walked after he got ahead of Waino 2-0 in the count. Carpenter slowly tapped a ball to second for a 4-6 force, which resulted in runners at first and third, and Donaldson worked a 3-2 walk to load the bases. But Torres quickly got being in the count 0-2 and grounded a curve to short to end the threat. Wainwright was now at 103 pitches. Righty Albert Abreu relieved Montas and allowed only a 3-2 walk to Goldschmidt while striking out both Donovan and Arenado in the frame.

Marmol decided to have Waino come back out for the top of the 5th, but he couldn’t record an out. Benintendi golfed a low curve to the gap in right-center. The ball bounced on the track and over the wall for a ground rule double. After Hicks walked on five pitches, Chris Stratton came on in relief. Jose Trevino lined a 1-0 hanging outside slider to right for a base hit. The ball was hit so hard that Benintendi had to stop at third and the bases were loaded with nobody out. With the count at 3-2, Gonzalez took what should have been ball four. But the home plate umpire called the curveball, which was several inches outside, strike three. LeMahieu struck out on three pitches, and the first-pitch fastball to him should have also been called a ball outside. When Yanks’ manager Aaron Boone was done chirping, Judge launched a 2-0 hanging slider off of the center field wall for a double to score Benintendi and Hicks to tie the game 6-6.

With the count 1-0 on Carpenter and runners on second and third, Stratton spun a curve that looked like it was about six inches outside, but the umpire called it a strike. Boone argued some more, was ejected, then came out for a minute or so to get his money’s worth. Carpenter struck out looking at a 2-2 fastball to end the inning that was actually off the plate low-and-away. Sometime off-screen during the commercial break, Yankees’ pitching coach Matt Blake was also ejected. The Cards kept fighting through all the drama to take the lead in the bottom of the 5th. Lars Nootbaar lined a high 2-1 98 mph fastball to right for a base hit. Paul DeJong sliced an inside 99 mph fastball towards the corner in right that bounced inside the line on the track and hit the black railing in foul territory above the sidewall. Nootbaar raced all the way home from first to score on the double to give the Cards a 7-6 lead.

There was a question about whether the play should have been ruled a ground rule double that would have forced Nootbaar to stop at third base. But according to the official ground rules for Busch Stadium—specifically Rule #1—the ball was properly ruled in play:

Fair batted bounding or thrown ball striking the safety railings on the inclined walls down the left field and right field lines in foul territory and rebounding onto the playing field: IN PLAY

Righty Jonathan Loaisiga came out to pitch for the Yanks and got Molina to pop out, but Tommy Edman laced a down-the-middle 0-2 hanging change to center for a base hit. DeJong raced for home plate. Hicks’s two-hop throw from center beat DeJong and the home plate umpire called DeJong out. But on review, it was clear that catcher Trevino, on receiving the ball raised his glove high in an attempt to tag DeJong. That allowed DeJong to slide his left foot through Trevino’s shin guard and touch home plate well before the tag. The call was overturned and the Cards had a 8-6 lead.

The Cards weren’t done. Carlson worked a 3-2 walk and Donovan walked on five pitches to load the bases. That brought in righty Lou Trivino for the Yanks, who walked Goldschmidt on a 3-2 pitch to extend the Cards’ lead to 9-6. Arenado struck out chasing an 0-2 outside slider to strand the bases loaded. We’ve still only completed five innings and more than three hours have elapsed from the start of the telecast.

The Yankees cut into the Cards’ lead in the top of the 6th. To start the frame, Donaldson beat the shift with a grounded base hit through the right side in the area where the second baseman would normally be. Torres grounded another elevated fastball up the middle past the glove of the diving DeJong for a base hit to move Donaldson to second. The umpire gifted Stratton a strikeout of Benintendi when he called a high-and-outside 3-2 slider a strike. Hicks lined another elevated fastball to right for a base hit to load the bases. Trevino lined a high-and-outside fastball to right for a base hit to score Donaldson to cut the Cards’ lead to 9-7.

Gonzalez softly grounded an outside change to second for a 4-6 force. The ball wasn’t hit hard enough for the Cards to turn two. Torres scored from third to cut the Cards’ lead to 9-8.

Jordan Hicks came out to pitch on no rest with runners at the corners and induced a groundout from LeMahieu on a 3-2 pitch to end the inning. Lefty Wandy Peralta came out to pitch for the Yanks and walked DeJong in an otherwise flawless nine-pitch frame. The clubs retired each other in order in the 7th inning with Hicks recording two strikeouts.

Packy Naughton came out for the top of the 8th and gave up a leadoff single to center to Torres on a high fastball to start the inning. After retiring the next two with one strikeout, Ryan Helsley came out to go for the five-out save and got Trevino to fly out to strand the runner. The inning was delayed several minutes when Trevino fouled 99 mph fastball from Helsley right into the umpire’s forehead. Molina had to catch him to keep him from falling over, but he decided to stay in the game. New acquisition Scott Effross pitched the bottom of the 8th for the Yanks. With one out, Arenado was swinging on 3-0 and lined a low-and-away sidearm sinker to the gap in left-center that rolled to the wall for a double. Tyler O’Neill lined an elevated outside slider to right for a base hit to move Arenado to third. With two out, DeJong launched a hanging 0-1 slider deep to left and off the Big Mac Land letters in left-center for a three-run homer to give the Cards a 12-8 lead.

Helsley did allow a one-out solo homer on a 2-2 low-and-in slider to LeMahieu in the top of the 9th, but retired the other hitters for his 11th save and a 12-9 Cards victory.

Wainwright (4 days rest) 4 IP (pitched to 2 batters in the 5th), 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 1 IBB, 5 SO, HBP; Stratton (2 days rest, top 5, nobody out, men on 1st and 2nd, ahead 6-4) 1.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO, allowed 2 out of 2 inherited runners to score; Hicks (no rest, top 6, 2 out, men on 1st and 3rd, ahead 9-8) 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO; Naughton (7 days rest, top 8, ahead 9-8) .2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO; Helsley (1 day rest, top 8, 2 out, man on 1st, ahead 9-8) 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1 HR.


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