Who knew that ballpark design could become such a hot topic?
As you all know by now, the Cardinals won the rubber game against the Reds 4-3 when Yadier Molina (our Hero for so many reasons) doubled in Matt Carpenter in the bottom of the ninth to break the tie. However, the ball seems to have bounced over the outfield wall, struck one of the many advertising signs that are recessed from said wall, and bounced back in. Typically, that’s a ground rule double, which meant Carpenter would have had to stop at third, putting two runners on with two outs for Stephen Piscotty.
The umpires, well, they didn’t see it that way. The Reds paid the Price for a lack of vision in not immediately challenging the play.
Which, of course, leads to a whole lot of uproar about replay and the like. I’ve never been a big fan of replay, as many of you are aware, and I think in general the whole idea of getting 30 seconds to challenge something is pretty lame anyway. I mean, if you can’t tell instantly that it’s probably wrong, I’m not big on trying to fix it. Slowing things down, looking for angles that work for you, that’s not exactly what I look for when I go to a baseball game. Things like Denkinger, the Galarraga perfect game, sure, that makes sense because everyone in the world can see it was wrong. When you are trying to determine the millisecond the tag was made, is that necessary?
It’s even more the case at the end of the game. Let’s imagine how things could have gone last night. There’s a huge upsurge in emotion. You’ve seen a walkoff winner. One of the great moments in baseball. Then, after 30 seconds of celebration, the umpires decide to go to the replay. Even if the call is confirmed, you’ve drained off much of that excitement, that bounce. If it’s overturned? Ugh. I get it, it’d be the right thing and the fair thing, but it seems to me there should be some sort of tradeoff on these things.
Some of the blame has to go to the Reds, though. The outfielder should have been able to see where the ball hit and know that it was a ground-rule double. Bryan Price should have been either where he could see or where someone could see. If nothing else, if he thought it was at all shady, he should have gone out to talk to the umpires. From what I read, he didn’t know there was something to challenge until someone came running into the dugout to tell him (since the Reds are not used to crowd noise and they couldn’t hear the phone). If you can’t tell something might be off, should someone have to hold your hand?
Here’s the quote from the umps:
“In this situation, Bryan Price did not come up on the top step. We stayed there. I waited for my partners to come off the field. I looked into the dugout, the Cincinnati dugout and Bryan Price made no eye contact with me whatsoever and then, after 30 seconds, he finally realized,” Miller said. “Somebody must have told him what had happened and we were walking off the field.”
The Reds had their chances. Should the play have been reviewed? It sure looks like it. But I can’t fault the umpires for not taking the initiative, because it’s not really their job. Price gets out there, things probably are different. He didn’t.
Of course, this has led to everyone naturally assuming that this was a “gift win” for the Cardinals, because it’s the Cardinals. (Which is not entirely fair–had this happened to the Giants or Mets in this situation, they might have gotten some criticism as well. Perhaps not quite as pointed, but still gotten some.) There’s also this weird undercurrent of deceitfulness in some places, like the Cardinals did something wrong. I take issue with David Schoenfield saying that “everybody messed up“. The Cardinals did nothing wrong. They hit the ball, they ran the bases. It’s not at all their fault nobody could see where the ball was hit or nobody wanted to make a timely protest of it. There’s a reason the umpires always go over the ground rules before a series.
It’s also semi-assumed that the Cardinals wouldn’t have won if that play hadn’t happened, even though 1) the game was tied before Molina’s hit and 2) even with a review, it’d have been runners on second and third with two outs and Piscotty coming up. Now, yes, I know this team has failed and failed in this situation, but there’s no guarantee they would have again. Even if they did, it’s a tie ball game against the Reds bullpen in St. Louis. The odds had to be at least 60% they’d win it in extra innings. It’s not like they were down one and scored two on the play.
It almost felt like baseball was correcting itself for Seung-hwan Oh, who did a great job coming in to lock down the save, only to be betrayed by Randal Grichuk (the Goat) being unable to track down a fairly routine fly ball (even though he looked like he was just loping because he had it in his sights) and the run scoring on a 50-foot swinging bunt by Scott Schebler. Oh did an outstanding job, yet he’s got a blown save on his record. At least with the rally he was able to get a win to counterbalance it.
It might not have felt like it, but there was more to this game than the ninth inning. Jedd Gyorko hit the longest home run in Busch this season. Molina, besides his late heroics, hit an insurance home run to make it 3-1, pointing up at his brother Bengie Molina as he came around the bases, since Bengie was doing the Spanish broadcast for the game. Alex Reyes continued to be a rock, allowing just one run in six innings. He gave up a few more hits (seven) than he usually did, but got out of any jams he did create, including a groundout in the sixth with the bases loaded. Reyes falls just short of the rookie bar, so he’ll be eligible next year unless he is used for four innings or more this weekend or in a tiebreaker game.
Unfortunately, the Rockies couldn’t hold an early 2-0 lead and so the Cardinals still trail the Giants by a game and the Mets (who were off) by two going into this weekend. Odds are all this controversy is going to be moot because making up a game over three is obviously not impossible, but it’s also not incredibly easy, especially with a Cardinals team that has no interest in putting together runs. My feeling is still that both the Cards and the Giants will go 2-1 this weekend and we’ll wind up in exactly the same place we’re at right now.
The pitching helps the Cardinals tonight, as the best starter on the staff in Carlos Martinez heads to the mound. Martinez has done well against the Pirates this year, seeing them in three starts and allowing five runs in 18.2 innings. If you are going to win a game with limited offense, you want Martinez on the mound.
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Tyler Glasnow will be the Pirate in charge of keeping that offense limited. Glasnow, one of Pittsburgh’s top prospects, made his major league debut against the Cardinals in July, allowing four runs in 5.1 innings. He went back to the minors after another start, returning in September and working mainly out of the pen until last time out, when he went three innings and gave up three runs against the Nationals. He’s never pitched more than those 5.1 innings in an outing, so expect the Pirates’ pen to make a difference.
Hopefully the Cardinals won’t need any lucky bounces and that the Dodgers will want to spoil their rival’s weekend. It’s the last series of the season, so enjoy it!