By: Jim Tsapelas
Tuesday’s nights’ contest between the visiting St. Louis Cardinals and the home team Pittsburgh Pirates featured which is arguably the two best bullpens in the NL Central Division, if not the National League; if not in all of baseball! If you disagree with that, they’re at least in the top five. Both teams feature two of the best closers in baseball; Trevor Rosenthal for the Cardinals and Mark Melancon for the Pirates.
Tuesday’s game proved not to be a showcase for either starting pitcher; neither for Michael Wacha of the Redbirds nor for Jonathan Niese of the Pirates. Wacha threw four and one-third innings, allowed ten hits, five runs- four of which were earned, walked one, and struck out three. Niese produced five innings of work, allowing five hits, five runs-four of which were earned, walked one, struck out seven, and allowed a home run to the Cards Jedd Gyorko.
At the end of five innings of play, the score was knotted at five. St. Louis held a five to three lead going into the bottom of the fifth.
The magical excitement of the game was realized in the magnificent men of both pens! The score remained tied at five until the bottom of the eleventh inning when Gregory Polanco was plated by Jordy Mercer’s walk off RBI single; off the Cardinal reliever Seth Maness. Prior to the walk off win by the Pirates, the Cardinals’ pen retired eighteen consecutive Pirate batters.
Tyler Lyons, Seung-Hwan Oh, Kevin Siegrist, Jonathan Broxton, and Maness, combined for six excellent innings of work, allowing only two hits, one earned run, walking one, and striking out one.
The Pirates pen of Arquimedes Caminero, Tony Watson, Neftali Feliz, Mark Melancon, and Kyle Lobstein put together six scoreless innings of work, allowed three hits, walked two, and struck out six.
Lobstein (1-0) gets the win, with two innings of work, allowing one hit, walked one, and struck out three. Maness gets the loss, working one and one-third inning, allowed two hits, one earned run, walked one, and struck out one.
The Pirates have taken the first two games in the three game set. The final game of the series is Wednesday at 6:05pm CDT; at PNC Park when Mike Leake (0-0) makes his Cardinal debut. The Pirates counter with Juan Nicasio (0-0).
Of note there were twenty-five strike outs in this game. The Pirates struck out twelve times; the Redbirds fanned thirteen times. Both teams were guilty of failing to take advantage of multiple scoring opportunities. There are one hundred-sixty games left in the 2016 season. Both of these teams shall contend for the 2016 NL Central Division Crown. No need to worry now. There is plenty of baseball left.