By: Jim Tsapelas
In what proved not to be much of a pitcher’s duel as I had prophesied in my Thursday Blog, the Cardinals lost Friday to the San Francisco Giants by the score of five to four. (Jim’s Prophesy score (0-1).
The game at San Francisco’s AT&T Park, one of the best venues in the National League West to enjoy a baseball game, was indeed not a pitcher’s duel but was one of errors, walks, and a grand slam home run. The Cardinals’ committed three errors and issued six walks. Conversely, the Giants issued one walk and were error-less in their play.
For the second time in as many days a National League Central team gifted the Giants with a Grand Slam Home Run. On Thursday, the Giants’ second baseman Kelby Tomlinson hit his first Major League home run, a Grand Slam, as the Giants beat the Cubs nine to one.
On Friday, Noki Aoki led off the third inning when Cardinals’ third baseman Matt Carpenter missed a ground ball. Aoki went to second when a potential double-play ball was mishandled by second baseman Kolten Wong. Wong’s attempted shovel of the ball to shortstop Jhonny Peralta was not successful; all Giants’ runners were safe. Instead of two outs, with nobody on, Cardinals’ starter Michael Wacha (15-4) needed to pitch out of trouble. To make a tricky situation more difficult, Wacha hit Buster Posey with a pitch. With the bases loaded Marlon Byrd recently acquired from Cincinnati at the trade deadline, hit a Grand Slam Home Run over the head of Tommy Pham. This was the eighth Grand Slam for Cincinnati as a team this season. The four runs were the only runs allowed by Wacha for the night. All four runs were unearned.
Cardinals fans may remember the last time the Redbirds played in San Francisco. It was October 2014. In a game which would seal the fate of whether the Cards or the Giants would move onto the World Series. Wacha entered the game as a reliever. Wacha had not been used at any other point in the 2014 post-season. Suddenly he was called on by manager Mike Matheny to keep the Cardinals from play-off elimination. Travis Ishikawa, formerly of the Giants, now the second-baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates, hit a Wacha pitch for a pennant-clinching, tie-breaking home run, which gave the Giants the National League Pennant. Various reports have stated Wacha was looking forward to a re-match with the Giants, and that Wacha drew motivation against the Giants from that one game. I believe that one moment helped fuel his entire 2015 season in which he has emerged as one of the premier pitchers in the game.
The Cardinals’ answered Byrd’s slam by scoring three runs in the fourth inning. A ball mishandled at second base kept the Redbirds out of what may have been an inning-ending double-play. With two runners on, Stephen Piscotty who grew up in the area-approximately forty miles north from AT&T Park-drove a double into left field past Aoki. Piscotty’s two-out, two-run double put the Cardinals within a run of tying the game. In the top of the sixth, with Kolton Wong batting, a Mike Leake wild pitch scored Tommy Pham. Game tied at four.
In a walk-off ninth, Brandon Belt scored the go-ahead and winning run on a hit by Tomlinson.
The Cardinals’ winning streak ends at five, and with the loss cuts their lead in the National League Central Division to three and one-half games over Pittsburgh. The Cardinals are now five wins against three losses on their current ten game road trip with two games remaining against the Giants.
On Saturday the Cardinals send Lance Lynn (10-8) to the hill to meet the Giants Ryan Vogelsong (9-9) at AT&T Park.
Thanks for reading!