THERE’S NO “I” IN “TEAM”
BUT THERE’S AN “A” FOR “ATTITUDE” IN “PLAYOFFS”
Let me have your attention for a moment.
So you’re talking about what? You’re talking about, whining about the Cards are shot, some son-of a-gun doesn’t hit dingers, somebody doesn’t field the position you think they should, some manager you’re fed up with, and so forth.
Let’s talk about something important—are you all here?… Well, I’m going anyway.
Let’s talk about something important—put that Budweiser DOWN! Bud’s for closers ONLY. Do you think I’m messin’ with you? I am not messin’ with you.
I’m here from downtown. I’m here from Mo and Billy.
And I’m here on a mission of hope.
The Cards came in with the 5th-lowest OPS in the majors (.694).
But the 9th-best team ERA (3.92).
Yeah, sure, the Padres own the 4th-best OPS in the regular season at .798.
And the 8th-best ERA right above the Cards at 3.86.
They have a cool nickname: the SlamDiego Padres!
But…Padres’ top starters Dinelson Lamet and Mike Clevinger were left off the roster due to injury. Righty Chris Paddack went for the Padres instead, as apparently he’s healthy. Last year was his first as a big-leaguer, throwing 140.2 innings with a 3.33 ERA (3.95 FIP) with 9.9 SO/9 and just 2 BB/9. This year, he’s kept his strikeout and walk ratios over 59 innings pitched.
In a surprise move, Shildt went with lefty Kwang-hyun Kim (KK) for the Cards, looking for possibly a slight overall platoon edge over the Padres hitters. Plus, he’s been equally tough on hitters from both sides of the dish, holding lefties to a .608 OPS; righties .578.
And, don’t forget that the Cards’ defense was Numero Uno in Defensive Runs Saved in MLB, with 33. The Friars were 15th with 3.
I was comfortable with all that….Were you?
The Bird’s-Eye View
It’s better to be lucky than good. The Cards were both today in a wild win.
It took a little bit of everything for the Cards to hold the Padres off: bend-but-don’t break relief, excellent defense in key situations, Padres’ bad BABIP luck and poor base running, and tacking on. Oh, and a helluva post-season debut by Dylan Carlson, who only went 2-3 with 2 walks, scored twice, and made a diving catch. In both the 6th and the 8th, Tatis came up as the winning run. Both times he was thwarted.
The Cards’ runs came right out of the gate, but the other side of the scoring-early coin was that there was lots of game left for the Padres to come back. And their offense has helped make them the best come-back team in baseball.
The Cards’ hitters built a quick 4-0 lead in the first, and the pitchers spent the rest of the game dodging hard contact trying to keep the Padres offense at bay. The Cards didn’t set the Padres down in order until the 6th.
San Diego scored a single tally in each of the 3 innings, while the Cards tried to build on their early lead. The Cards banged out 10 hits by the fourth inning, the Padres 5. While starting pitcher Paddack lasted just 2.1 innings, KK himself was out of the game after 4. After the 2nd, the Padres sent a parade of relievers, bringing a new one in each inning through the end of the game.
The Cards were immediately honed in on starting pitcher Chris Paddack in the first. They had a great scouting report, or were just seeing the ball well, or Paddack thought he could beat them with mostly fastballs and was wrong. Because after a lead-off pop-out by Kolten Wong, the hitters knocked 5-straight hits in the first to bust out a 4-0 lead, which required the Padres to get their bullpen warming up already.
Paddack only threw 16 pitches (10 of which were fastballs), though, as the Cards were attacking early in the count. The most pitches any hitter faced was three. They sent 8 men to the plate.
Paddack started to mix in off-speed pitches, though, and kept himself and his team in the game, while his offense chipped away against Kim, who was not fooling the Padres hitters, either. They got the lead-off hitter in the first 3 innings and scared you with several deep-hit balls that fortunately went for outs. Off of Kim, they had 6 instances of hard contact (over 95 mph EV), with 5 going for outs. He already had 63 pitches after the third.
The Friars quickly got two runs back by getting single tallies in the first and second, both off sac flies.
After getting set down in order in the second, the Cards came roaring right back in the third to regain their initial 4-run lead 6-2 due to 4-consecutive one-out hits: single, double, single, single.
Counter-punching once again, the Padres got a lead-off single, and while KK got the next 2 outs, they strung together 2 singles to plate another single tally in the 3rd. Kim finally kept the lead-off hitter of the bases in the 4th, and got his first clean inning of the day. It was his last.
