The Kansas City Royals, who are very bad, lost the first two games of this weekend’s latest installment of the I-70 series pretty handily to the St. Louis Cardinals, who…might be good? They certainly aren’t as bad. And with the team’s fifth consecutive series victory already in hand, the Cardinals took to the field with a chance to sweep on Sunday.
In a tradition started with Tony LaRussa and continued with Mike Matheny, the Cardinals developed a bit of a reputation for what is often called “the Sunday lineup”. Hey, the series is over, and it’s won, and since playoff positions are determined by series victories rather than game victories, why even bother to get the sweep?!?!?! Anyway, let’s see what the Cardinals are rolling with today…
A little weird but players need days off (except Yadier Molina, who I assume Mike Shildt is trying to convince to not apply for the managerial position by playing him as much as Molina would play himself). Kolten Wong is on the bench in favor of the more rested Greg Garcia, Matt Carpenter is getting a semi-day off from the DH position, and hey, Patrick Wisdom making his big league debut! And Luke Weaver is on the mound and he’s been pitching a lot better as of late.
Well okay then. Luke Weaver is scratched and thus earns Tyson Ross a per-start bonus that comes out to nearly half of Weaver’s annual salary, because baseball’s salary structure is extremely normal. So we get two Cardinals debuts–Patrick Wisdom’s MLB debut and Tyson Ross, who has been in the Majors for a while, making his Cardinals debut. Let’s check out the Royals lineup.
- I won’t pretend I know much about Jakob Junis, but he retired the Cardinals 1-2-3 in the first inning, so that’s a bit alarming.
- Apparently Patrick Wisdom is wearing #21, which should be retired by the Cardinals in honor of Curt Flood, in the Majors. So there’s that.
- Wisdom recorded the putout of the first Royals batter, but then the Royals put two runners on, Alex Gordon via walk and Salvador Perez via single.
- And then Lucas Duda walked, so the bases are loaded for Rosell Herrera. On the bright side, I have no idea how Rosell Herrera is the #5 hitter for a Major League Baseball team, or even for the 2018 Kansas City Royals, but the baseball fatalism never truly left me, I’m glad to see.
- A ground ball to first base, maybe a chance at a double play but definitely at least one out aaaaaaand Patrick Wisdom booted it. Bases are still loaded, and with a runner across the plate. 1-0 Royals. Lovely.
- Ground ball! 6-4-3 double play and yes, the Royals are winning, and that is sub-optimal, but the Cardinals are going to score more than one run against Jakob Junis. Probably. They better.
- Jakob Junis was looking terrific over the first four batters, but Paul DeJong ended the perfect game by drawing a hit by pitch. Which seems like a weird thing to be celebrating in the top of the second inning against Literally Jakob Junis, but he truly did look terrific.
- Tyson Ross struck out two guys. After his rough first inning, I consider any progress notable and worthy of mentioning.
- Lol Patrick Wisdom beat out the fluke of all flukes to get an infield single and his first MLB hit baseball is so ridiculous.
- Yadier Molina was hit by a pitch with two outs, and this is apparently the 12th batter that Junis has hit this year. Which seems high. I don’t think there’s any foul play here–just an observation that he’s not good and the Cardinals should be destroying him.
- Jose Martinez took my advice, driving in Wisdom and sending Molina to third base on a single. Also, Al Hrabosky literally just said “the Royals wouldn’t bring Jose Martinez to the pros”. Maybe this is just an attempt to highlight that minor leaguers are underpaid? I don’t know what’s going on.
- With an 0-2 count, Salvador Perez hit a relatively casual fly ball to right field and, well, Jose Martinez tried his best. It was probably a tough play but boy did he make it look clumsy. Luckily, the ball bounced into the stands and thus it was limited to a double.
- A Lucas Duda single brought Perez chugging home, and while Harrison Bader threw it on a rope, he was called safe. Replays showed he made a frankly exquisite slide into home, sneaking around Yadier Molina to score.
