Tough night for pitchers

Two errors and seven walks

Pham can’t do it all

Hello friends! I. H. Boog here, ready to delight you with a review and report from the Cardinals’ latest game. For those of you who don’t know me, I like to wax – er, recap – poetic from time to time. In addition to a standard game summary, you may get a haiku, a limerick, some iambic pentameter, reworked song lyrics, or perhaps even a sonnet or two. I like to keep things interesting around here. I am very happy to be back in the recap writing business. Thank you to @stlouisbullpen for giving me a new home. With that, let’s get to…

The Game

Jack Flaherty got his second start of the season today. Lucky us, not-so-lucky Adam Wainwright (whom Flaherty replaced), who is currently on the disabled list with an elbow injury. Flaherty ranks 36th on the list of top prospects in baseball. He’s got an excellent slider, with the potential to be Kershaw-level devastating, and is improving the movement on his fastball. For their part, the Pirates started Trevor Williams, who, unfortunately, I don’t know anything about.

The Cardinals lineup this evening:

The Cardinals made Williams work tonight. In the first inning, Tommy Pham, Matt Carpenter, and José Martinéz all worked the count full, causing Williams to throw 21 pitches, despite facing the minimum. The Cardinals continued this trend throughout the evening, and by the time Williams exited the game in the sixth inning, he’d thrown well over 100 pitches.

The Pirates scored first in the second inning on a home run off the bat of Francisco Cervelli.  It was only a solo home run, luckily, because in the previous at-bat, the Cardinals erased baserunner Josh Bell when Corey Dickerson hit into a double play – the first of three tonight.

The Redbirds came right back in the top of the third. Paul DeJong singled, and FOR SOME UNKNOWN REASON, Kolten Wong bunted him over to second base. With the pitcher on deck. I can’t understand this move. At all. Flaherty struck out swinging (which was completely expected! why did we waste an out in the previous at-bat?), but never fear, Cardinals fans, Tommy Pham is here to save us all. True to form, Pham doubled off the right field wall, scoring DeJong. Tie game.

The game moved along fairly quickly until the top of the sixth inning, when José Martinéz hit a one-out double. He looked really uncomfortable out there, hunching over a little and breathing heavily. The trainer and Mike Matheny sprinted out to see him, but he ultimately stayed in the game. I still don’t really know what happened, but it was 42 degrees at first pitch, and by the time this happened, it was about 36 degrees. Those temperatures can make it tough for anyone to catch their breath, I imagine. (I do have to actually imagine this. It was 96 degrees today in Phoenix, and I went swimming. I don’t remember what 36 feels like.) Marcell Ozuna followed with a 9-pitch at-bat that ended in an RBI base hit. 2-1 Cardinals!

Don’t get comfortable with that score, folks. I did, and I was wrong. The proverbial wheels fell off very shortly after. Flaherty started the seventh inning with back to back walks. Was he getting squeezed? Eh…maybe:

(Credit to brooksbaseball.net)

They were close calls, but the pitches were largely just off the plate. He threw four straight balls to Adam Frazier and, after getting a swinging strike, four more straight balls to Gregory Polanco. If the umpire isn’t giving you the call, you really shouldn’t just keep trying until he does. Because, you know, he probably won’t. Anyway, those walks ended what was otherwise a really good and very promising outing from Flaherty.

Dominic Leone came in from the ‘pen. He got Starling Marte to ground out to Paul DeJong, but unfortunately the Cardinals could not turn the double play. With runners on the corners, Josh Bell singled to score Adam Frazier. 2-2 tie. Pham bobbled the ball on the throw back in, allowing the runners to advance to second and third. Leone intentionally walked Corey Dickerson, and Cervelli followed with a sacrifice fly to put the Pirates back up 3-2. Bleh.

The Cardinals wasted a lead off single by DeJong in the seventh. The Pirates jumped at the opportunity to add on. Luke Gregerson – who I SWEAR used to be good – came in and promptly gave up a double to Jordy Mercer and a walk to Sean Rodriguez. Cool. Cool cool cool. You could just tell that this was not going to end well. Tyler Lyons relieved Gregerson, who got precisely zero outs. With former hometown hero David Freese up to bat, the runners advanced to second and third on a passed ball. Freese hit a sacrifice fly to right center field, and the Pirates led 4-2. But wait! There’s more! Lyons hit Polanco and left the game. Enter Mike Mayers. He gave up a very stupid infield hit to Marte. Bases loaded. Bell struck out, but Mayers’ bad luck continued, as yet ANOTHER infield hit by Dickerson scored Rodriguez. 5-2 Rats. Poo.

The Pirates scored once more in the bottom of the eighth on a strange series of events. Colin Moran popped out, but the umpire called a “quick pitch” on Mayers, which means he did not come set before pitching the ball – essentially a balk, but with no one on base. I have never, in 28 years of watching major league baseball, seen that call. I was irritated, but at the same time, this is exactly why I love the game. Something new happens every day. So, not only is Moran NOT out, but the pitch counts as a ball. Moran ended up walking. Mayers got two outs after that, but pinch hitter Max Moroff singled, and Jose Martinez made what feels like his 18th error of the season, allowing Moran to score. 6-2 Pirates – the final score in a disappointing game.

Notes

  1. Have you ever wondered what happens if a team exceeds their allotted six mound visits per game? I have. Is it an automatic out? Does the team get fined? Does the home plate umpire come running out and physically tackle the catcher to prevent him from reaching the mound? Well, it turns out, according to Dan McLaughlin, the pitcher on the mound just has to come out of the game, and the team must go to their bullpen. BO-RING.
  2. As busy as the bullpen has been lately, and given how close the calls were in those back to back walks in the sixth, I MIGHT have left Flaherty in the game. Up until that point, he’d pitched pretty darn well and had only thrown 82 pitches. No disrespect to our site name, but our bullpen isn’t really all that good! All the people we got who were supposed to be really good have sucked! Flaherty is a rookie, so I get it, but five bucks says almost any other starting pitcher would have gotten a longer leash there.
  3. Kolten Wong tried to sacrifice Paul DeJong not once, but twice tonight with the pitcher coming up next. Can we just stop, please? DeJong is going to get on base. Why don’t we hit the pitcher 8th, if all we’re going to ask of the eighth place hitter is to advance the runner? I mean, come on. Can we all agree this is ridiculous?
  4. The Cardinals will try to salvage a win tomorrow as Luke Weaver faces…Nick…Kingman? Who are these Pirates pitchers? First pitch 12:35 CT.

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