Baseball can be beautiful. Mozart, if you will. A great fielding play to rob a hitter of an extra base hit with the bases loaded and two down. A great hitter taking a low outside pitch the opposite way for RBIs. That same hitter missing a slider two inches further outside for a strikeout.
Tonight was more a Salvadore Dali. Or Captain Beefheart. Things were absurdist. They were Cardinalesque. They were...well, they weren’t good.
Consider: the third and fourth innings at the plate for the Brewers...in a stretch of eight batters, six Brewers got on base. No runs. (Two of the runners got there via fielders’ choices; three walked; one on an error). The fourth for the Cardinals saw an easy out to first, a grounder barely fair by Jhonny Peralta that saw Aaron Hill’s throw barely miss getting him; a groundball up the middle that was an easy double play by Matt Adams...except that Matt Garza decided to knock the ball down, drop it, and throw underhanded to first and miss the bag by about ten feet. The Cardinals then went single, walk, single, single, strikeout, single and voila! A 1-1 game became 6-1, and things were more or less decided.
Consider: in the bottom of the first, Matt Carpenter led off with a checked swing roller past Garza that became an infield hit. Aledmys Diaz doubled down the line in left, scoring Carpenter and then got himself into your everyday rundown...the Brewers retired him 7-6-3-5-6-4...one more throw and Garza would have been involved and Diaz would have undoubtedly scored.
Consider: In the first three innngs, Diaz had six assists from short. On the first grounder to Jonaton Villar he threw wide to first for an error. To make Garza feel better about himself, Card’s pitcher Jaime Garcia mishandled a dribbler that C.C. Sabathia knew was an error, even if BA didn’t.
Consider: the Brewers made a little noise in the top of the seventh when Jake Elmore got his first hit as a Brewer, and Villar walked. Aaron Hill hit one sharply up the middle that (of course) hit off of Garcia’s foot, went directly to the shortstop, and the Cards had your garden variety 1-6-4-3 double play.
Consider: Matt Garza came up with the bases loaded in the top of the fourth. He struck out on three pitches. Jaime Garcia came up with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth and singled in a run. Of course, he later scored.
Chris Carter hit a Little League homer in the top of the second for the Brewers only run. I call it a Little League homer because that’s how I gave up homers in Little League...line drives to center just kept going over the fence. Or to left. Or to right. Anyways, Carter just put an easy swing on a fastball and 425’ later the ball was checking up on the green in dead center.
St. Louis scored their seventh run in the bottom of the sixth on a two out double to straight away center by Matt Holiday. It looked like Carter’s homer but it didn’t go as far.
Garza’s pitching line was not good. He allowed six runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings, with three of the runs unearned. Since the error was his, I have little sympathy. Jhan Marinez pitched the final 2.1, giving up two hits, two walks, and striking out one with no runs to save the rest of the bullpen.
The Cardinals had two errors and a passed ball. The Brewers had two errors.
Garcia gave up four hits in eight innings, striking out 6. He walked 3 and had 17 groundball outs, with one flyball out. Matt Bowman had a 1-2-3 ninth, all on groundouts. That’s one flyball out for the game, folks.
The Cardinals out-Matted the Brewers 3-1.
The two teams face off again tomorrow afternoon, with the Brewers (35-44) sending Jimmy Nelson (5-6, 3.60) to the mound to face the Cardinals (41-38) Adam Wainright (6-5, 5.04). The games Saturday and Sunday are scheduled for 1:15 pm, with a possibility of inclement weather predicted. More beautiful baseball is not in the forecast.