- On a nearly identical play, Rosell Herrera hit a single to Harrison Bader, but this time, there was no denying the result. Duda was easily out on another strong throw from center field. Through three innings, 2-1 Royals.
- Through five innings, Jakob Junis has eight strikeouts. Obviously. Why wouldn’t he?
- Marcell Ozuna was called safe on an infield single on a bang-bang play that, while it was close, definitely should’ve been called out. This is the first time in the history of Cardinals/Royals there has been a player incorrectly ruled safe at first base. The call was overturned and Marcell Ozuna sat down.
- For the third straight inning, Tyson Ross went 1-2-3 on ten pitches. He’s losing at the moment, but his first Cardinals appearance has been a resounding individual succcess.
- The Royals went to Jason Hammel in the seventh, and the Cardinals offense started to show some signs of life. Jedd Gyorko singled to left, and on a hit-and-run, Greg Garcia beat out an infield grounder for a single. It was another bang-bang play, but this time, the umpires appeared to make the correct call on the field. First and second with nobody out and Harrison Bader coming to the plate. Leggoooooooo.
- Harrison Bader is lining up to bunt. Patrick Wisdom is on deck. Cool, cool, can’t imagine how this might possibly backfire.
- Okay, 2-0 count on Bader, maybe just try to draw a walk? Kinda like the bases loaded, nobody out, that sounds appealing.
- Bader squared to bunt on a 3-0 count and while he did pull back (for a correctly called strike one) I want to throw a bowling ball through my television. But on the next pitch, Bader walked. In theory, pinch-hitting here might make sense, but I’m not going to question Mike Shildt’s…Wisdom.
- Annnnnnd a single! A legit one! It only scored one run but, hey, tied ballgame and it’s 2-2 and let’s bust this game open so I can watch golf instead. Note: I don’t even like golf. But as a resident of St. Louis County, I am legally required to watch the PGA Championship this year. I don’t want to go to jail. Who’s going to do the Sunday recaps if I do?
- Matt Carpenter grounded into a force out at home. The next batter, Yadier Molina, always brings the threat of a GIDP, so let’s hope I didn’t just put that out into the atmosphere.
- YADI OUTCHEA. A single to center field scores two and it’s a 4-2 Cardinals ballgame at the moment. A Jose Martinez GIDP ended things with the next plate appearance, but a 4-2 lead is nice and good.
- Born-again Seventh Inning Guy Mike Mayers took the mound for the Cardinals and very promptly took care of business. I may not be a believer in bullpen roles per se, but I am digging this whole “the guy who pitch in defined roles in the bullpen are good at pitching” thing.
- With Marcell Ozuna on second base, Greg Garcia got a legitimate base hit and Whit Merrifield stumbled in center field, allowing Ozuna to easily score and for Garcia to reach second base, and just like that CHEAP DRINKS are again on the table. 5-2 Cardinals.
- Jordan Hicks is in the game and throwing triple-digits. Did you know that Jordan Hicks throws really fast? We’ll keep monitoring this story as it develops. Anyway, he didn’t allow any runs. I like that.
- MARCELL OZUNA WITH TWO OUTS BRINGS HOME MATT CARPENTER AND ASSURES CHEAP DRINKS BLESS YOU GOOD SIR BLESS YOU INDEED.
- Paul DeJong just murdered a baseball. In cold blood. And nobody even tried to stop him. 8-2 Cardinals. Remember when Jakob Junis was legitimately good starting for the Royals today? That feels like a decade ago.
- Tyler Webb is in for the Cardinals. I think they’re confident in coming away with the W today.
- The Royals hit four batters throughout the game and nothing happened. Tyler Webb hit a Royal and the umpire ejected him. Come on, umps. Tyler Webb just isn’t that good. It’s not some grand conspiracy here.
- The irritating side effect of Tyler Webb being ejected is that Bud Norris had to come in, but he got the job done. 8-2 Cardinals with a four-game set starting tomorrow night at Busch Stadium against the Washington Nationals. And unlike in various sets throughout the season, I’m really excited about it.