Games » St. Louis CardinalsJun15
Another crazy ending
The Kansas City Star
If you watch enough baseball, you’ll often see something nobody has ever seen before — and sometimes you’ll see it two nights in a row. Nobody could remember ever seeing two games in a row finished in more improbable ways: Brayan Pena‘s single and a half that won Thursday night’s game and the Bad News Bears defensive play that abruptly silenced 42,000 Cardinals fans — stunned by what they’d just witnessed.
OK, here we go: the Royals were up 3-2 going into the bottom of the 9th and Jonathan Broxton ambled in from the pen to close the game. Alcides Escobar made a highlight play to get Yadier Molina for the first out. (By the way, slow runners make for great infield plays — you can’t dive, grab the ball, jump up and fire and get the fast guys.) The next batter, Matt Adams, struck out.
Tyler Greene singled and stole second base. Humberto Quintero‘s throw hit Greene’s thigh and bounced away. Chris Getz, backing up the play, went after the ball as Greene set sail for third. Chris, known for his smarts, made a bad decision: he decided he could throw Greene out at third.
The ball was trickling away, Getz grabbed it and let it fly — right past third base. Greene then took off for home and the game appeared to be all tied up. But Getz’s throw missed going in the dugout by about two inches, hit a railing and caromed back to Mike Moustakas. Moose made a desperation throw, Humberto Quintero did a great job blocking the plate and a whole bunch of people wearing red staggered to the exits, wondering that the heck just happened.
According to Doug Sisson, Busch Stadium plays fair, regular dimensions and no weird porches, but the ball can go down the line and hit a wall set at 45-degree angle to the foul line, so a ball that looks headed for the corner can suddenly carom into short left or right.
I asked Doug if there was any jet stream in Busch and he said at the moment, the ball was carrying in right (this was during BP). That condition can be temporary and change quickly. So a pitcher might approach a hitter differently in the first inning than the third, based on the flags.
I was halfway to St. Louis before I got Jarrod Dyson‘s joke from Thursday night: He said he had “Mr. Zoombiya” speed. That’s “Mr. Zoom-by-ya.” (My son had to explain it to me.)
I asked Sisson where Dyson was standing that night when he took off for home after the ball was bobbled at second base, “The cut of the grass.” 85 feet from home plate, Rickie Weeks mishandles a throw and Dyson scores.
Nobody’s in Dyson’s class, but Alcides Escobar isn’t too shabby: in the 2nd inning he turned a single into a double, stole third and scored on Dyson’s bunt single. National League baseball in the Cardinal’s house.
In one of many terrific defensive plays, the Royals picked off Carlos Beltran after he stole his 300th base. That’s baseball for you: enjoy the moment — and now the moment’s over.
Third inning: Cardinal runners at second and third, nobody out, the pitcher at the plate. An obvious bunt situation. Alcides Escobar signals Mike Moustakas that he’s coming to cover third base. That frees up Moose to crash the plate. Mike pounces on the ball, throws to Escobar to get the lead run and Esky then turns it into something really special: he guns it to first. Eric Hosmer also crashed the plate so Chris Getz is covering the bag for a 5-6-4 double play. In one brilliant sequence the Cardinals go from a very promising inning to having a runner on second with two down. He does not score.
There are a few situations during the game where a stolen base might seem logical, except Kyle Lohse is too quick to the plate and Yadier Molina throws out runners at a 44% clip.
Vin Mazzaro, who provided the Royals with another great start, is pulled after six innings and 80 pitches. Mazzaro had developed tightness in his calf and Ned Yost decided to play it safe — kind of.
Hard to play it real safe when Greg Holland, Tim Collins and Kelvin Herrera were unavailable. Ned wanted Crow for the 8th and Broxton for the 9th, so he had to somehow negotiate the 7th with a combination of Roman Colon, Nate Adcock and Jose Mijares — and Mijares was only available for maybe one batter. After Colon made things overly interesting, Ned used Mijares to end the 7th, facing the left-handed Daniel Descalso.
Ned Yost gets criticized for his managing, no big deal, all managers do. On the other hand, everyone thinks the bullpen has been terrific. Someone is getting the right guys facing the right guys at the backend of games — maybe the manager deserves some credit.
The 7th inning is the Chris Getz show: he singles, goes first to third on Eric Hosmer’s single to right and then scores on Jeff Francoeur’s shallow fly ball to centerfield. Getz sees that Molina has the plate blocked, slides to the right and reaches in to touch the plate as he skids past. This will prove to be the winning run. All three runs scored in the National League style. (Of course, this only works if you pitch well and play solid defense.)
Top of the 8th and Humberto Quintero pinch hits. (Billy Butler was being saved for a situation in which he had a chance to drive in a run.) Quintero remains in the game, replacing Brayan Pena, as catcher. Ned knew the Cardinals still had Adron Chambers on the bench and figured Adron would come out to pinch run at some point. That meant the Royals would need their best defense and Yost wanted Quintero’s arm behind the plate.
After this crazy game, Jeff Francoeur walked by, grinned and silently shook his head. I couldn’t have said it better myself.