First things first: This might be the last STL Bullpen post for a few days. We might do recaps, we might not! We don’t have any planned non-recap posts until Monday. If something major happens, we’ll probably write something. But it’s a three-day weekend for us, too, sooooooo…
Here were Friday’s lineups:
Whoa, the Pirates have a weird lineup tweet format. Anyway, here’s how the game unfolded.
First inning: So, most people didn’t see the John Gant and Joe Musgrove game and think “pitcher’s duel”, but the first inning set the tone for what turned out to at least partially be one. While Matt Carpenter did get a single, this was the only hit of the inning for either team. Musgrove struck out one; Gant struck out two.
Second inning: Jedd Gyorko led things off with a single, but a Dexter Fowler lineout followed by a Francisco Pena double play grounder ended the half-inning fairly quickly. In the home half, Josh Bell ended John Gant’s “perfect game bid” with a single but Gant promptly retired the next three batters, one via the strikeout, and the game remained tied at zero.
Third inning: Both pitchers threw perfect innings. Seriously though, what is going on? John Gant and Joe Musgrove? They’re doing this? This isn’t Jack Morris/John Smoltz or Chris Carpenter/Roy Halladay, where the two starters are already established to be awesome. This is Kent Hrbek/Rafael Belliard or Nick Punto/Ross Gload.
Fourth inning: Marcell Ozuna reached first on an infield single (I find that quite frequently after an infield single, players reach first), but this was it as far as offense displayed by the Cardinals in this inning. In the bottom half, John Gant struck out two batters en route to another 1-2-3 inning. Through four innings, the rotation’s obvious placeholder struck out five and allowed just one hit. Go figure.
Fifth inning: A runner finally reached scoring position, and it was on the first batter of the inning, as Dexter Fowler doubled. He advanced to third on a Francisco Pena groundout, but he would be stuck there. Kolten Wong struck out swinging and then John Gant struck out swinging and then I realized that it was only 7:08 central halfway through the game’s regulation innings. This game is flying. In the bottom half, Corey Dickerson led things off with a single, but Gant rebounded with the next batter, as Colin Moran struck out. Austin Meadows, whose walkup song selection of The Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony” is super odd to me, flied out to Marcell Ozuna. Jordy Mercer nearly made the third out on a foul out that Kolten Wong missed (but which really should’ve been caught by Dexter Fowler), but on the next pitch, John Gant struck him out. John Gant is seriously dealing.
Sixth inning: The Cardinals went down 1-2-3 and the final out was recorded via a strikeout of Jose Martinez. Just like that, Joe Musgrove, in his first career start for the Pittsburgh Pirates, had six strikeouts over six innings of no-run, no-walk ball. This offense is confoundingly bad sometimes given how much talent is there. It is truly, genuinely confusing. And then, because this is Joe Musgrove’s night, he led off the bottom of the sixth with a single. The next batter, Josh Harrison, doubled, scoring Musgrove from first. Like I said, Joe Musgrove’s night. The next batter, Gregory Polanco, grounded to second, allowing Harrison to advance to third. Then things started to get really murky for Gant: he hit Francisco Cervelli and then a Josh Ball sacrifice fly scored Polanco. Suddenly, the formerly dealing John Gant had allowed two runs. To Mike Matheny’s credit (?), he was proactive, and turned to the bullpen about as quickly as a manager could be reasonably expected. Next came Brett Cecil and things went poorly (the move was fine, Mike; sometimes, these things just happen), as Corey Dickerson ripped a triple to right. Colin Moran lined out, but this was suddenly no longer a proper pitcher’s duel. 3-0 Pirates.
Seventh inning: Marcell Ozuna, who I guess is good now or something, doubled to lead off the inning, but this was as far as the offense went, as Jedd Gyorko struck out and then Dexter Fowler and Francisco Pena grounded out. In the bottom half, Brett Cecil got into a pretty unlucky jam, as Austin Meadows and Jordy Mercer each recorded infield singles (Meadows stole second base before Mercer got his, thus putting runners at the corners). John Brebbia came into the game following this, inducing an Adam Frazier lineout (after which the Pirates almost crazily sent Meadows home). Brebbia then struck out Josh Harrison before walking Gregory Polanco, loading the bases for Francisco Cervelli. And then, Cervelli doubled off the right field wall, clearing the bases. Suddenly, this game doesn’t look competitive, much less like a pitcher’s duel. Following a Josh Bell single, Corey Dickerson flied out to end the inning, but not before the Pirates took a 6-0 lead.
Eighth inning: Bless you Tommy Pham! Look, do I think a solo home run with two outs in a 6-0 game in the eighth is going to change the victor? No, but I do think it can make me a little bit happier. Tommy Pham looked borderline furious coming back to the dugout. Kind of a Nelson Muntz throwing the football over the defenders to himself thing going on here. 6-1 going into the bottom of the eighth and…Greg Holland is pitching. Look, I get it! He’s been terrible and this is absolutely the right time to pitch him but…just because accepting defeat is sound strategy doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it. First AB was fine–Colin Moran lined out–but then Austin Meadows tripled. By triple, I mean “he hit it reasonably well but it should never have been a triple, but Marcell Ozuna badly misplayed it off the wall”. And then Jordy Mercer followed that up with a second triple, because this is apparently how this is going to go. The next batter, David Freese, grounded out (without advancing a run home); I stood and applauded as he approached the plate in my living room and if you’re a decent Cardinals fan, you did too. The next batter, Jordy Mercer, singled to center field on a hit nearly caught by Tommy Pham. Greg Holland then struck out Gregory Polanco, and honestly pitched better than his results suggest, but allowing two runs isn’t going to convert many people to his cause. This game is stupid. 8-1 Pirates.
Look, do y’all even want me to recap the top of the ninth? Why would you want that? Anyway, this was the most losable game of the weekend for the Cardinals, so really they’re just living up to expectations. Don’t want to get greedy.