Having already clinched their seventh consecutive series victory on Saturday night, the St. Louis Cardinals arrived back at Busch Stadium this afternoon with a chance to sweep the Milwaukee Brewers and create a game-and-a-half gap between the two NL Central and Wild Card contenders. In years past, this meant the notorious “Sunday lineup”. But now that Yadier Molina never ever takes days off, this doesn’t appear to be the case anymore. Kolten Wong, who was removed from yesterday’s game due to injury, is out in favor of Greg Garcia, and Jose Martinez, who was a late-ish scratch (but did pinch-hit), is being replaced in right field by Tyler O’Neill, things look basically in order. Here are the lineups for this afternoon’s game.

Here’s how it went down.

  • John Gant is on the mound for the Cardinals. Quick prop bet (I’m making with people who already know what happened in the game): Who is more likely to hit a home run–Gant or Greg Garcia? I think it’s Greg Garcia. I think. And I say this as a noted Greg Garcia defender!
  • Leadoff hitter Christian Yelich fell behind 0-2 but battled back and managed a single. He’s very good.
  • For at least the second time in a week (I’ve been to three games so it’s possible this is recurring), the FSM graphic show that Marcell Ozuna is wearing #4. I don’t think that is accurate.
  • Lorenzo Cain grounded into a double play, and it was an impressive play all around for the Cardinals’ infield defense. Paul DeJong showed some range, made a nice flip to Greg Garcia, who himself made a Kolten Wong-esque turn to retire the speedy Cain at first base. The next batter, Mike Moustakas, made a relatively quiet out to center field and the half-inning ended.
  • Tyler O’Neill is the (whichever of John Lennon or Paul McCartney you like less) of Cardinals rookie outfielders defensively–you’re so transfixed with Harrison Bader that you overlook just how good the other one is. He made a terrific run up against the wall in right field; he had a weird jump, but it’s safe to say Jose Martinez doesn’t make the play. Also, yes, it’s weird that I’m making a Beatles analogy and Harrrison isn’t, um, Harrison, but it’s my site and nobody can fire me.
  • Some shift-beating aside, the Cardinals offense has been pretty nondescript over the first two innings. Luckily, the Brewers have also gotten very little traction, and thus it remains scoreless.
  • The top of the third was more offensive, both in a “runs being scored” and a “I am offended by this” way. Following a leadoff Orlando Arcia single, followed by a stolen base, the Cardinals seemed to put a stop on the potential rally with successive grounders off the bats of Jhoulys Chacin and Christian Yelich. But a Lorenzo Cain walk was followed by a bases-clearing Mike Moustakas double. Not cool. 2-0 Brewers.
  • There really wasn’t much to say about the next inning and a half, but the Brewers rallied again in the top of the fifth. Jhoulys Chacin grounded out, but following that, Christian Yelich walked and Lorenzo Cain managed an infield single. After this, Mike Shildt did not mess around, and removed John “Not Yet Eligible For a Win” Gant from the game. This is not a Mike Matheny-managed team anymore.
  • The move to Brett Cecil was unpopular, but I like it. Might as well play the platoons. Cecil induced a ground out off the bat of Mike Moustakas, advancing the runners to second and third. Following a Jesus Aguilar intentional walk (a move I liked a lot less, just because Brett Cecil has had control issues), Travis Shaw fouled out, the Cardinals avoided some damage.
  • The first two batters in the bottom of the inning were retired, and following Greg Garcia being hit by a pitch (clearly accidentally, lest we get into yesterday’s umpshow-ing again), Kolten Wong came up to pinch-hit, the very act of which provided by some reassurance that Kolten Wong isn’t broken. The flyout wasn’t my favorite thing, but I like how he’s alive.
  • Tyson Ross took the mound for the Cardinals in the sixth and things went well. 1-2-3 inning. I am a fan of that. They should consider doing that more often, dare I say as often as possible.
  • Matt Carpenter bunted on a 3-1 count against the shift. Jhoulys Chacin, the only fielder on that side of the infield, made an incredible effort and his throw to first base nearly beat out the runner, but it did not. Everything about that play was perfect. I want that to happen four times per game. Baseball will be the most popular sport on Earth in a week if that happens.
  • A Marcell Ozuna two-out single which sent Carpenter to third base to give Paul DeJong runners on the corners has me stupidly optimistic. He may not tie the game and he may not give the Cardinals the lead but…he can do damage here. He must!
  • And on an 0-2 pitch, DeJong swung at one in the dirt. Boooo. It remains 2-0 Brewers.
  • Following a Eric Thames pinc-hit walk, Greg Garcia snagged a hot liner on a hit and run, easily doubling up Thames. Greg Garcia is a perfectly cromulent bench player and he deserves your respect.
  • I really hope they don’t get shut out here. Shutouts are depressing. Especially when the other team scored semi-early. It just feels like everything else was a waste of time and you didn’t know it at the time. Meanwhile, a 1-2-3 seventh inning and baseball is the worrrrrrst when your team can’t do anything offensively.
  • Tyson Ross threw three innings today and gave up no hits and faced the minimium and…this is shaping up to be a sneaky good acquisition for the Cardinals. I like it.
  • PATRICK WISDOM FIRST CAREER HOME RUN. Hey, has a #21 ever hit a solo home run in the eighth inning in the midst of a big game where everybody is starting to lose faith?
  • THE NEXT PITCH MATT CARPENTER SMACKS OUT TO DEEP CENTER AND…it’s caught at the wall. But then amazing thing carried into Yadier Molina’s at-bat (which ended with a lifeless ground out)–the crowd got loud and it stayed loud. And it was loud as Tyler O’Neill approached the plate. The atmosphere is getting energetic around these parts lately. I love it.
  • Still 2-1 Brewers heading into the bottom of the ninth. Against Josh Hader. I mean, any walk-off would be sweet, but if you could execute this comeback, it’d be exceptionally fun.
  • Unfortunately, while Josh Hader and the resulting misguided fanfare is problematic, he is also extremely good at pitching, and he made the Cardinals look foolish in the bottom of the ninth. Despite a valiant effott from Jedd Gyorko, getting to the warning track, it stayed in the park, and the Brewers win 2-1.

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