As a fan of the late St. Louis Rams, I am used to being wildly disappointed at noon on the first NFL Sunday of the year, and thus am ready to hate what I see at Comerica Park this afternoon. Here are the lineups, which for some reason include Yairo Munoz playing center field.
Sorry for the obnoxiousness of the Tigers’ tweet but let’s be honest, you don’t know who these guys are even if you could read the names.
The first inning of this affair came and went and nothing of particular note happened. Like, yes, I’m going to assuredly check out from this game, but this one isn’t my fault. A two-out Nick Castellanos double was the sole base-runner of the inning. And then in the top of the second, the Cardinals went down 1-2-3 again. And the Tigers also did in the bottom half of the inning. If this game is tied entering the bottom of the ninth, I’m turning the game off and you can’t stop me.
Dawel Lugo (not to be confused with Julio or Seth Lugo, players with whom I am familiar) walked, so there’s an at least an outside chance something happens in the bottom of the third (oh, and nothing happened in the top of the third, because the Cardinals offense is criminal at this point, as long as the crime is, like, loitering I guess). JaCoby Jones, destined to a life of being confused with former NFL wide receiver Jacoby Jones, hit a deep fly out that briefly scared me, and then Jeimer Candelario lined into a double play by hitting a direct shot at first baseman Matt Adams. A third of the way through the game, it remains at 0-0, and I recommend that the Cardinals get a base runner.
The Cardinals didn’t listen to me for the top of the fourth.
The first two Tigers of the bottom of the fourth were retired, but Niko Goodrum reached on a two-out bunt single which was badly handled by Greg Garcia (though in his defense, it would’ve taken an extraordinary play to actually retire Goodrum, and he didn’t advance any further, so whatever). Goodrum stole second base, but a Mikie Mahtook strikeout ended the inning for the Tigers with a whimper.
ANOTHER perfect inning for Michael Fulmer. Michael Fulmer! In 2018! Like I promised on Friday, I’m blaming Josh Homme for this. Thankfully, John Gant has matched Fulmer today, and he recorded another perfect inning in the bottom of the fifth. Gant doesn’t have a perfect game going, but he’s pitching super good and I like that.
Yairo Munoz led off the sixth inning with a perfect game-ending walk, and Munoz has now been promoted to best center fielder in baseball (okay, that’s extreme–best center fielder with a five-letter last n…and I was typing this, Munoz was caught stealing on a pitchout and this is the dumbest sport I’ve ever devoted all of my free time to following). And then Greg Garcia walked and Carson Kelly, in a rare start, has a chance to Do A Thing. And Kelly got a hit, so we have runners on first and second and honestly, kinda wish Munoz hadn’t made that out right about now. The inning then proceeded to end in boring and unspectacular fashion, with a pair of fly outs off the bats of Matt Carpenter and Jose Martinez. Because, I mean, you wouldn’t want baseball to be TOO exciting, would you? Oh, you would? Well, you should’ve said something earlier.
Goodness, John Gant is kiiiiiinda killing it. Through six innings, Gant allowed just two hits, one walk, and struck out six. I should’ve taken names of people mad when the Cardinals picked up the option on Jaime Garcia’s contract, which led to having John Gant. I regret this daily.
Tim McCarver is getting excited about a squirrel. He also said “you were there” to Dan McLaughlin about the 2011 NLDS Rally Squirrel, which is not true.
Marcell Ozuna, who is The Only Good Cardinals Hitter at this point, got on on an infield single, and I highly recommend making the Tigers pay. Strongly, strongly recommend, actually. Paul DeJong proceeded to ground it to Jeimer Candelario sharply enough that it probably wasn’t realistically going to be a double play, but it should’ve been an out at first. However, he couldn’t retrieve the ball, and for now, it’s being ruled a single for some reason. But regardless, runners on first and second with one out.
With some hitters, I would be terrified. With Kolten Wong, I feel confident he won’t ground into a double play. He did not, hitting a sharp ground ball between the shortstop and third baseman. Marcell Ozuna scored, DeJong advanced to third, and on the throw home, Wong advanced to second base because he is such a fundamentally pure baseball angel. The next batter, Yairo Munoz, hit what looked like a fly ball to right field deep enough to score DeJong but ultimately be the second out, but inexplicably, Niko Goodrum just kinda straight up dropped the ball. Nothing more to say, the ball was dropped. 2-0 Cardinals, and for some reason, Greg Garcia was intentionally walked.
I guess it was to set up the double play, but, like, has Ron Gardenhire not been watching this inning? Carson Kelly managed an infield single to score Munoz and leave the bases loaded. The Cardinals have a 3-0 lead and the bases are still loaded with Matt Carpenter, who hasn’t grounded into a double play this season, coming to the dish.
Carpenter didn’t GIDP, flying out to center field after an incredible play by JaCoby Jones (it was a fairly routine play but any good defensive play by a Tiger at this point seems inexplicable). A fourth run scored.
JOSE MARTINEZ RBI SINGLE THIS IS NOT A DRILL THIS IS NOT A DRILL IT IS 5-0 CARDINALS! This squirrel is something. This was all of the scoring that would happen. Also, John Gant is still pitching because the DH exists. I’m not saying this validates the DH but at this particular moment in history, I enjoy avoiding the bullpen pitching when possible.
Okay the Tigers scored a run in the bottom of the seventh, maybe that was an overreaction. And another run and suddenly the Cardinals have a three run lead and zero relievers I trust. Gant is heading off while Dakota Hudson comes in and…walks the first batter he faces and will now face the potential tying run. Things went fine, though, as a grounder to Paul DeJong was flipped (weirdly high!) to Kolten Wong to get the final out of the inning. 5-2 Cardinals.
Jordan Hicks, as good of a pick as anybody out of the bullpen at this point, came out to pitch the eighth. And while he did issue a walk, he escaped the inning without allowing runs, which by recent standards of the bullpen I am very much going to take. The top of the ninth was innocuous (despite ending with Matt Carpenter being called out on a terrible strike three call which saw him and Mike Shildt ejected for arguing) but let’s just get the horror of the bottom of the ninth over with as soon as possible.
Carlos Martinez came in for the ninth and…maybe he’s the closer now? Or maybe this is just a matter of the leverage of a three-run lead, which with most bullpens is pretty safe? And it went 1-2-3, and the Cardinals actually won a game. They should’ve won more this series, but hey, there’s this.