From the 4th through the 8th, the Padres relievers blanked the Cards, but the Redbirds did have their chances.
The 6th inning was critical for both sides. The Cards had an opportunity in the 6th to blow the game open, getting the bases loaded, albeit with two outs. They had the right guy up, Matt Carpenter, whose historically great with the bases juiced. Unfortunately, he struck out on a full-count good fastball.
Conversely, the Padres were able to scratch out another run to close the gap to 6-4 on a lead-off double by Pham off Helsley, hit-by-pitch, steal of third (that woulda been an out had Tommy kept the ball in his glove) and a sac fly. But Jake Cronenworth attempted to move from second to third on that sac fly to right, and the Cards executed the fundamentals, with Dex hitting his cut-off man, and Goldy relaying to third with Edman tagging the runner for a key double play.
Geneis Cabrera came in and promptly hit the first batter and then gave up an infield single to make it first and second two outs for Tatis, the go-ahead run. Gallegos then played fireman, striking out Tatis to end the threat.
Tatis once again became the go-ahead run in the 8th, as Miller put two runners on with a HBP and single made it first and third with one out. More good defense kept a runner from scoring, though, as a Goldy fielded a tapper and fired to third to get the runner in a run-down, which ended in the trail runner getting called out. That brought up Tatis again as the winning run, and Shildt pulled another lever, bringing in Alex Reyes. That worked, as Alex got the slugger to ground out to short on three pitches.
The Cards gave themselves some breathing room, as they notched a lone run in the 9th against Trevor Rosenthal, who was throwing 100, but he lost command and gave up back-to-back one-out walks to Carpenter and DeJong. Dex then came through with a single to make it 7-4, their first tally since the 3rd.
Reyes closed things in the 9th, but fittingly, not before the Padres produced more loud outs, that started with a lead-off line-out to short off the bat of Machado, then ended on a 2-out deep fly that drove Bader to the wall, but he leapt and caught it for the game-ender!
The Flight Path
Top of 1st (In Play, Run(s)) – The Padres didn’t know what hit ‘em!
Kolten Wong started things off by getting jammed on a 97 mph fastball and popped it up to Manny Machado, with Fernando Tatis, Jr. bumping into him, thinking he shoulda made the catch. Tommy Edman became the Cards’ first baserunner, grounding one to the right of second baseman Jake Cronenworth. He gloved it, but Tommy beat the throw easily for an infield single.
Paul Goldschmidt wasted no time, ambushing a first-pitch fastball on the inner half, getting his hands in, powering it just over the fence in left (107 mph EV; 356 ft) for an instant 2-0 lead!!!
Your clean-up hitter Dylan Carlson followed by putting himself in scoring position, slicing a double down the left-field line. Yadier Molina followed the first-pitch theory, knocking a liner into center for a single to score Dylan to bump the score up to 3-0!!!
Not wanting to stop the fun, Paul DeJong then doubled down the right-field line on a 1-0 fastball to push Yadi to third. Matt Carpenter jumped his first offering, lofting a fly ball to medium left, but it was toward the line, and Jurickson Profar had him shaded to right-center, requiring a long run. Profar made a nice sliding catch, but even Yadi was able to score on the sac fly to make it 4-0 Cards!!
Paddack finally got the final out, inducing Dexter Fowler to roll over on a 1-1 change-up, grounding out to second.
Bottom of 1st (In Play, Run(s)) – The first two batters reached, but KK limited the damage.
Kim repeated tried to bust Fernando Tatis, Jr. inside but was missing off the plate, and walked him on 5 pitches. KK got ahead of Machado 0-2, but on a 1-2 changeup, Manny smacked a sizzling grounder that got through Kolten for a single, as Tatis motored to third.
Eric Hosmer executed situational hitting, lofting a fly ball to slight right-center gloved by Harrison Bader. It was plenty deep enough in the cavernous Petco Park for Tatis to trot home to make it 4-1.
Kim then sat down Will Myers on a 1-2 slider that dove toward the hitter’s back foot for out 2. Old buddy Tommy Pham, DHing for the Padres, worked a full count but Kim spotted a fastball right at the bottom of the zone that Tommy golfed to center, but it held up plenty for Bader to shuffle over and catch for the final out.
Top of 2nd – Paddack mixed in his split-finger fastball more and set the Cards down in order.
