Hi friends. The St. Louis Cardinals hosted the Pittsburgh Pirates today with the chance to take three of four in the series. Or possibly split, who knows? But here were the lineups which took the field.
First inning: Three up, three down for the Pirates. Get used to this being a thing. As for the Cardinals, um, they did better at the plate. By a lot. See, the Cardinals also went down 1-2-3, but they did some other things first. The leadoff hitter, Matt Carpenter, walked. Tommy Pham singled, advancing Carpenter to second. Jose Martinez grounded to the shortstop, but Sean Rodriguez misplayed the ball and every runner managed to advance. The bases were loaded for Marcell Ozuna, and the day after Ozuna hit his first home run at Busch Stadium in a Cardinals uniform, he did it again. Just like that, Nick Kingham, who made a worth-following-along run at a perfect game in his MLB debut against the Cardinals earlier this season, had allowed the first four batters he faced in the game to score runs. To his credit, he rebounded to get the next three batters out, but the damage was noticeable. 4-0 Cardinals.
Second through fourth inning: In the bottom of the fourth, Kolten Wong hit a single, with two outs and nobody on. This was the lone baserunner of the next three innings of this game following the Grand Slam-fueled first. Michael Wacha has a perfect game going, though, which is fun. And although Nick Kingham continues to be hit pretty hard, he is easily surviving it.
Fifth inning: So you know that whole “Michael Wacha has a perfect game going” thing? Well, that’s not a thing anymore after this inning. He allowed two walks, one to Francisco Cervelli and one to Gregory Polanco, but neither did any major damage, as Wacha escaped the inning without allowing a hit and without allowing a run. No-hitter intact, so that’s fun. In the bottom portion of the inning, Tommy Pham contributed a two-out single, and Jose Martinez reached on a David Freese error, which makes me suddenly concerned that Freese is going to hit an 11th inning home run to center field. The next batter, Marcell Ozuna, hit the ball fairly hard, but directly at Adam Frazier. Through five, the score remains 4-0 Cardinals.
Sixth inning: Oh hey, another 1-2-3 inning from Michael Wacha. Six innings down. Memories of the 2013 Washington Nationals now dance through my head. In the bottom, Yairo Munoz walked with one out. The next batter, Kolten Wong, struck out and…for some reason, the Cardinals keep sending Yairo Munoz on two strike counts. For the third time this season, and it’s not like Yairo Munoz is exactly leading the team in trips to first base, Munoz was thrown out on a strike-him-out-throw-him-out double play.
Seventh inning: Hey, he’s still doing that thing. And I’ve been live-blogging the no-hitter for three innings because NO HITTER JINXES AREN’T REAL. And he’s looking legitimately good–he hasn’t even gotten the obligatory absurd defensive play to his benefit yet. He struck out two this inning, once of pinch-hitter Starling Marte and again of Francisco Cervelli. Having never personally watched a Cardinals no-hitter, it’d be pretty fun to recap one (I was alive and attentive for Jose Jimenez and Bud Smith, but bedtimes and West Coast games, yanno). And in order to streamline the process, the Cardinals didn’t put up a fight in the bottom of the seventh, including Wacha. Good solidarity, boys!
Eighth inning: Oh hey, another Michael Wacha strikeout. He’s up to eight. Yes, he walked a couple guys in there, but Wacha is having, like, a really good outing. He’s at 97 pitches and no, you don’t pull him unless his arm is actually falling off. Michael Wacha would hate Mike Matheny and so would all of his teammates and whatever injury risk is mitigated by preserving Wacha would be offset by this. The next batter, Gregory Polanco, grounded to first on the first pitch. The crowd groaned that a (definite ball) on a 1-2 count to Sean Rodriguez was called a ball to make it 2-2, but come on guys, let’s get this done the right way. Rodriguez fouled off the next two pitches, once on a hard-hit ball that went into the third base side stands and another which, at first, looked like it could have been a swing and miss. The next pitch was a way-outside ball to make it a full count and yes I am recapping every pitch now. The next pitch was grounded to Matt Carpenter who threw the ball to Jose Martinez and we’re one inning away from the thing, y’all. Following a Tommy Pham fly out, Jose Martinez rudely doubled, and Marcell Ozuna walked (this inning is interminable–Michael Wacha is going to die of old age before the ninth inning starts, it feels like). Harrison Bader, a defensive asset once the ninth inning hits, helped streamline the potential no-no with a strikeout, though he could’ve done it quicker (seriously, a ball? You gotta be a team player and start bunting). Munoz tried to help by lining to the pitcher, but it hit off Michael Feliz’s glove, scoring Martinez and putting runners on the corners. Okay, yes, now it’s 5-0 but, okay, I’m being irrational. A 5-0 lead is better than a 4-0 lead and the Cardinals are probably going to beat a division rival that is right in the thick of the playoff hunt. But I wanna see the cool fun thing happen! Yes, no-hitters are everywhere but it could happen with the Cardinals and I’ve never seen that!
Ninth inning: The crowd is losing its mind as Wacha approached the mound. Justly so, but how is that POSSIBLY less of a jinx that posting about it on Twitter? Baseball superstitions aren’t only dumb, but they’re inconsistently applied. Anyway, let’s try to breathe. I’m not making any promises here but I will try. The first batter, Colin Moran, fouled off the first three pitches, and it turns out “a right-hander” is getting loose in the pen, according to Dan McLaughlin. And then Colin Moran singled. Well, dang. Regardless, Michael Wacha pitched really, really well. He’s quite good. We don’t appreciate him as much as we should, and today is a loud exception to that rule. And now we go to Jordan Hicks. It’s weird that throwing a billion miles per hour is a letdown by comparison, but here we are. Anyway, Hicks made Adam Frazier look foolish. Next, Austin Meadows singled, but the next batter, Starling Marte, weakly grounded out to Yairo Munoz, who got the runner at second base. Next up came Josh Bell, who forced a long plate appearance before striking out. Cardinals win 5-0 and take three of four against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
You did good, Michael Wacha. You did real good.