Even when the St. Louis Cardinals offense was clicking, they couldn’t shut down the Padres’ powerful bats in their Game 2 loss.
Going three for five on the day with two homers and five RBI, Tatis was a huge reason why the Padres were able to knock off the Cardinals 11-9 in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series. Let’s look at how they got there.
The first few innings of Game 2 didn’t look all that different than the first innings of Game 1. After two innings, the Cardinals put up four runs and Cardinal starter Adam Wainwright was looking pretty good.
On the other side, Zach Davies did not look so good and was pulled after just two innings. Sadly though, Waino wouldn’t last much longer.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, the Padres started with three straight singles to load the bases. After an RBI forceout made it 4-1, Waino was pulled for Austin Gomber. The young lefty did not look sharp at first and walked two straight with the second walk bringing in a run.
Gomber was on the ropes but fought his way back. Still with the bases loaded, Gomber struck out Trent Grisham and then struck out Tatis Jr. on three pitches and the Cardinals escaped with a two-run lead.
A rally in the top of the sixth extended the Cardinals’ lead back to four, but then the best comeback team in the MLB proved why they have that name.
With one out and two on in the sixth, Mike Shildt went to Giovanny Gallegos to face Tatis Jr. in a big spot. In Game 1, Tatis faced Gallegos with two runners on and struck out. This time, Tatis Jr. would get the final word when Gallegos left a slider just a little bit too high in the zone and Tatis Jr. deposited the ball in the left field seats. As painful as that was, you have to love the redemption arc from Tatis Jr.
That wasn’t the end of it though as Gallegos battled against the next batter (Manny Machado) and ended up giving up back-to-back homers, leaving the game tied at six with all the momentum with the Padres.
The bottom of the seventh didn’t go much better. Daniel Ponce de Leon came in to attempt to cover a few innings. Sadly, he gave up a line-drive homer to Wil Myers and then the second homer of the game from Tatis Jr., leaving the score at 9-6.
From there, the Cardinals battled back to score two in the eighth, but Shildt decided to bring in Kodi Whitley with a runner on and two outs in the bottom of the inning. Whitley hadn’t pitched in a game since September 25th and had thrown just two innings since the beginning of September.
Wil Myers promptly welcomed Whitley to the game with his second homer of the game, putting the game out of reach even though Paul Goldschmidt would hit a solo shot in the ninth and the Cardinals finished the game with the tying run on the bases.
Now, let me first say that this game hurt a lot. The Cardinals were 24-1 in the regular season when they scored 5+ runs, and their biggest strength, the bullpen, was what ultimately caused the loss.
In hindsight, it’s easy to say that if Shildt had gone with someone other than Whitley in the bottom of the eighth, Myers may not have hit that homer and then the storyline would’ve been Goldy tying it in the ninth. However, that’s not a good argument. There were plenty of times earlier in the game where if one hit, one homer could’ve been avoided, the Cardinals would’ve ended the night celebrating.
As tough as that loss was, we have to take a moment to applaud the Cardinals’ offense in this series.
In a ballpark more difficult to hit in than Busch Stadium, the offense has been far from the problem. Even though the bullpen was the scapegoat last night, we have to recognize that the Padres’ strength is their offense. If the Cardinals aren’t careful, they can explode and that’s exactly what they did.
Even after blowing their lead, the Cardinals’ offense battled back. So many times this year we saw the offense roll over and die. Not last night. They may not have been able to win, but they battled and clawed until the end.
The momentum is on the Padres’ side, but they still haven’t announced a starter for Game 3. They have gotten a combined 4.1 innings from their starters in the two games and have used 15 relievers in the two games. To be fair, the Cardinals have gotten 7.0 total innings from their starters, but have used just 12 relievers in the two games. Oh, and they have Jack Flaherty going on Friday night.
Three-game series are tough, but we got to see why the Padres’ offense is so good last night. You can’t just walk Tatis Jr. because then you have to face Machado, Myers, Hosmer, and on and on. The Cardinals have to figure out a way to suppress their offense because winning a shootout is going to be very tough.
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I like the Cardinals’ chances in an elimination game started by Jack Flaherty. Game 2 was tough, but the series is tied and the offense is clicking. It all comes down to Friday.