“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”–Andre Gide
It’s not like we expected that much more from a battle against Max Scherzer. For his career, he’s got a 3.05 ERA against the Cardinals with a .226 batting average against. They did get to him in 2019, leaving him with a 5.27 ERA in two starts, but that’s more the exception than the rule. Scherzer saw the Cards in spring training and did well against them. Anytime Mad Max is on his game, the result is not a surprise.
That doesn’t mean that it’s not frustrating, however. Conventional wisdom on ace pitchers is get to them early, before they get a chance to settle in to their rhythm. The Cardinals had a chance to do that. In the first inning, the bases were loaded with one out. Unfortunately, both Dylan Carlson and Matt Carpenter wound up striking out. They had a little bit of a chance in the second when Justin Williams led off with a single, but the hit-and-run with two strikes didn’t work out and the bases were cleared for Carlos Martinez, who wound up doubling but that likely wouldn’t have happened were runners on. After that, Scherzer didn’t allow another baserunner until two outs in the sixth. He’s good like that.
Thankfully, though, Martinez matched him. Actually, the lines for both pitchers are remarkably the same. Both went six innings. Both allowed four hits and a walk. Scherzer struck out nine, Martinez four. The only difference was that Washington was able to clump their hits together better, as Alex Avila doubled with two outs in the second, scoring Josh Bell. While I didn’t watch the game, those that did commented immediately on Twitter how bad Williams’s throw to the cutoff man was. A strong throw likely kept Bell, who was on first, at third. If that happens, they probably intentionally walk Victor Robles (who walked anyway) to get to Scherzer, figuring they could get out of the inning there.
The good thing about those early innings was that Scherzer’s pitch count did climb, meaning that the Nationals had to go to their bullpen to cover the last three innings. The bad thing was the Cardinals couldn’t do much there either. They had a shot against Daniel Hudson, loading the bases after two were out on a couple of walks sandwiched around a Paul DeJong single. Unfortunately, Carpenter again left the bases loaded by flying out.
Bases loaded are Carpenter’s thing, right? Even after yesterday’s 0-2 in those situations, his career OPS with the bases loaded is 1.159. With two outs, it’s still .919. That’s what Carpenter does and the odds of him failing twice in a row in those situations you would think would be slim. Even as bad as last year was, he was still 2-3 with three walks and 10 RBI in bases loaded situations, including three walks and a single in four two-out opportunities. It’s one game, it’s two at bats, but when everything else is going as badly as it is going for Carpenter, him not coming through in the spots he is legendary for producing in might be one last strike against him.
Anyway, Hero is Carlos Martinez, Goat is Matt Carpenter. Not much else to say about a game that it feels we’ve seen way too often this season.
Cards are now 8-10, tied with Pittsburgh for last place in the NL Central. Milwaukee’s put a streak together and has taken the lead, but if the Cardinals could sweep the Reds this weekend they’d be tied with them in second depending on what Chicago does. This is a change from the last three years, when they’ve been 10-8 after eighteen games. They were 8-10 in 2017, for what it’s worth. Not much, really.
The Cardinal Six will be up soon on Twitter and I’ll get a Reds preview up on Substack either today or tomorrow. Meet Me At Musial‘s recording tonight with guest Mark Saxon so be looking for that in your podcast feeds this evening!