Thursday night’s game was the pits. You can handle, almost laugh at, the team looking completely inept for an evening but it’s much harder when it happens during a stretch in which the team is already playing bad ball. Enter Friday, where the Cardinals attempted to regain their dignity. Starters were Jack Flaherty and Junior Guerra. This is what happened.
Matt Carpenter continues to see the ball well and he led off the game with a double. This seemed highly improbable in mid-May but his wRC+ now sits at 121. He’s still good, folks. Carpenter then scooted over to third with no outs on a wild pitch to Pham. However, the Cardinals left him there. That was partly due to Pham being called out on strikes on what was not a strike.
Pham didn’t like it and let the umpire know. The umpire didn’t like that and let Pham know by tossing him during Marcell Ozuna’s at-bat. I’m with the chorus on twitter and agree that if there was ever a time for an embattled manager to join his star in the clubhouse that was probably it. Not the biggest deal, but this team could use a moment like that after so many listless performances lately.
In the top of the 3rd, Ozuna poked a single through the left side of the infield to score Carpenter and put the first run on the board. That would be the score for a while. In fact, the Brewers didn’t get a runner to second base until two outs in the 6th inning. More on that later.
In the top of the 6th, after a leadoff single by Yadier Molina, Dexter Fowler drew a walk after a solid ten-pitch at-bat. That put Guerra’s pitch count at 106 and he was relieved by Josh Hader. I still sort of believe in Dexter Fowler. Or, at the very least, I believe he’s a lot better than he’s been so far (which probably isn’t going out on a limb, but whatever), and it’s not much, but just getting on base is good way to get right again. Anyway, Hader then struck out Yairo Muñoz, Kolten Wong, and Flaherty and the threat was vaporized. What can you do, Hader is basically Superman and he’s now striking out more than 55 percent of batters faced on the season.
As noted earlier, the Brewers didn’t get a runner to second base until the 6th inning. That runner (I don’t remember who it was) would not score and Flaherty ended the inning by striking out Lorenzo Cain. (The pitch was probably inside but that’s okay.)
Then, in the bottom of the 7th, on Flaherty’s 101st pitch of the night, Jesús Aguilar took him deep to left field to tie the game. It was the first hit Flaherty had given up all evening. That would do it for him, the homer being his only blemish. He was brilliant. With a pitch count just north of 100, he struck out 13, and after last night’s game, seven solid innings from the starter was just what the team needed. Allowing only one run always plays, too. Oh, and since Bob Gibson retired, there have only been nine games in which a Cardinal struck out at least 13 batters and Flaherty now has two of them.
From Baseball Reference:
I should note though, not everyone was happy with Flaherty’s performance.
(Eric Thames was not tossed.)
Also, the Cardinals were striking out a lot, too.
Nothing of note happened until the bottom of the 8th inning when the Brewers attempted to bunt Eric Sogard over to second, and Jordan Hicks fielded it and rifled it to second to get Sogard. I’m not wild about Hicks risking that throw, I’d prefer he just take the out, but that’s not the interesting thing about this play. Hicks’s throw brought Muñoz into Sogard’s slide and they had what looked like a pretty harmless collision. Whether Sogard said something to Muñoz or perhaps he asked him if he was okay and Muñoz misunderstood, I’m not sure, but they were soon chin-to-chin and the benches cleared. Nothing happened, and soon everyone retreated to their proper places.
The Cardinals didn’t put up a protest in the top of the 9th and Aguilar ended the game with a walk-off home run moments later in the bottom of the 9th off of Bud Norris. In the crazy life that is relief pitchers, a lot of Cardinals fans probably trust Greg Holland more than Norris right now. If you’re paying attention, that was Aguilar’s second home run of the game. Only the third hit for the Brewers all evening. Pretty good night for Aguilar. And pretty good night for Flaherty, too. Another lousy night for the rest of us though.