And now, for a less-than-ninety-word lede on why I, Josh Matejka, love matinee baseball:
I love matinee baseball. I can see why some fans wouldn’t, but there’s something electric about it.
I love waking up in the morning and knowing I only have to wait a few hours before game time. I love stolen glances at Twitter and the extra MLB tab open on my work computer. I especially love matinee baseball wins, when my evening can be emotionally informed by a Cardinal victory. And the losses? Well, I’ve got the rest of the day to shake those off, don’t I?
This has been a less-than-ninety-word lede in which I explain why I love matinee baseball. Thanks for indulging me.
Here are the starting lineups for the day:
Matt Carpenter worked a leadoff walk, which is just about my favorite thing to write about him aside from, “Matt Carpenter hit a leadoff home run.” But Tommy Pham, Jose Martinez and Marcel Ozuna failed to capitalize on the mistake from Arrieta, making outs in consecutive order.
The Phillies would not make the same mistake. After a one-out single from Rhys Hoskins and a double by Odubel Herrera, Carlos Santana – that fearsome menace! – brought Hoskins in with a sacrifice fly. Wacha avoided any further damage.
Future first-ballot Hall of Fame Yadier Molina made sure the Phillies’ lead didn’t last long.
#VoteTheGOAT, indeed. Tracking Yadier Molina’s offensive career has been weird. He’s in that Salvador Perez area right now where he’s basically an average hitter who hits for power to go along with good defense. To be honest, it doesn’t seem totally fair to expect much more from him, so I’ll take it.
Wacha would quickly work around a leadoff single from Nick Williams to complete his first trip through the lineup on a relatively economic 29 pitches.
1-1 Tie Game
Matt Carpenter worked another walk – my third favorite thing to write about him – with one out. If anyone doubted he would turn it around at some point this year, they couldn’t have used his batting eye to justify it. But once again, the Cardinals couldn’t move him past first.
In the bottom half of the inning, Hoskins and Herrera both flared decent changeups for singles before Wacha walked Carlos Santana on four pitches. You don’t think Matheny is telling them to walk him intentionally, do you? Because it sure looked like Wacha wasn’t trying to give him anything to hit. Fortunately, he was able to coax a strikeout from Scott Kingery and a grounder from Williams. No damage done, except to Wacha’s ballooning pitch count.
An uneventful 1-2-3 inning for the Cardinals. Tim McCarver said something about why “putting fingers down” – calling a game, I suppose is what he means – is one of the most important things a catcher can do. I tend to think there are at least ten other things that are more important, but who am I to question a former MLB catcher?
The Phillies’ half of the inning opened with two plays that required a lot of Matt Carpenter, which should tell you all you need to know about how this inning went. Marp was able to make the first play, but wasn’t even close on a somewhat easy throw for an average third basemen. Wacha got to two outs before Cesar Hernandez made the Cardinals pay.
Wacha went on to walk Hoskins before Mike Maddux and head trainer Adam Olsen ran out to check on the Cardinals’ starter. It’s hard to tell what exactly happened, but it certainly appears Wacha might have pulled something, and he was quickly ushered from the game. The Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold would confirm just minutes later…
Someone get Memphis on the phone.
Mike Mayers got the requisite long time to warm up before Herrera ground a sharp ball off of Mayers pitching hand – SOMEONE GET MEMPHIS ON THE PHONE! (just kidding, he’s fine) – and Wong made a nice play to catch him at first. Not exactly an encouraging inning for the Birds.
Greg Garcia flared a single to left, but didn’t move past first. A cataclysmically bad at-bat from Mike Mayers – which, y’know, of course – was partially to thank, though Kolten Wong did sky a ball that would’ve been a home run almost anywhere but where he hit it.
I rolled my eyes when Mike Mayers returned to the mound an inning after taking that shot off his pitching hand. But he looked dominant while striking out the side with his high-90’s fastball and wicked slider. So what do I know?
(The following paragraph was written earlier in the game, then saved for later when the outcome didn’t come to pass.)
If I had to list the things I love about today’s MLB experience, I could probably list a few hundred. Two of the things that would make the list? Yadier Molina hitting dingers, and Jake Arrieta giving up dingers.
And after typing that out in anticipation of an earlier home run that didn’t happen, I was infinitely glad I held onto it.
Brett Cecil, appearing in only his fifth outing of the month, relieved Mayers for the bottom half of the sixth. He gave up a one-out double to Jorge Alfaro, but worked around it by striking out Aaron Altherr and Cesar Hernandez.
3-3 Tie Game
Garcia served up his second leadoff single of today’s game, and moved to second when Carpenter picked up his third walk of the day. This was technically an intentional walk, but he was well on his way to a non-intentional one before Alfaro let a ball get past. Tommy Pham struck out to leave two men on. I’m waffling on my proclamation that Tommy Pham is, indeed, back.
Sam Tuivailala became the fourth pitcher of the day for the Cardinals, set to face batters 2-3-4 in the Phillies’ lineup. That sounds like a winning combination if I’ve ever heard one.
No other runs would score this inning, meaning the damage isn’t too b —
I hadn’t yet shaken off the effects of the brutal slow motion replay of the last play before Jose Martinez stepped in to take his next at-bat. He didn’t look particularly comfortable, but looped a single into right field. This has been a tremendously weird game. The Phillies refused to let Molina knock his third dinger of the game by plunking him on the side, and Garcia bounced out to end the Cardinals’ second to last chance at a win.
Greg Holland came in for his second day in a row and worked a quick 1-2-3 inning again. Let’s turn the cautiously optimistic dial up to a 4/10.
Let’s not stretch it out. Jedd Gyorko launched a one-out double to deep left center, but Carpenter fouled out to third and Pham softly grounded out to short.
Phillies win 4-3
- Another day, another offensive drought. All the Cardinals runs came on homers, and they struck out eight times.
- Jose Martinez seems to be fine, but as Derrick Goold put after his last at-bat…
- There’s a lot of clamoring about Dakota Hudson taking Michael Wacha’s spot in the rotation, but he’s not on the 40-man as of now, and it doesn’t seem like Mozeliak’s style to bring a guy up who isn’t considered “ready.” But the Cardinals rushed Jordan Hicks to the majors, and that has worked out well. Again, what do I know?
- Tough series for reigning NL Player of the Week Marcell Ozuna: 1 for 13 with five strikeouts. Tougher series for Dexter Fowler: 0 for 9 with three strikeouts.
- That’s three series losses in a row for the Cardinals and four out of their last five.
- Another series where at least one loss could have been prevented – or at least the likelihood lessened – by better managing. Fire Mike Matheny.