Hey gang, John here. I won’t lie–I’m kind of tired right now so my approach on this recap will be pretty…direct? For those of you who are entertained by my rambling, stream of consciousness style of recaps, you may be sad at the brevity of this recap. For those of you who find my style annoying, well, this will probably also be annoying, but it’ll be shorter.
Here’s the lineups.
First inning: Cardinals hero Jon Jay led off for the Royals with a single, and Ryan Goins, batting second, sacrificed him to second base (in order to troll the Cardinals about 1985, the Royals went with a 1985-style batting order). The next two batters were retired without incident, and Luke Weaver escaped the first inning unscathed. Follow two outs to lead off the bottom of the first, Jose Martinez singled, (the hot) Marcell Ozuna singled to advance Martinez to third, and then Jose Martinez…stole home? It was a weird, delayed steal and Martinez was very much aided by poor infield defense. Ozuna made it to second in the meantime. Next up, Tyler O’Neill struck out swinging, but hey, the Cardinals got a run! 1-0 Cardinals.
Second inning: Alex Gordon has been an unmitigated disaster for the Royals since he signed an extension with them after 2015. And yet here he is, hitting home runs to tie the game. Luke Weaver recovered nicely, striking out a batter and also Jason Hammel, but it was a tied game. The Cardinals made things interesting offensively in the bottom half, with Yairo Munoz and Francisco Pena singling and Luke Weaver sacrificing the duo to second and third, but a Dexter Fowler strikeout ended the inning with a thud.
Third inning: The Royals were retired 1-2-3, and once again, the Cardinals threatened offensively. Marcell Ozuna, once again, singled, and a Tyler O’Neill single put runners again on the corners with two outs. But Kolten Wong popped out to third, leaving the game tied at one apiece a third of the way through the game.
Fourth inning: A Salvador Perez strikeout to lead off the inning was a favorable beginning for the Cardinals, but a Whit Merrifield walk, followed by an Alex Gordon single, was less favorable. An Abraham Almonte line-out made it look like Luke Weaver might emerge unscathed, but then came Alcides Escobar, the long-time Royals leadoff hitter (now batting eighth), who doubled to left, scoring Merrifield. Luckily, Jason Hammel still can’t hit, limiting the damage, but the Royals had a 2-1 lead which they held through the end of the inning, as the Cardinals’ offensive strategy following a Yairo Munoz single was to hit-and-run with Luke Weaver on two strikes. Sure.
Fifth inning: Weaver struck out two. That’s good! The Cardinals once again couldn’t capitalize with runners on the corners. That’s bad!
Sixth inning: Salvador Perez, who mercifully hasn’t gotten talked about as much this series as normal since Yadier Molina is out, hit a home run to left. Whit Merrifield struck out, and while Alex Gordon singled, Abraham Almonte hit into a double play, ending the top of the sixth with a 3-1 Royals lead. The bottom half was characterized by yet another Yairo Munoz single! And…another Yairo Munoz caught stealing on a botched hit and run. I hate this stupid sport.
Seventh inning: 1-2-3 top of the inning for Luke Weaver. Three earned runs in seven is kinda mediocre, yes, but he also struck out eight. He’s a good pitcher. 1-2-3 in the bottom for Jason Hammel, who is less good. The Cardinals offense should be doing better than this. Anyway, Luke Weaver was pinch hit for, so who knows what’s going to happen? Maybe the bullpen will be bad? Maybe the offense will come to life? Maybe I will turn on Rockets/Warriors instead?
Eighth inning: Brett Cecil struck out Ryan Goins but following a Mike Moustakas walk, the Cardinals went to Mike Mayers. Although Mayers walked Whit Merrifield following a Salvador Perez lineout, an Alex Gordon popup ended the inning quietly. Brad Keller pitched the eighth for the Royals, and the Cardinals offense remained ineffective, going down 1-2-3.
Ninth inning: Greg Holland came in to pitch the ninth inning. Now time to take a big sip of coffee and…it is with a heavy heart that I must report that Greg Holland is at it again. Okay, look, Holland faced four batters, and when he left the game, the Royals had a 5-1 lead instead of a 3-1 lead, runners were on first and second, and nobody was out. Honestly, I can’t really complain about his usage, per se–the Cardinals entered the ninth with a 7.4% win probabililty, so not exactly high leverage–but man is he bad now. Mercifully, John Brebbia did well, recording three consecutive outs without a ball leaving the infield. No more runs scored and the Cardinals went to the bottom of the ninth with a 5-1 deficit. The odds were long but they weren’t zero.
Kelvin Herrera came in to close out the game for the Royals–look, the Royals are bad, and Royals fans hate the Cardinals, so assuring not getting swept against the Cardinals by using by far your best reliever with a four run lead may be worth it. And the inning, with the bottom half of the order, showed life! Kolten Wong singled, and then Yairo Munoz singled to bring his game to four for four. And then, because fun is illegal now, Francisco Pena grounded into a double play. It was up to Jedd Gyorko to salvage the game with two outs. He did not do that. 5-1 Royals.