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8.29.14 Recap: Cards Lose 7-2 in Molina's Return

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Yadier Molina returned to a standing ovation, but the Cardinals couldn't overcome a 4-run 8th inning.

There once was a pitcher named Pat

And tonight his pitches fell flat

An all-star, you say?

I guess not today

It's too bad his name isn't Matt.

The Game

I have to be honest with you.  I am sort of tired of recapping Shelby Miller starts.  However, we can't blame tonight's loss on Shelbs.  (That's what I call him: Shelbs.  I feel like we're close like that, now.)  He actually pitched pretty well, throwing seven relatively strong innings, walking only two and striking out three.  His fastball was averaging around 94 mph, hitting 96 quite a few times.  His breaking ball looked pretty good, though it's more of a 2-8 curve, and not a Waino-special 12-6.  (Is a 2-8 curve ball a thing?  Probably not.)  The two runs he allowed came on solo home runs from Luis Valbuena and Jose Soler.  Soler, by the way, also hit a two-run home run in the 8th that hasn't even landed yet.  I don't know much about this kid, but the Cubs just might have something special on their hands.

The Cardinals had a good start, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning off a Matt Carpenter single, a Wong walk, a Holliday single (good for an MMI/MBI), a stolen base by Wong, and a Peralta single.  It seemed like it was going to be a good night. But, alas, the offense ended after that, as the Redbirds were largely shut down by Kyle Hendricks.  Hendricks came into the game with a 1.78 ERA in roughly 50 IP.  He's typically had his only troubles in the first inning, as demonstrated by his loss in a 1-0 game to the Cardinals earlier this season, where he gave up a home run to Holliday in the first inning, but allowed almost no more offense after that.

To be honest, with Shelby pitching, I really thought that two runs was not going to get the job done for the home team.  I did NOT expect that Pat Neshek would be the one to kill it for us.  Here is how it went down: a single to Logan Watkins, a ground rule double down the line to Chris Coghlan that Taveras couldn't quite get to, a Javier Baez double [AND HERE IS WHERE I THOUGHT TO MYSELF: HEY MATHENY, PAT DOESN'T HAVE HIS STUFF TONIGHT, MAYBE ITS TIME TO TAKE HIM OUT], and a home run to Jorge Soler.  Then Nick Greenwood came in, promptly induced a double play, and we all sighed in relief.  To quote A League of Their Own: but the damage ha[d] been done.  Greenwood gave up a solo home run in the 9th, but that's basically an afterthought.  The team, and the city, were deflated.  No joy in Mudville tonight.

Additional Notes

1. Yadi! Yadi! Yadi!  The prodigal son returned!....and promptly went 0-3.  Yadi got a very long, well-deserved standing ovation before his first at bat, and actually even got another rousing round of applause after he struck out.  Of course, we couldn't have expected him to be our knight in shining armor.  But we could have hoped for as much.  I still believe he will make a difference during the stretch run, if nothing more than for the response we saw from the crowd tonight, and the likely same response the clubhouse gave and feels.

2. I'm struggling to find some silver linings.  Here is what I came up with: Jon Jay was 2-for-4, and so was Jhonny Peralta.  They continue to be unexpected key parts of this offense.  Imagine what might happen if Jon Jay was batting second on regular basis!  Wong actually did well tonight, with a single, a walk, and a stolen base.  But that doesn't mean I won't keep banging the Jay-should-be-batting-second drum.

3. Oh, another silver lining: Grichuk had a pinch-hit single.  I mean, that's something good, right?

4. The series resumes with a double-header tomorrow.  Hooray!  (But also not hooray: I fully expect to see Daniel Descalso in the starting lineup at some point.) First game at 1:15 CT, second game at 7:15 CT.  According to ESPN, it's Masterson for the first game and Undecided for the second game.  Is that right?  Well good luck, Mr. Undecided.  Must have picked him up off waivers.

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