Bader, the only batter not to get a plate appearance in the first, struck out swinging on a split-finger fastball, the 4th-straight one he saw after a first-pitch fastball. Kolten followed by chopping a 2-2 split to his counterpart at second for out 2.
Tommy became the third out by popping up an up-and-in fastball to Tatis at short.
Bottom of 2nd (In Play, Run(s)) – An almost-homer leadoff triple scored.
Jake Cronenworth led off and banged a long fly to deep center on a 2-0 fastball on the inside corner. Despite turning around several times, Bader ultimately seemed to have a bead on it, but his jump at the wall didn’t produce a catch, as the ball bounced off the very top of the fence, bouncing back into play. By the time Bader retrieved it, Cronenworth was standing on third. Especially with Harrison’s defensive skills, it seemed one he should’ve caught.
Austin Nola repeated the Padres’ inning 1 run-scoring formula by hitting a sac fly, this one to Dex in right, to halve the score 4-2 with one out. Profar went after pitch one and flew out to deep left to Dylan for out 2. Ninth-place hitter Trent Grisham ended the inning by bouncing one off Kim’s glove, but it continued up the middle, where DeJong was able to glove it and get the final out.
Top of 3rd (In Play, Run(s)) – Sequenced hits are the best hits!
Goldy got another first-pitch fastball, and like in the first, he hacked at it. He didn’t square it up, though, flying out to right for the first out. Dylan got his second hit on the day, going again the other way, dunking a 2-2 changeup into left for a single. Yadi came through also with his second base hit, pulling an up-and-in fastball into left for a double to advance Dylan to third, with 2 RISP with one out for DeJong.
Pauly D kept the line moving, slamming an over-but-low fastball on a line into center to score Dylan to make it 5-1. Unfortunately, it actually was hit right at Yadi, who had to duck to avoid it, so he could only advance to third instead of scoring.
That knocked out Paddack, and the Padres brought in lefty Matt Strahm.
DH Carpenter—a lefty-swinger, as you know—remained in to face the lefty. He came through, though, beating the shift, lining one into center to plate Yadi to make it 6-2!
On his third pitch to Dex, Strahm’s landing foot turned a little as it hit the dirt, causing him to slip a bit coming off the mound. But after a trainer visit, he remained in.
On a 2-2 curve, Dex bounced a grounder to Machado at third. Manny whipped it to second to get the force, but Dex beat the relay to make it first and third, two out for Bader. But Harrison struck out, waiving over an 0-2 curve in the dirt.
Bottom of 3rd (In Play, Run(s)) – A seeing-eye 2-out single plated one for the Pads, but the Cards were lucky that was all the scoring done.
The Padres turned the lineup over, as Tatis stepped in. Getting a gift 1-2 called strike beyond the outside corner that wasn’t, Kim got the count even. Then after a full count, he fouled off 3 pitches, ultimately tomahawking a high fastball into left for a single.
Maddux made a visit that coincided with Ryan Helsley starting to warm up.
Then against dangerous Machado, KK broke off a slowww 68 mph hook that Manny mis-time, popping it up high behind the plate. Yadi raced across the wide foul territory, into the shadows, and near the on-deck circle, kneeled down to catch it. He immediately fired to second to ensure Tatis stayed at first.
KK next got away with a mistake first-pitch center-cut fastball, launching it to deep left that Dylan caught with his back near the wall for out 2.
Will Myers kept the Padres’ inning alive, though, as he singled into center. Bader raced in to get to it quickly, and Tatis thought about continuing home, but he remained at third to make it first and third, two out for Pham. Tommy BABIP’d KK, hitting a 2-2 slider right on the corner, barely making contact, singling it through the hole between first and second to plate Tatis with Myers going to second to halve the lead once again, 6-3.
Top of 4th – Righty Craig Stammen came in for the Padres. The Cards wasted a lead-off Kolten double.
Kolten represented the third time through the order already this game, always a good sign. Another good thing was that he greeted new pitcher Stammen with a deep liner into right-center that one-hopped the wall for a ground-rule double, bouncing into the Petco Park cafe seating area.
Unfortunately, Tommy didn’t advance him, as he watched a 1-2 fastball dot the inside corner for a strike. Getting pitched away on all but two pitches, Goldy topped a 2-2 sinker to short for an out, with Kolten advancing to third. Now with two outs, it was up to Dylan to prevent the Cards from wasting the lead-off double.
