The final score said 12-8, but that does not tell the story of this game. The game started off in the top of the first where the Pirates had first and second with two out and a routine ground ball hit to David Freese at third. He tries to back hand the catch, but booted the ball, allowing all runners to be safe on his error. Fortunately, Joe Kelly stayed calm and got out of the inning without being scored upon. Just another night at the park for Freese this year where he went 0-3 at the plate with that error. On the other end of the spectrum Matt Carpenter walked in the first and came around to score later on an rbi single by Carlos Beltran. Carp had the kind of night that we have grown to expect from him, in going 2 for 3, the walk and scored 3 times.
Kelly continued to gave up a hit or walk in all 6 innings he pitched, but limited the Pirates to 1 run. He exited to start the 7th, leading 5-1. His only run came compliments of a horrible play by Daniel Descalso, the starting shortstop for the night, in the fifth. With one out and McCutchen on first there was a grand ball up the middle. Descalso easily got to the ball and had Carp covering 2nd and had plenty of time to get the lead runner, there was no chance to get the double play, but he should have kept the runner out of scoring position.
In the bottom of the 7th inning, the game turned interesting. The Redbirds had six straight hits to start the inning, including a bunt pinch hit by Pete Kozma that broke up his 0-33 streak. The lead had been increased to 9-1 bringing up the MVP candidate, Yadier Molina. Jarred Hughes, the Pirates reliever, threw one high and tight to Yadier that drew an immediate warning from the home plate umpire. A couple of pitches later Yadier, hit a three run home run to extend the lead to 12-1. Game over right? Not so fast.
John Axford started the 8th, and promptly gave up a lead off double. Then, he drilled the next batter in what can only be assumed was payback for the throw at Yadier’s head. At 12-1, I don’t mind them protecting one of our players. He was immediately tossed, and Mike Matheny decided it was a good time to get Jake Westbrook some work, as he just came off the disabled list. He immediately got a routine ground ball to Kozma, who is the best defensive shortstop the Cardinals have. He promptly threw the ball into right field, allowing all runners to be safe and scored a run. When you are hitting just over 200 on the year and went 0-33, you better not be making defensive mistakes like this. Westbrook got two more consecutive ground ball outs that should have been out of the inning. Instead he had to face one more batter and that turned out to be a 2 run home run to cut the lead to 12-5 going to the ninth. Again no big deal right?
Matheny left Jake in to start the ninth and things went down hill. While he managed to get one strike out in the ninth, he also hit a batter, gave up two singles and then walked in a run to end his night. Carlos Martinez came in, and immediately struck out the first batter before giving up a 2 run scoring double to make it 12-8. It was time for the closer Edward Mujica to come into the game. 12-1 after 7, and Cards had to use the closer.
The shortstop position continues to be a major weakness for this team. We have all come to expect them not to contribute offensively, but tonight both Descalso and Kozma had horrible defensive plays that lead to the team they are chasing to score runs. That has to stop.
Kelly, Kevin Siegrest and the top five batters in the lineup all played very well for the team that is just a half game out of first behind these same Pirates. The rest of the team had another night that they would rather forget. Well us fans would rather forget their performances any way.