For the longest time on Thursday afternoon, it looked like the Cards were stuck in a slightly tilted version of Wednesday night’s game. Trevor Bauer wasn’t carrying a no-hitter or gunning for a strikeout record, but when the top of the eighth rolled around, he was carrying a 1-0 lead with double-digit strikeouts. It was looking like there was going to be a lot of talk about St. Louis hitting the skids or about an offense that was just flailing about.
The good thing about a 1-0 deficit? It doesn’t take a lot to erase it.
With one down, Bauer walked Peter Bourjos. Now, Bauer was probably tiring having reached 110 pitches, which hopefully was the reason that Terry Francona went to the bullpen. If it was just to get a lefty for Matt Carpenter, well, we could have told him that wouldn’t have done much good. He might not hit them as well as righties, but the drop off isn’t terribly significant. (It’s also possible Francona thought it was Matt Adams, which is a whole different discussion!)
Francona brings in our old friend Marc Rzepczynski. He had one job and, well, he didn’t do it. Carpenter launched a two-run shot, Randy Choate (improving his YHOJ mark), Seth Maness, and Trevor Rosenthal finished it up, and the Cards leave Cleveland with their first ever series win against the Tribe.
Carpenter gets our Hero tag, of course, and Bourjos avoids the Goat tag with that walk since otherwise he was 0-3 from the leadoff spot and you know how that attracts the label. Mark Reynolds, Kolten Wong, and Yadier Molina all had two hits, they just couldn’t come at the right times. Reynolds and Wong had back-to-back knocks only to see Wong thrown out trying to steal second.
Other than that, the offense was as breezy as a spring day in Kansas. (I guess–never actually been to Kansas.) Whiff after whiff piled up and nobody else could get a hit at all. The Goat was a bit of a tossup, but I think it’s got to go to Jason Heyward again. Heyward went 0-4, grounded into a double play in the ninth after Wong and Molina had singled, trying to get a little insurance, and still left five men on base. We’ve talked about how Heyward had started to come around after his drop in the lineup, but he went 0-11 in this series with a walk. Granted, a lot of folks went o for the last couple of days and he did have two multi-hit games against the Pirates, so maybe it’s more good pitching than a slump. We’ll see how he does against the Tigers.
St. Louis struck out 40 times this series, which is an incredible number, especially for this team. In the two series (seven games) prior to this series, they only fanned 41 times. Yes, with Adams (who after avoiding Corey Kluber‘s wrath for the most part on Wednesday struck out three times yesterday) and Reynolds in the lineup, along with Pete Kozma playing a good bit, the strikeouts will be there, but this was pretty extreme. Perhaps the earlier start times threw them slightly off or the Ohio weather didn’t agree with them, but hopefully they’ll be able to make more contact this weekend against Detroit.
As for the pitching, Michael Wacha continued to have some good results, but he labored to do it. He only went a batter into the sixth having reached the 100 pitch mark. It’s impressive he went that far, because he threw about 60 pitches in the first two frames. Wacha didn’t seem to have the ability to finish anyone off, going 12 pitches to Jason Kipnis to lead off the game as Kipnis continued to foul off whatever Wacha threw up there. He did strike out seven, which was much better than he had been doing, and he did seem to get better as the game went along, but the Cards are going to need Wacha to go six at the least regularly and seven more often than not.
As you saw on the site yesterday, Jon Jay went on the DL and Xavier Scruggs was called up to be a bench bat. I don’t know that anyone honestly expected a Stephen Piscotty sighting, but Bernie Miklasz lays out the reasons he didn’t get the call. The 40-man machinations was a large part of it, I’d expect. With Jaime Garcia starting today for Springfield, there was no obvious move to make to free up a spot, especially when there was no major need to do so.
Speaking of rehabbing pitchers that have Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons in their sights, Marco Gonzales only went four innings yesterday and allowed seven runs. Now, he was playing in Colorado Springs, which means you have to discount that somewhat (even if Gonzales is a Colorado native whose ability to pitch there was a significant talking point when he made his debut last year against the Rockies in Coors Field), but even so, he’s going to need some more work in AAA before he can be considered for a major league spot. With Garcia having a clock on his rehab (a maximum of 30 days), it seems most likely that Garcia will come up first and Gonzales will spend a good portion of the summer with the Memphis squad.
As noted, the Cardinals come home and host the Tigers, which means we can talk about 1968, 2006, 1934….well, maybe not so much the last one. However, expect any bobbles by a Tiger pitcher fielding to be met with some ’06 memories. Shane Greene is going for Detroit in this first game. Greene just limited the Royals to one run over eight innings in his last start, but he allowed five runs in 2.2 innings the start before that to the White Sox, ending a three-game stretch where he allowed 20 runs in 11 innings. You’d like to think that means the offense could go to town tonight, but being that nobody’s ever seen him before, that might be wishful thinking. It can’t be as bad as the last two days though. Surely.
Carlos Martinez goes for the Cardinals and we’ll see what we get out of him. His first five starts were outstanding, the last two he’s given up seven runs in each. Maybe the fact that none of the Tigers have seen him will help and we’ll get back to that dominating Carlos that we were just getting used to.
Detroit comes in 21-14 and a game behind Kansas City. The Cards, of course, are 24-10 and five games up on the Cubs. This should be a great series to watch!