Friday, September 19, 2014

Game of the Day (9/18/14)

Cardinals 3, Brewers 2 (13). Milwaukee's Kyle Lohse used to pitch for the Cardinals; he was in the rotation for the 2011 World Series winning team. After the 2012 season, he signed with the Brewers as a free agent - and St. Louis replaced him with youngster Shelby Miller, who opposed Lohse in this game.

Both starters began the game brilliantly, as nobody reached base until Kolten Wong was hit by a pitch and Matt Carpenter walked in the bottom of the third. Lohse stranded both men, and the Brewers put the game's first run on the board in the fourth when Jonathan Lucroy doubled and Aramis Ramirez singled him home. Matt Adams singled in the bottom of the inning for St. Louis's first hit, but he was erased on a double play, and Milwaukee extended the lead in the fifth when Matt Clark singled, Lohse bunted and reached on Miller's throwing error, and Scooter Gennett singled Clark in.

Lohse was perfect in the fifth, as was Miller in the sixth. Jon Jay singled with two out in the sixth, but was left on. Randy Choate replaced Miller in the top of the seventh and allowed a single to Mark Reynolds, but Seth Maness then relieved and worked through the next three Brewers with no trouble. Lohse allowed a single to Adams in the bottom of the inning, but erased him on a double play. Maness allowed a Ramirez single and nothing else in the eighth, and the Cards finally joined in on the scoring in the home half. Oscar Taveras led off with a single, and Wong hit into a force. Lohse was supplanted by Jonathan Broxton, who induced an AJ Pierzynski groundout, walked Carpenter, and allowed an RBI single to Jay. Matt Holliday then singled to load the bases, and Adams drew a walk to force in the tying run.

Trevor Rosenthal retired the Brewers in order in the ninth; John Jeffress gave up a leadoff double to Yadier Molina, but left pinch runner Thomas Pham at second. Lyle Overbay drew a walk from Pat Neshek in the top of the tenth, and pinch runner Elian Herrera was singled to third by Gennett, but a strikeout and a forceout left the winning run 90 feet from home. Marco Estrada was spotless in the bottom of the tenth, and Milwaukee threatened again in the eleventh; Ryan Braun led off with a single against Carlos Martinez and advanced to third on a pair of productive outs, but after two walks loaded the bases, Carlos Gomez struck out to end the threat.

Brandon Kintzler worked around a leadoff single in the bottom of the eleventh. Lucroy singled and moved to second on a wild pitch in the twelfth, but Martinez left him on. Zach Duke permitted only a Carpenter infield hit in the bottom of the inning, and Sam Freeman gave up nothing at all in the top of the thirteenth. Jimmy Nelson took the mound in the home thirteenth, and the Cardinals took their first (and last) lead of the day by way of singles from Holliday, Jhonny Peralta, and Tony Cruz.

There wasn't much to separate the teams in this one - which is why it went 13 innings in the first place, of course. As it happens, both teams in this game got two hits each from the players in the 2-5 spots in their lineups (Gennett, Lucroy, Ramirez, and Braun for Milwaukee; Jay, Holliday, Adams and Peralta for the Cards).

The difference, then, came in the 6 spot, where St. Louis got one hit from starting catcher Yadier Molina - and another from backup Tony Cruz after a pinch runner was used for Yadi. Cruz's hit was the game winner, and thus made the difference between a 4-game lead and a 6-game lead for St. Louis over the Brewers (and 1.5 vs. 2.5 over the Pirates). With nine games left in the season, that's the difference between "there's still hope" and "not unless the other team utterly chokes," and it puts the Cards in very good position for the division title.

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