This afternoon, in San Francisco, the St. Louis Cardinals squared off against the Giants, a team against whom the local nine has a winning record during the Mike Matheny era but against whom I can only remember Travis Ishikawa and (underratedly) Michael Morse socking dingers, as well as Randy Choate making errant throws to first base. No amount of “evidence” can tell me that the Cardinals win more games at AT&T Park than not. I refuse to believe it.

Today, the Cardinals face Madison Bumgarner, a pitcher who is somehow both overrated and underrated. His extensive use in the 2014 postseason made him an icon of Gritty Sandpaper Baseball and Clutchiness, leading to a large group of baseball fans, none of whom should be allowed to drive, who believe that Bumgarner’s big-game capabilities make him the superior California lefty rather than Best Pitcher Of The Decade Clayton Kershaw. The cult of Bumgarner conveniently ignores that he was removed from the Giants rotation in the 2012 postseason in favor of extremely past his prime (except against the Cardinals) lefty Barry Zito, but that’s to be expected. But still, MadBum is very good, if not quite elite. Entering today, he had a 2.58 ERA in six starts. That he has a 1-3 win-loss record is very personally gratifying for me.

Here were today’s starting lineups.

  • You may have noticed that the Cardinals lineup is hyper-aware that a lefty is pitching. Hence there is no Matt Carpenter and no Kolten Wong. It’s probably, even besides the fact that Yadier Molina is still out day-to-day with an injury, not the optimal lineup versus lefties, but off-days and such.
  • Not much developed in the first inning on either side–each team got one base runner (Tommy Pham walked and Andrew McCutchen hit a single) but neither advanced to scoring position.
  • Yairo Munoz is the opposite of Yadier Molina to me–it always feels like he has hit way more home runs than he actually has. Munoz’s home runs look so weird and beautiful and the one he hit in the top of the second inning had a definite “Tony Cruz in Game 5 of the 2014 NLCS” vibe to it. 1-0 Cardinals.
  • Did you know Madison Bumgarner has his second-highest opponent ERA against the Cardinals? I guess this isn’t that surprising–the Cardinals have been good-to-great throughout his entire MLB career. But #1? The Miami Marlins. Go figure. Maybe this is an irrelevant stat and that its weirdness proves its own lack of significance, but I still found it interesting.
  • It is so weird that Pablo Sandoval is still an everyday third baseman in Major League Baseball. He was done–sooooooo done. And now he’s just kinda hanging around. And he’s not good but, like, he’s going to stay in our lives forever.
  • As much as I remember the home runs of miserable postseasons past, I even more vividly remember the obnoxious BABIP–the balls that fall into weird spots and remind me that, while I think hating the Cardinals for their Devil Magic of the 2010s is a bit much, being annoyed by them is a completely rational approach. Not sure why I mention that. Anyway, let’s talk about the bottom of the third.
  • Gorkys Hernandez, as “randomly good Giants position player” as one could possibly imagine, led things off with a double, and then Madison Bumgarner walked. Not an ideal start to the inning.
  • Steven Duggar, who I think is one of the 87 kids of that one family from TLC, is making his big-league debut today, and struck out. Much obliged.
  • Less happy about the next four Giants batters. Buster Posey reached first on an error by shortstop Paul DeJong, which is slightly unfair to DeJong. Like, it’s by definition an error, but it was a rocket. It wasn’t an easy play to make–he could have made it, and perhaps a better shortstop does, but it wasn’t a total dud of an attempt. Hernandez scored and Bumgarner made it to second. Next, Andrew McCutchen put one in the right spot on the field, scoring Bumgarner and moving Posey to second. And then Brandon Belt singled, making it the third consecutive Giants plate appearance that resulted in a ball being put in play, scoring a runner from second and advancing the runner on first to second. And then Brandon Crawford walked to load the bases.
  • Mike Mayers came into the game, after a shockingly quick hook on Jack Flaherty. I like the move! Begrudging cap tip to Mike Matheny on that one. Pablo Sandoval flew out to left and, somehow, Andrew McCutchen didn’t run on Marcell Ozuna. McCutchen probably scores with an average arm in left, and Ozuna does not in 2018 have an average arm. It almost didn’t matter, as Alen Hanson got to a 3-1 count before popping out to Mayers. A 3-1 Giants lead isn’t perfect but that was almost way worse.
  • The Cardinals threatened in the top of the fourth, with Jose Martinez singling. The next batter, Marcell Ozuna, grounded to Pablo Sandoval, and I assume Martinez thought it was a lineout at first because he was extremely slow to get to second base. It turned into a fielder’s choice, and the next batter, Jedd Gyorko, hit a broken bat single into the outfield.
