The St. Louis Cardinals faced off against the San Francisco Giants this afternoon at AT&T Park. The Cardinals started their ace, Carlos Martinez, while the Giants’ hurler today was Jeff Samardzija, who, I don’t know, used to be pretty good?
Coming off a nearly 4 fWAR season, Samardzija has had an abysmal year. He started the season on the disabled list with a strained right pectoral muscle. He’s been back since late April, but clearly there is still something going on there. He entered play today with an ERA over 6.00 and a value of -0.3 fWAR.
In other news, Dexter Fowler got the start in right field today, his first since returning from paternity leave and since all that other stuff happened. Jose Martinez also got his first start of the series, pushing Matt Carpenter back to third base, Jedd Gyorko to the bench, and the Cardinals’ infield defense to suspect levels of competency. Yadier Molina also got a much-needed day off today, while Francisco Pena completed the second half of the battery.
The Redbirds scored first today, employing that 1980s, Whiteyball-era tactic of “get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in” that many broadcasters and announcers still pine for. Kolten Wong singled, stole second base, took third on a ground out by Pena, and scored on a double off the bat of Carlos Martinez, who is obviously angling for that Silver Slugger award already (he’s currently 5th in fWAR among NL pitchers). 1-0 Cardinals.
That same inning, Tommy Pham took a pitch off the bat to his balls and went down in pain immediately. That’s right, his BALLS. You know, his nads? His nuts? His TESTICLES?! No one can say it, they can only allude to the general region of the body in a ridiculously elusive way. “Yadi knows this feeling all too well, if you get my drift,” Dan tells us. This sparks a five-minute conversation with Tim about which players did and did not wear a cup in his day, because I guess it was a popular topic of conversation. I swear. Pham was OK, by the way.
The Cardinals scored again in the fourth inning on a nice little sequence of events. Marcell Ozuna singled, Paul DeJong (in just his second game back after missing nearly two months with a broken hand) singled, moving Ozuna to third base, and Fowler hit a sacrifice fly to score him. 2-0 Cardinals. With two outs, Wong attempted to bunt for a base hit (why, you ask? I have no idea!). He was called out at first initially, but the replay showed he was clearly safe and the call was overturned (that’s why, jerk). Pena then blooped a ball over the second baseman’s head to score DeJong and make it a 3-0 game. (Despite this, “Francisco San Francisco” is a terrible nickname and should never be repeated. I regret that I have typed it just now.)
Meanwhile, Carlos was cruising, allowing just three hits through five innings and walking no one. He had good velocity on his fastball, hitting 93-96 on the gun consistently, and got lots of swinging strikes on his offspeed stuff – the slider in particular. He hit a minor snag in the sixth inning: after allowing a leadoff single to Gorkys Hernandez, Martinez retired the next two batters, but could not close out the inning unscathed. Hot-hitting Brandon Belt laced a double down the line in right field to score Hernandez. 3-1 Cardinals.
At some point, Dan tells Tim he’d like to have lunch with Tim and Bill Walton. That is literally my hell.
Carlos pitched through the seventh inning, finishing at exactly 100 pitches. His final line: 7.0 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 3 SO, 0 BB. Ladies and Gentlemen, I officially declare Carlos Martinez Back™.
Jordan Hicks pitched the eighth and allowed the Giants to get another run on the board, even though he pitched pretty well. He allowed a single to Alan Hanson, and with two outs, stupid Brandon Belt got another dumb hit to score him. Not to fear, our lights-out closer (I’m still trying to figure this one out, honestly) Bud Norris pitched a perfect ninth inning to secure the win. Final score: 3-2 Cardinals.
The Brewers lost today, bringing their division lead over the Cubs and Cardinals to 1.5 games and 6.5 games, respectively. I continue to believe that the Brewers are not this good and by August, it will be a Cubs-Cardinals duel for the division once again.
The Cardinals look for the series win tomorrow as Jack Flaherty faces Madison Bumgarner. First pitch is at 3:05 CT. Happy Saturday, everyone.