Game 2 of the set in San Diego saw Luke Weaver take the fight to the Friars lineup, facing Eric Lauer, a 22-year-old 2016 1st round draft pick out of Kent State. 2 things about Lauer – he’d probably be a top 10 prospect in most systems, and he’d probably still be in the minors on most teams. But not on the Padres. Lauer pitched 31 innings across 3 levels in his draft year, another 122 between A+ and AA last year, and started three games in AAA this year before getting the call to come fortify the punchless Padres pitching rotation. In 3 games started in the majors before tonight, he’d put up a 5.79 ERA in 14 innings, giving up a lot of solid contact but striking out more than 1 per inning.
Weaver has had his struggles lately, and while a lot of it has been batted ball luck, he has also struck out less and walked more batters than ever before in his career. I came into this game hoping he’d get a chance to figure some stuff out against the Padres lineup.
Speaking of lineups:
Marcell Ozuna and Jedd Gyorko set the table for Paul DeJong in the top of the 2nd, hitting back-to-back singles to lead off the inning. Paulie D has had two very distinct phases to this season; he began the year striking out at an alarming clip (almost 40%) but still putting up star-level value thanks to cartoonish power numbers. Toward the middle of April though, DeJong stopped striking out and began to walk frequently, but lost any semblance of power. It’s been really interesting to track.
At any rate, this PA showed the potential in combining his strengths: DeJong fouled off 5 pitches, including 4 in a row, before finally getting an 85 mph changeup that he liked on the 9th pitch of the at-bat. When Paulie likes a pitch, he can put a charge into it:
DeJong’s evolving approach is a really encouraging sign that he can become a more complete hitter without sacrificing the power that brought him within spitting distance of Rookie of the Year honors last year, and that he can keep that garish K rate from last year from consuming him. But you came here for a recap – DeJong’s blast put the Cardinals up 3-0, and they wouldn’t look back.
Bader led off the 3rd, and after getting to a quick 0-2 count, he hammered a monster line drive no-doubter. Ozuna and Gyorko went back-to-back on Lauer, and both of their homers were absolutely crushed, as well. Here’s Ozuna’s:
Since we traded Jon Jay for Gyorko, he’s been a monster against his old team.
This is one of the more fun subplots of the Cardinals of recent seasons. And I could sit around and watch the dinger clips from tonight all day. 6-0 Cardinals.
Gyorko’s mammoth tater ended Lauer’s night at 2.1 IP, Game Score -4.
Ozuna drew a 1-out walk in the 5th, and scored on a pair of singles from Gyorko and DeJong (with a little help from a fielding miscue by Franchy Cordero). Tommy Pham, jealous of all the homers that he wasn’t hitting, decided to hit a 2-run shot of his own. In a lot of ways, Pham’s homer was a metaphor for what it’s like to be a Friars fan these days:
Weaver brought 5 scoreless innings, striking out 4 and only walking 1 while scattering 4 hits, good for a Game Score of 64. It didn’t ultimately matter, but the bullpen had a lot of flex to it tonight – Bowman, Brebbia, Gant, and Gregerson combined for 4 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 4 K, and 5 Runs allowed. You’d like to see better. Gant’s was the only clean frame.
The lowlight was probably Gregerson’s performance. He gave up a leadoff dinger to Travis Jankowski, then a double to Jose Pirela. Pirela advanced on a Cordero groundout, and then Gregerson resumed pitching to Christian Villanueva with 2 outs. The crew chief called the umpire team together, and after conferring, they called a balk on Gregerson, bringing Pirela to the plate for San Diego’s fifth and final run. Gregerson struck Villanueva out to end the game, then threw his gum in umpire Jeff Nelson’s general direction. Worth a watch if you are curious about the balk situation:
End result: WHO CARES, CARDINALS WIN, 9-5, YAAAAAAY!
Our very own Alex Turpin offered this insightful analysis after the game:
Hope you enjoyed the fireworks! 9 runs on 5 dingers and a handful of singles is not a bad night, even if the bullpen and umpiring situation was a little less than optimal. Tomorrow[/to-]night, the Cardinals try to seal the sweep. Michael Wacha takes on Tyson Ross, who might actually be good this year. Start time is a little earlier, at 7:40 CDT. Enjoy the game!