By: Jim Tsapelas
Friday did not start nor end well for Cardinal Nation. Cardinals’ starter Carlos Martinez (14-7) threw just seven pitches before exiting the game. Martinez did not look comfortable throwing any of the seven pitches he threw. He reached ninety-three miles per hour, on his best pitch; his first pitch reached only eighty-seven MPH. Martinez’s velocity is more accustomed to being in the ninety-seven to an occasional one-hundred MPH range. Of the seven pitches thrown, five were for strikes. To start the game, Martinez offered up a ground-rule double to Scooter Gennett. Logan Schafer hit a pop-up just beyond third. He threw one pitch to the Brewers’ Adam Lind; for a strike. Following that pitch, teammates, coaches, and trainers, approached the mound. Martinez appeared to speak very little, after nodding in the direction of the St. Louis shortstop, Jhonny Peralta, he walked from the mound with his glove covering his face; accompanied by one of the Cardinals’ trainers. Martinez walked down the steps and right into the Cardinals’ clubhouse. Martinez worked one-third of an inning, allowing one hit.
Cardinal reliever and occasional spot-starter, the left-hander Tyler Lyons replaced Martinez. Lyons retired the first seven batters he faced; five on strikeouts. Lyons worked three and one-third innings, allowed two hits, one earned run, and struck out five. Other relievers who hoped to salvage a win were Carlos Villanueva, who worked one and two-thirds innings, allowed one hit, one earned run, walked and struck out one. Randy Choate, who allowed a hit to the only batter he faced. Seth Maness, who worked one-third of an inning, striking out one, earning his twentieth hold for the season. Jonathan Broxton, who threw one inning, allowed one hit, one run (unearned) and struck out one. Broxton picked up his third blown save of the year. Cardinal closer, Trevor Rosenthal was called to pitch the ninth; with the game tied at three. Rosenthal served up a home run to the Brewers’ Khris Davis. It was Davis’ twenty-fourth homer of the season; giving the Brewers the lead.
In the home half of the ninth, with the Brewers’ Francisco Rodriguez pitching, the Cardinals’ Greg Garcia singled on a ground ball to right. With the tying run at first, Jon Jay pinch-hitting for Tony Cruz executes a perfect sacrifice bunt moving G. Garcia to second. With the tying run at second, pinch-hitter Randal Grichuk, batting in the pitcher’s spot, strikes out swinging. With two out and a man in scoring position, Cardinals’ lead-off man Matt Carpenter goes down swinging, stranding G. Garcia at second. Final score Brewers’ four-Cardinals’ three.
The Brewers’ Will Smith (7-2) gets the win. Rodriguez earned his thirty-sixth save. The Cardinals’ Trevor Rosenthal (2-3) gets the loss.
The Cardinals issued a statement late Friday that Martinez was experiencing tightness in his right shoulder. He is scheduled for a MRI on Saturday. At this time his condition is uncertain. Martinez has been a bright spot in the Cardinals’ rotation this season. It was believed in Spring Training that Martinez would be primarily used as a reliever this season. Needless to say, his experience tonight may greatly impact the Cardinals in the post-season.
On Friday the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley, by the score of three to two. With the Pirates’ win and the Cardinals loss, the Cardinals’ Magic Number remains at six. With the Pirates’ win and the Cardinals’ loss it is now impossible for the Cardinals to clinch the 2015 NL Central while at home at Busch.
The Cardinals (97-57), Pirates (94-60), and the Cubs (89-64) have all clinched playoff berths. The Cubs clinched Thursday thanks to the San Francisco Giants’ loss to the San Diego Padres on Thursday. With the loss the Giants were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. As of Friday, the Pirates pull to just three games behind the Cardinals. The Cubs fall to seven and one-half games out of first place. The Pirates have a four and one-half game lead over Chicago in the two team Wild Card race.
Next week, the Cardinals have a three game series with Pittsburgh as well as a three game series against the Atlanta Braves to close out regular season play.
Saturday evening, in the third game of their four game set, finds the Brewers sending Tyler Wagner (0-0) to the hill to meet the Cardinals’ Jaime Garcia (9-5) at Busch Stadium.
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