For the seventh straight year, the United Cardinal Bloggers are spending a summer afternoon looking at a baseball game through a number of different eyes. If you’ve been reading along after all the posts are done, you are coming here from Bob’s eighth inning over at On The Outside Corner. If not, you might be coming from this post at the official site that lists out everyone that was participating.
Usually in these things we have enough participation that I just get the postgame show, but this year I’ve having to work an inning out of the pen as well. The ninth inning rolled around with the Cardinals holding a 4-2 lead over the Dodgers and Trevor Rosenthal trotting in to lock down his 30th save.
Rosenthal, of course, has been toying with Cardinal fans throughout the season. He had a strong outing Friday night against the Dodgers, but given the lengthy rest, that was to be expected. The question was, could he duplicate it here the next afternoon less than 24 hours since he got the third out on Friday?
Rosie also got to throw to a new catcher, as Tony Cruz had taken most of the day off before pinch-hitting in the bottom of the eighth and staying in to don the tools of ignorance. I don’t believe that Mike Matheny did that for a reason (i.e., making sure Rosenthal was comfortable with a regular catcher back there) but it’s always a possibility.
Rosenthal starts off by throwing three straight fastballs of 96 or more to Adrian Gonzalez, who gets to 0-2 before lifting a fly ball to center field that Peter Bourjos has no problem tracking down. Getting the first out is huge for Rosenthal–while he could still make things go south quickly, it’s always harder to do so once the first out of the inning has been chalked up.
Scott Van Slyke, who still might think about trimming that beard a little bit unless he was planning to go out and hunt his dinner afterwards (though, to be fair, Jason Motte thought it looked just fine), got ahead 2-1 after Rosenthal had trouble locating the fastball. He was then able to flare a 98-mph one over the infield and drop it in for a hit.
A lot of folks started shifting in their seats. Doesn’t matter that Rosenthal has converted a large portion of his saves and once he came in the odds were probably 15:1 at worst that he’d blow the game. Once the tying run comes to the plate, a little murmuring is going to make it around the park.
That murmuring gained some significant intensity when Andre Ethier, who was pinch-hitting, worked a 3-1 count with Rosenthal not being all that consistent. He came back to put a strike in there at that point (Tim McCarver couldn’t believe Ethier was taking all the way, and I think he has a point. Down two, a guy with pop, and an almost-guaranteed strike? You should at least be planning to swing) before grounding a fastball to Jhonny Peralta, who started the game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
Cards take this one 4-2 and guarantee a series win against a tough team out of the NL West. Recap in a moment.
St. Louis gets the first two from the Dodgers, beating around Zack Greinke early and doing little to nothing offensively after the first four batters. Three of the eight hits and all of the runs came before or counting Matt Adams‘s two-run blast in the first. So while it was good to see that kind of explosion, there’s no doubt the offensive problems haven’t been solved yet.
Then again, it wasn’t really that important given the fact that Joe Kelly, who gets today’s Hero tag, pitched possibly the best game he’s ever pitched. The pre-game post showed that he’d not had a lot of success against the Dodgers but you’d have never been able to tell it today. Kelly got ground ball after ground ball and did so with a minimum of control issues, going through seven innings for only the second time in his career and doing it with just under 100 pitches to boot. His pitching was so good that even his bunt-double-play doesn’t wipe away the Hero tag.
On the flip side, the Goat goes to Sam Freeman. I don’t know if he was rusty or what, but he seemed to have little control over things while he was in there. A walk, a double, and a sacrifice fly was the extent of his day, but that did make things a little dicier for Pat Neshek and Rosenthal.
As I put this up, the Reds have already lost for the second straight day and the Brewers are trailing 5-1 in the third against the Nats. If that holds, the Redbirds will slip back into a first-place tie and be 2.5 ahead of the Reds. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday, huh?
Thanks for joining the UCB for this Progressive Game Blog. If you’ve not checked out all the posts, be sure to keep going back until they go up!
EDIT: A new occasional feature I plan on doing on my regular posts is sharing these professional-looking scorecards from one of my Twitter followers. If you aren’t already, follow @Cardinal_50 and see the scorecards he puts up after every game. Here’s what today’s looked like!