Not seeing a single fastball, Carlson worked the count full and drew a walk to keep the inning alive for Yadi. Yadi, for whatever reason, chased 4 sliders well off the plate, either missing them our fouling them off. On a 2-2 count, Stammen suddenly went down-and-in—the first non-outside pitch of the at-bat—getting him to swing over it for out 3.
Bottom of 4th – The Cards finally kept the Padres off the board, and they were lucky to do so.
KK sat down lead-off 7th-place hitter Nola on three pitches, each one watched for a strike, the final one that was actually a bit below the zone. Profar followed by hitting a weak grounder to third that barely went farther than the mound. Tommy charged it aggressively, bare-handed it, and fired to first, with Goldschmidt digging the throw out of the dirt for two terrific plays on the ends of out 2.
KK then frustratingly walked ninth-place Trent Grisham ahead of the dangerous Tatis. That ended Kim’s day, with Shildt bringing in Ryan Helsley. The Cards caught a break, as Tatis sent an 0-1 96 mph up-and-away fastball deep to right that Dex made a nice leaping catch on near the track to keep the Padres off the board.
Top of 5th – Righty Pierce Johnson entered as the third reliever for the Padres. The Cards got two baserunners, but neither scored.
A first-pitch curve got away from Johnson, as he Pierced lead-off batter Pauly D on the back, earning DeJong first base. Carpenter couldn’t advance him, as he swung over a 1-2 curve for out 1. Dex picked him up, though, as he jumped on his first pitch, bouncing a single right up the middle to make it first and second, one out.
Bader, however, went down swinging on his third pitch. All three were curves. The top of the order now returned in the person of Kolten. But he grounded out to Tatis to end the inning.
Bottom of 5th – The first 1-2-3 inning for the Cards (with some luck).
Helsley got into Manny’s kitchen, boring a 2-2 97 mph heater up and in off the plate that Machado couldn’t resist and popped up to DeJong on short right for the first out. Hosmer then tattooed a down-and-in cutter, ripping a laser (106 mph EV) that Goldy made a great play on, backhanding it on the fly for a fortunate second out. Helsley then saved triple-digit heat for Will Myers, using it to freeze him with a 2-2 100 mph fastball right on the corner to end the inning.
Top of 6th – Reliever #4 came in, righty Emilio Pagan. The Cards rallied after two outs to load the bases but couldn’t cash in.
Tommy popped out to second baseman Cronenworth in short center, followed by Goldy flying to out center for the first two outs. Dylan worked a full count, and held up on an inside fastball off the plate to keep the inning alive for Yadi.
Yadi rewarded that, by somehow making contact on a well down-and-away cutter, YadiFlopping it into short right, with Dylan chugging to third to make it first and third, two outs. Pagan sent three pitches off the outside corner to DeJong, and Pauly didn’t flinch, getting ahead 3-0. Then on a 3-1 hitter’s count, DeJong stayed patient, not offering at another outside pitch, to walk and load the bases.
With Pagan’s wildness, Carpenter took a pitch 1 strike, a 96 mph fastball down and in. After fouling off a good pitch to hit on 1-2, Matt was patient, getting a full count. With the runners on the move, Matt fouled one off then swung through an over and slightly low 97 mph fastball to end the threat.
Bottom of 6th (In Play, Run(s)) – Better pitching and defense woulda kept a run from scoring, but great pitching ended the biggest threat of the game.
Helsley gave up a lead-off double to right-center off the bat of Pham. That brought Shildt out to switch in Genesis Cabrera to face lefty Cronenworth.
Genesis barely knicked Cronenworth in the lead elbow with a first-pitch fastball, bringing the tying run to the plate in the person of Nola. Then on the first pitch to Nola, a changeup, Pham took off for third, and Yadi had him dead to rights, but Edman dropped the ball while trying to make the tag.
Nola then flew out to medium-right, but deep enough to plate Pham on the sac fly to make it 6-4. Dex hit the cut-off man in Goldy, who zipped a throw to third, as Cronenworth attempted to advance to third. Edman ran him down and tagged him out for a huge out 2 to empty the bases.
The Padres next got a break, as Profar dribbled one down third that Edman couldn’t bare-hand this time, resulting in an infield single.
Cabrera then flung nothing but fastballs to ninth-place hitter Grisham, missing on 4 of them to walk him. Of course, the bad part of that was bringing the winning run to the plate. The worst part was the next hitter was Tatis.
