Record: 34-25. Pace: 93-69. Change on 2012: +5
Anyone tuning in to catch our regularly first pitch of the night was sorely disappointed at the start tonight, with a rain storm moving in, the tarp on the field, and a rain delay in effect. With how late last night's game went, maybe some of the players appreciated a little bit of extra rest. Of course, given that the Cardinals were sending out their long reliever and the Diamondbacks were sending out the star of the recurring "What's up with Wade Miley?" series on our Sunday roundtable, maybe everyone appreciated delaying the game a little.
But as another avian figure reminded us, it can't rain all the time, so the storm eventually tapered off enough to let the game begin about fifty minutes late. Note that I didn't say it stopped- the rain merely seemed to lessen as the game went on, but there was a lot of precipitation falling throughout the game.
It seemed like a situation that could lead to some less than excellent play, and the first inning seemed to support that concern. Both teams pitchers gave up walks in the first inning, only to see those runners stranded by their respective offense, with Wade Miley getting a nice strike out looking from Allen Craig to end the inning. The second started off with more hope for the Diamondbacks offense, with Martin Prado doubling to right center to begin the inning. Didi Grigorius followed that with a single to shallow left that brought Prado around to score, and the Diamondbacks offense had their first lead of the night with no outs in the second.
And then they seemed to stall out a little. Wil Nieves grounded into a double play, and... That was our last baserunner for a few innings. Until the sixth, actually, so we'll set the Diamondbacks offense aside for the time being.
On the mound, Wade Miley was looking a little more like the Wade Miley we'd hoped to see this season, rather than the guy we saw in the month of May. That isn't to say that he was perfect- the Cardinals kept getting baserunners on, but Miley would work his way out of trouble. A double play in the second, a runner stranded on second in the third- these were the situations that Miley might have faltered with in his last few starts. He did finally run into trouble in the fourth inning, as the Cardinals started stringing together singles. Back to back hits from Matt Holliday and Allan Craig put two on, and then Holliday moved to third on a fly out from David Freese. A single from Shane Robinson brought Holliday in to score, and we were all tied up.
Miley did settle back in after that, though. He got two ground outs to end the inning, stranding two Cardinals runners in scoring position, and then worked another inning ending double play in the fifth inning to keep the game tied up. But with the Diamondback offense suddenly in a bit of a swoon, it seemed a little tense.
The sixth inning brought about an end to that swoon, though, and an end to Joe Kelly's evening. Willie Bloomquist was responsible for the first, getting a one-out single that made him our first baserunner since the second inning. The other ending was probably more a factor of Joe Kelly's pitch count, as he got Paul Goldschmidt to fly to deep right for the second out of the inning. I'm sure if you'd asked the Cardinals dugout what they wanted from Kelly on the night, 80 pitches for 5.2 innings and only one run would have been pretty acceptable from their long relief guy. With a pat on the back and probably an ice pack on the shoulder, he headed to the dugout, replaced by Randy Choate, looking to hold the game tied.
Well, sorry, no luck there. The first batter he faced, Jason Kubel, hammered a pitch deep to left field that clanked off the outstretched glove of Matt Holliday. By the time everything was cleared up, Holliday had an error, Bloomquist had come around to score, and Kubel was standing at third base with two outs. A Cody Ross groundout ended the inning, but the Diamondbacks had the lead once again, and the prospect of a creaking Cardinals bullpen for the rest of the game.
The bottom of the sixth inning went quickly, with Parra making a great defensive play in center for the second out and Miley working around a two-out single by Freese. And then we were into the top of the seventh, and that's where things fell apart for the Cardinals.
It began the same way the second inning did, with a Martin Prado double. That was followed by Didi Gregorius getting hit by a pitch to take first base. Wil Nieves made the Cardinals pay with a single, bringing Prado in and letting Didi hustle his way over to third. Wade Miley struck out, and then Parra hit into a fielder's choice for the second out- probably one of the odder outs I've seen, as Allen Craig fielded the ball towards first, came in towards home, and then ran Didi back to third base, diving to make a half tag/half tackle move for an unassisted out.