  • Paul DeJong got some considerable BABIP luck to load the bases. TWO CAN PLAY AT THIS GAME AT THIS STUPID PARK, GIANTS!
  • My beautiful chubby Dominican son Yairo Munoz hit a non-bloop variety of single to drive in two and suddenly, this game is tied. And they’re still threatening, as they have runners on first and second with one out and Francisco Pena batting with Dexter Fowler on d…okay, so a 3-3 game through 3 1/2 is still cool, right?
  • Pena grounded into a double play. So don’t worry about the Fowler part of that last sentence.
  • Madison Bumgarner, as part of karmic retribution for Cardinals fans complaining about the designated hitter constantly, singled and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Buster Posey very nearly drove in Bumgarner, but an excellent catch in right field from Harrison Bader ended the inning for the Giants. 13% catch probability if Statcast is to be believed.
  • Dexter Fowler still batted, but he struck out, so that’s not ideal. Harrison Bader was hit by a pitch and promptly stole second base. Tommy Pham also struck out, but a Jose Martinez single scored Bader and the Cardinals took a 4-3 lead. A Marcell Ozuna single extended the inning, but a Jedd Gyorko strikeout ended it.
  • John Brebbia came into the game and things did not go well. The first batter made an out, but then Brandon Belt doubled and Brandon Crawford singled and Pablo “Brandon” Sandoval smashed a three-run home run into McCovey Cove to give the Giants a 6-4 lead. This game is going to continue into infinity.
  • Alen Hanson got an infield single and somehow snuck his way to third base, but luckily, the Giants don’t seem to realize that Madison Bumgarner, exceptional hitter for a pitcher, is an incompetent hitter relative to any other position. He struck out and the inning ended.
  • Steven Duggar got his first big league hit off Greg Holland, a double in which Duggar’s helmet fell off. Because the Giants are more Cardinals than the Cardinals have ever been.
  • Buster Posey walked. Oh no Holland’s broke again isn’t he
  • Andrew McCutchen grounded out, and the runners advanced to second and third, so Brandon Belt was intentionally walked. So the bases are loaded with the pitcher who can’t seem to throw strikes. Can’t imagine this backfiring.
  • Hey, Holland struck out Brandon Crawford! Thanks to the failure of the Dutch team to qualify for the World Cup, I wasn’t so sure I’d see Holland being successful in the summer of 2018 but here we go!
  • Pablo Sandoval, who supposedly doesn’t swing at everything anymore, swung at what fit the definition of everything and drove in two runs. 8-4 Gianits.
  • Hanson got a single. Hernandez got a single. It’s 11-4 Giants and everything is impossibly stupid again.
  • They got out of the inning. I don’t remember how. Do you care? Because I don’t care.
  • Tommy Pham is hurting now. What a garbage day this is. He continued his at-bat, eventually striking out, but that’s secondary. Hopefully this isn’t lingering because, well, that would be bad.
  • Another MLB debut as Ray Black enters the game. The Cardinals scored another run before this happened. I’m just spacing out again because it’s 6:18 p.m. Central and the game is just entering the eighth inning.
  • Tommy Pham is out of the game now. Greeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaat.
  • Oh hey, two runners got on and Matt Carpenter got a splash hit. Tim McCarver keeps calling it a splashdown, for some reason. But it’s 11-8. Thank goodness this was a day game or I’d be so tired right now.
  • The bottom of the eighth opened with a Pablo Sandoval single and an Alen Hanson double. Chase d’Arnaud flied out, but a second Paul DeJong error on the afternoon allowed both Sandoval and Hanson to score, with batter Hunter Pence reached second base. And then Apparent Cardinals Killer Steven Duggar reached on an infield single and somehow got to second base.
  • “Who came up with run differential?” Tim McCarver just asked about, like, the most basic statistic in the world. There’s a mostly fair criticism of sabermetrics that people are just reinventing the same old stats, as though we just realized hitting the ball hard was good a few years ago, but there’s also this flip side where old-school people dismiss numbers that are as old as time out of instinct. This is that.
  • It’s 13-8 entering the ninth inning. And that’s how it ended.

One thought on “Giants inspire Cardinals to a whole new AT&T Park nightmare

  1. Greg Holland was never un-borken. Being a pitcher, he was just due to have Small Sample Size Theatre a few times where he didn’t set everything on fire.

    He is terrible, and must be DFA’d immediately. Sunk cost is sunk. Believe #BFIB has learned its macroeconomics lesson by now, Mo. You can let it go.


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