Obviously in a critical situation, Shildt brought in Giovanni Gallegos to put out the fire. Gio started him off with two sliders, got a 96 mph fastball dotted on the inside corner Tatis fouled off, then fooled him with a tight down-and-away slider off the plate for a huge strikeout to end the inning!
Top of 7th – Lefty Drew Pomerantz came in now for the Padres and set the Cards down in order.
Dex flew out to center and Bader struck out for the first two outs. Kolten flew out to center to end the quiet inning.
Bottom of 7th – Dylan saved a lead-off double and Gio hung a donut.
It was nice to see Machado leading off, and even nicer to see Carlson take a double away from him, as Manny hit a liner toward left-center that the youngster made a diving play to his right for out 1!
Gio got a much quieter out next by fanning Hosmer on three pitches, whiffing him on a down-and-in slider. However, Myers drew a 2-out walk to keep the inning alive. Pitching carefully to Pham, Gio went to 3-2. On pitch 6, Pham pulled one sharply but on the ground, just to the right of DeJong, who shuffled to it quickly, back-handed it cleanly, and fired to first to end the inning.
Top of 8th – Righty Garrett Richards kept the Padre reliever carousel moving. The Cards made no noise.
Tommy started the inning by tapping one down the first-base line that the pitcher fielded and flipped to first for the initial out. Goldy then hit a high-chopper to Machado, who charged, gloved it, and nipped Paul for the second out.
Dylan was sat down for the first time tonight, striking out swinging on an 0-2 slider in the dirt, not seeing a fastball in the at-bat.
Cronenworth hit a fly foul ball toward the seats that Dylan almost made a circus catch on, leaping high up against the railing, unable to come down with it. Then getting ahead 0-2, Miller’s release point was too quick, and he nailed the batter in the back to put him on. Miller came back to get next batter Nola to fly out to Dex for out 1.
Profar then BABIP’d Miller, dumping a fliner to center (82 mph EV) that sent Cronenworth to third, making it first and third one out. Grisham then tapped a slow grounder past Miller that Goldy charged and fielded. Cronenworth broke for home, so Goldy threw to third to get him in a run-down. Yadi ultimately chased Cronenworth back to third, as Profar arrived there as well. Yadi tagged them both, but Profar was called out, as you can’t have two runners occupy a base, as Yadi explained to the Padres:
Now with first and third two out, Shildt brought in Alex Reyes to face Tatis, who once again was up as the winning run. Alex didn’t mess around, hurling three-straight 99-plus mph laser beams, with Tatis watching the first for strike 1, the second for a ball, and the third, he grounded harmlessly to short for the final out!
Top of 9th (In Play, Run(s)) – Old friend Trevor Rosenthal entered throwing triple digits. The Cards got a huge insurance run.
Yadi led off by smacking an up-and-away 100 mph heater into right on a line, but Myers didn’t have to range far to his right to snag it. Yadi and Trevor shared a smile as your catcher trotted back to the dugout.
Trevor lost command, then, as DeJong drew a walk on 7 pitches and Carpenter walked on 4. Dex then got a huge hit, pulling an inside 98 mph fastball through the hole between first and second, plating DeJong just ahead of Myers’ throw as Carpenter went to third to make it 7-4!! Tyler O’Neill came in to pinch-run for Carpenter.
Now with first and third and just one out, Bader entered, having struck out 4 times. So he squared to bunt for a safety squeeze, but pulled it back for ball one. He didn’t attempt that the rest of the at bat, ultimately striking out for the 5th time on a heater.
Wong then creamed a liner, but it was right at Tatis to end the inning.
Bottom of 9th – Reyes remained in to close out the game to face the 2-3-4 hitters. Tyler remained in, slotted as the DH.
Mixing sinkers and sliders to Machado, Manny banged a pitch-5 99 mph sinker well below the zone (111 mph EV), but fortunately it was right at DeJong, who knocked it down with a stationary back-hand, but it dropped right at his feet, so he was able to get the out.
Hosmer followed by lining a soft one at DeJong, but Pauly D had to jump a big to snag it for out 2. Alex went 2-0 to Myers but battled back to get the count full. On pitch 6, Myers timed up a 100 mph fastball that stayed up, cranking it to deep left, but unlike the play in the 2nd, he leapt and caught this one, banging his back into the wall to end the game!!!
Cards won, 7-4!!!
The Bottom Line
- The Cards out-hit the Padres 13-8 and had just one more instance of hard contact then they did (