That was Choate's last batter, as Maikel Cleto came out of the Cardinals bullpen to make his 2013 debut and... It was less than stellar. I mean, I don't know if there's actually a Reliever's Handbook, but if there is, I'm pretty sure it would be pretty emphatic on this point: whatever you do, don't hit the first batter you face, especially if the next batter in the lineup behind him is the guy who came into the game leading the National League in OPS. But Cleto's a loose cannon who doesn't play by the rules, and that's just what he did. And Paul Goldschmidt, in that way that we love him, made Cleto pay, hitting his second grand slam in the five days, and giving the Diamondbacks a 7-1 lead.
The Cardinals tried to fight back in the bottom of the inning. With one out, they started stringing together singles against Wade Miley again, loading the bases. Miley got what looked like an excellent double play ball, but bad luck struck and Jordan Baker was a part of the game, again, as the ball was hit directly at him and deflected away from Willie Bloomquist. A potential double play turned into a two RBI single for Carlos Beltran, and that was the end of Miley's outing. Brad ZIegler came in from the bullpen, threw one pitch, got two outs, and rode off into the sunset- er, clubhouse. Like he does.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, they didn't really have anyone left in the bullpen to call on. That meant that Cleto took on the role of sacrificial lamb, remaining on the mound for the eighth inning. The Diamondbacks took advantage. Cleto got two quick outs before he ran into trouble, hitting Didi Gregorius with a pitch again, this one bouncing in front of the box before it nicked our shortstop. Wil Nieves followed that with a single, and a walk by pinch hitter Eric Hinske loaded the bases. Gerardo Parra took advantage of the situation, singling to center and scoring two runs. Willie Bloomquist brought the night's tally of runs to double digits with a single of his own, scoring Hinske, before Cleto finally got Goldschmidt to strike out and end the inning.
Will Harris came in to pitch the eighth for Arizona, sending down the Cardinals 1-2-3, and then, with the game effectively over, both teams shuffled their lineup in the ninth inning. Jason Kubel led off with a single, but didn't move from there, with Cliff Pennington pinch hitting for Didi Gregorius to ground out and end the top of the inning. Tony Sipp came in to finish out the game for Arizona, as Pennington, Josh Wilson, and A.J. Pollock took the field. Those replacements had some mixed results- A.J. Pollock made a great running grab for the first out of the inning, but a two-out error from Cliff Pennington let the Cardinals extend the inning, getting two runners on. But after another nice defensive play in deep center from Pollock, the Diamondbacks ended the game, ensuring a series split at the worst from St. Louis, with one more game to be played tomorrow.
Consuls of Rome: Wade Miley (+19.6%) and Jason Kubel (+19.4%)
Honorable Senate: Martin Prado (+11.9%), Paul Goldschmidt (+10.4%)
Caesar Salad: Gerardo Parra (-10.4%), Cody Ross (-10.3%)
Clefo led the way in commenting today, with SongBird and imstillhungry95 in second and third. We also heard from 4 Corners Fan, AzDbackfanInDc, AzRattler, BuSeaAir, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jake6233, Jim McLennan, JoeCB1991, JoelPre, Lozenge, Marc Fournier, Paper Clip, Rockkstarr12, SenSurround, The so-called Beautiful, TolkienBard, TylerO, Zavada's Moustache, asteroid, azshadowwalker, blank_38, coldblueAZ, dbacks79, deerhaven, frienetic, hotclaws, kishi, luckycc, monty101, onedotfive, preston.salisbury, rd33, since_98, snakecharmer, soco, and walleye01.
Comment of the Day goes to Zavada's Mustache, for his comment after Paul Goldschmidt's grand slam:
It's a nice feeling to have.
So, what seemed like a lackadaisical effort from the offense in the early innings turned into a rout, we saw some good glovework in the outfield, and Wade Miley put up a fairly respectable showing against one of the top teams in the National League. Not a bad game, and we'll see the Diamondbacks out on the field again tomorrow for the series finale, starting an hour earlier than our previous games this season. See you then. Or not. Whatever.