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Cardinals 4, Diamondbacks 2: A Lamb becomes the Goat

Errors and lack of offense send DBacks to defeat

Arizona Diamondbacks v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Scott Kane/Getty Images

Jake Lamb made a critical error in the first inning and the Cardinals made Merrill Kelly pay, setting the tone for a flat performance by the Diamondbacks tonight.

In the bottom of the first inning Kelly issued the first of three walks for the frame to Jose Martinez with one out. Paul DeJong hit into a force out bringing up Paul Goldschmidt with two outs. Goldy hit a sharp ground ball down to Lamb at 3rd, and Jake was caught in between hops and booted the ball for an E-5. Bob Brenly made an interesting comment, saying that when the ball hits the dirt in front of home the thirdbaseman should charge and cut the ball off, but if it hits the grass he should back up a step. Goldy’s shot hit the dirt in front of home, but Jake backed up.

This immediately came back to haunt, as Tyler O’neill hit a bloop double off the left field chalk to score both DeJong and Goldy. When Goldy hit the grounder Kelly was at 15 pitches. When the inning ended he had 30, as he proceeded to walk the next two batters, Dexter Fowler and Matt Wieters, before getting Kolten Wong to strike out.

In the top of the 2nd the Dbacks had a golden opportunity to take control of the game. Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson hit Adam Jones with a pitch, and Lamb drew a walk. Nick Ahmed then drove a ground ball single up the middle for an RBI and hustled into 2nd on the throw back to the infield. Carson Kelly walked, loading the bases with nobody out. The Cardinals got their pen busy, with Michael Wacha getting up to throw, and it looked like the DBacks might blow it open.

Merrill Kelly, still looking for his first hit of the year, missed a take sign and swung at the first pitch. In post game comments he seemed unaware he missed a sign and said nobody told him. But Torey mentioned previously to that the take sign was on. So a little bit of confusion there. In any case, Kelly tapped down weakly to 3rd base, and Lamb was cut down at home. Jarrod Dyson struck out and Ketel Marte flew out to right, and just like that the bases loaded nobody out situation failed to produce even a 2nd run in the inning.

Kelly is now 0-31 on the year with one walk. In case anyone is wondering, Juan Cruz had the most hitless at bats in a season for the Dbacks when he went 0-21 in 2006. So we are officially on Merrill Kelly hitless watch. REPORT LINK

In the 4th inning Kelly once again failed to help himself, booting a squib grounder on the first base line, allowing DeJong to reach on an error. After Jarrod Dyson made this great play to rob Goldy it looked like perhaps Kelly’s luck would change:

Alas, was not to be, as Tyler O’neill drove a cutter up and out over the corner into the right field bleachers to give the Cardinals a 4-1 lead. It wasn’t a bat pitch, and hat tip to O’neil, who drove in all 4 Cardinal runs tonight.

Kelly got through the next two innings allowing just another hit and his final line was a respectable 5 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HR. However one of the unearned runs was his own mistake, and the 30 pitch 1st and 27 pitch 3rd meant a short outing.

Meanwhile Dakota Hudson shut down the Dbacks after his rocky 2nd inning. He retired 15 of the next 18 batters he faced, and the only hit he allowed after Ahmed’s single was a solo shot to Eduardo Esobar, his 19th of the year. Hudson went 6 innings giving up 3 hits and 4 walks and the solo homer, but allowed just the two runs. Ketel Marte hit a two out double in the 7th, but was stranded there when Paul Goldschmidt made a great diving stop on a ball hit by Escobar to save a run and end the inning.

As MrMrrbi mentioned in the game thread, the Dbacks could not get the leadoff hitter on base all night, failing to do so in every inning except the 2nd. In fact for seven straight innings they had two outs to start the inning. Carlos Martinez came on in the 8th to record a strikeout and then had a 1-2-3 9th striking out two more to close out the game. Just a dismal offensive performance.

One bright spot was three scoreless innings by the bullpen pieced together by T.J. McFarland, Archie Bradley, and Matt Andriese, who accounted for two of those three innings. They kept it close at least.

Lamb’s error really hurt, and Kelly shot himself in the foot tonight as well. But it’s hard to win a game on the road when you only score two runs. The squandered opportunity in the 2nd, and the futility that ensued at the plate afterwards made this one forgettable game.

The DBacks will look to take the series tomorrow behind Zack Greinke, who will face off against Adam Wainwright at 11:15 A.M. Arizona Time.

Fangraphs Box

Positive WPA: Nick Ahmed. 12.8%. Jake Lamb +4.2%

Negative WPA: Merrill Kelly. -22.6%, Jarrod Dyson -15.9%

Special Note: The WPA does not include defensive plays. So Lamb’s error and Dyson’s great catch don’t factor in here. However Kelly’s job didn’t end when Lamb made the error.

Slow game thread today , probably due to more interesting things to do on a Saturday, and a flat performance over all

One Red comment, but context eludes......

Off to Grand Canyon tomorrow so will be missing the series finale. Hopefully it goes better than this one.