Cardinals: 3, Reds: 2
There was some doubt as to whether or not the weather would allow the final game of this four game series to be played. Luckily, of the 6 postponements in baseball on the day (including one on the opposite side of Ohio), this game was not one. Starting just over 2 and half hours late, it was a lazy, dreary Sunday affair. Unsurprisingly, not too many fans turned out to watch the 2-12 home team, and most in attendance were likely Cardinals fans that had made the trip to the Queen City with watching their team in mind.
The game turned into a pitcher’s duel, with Carlos Martinez and Homer Bailey (finally resembling the guy that received a $100M contract a few years ago) combining to allow just 3 runs across 14 innings pitched. The good news is that all three of those runs went in the Cardinals favor.
Harrison Bader replaced Marcell Ozuna in Left Field for the day and replaced his power in the lineup, launching his first homerun of 2018 in the 2nd inning. Greg Garcia, the star of Saturday’s game, was in on the action again, scoring on the bomb.
Carlos Martinez tossed 7 scoreless innings, striking out 11. Since struggling in his opening day start, Martinez has taken a dramatic turn, allowing just one run while striking out 25 across 21.1 innings. His season ERA has dropped to 1.75. Look like a stud, why don’t you?
Jose Martinez continued his assault on opposing pitching. Though he was just one for four on the day, his 7th inning double to right center (narrowly missing the glove of Billy Hamilton) would provide an extremely important 3rd run when Yadier Molina burnt Hamilton for a single in the next at-bat.
Tommy Pham continued to hit well but had little to show for it. His lineouts in his first two at-bats had a 75% hit probability, but found no holes. He would single to open the 8th inning, but would get caught stealing. Love the aggressive push for the 30/30 season, but staying put would have been the better play in a 2-run game with Carpenter and Martinez due up. Not all on Tommy, as it appeared to be a blown hit-and-run, which is a poor call with the pitch-taker extreme at the dish.
Tyler Lyons enter the 8th inning, up by 3, and promptly allowed a homer to the previously mentioned speedster, and owner of just 17 career round-trippers, Billy Hamilton. Lyons has been a little iffy so far this season, with opponents hitting .292 against him thus far, compared to .202 last year. However, the current .438 BABIP against him is extremely unsustainable. The contact quality against him is pretty much in line with last year, but his FB and LD rates have both jumped by about 10%, with the GB% dropping by 20%. It’s early and the sample is tiny, but keep an eye on whether he is keeping the ball down enough. To his credit, he was able to work around a Kolten Wong throwing error by inducing a double-play from Joey Votto, and then another groundout from Scooter Gennett.
Jose Martinez had another scare in the field at 1B. This time it was a wide throw and tag attempt that put his arm into an awkward position when he collided with Tucker Barnhart. Fans were surely holding their breath, but Cafecito was able to stay in the game.
Bud Norris was greeted by an Adam Duvall HR to open the ninth, bringing back bad memories for Cardinals fans that saw so many games slip away in 2017.
Finishing it Off
After the Barnhart/Martinez incident, Bud Norris upped his “strikeouts-in-a-save-opp” streak to 8 before a reviewable hit-by-pitch made things even more interesting. However, he retired Hamilton for his 3rd save, as he continues to fill the role until Greg Holland inevitably takes hold of it. With Luke Gregerson on the rehab trail and Holland shaking the rust off, this bullpen could get scary deep, and scary good, in a hurry.
Generally, there wasn’t much offense in this one as the Cardinals managed just 5 hits and 2 walks, but it proved to be just enough to down the downtrodden Reds. For the first time in seemingly 3 years, the Cardinals faced a bad team and did what they should have done.
The sweep puts the team at 9-7 overall. Through 16 games last season, they were 6-10.