Five pitches. Five pitches were the focal point of the game.
Genesis Cabrera came into a 3-3 game in the sixth. His first pitch was in Bryce Harper‘s face. His second pitch was in Didi Gregorius‘s ribs. His third was spiked in the dirt in front of Andrew McCutchen, who hit his fifth for an RBI single that gave Philadelphia the lead they wouldn’t relinquish. As quickly as he appeared, he was gone with disaster in his wake and Joe Girardi cooling his heels in the clubhouse.
Girardi had a point and Mike Shildt acknowledged it. After the second pitch, the umpires should have ejected Cabera. Not because they believed his was doing it deliberately, but because it was a health and safety issue. Cabrera had obviously no idea where the ball was going and, when you throw 97 mph, it’s kinda important to have an idea on that.
Any year before 2020, Shildt would have gone to get him after Gregorius. However, because of the less-than-necessary three batter minimum rule, he had no option but to let him pitch to McCutchen. It was notable that, as soon as McCutchen singled, Shildt popped out of the dugout. He didn’t wait to see if Cabrera was starting to settle in or could get out of it, he went straight to Tyler Webb, as he should have.
For Cabrera’s part, it obviously took a toll on him as well. His body language was obvious and he was in mental distress for his wildness. I thought it was a very good thing that, unprompted, he had this to say after the game:
“I want to again apologize for all the actions that happened,” he said. “Especially to Harper. I really wish him the best, and I hope he has a speedy recovery with whatever it is that happened and then be able to come back to baseball activities. The game kind of got away from me at that point. And I’m really sorry for everything that happened today. None of it was intentional. And again, I’m sorry.”
I hope this is an isolated incident, but seeing that sort of wildness is always going to remind me of Rick Ankiel. I imagine Cabrera will be able to get back out there and be effective, but for a while this may lurk around the edges of his mind. Hopefully not because when Cabrera is on, he’s an effective weapon out of the pen. Wildness (not THIS wild, but still wild) has been his one drawback and he may overcompensate now to make sure this doesn’t happen again, which could create his own issues.
Cabrera has to be the Goat because that’s where the game turned. Webb was able to get out of that first and second situation with nobody else scoring but, like I’ve noticed with a lot of the Cardinal relievers this year, when you ask them to go out there for a second inning it’s a little more dicey. Webb gave up a double, a walk, got a popout, then walked another to load the bases. I’m sure Shildt didn’t want to go with Webb for two innings but the Cabrera thing may have caused him to scramble a bit. Ryan Helsley came in and got a shallow fly that gave Dylan Carlson a chance for the runner going home, but the throw was a bit off line and the final run scored.
Enough of the bad, let’s talk about the good. Johan Oviedo got his first start of the season after his impressive relief work earlier in the year and was just as good this time around. He gave up a run in the second on an RBI single after a double and a walk, but that was it until one out in the fifth, where he left a pitch up to former Cardinal Brad Miller, who did co-lead the team last year in homers. Miller’s two run shot tied it up and left Oviedo without a chance to get the win, but it didn’t tarnish his good night that much. Oviedo gave up three hits, walked two, and struck out seven, meaning that a new generation got to hear the name Rene Arocha. Man, I remember when they signed him, how big of a deal that was.
Some nights Oviedo would have gotten the Hero tag but I’m going with Tyler O’Neill in this one. O’Neill said that the time on the injured list did him good, let him slow things down. That seems less of a cliché and more of truth since, counting last night’s three hits, he’s 6-18 with three homers. The third of those came last night, a two-run shot in the bottom of the second that gave the Cards the lead. O’Neill and Tommy Edman combined for five hits. The rest of the team got three.
At least one of those three was a home run by Paul Goldschmidt, who made the score 3-1. Hopefully we’re about to see a surge by Goldschmidt, who if you believe the broadcast (and, let’s be honest, I’m not sure if I ever do) looks like he’s getting close. A .652 OPS isn’t what we expect out of the big guy (nor what he expects out of himself) so it would be nice to have him get on one of those runs that makes him look much more like Paul Goldschmidt.
Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless inning with a strikeout. When I saw him, I realized that I didn’t remember him pitching recently. (I had the sound muted so maybe Dan McLaughlin and Jim Edmonds mentioned this.) Looked it up and he hadn’t pitched since April 18. It doesn’t seem like there’s a reason for it, though my guess is that Miller was dealing with something that didn’t get public. He pitched a scoreless inning with a strikeout in his last outing as well (also against the Phillies) so I wouldn’t have thought it was a situation where the matchups just haven’t worked, not with Webb and Cabrera having opportunities. Granted, the bullpen hasn’t been as needed but either Miller has fallen way down the pecking order or he just needed a little time off.
Cardinals try for the split in an afternoon affair at Busch but they have to beat Aaron Nola to do it and, well, we know what happened the last time they saw Nola. However, they’ve done much better when seeing a pitcher for the second time so let’s go with that as our reed of hope!