Aces Scherzer & Flaherty matchup on Labor Day, as another blown save from Norris leads to Nats 4-3 comeback win in extra innings
So with the pitchers duel we all anticipated on our hands, I’m sure none of us saw three 1st inning runs coming off Mad Max and Flaherty. But baseball is a weird and funny game that has a way to prove you wrong, almost on a daily basis if you watch the right game.
Well today, three runs were scored in the 1st inning, the Cardinals accounted for 2 of those. Mad Max opened Labor Day afternoon with a strikeout on the Leadoff Guy, before serving up an opposite field single to the two-hole hitter, Jive Muñoz. Big City drew a walk to put two on for Swags, who would strikeout looking at an inside fastball. With Pauly Deez at the dish, Muñoz would force Scherzer to balk, jumping around at 2B, causing the indecisiveness from Scherzer. Both runners moved into scoring position, and the baseball gods answered. Pauly lined a two-run single into LF, scoring both Muñoz and Adams to make it a 2-0 Cardinals lead. Scherzer finished the inning throwing 25 pitches, striking out Garcia to strikeout the side, but not before giving up the early two run lead.
Jack Flaherty ran into a bit of trouble himself in his 1st inning of work this afternoon. It must’ve been the heat and the sweat building up that Danny Mac and Jimmy Ballgame were talking about the first 3.5 innings of today’s ballgame, pure treasures. They are pretty damn comical when working together. Anyways, back to this recap, Flaherty struck out Eaton on a beautiful curveball to begin his afternoon. Turner then smashed a solo HR to LF, his 17th of the year to cut the lead in half, 2-1. Flaherty then would walk the bases loaded: walking Harper, getting Rendon to pop out to Adams, walking Soto, walking Zimmerman. Flaherty escaped the 1st inning jam, striking out his second batter, getting Difo to whiff at a slider, ending the inning after 33 pitches.
Haaaaaaaarry Bader has himself quite an impressive 2nd inning, lining a leadoff single to LF, then wasting no time swiping his 13th base of the year, snagging 2B. From this point on, Mad Max took over. The next 12 Cardinals were retired in order, and Scherzer added 6 more strikeouts to his line during that stretch. Bader would make a nice play to open the bottom of the 2nd on Severino, going back and leaping to take away a possible XBH. Flaherty ended the inning on 9 pitches, inducing two groundouts to end the inning.
Flaherty worked two quick outs in the bottom of the 3rd, getting Turner and Harper to fly out to Swags. Rendon was then hit by a pitch to bring the front runner for NL ROY, Juan Soto. Flaherty and Soto went back and forth calling time with a 2-strike count, Flaherty eventually winning the cat and mouse game by striking out Soto.
Flaherty added his 4th and 5th strikeout to his line in 4th inning after a leadoff single from Zimmerman. Flaherty struck out Difo and Scherzer on absolutely disgusting sliders, while getting Severino to pop out.
Flaherty’s biggest Houdini act came in the bottom of the 5th when he would work around his second bases loaded jam of the afternoon. With the top of the order up, Eaton and Turner would both ground out to bring in Harper. Harper would draw his second free pass of the day and Rendon would double off the LF wall, Swags playing it perfectly and firing it in to keep Harper from scoring. With 1B open and 2 down, the Cards elected to intentionally walk Soto to load the bases. The move paid off as Flaherty would get Zimmerman to fly out to Swags to end the inning.
Yairo Muñoz, my #bombsaway pick, broke up Scherzer’s 12 in-a-row retired streak, sending his 7th HR of the season over the wall in RCF. Scherzer put the bomb behind him rather quickly, retiring the next 3 in order, needing only 10 pitches to get thru the inning.
Brebs returned today, getting called up from AAA and added to the bullpen. And he looked magnificent in the 6th inning relieving Flaherty. Brebs, sporting the fresh beard, struck out the side in order, getting Difo, Severino, and Scherzer. Brebs was straight painting today too, let me be the first to tell you, all corners, nothing center cut.
Mad Max worked his final inning in the 7th, thank God. He would strikeout Bader and Peña back-to-back to end the inning and his afternoon with 11 k’s. Still in line for the loss.
Tsunami was tasked with 7th inning duties today, facing the top of the lineup in Eaton, getting him to pop out to DeJong. Turner and Harper then worked back-to-back walks, making things interesting. Tsunami stopped the late inning dramatics quickly, getting Rendon to fly out to Muñoz and Soto to ground out to Garcia.
The Cardinals did that thing again.
That thing they did yesterday where they loaded the bases with nobody out and didn’t score.
Yeah that thing, how is that possible two days in-a-row? How? I’m confused, but what does it matter anyways. Baseball.
Cordero came in from the horrific Nats pen, drilling Patty Wiz with a pitch upon entering. Wiz then took advantage of Cordero not paying attention to him, stealing 2B. The Nats then elected to walk Carp intentionally with 1B open, still with nobody away. Muñoz then hit a bloop single into RF, loading the bases for Cafecíto. Miller would relieve Cordero, getting Cafecíto to ground into a twin killing, and killing might be an understatement. Because this crushed my heart. Cafecíto would rip a grounded to Difo and he would come to get Wisdom and Severino fired to Zimmerman to get Cafecíto at 1B for the double-play. Miller ended the threat getting Swags Ozuna to strikeout on a heater.
Jordan Hicks was given the duty of pitching the 8th inning and holding the lead for the closer today, doing his job perfectly. Hicks would get Zimmerman to ground out to Pauly Deez, then Difo would connect on a double to CF, as Bader almost made the catch of the season as it popped out of his glove as he absolutely laid out full extension. Wieters and Stevenson would pinch-hit for Severino and Miller next, both getting a dose of the best sliders Jordan Hicks has thrown all season. I mean these things were straight cheese, knee bucklers, straight flamessss. Hicks would strikeout both back-to-back to end the inning, taking us to the 9th.
Greg Holland, our old, uhh, friend? Holland worked a 1-2-3, 15-pitch inning getting DeJong and Garcia to fly out to Harper as Bader would strikeout on a fastball to end the inning.
Bud Norris would come in looking to earn save #29 after blowing yesterday’s opportunity. But after a 27-pitch game yesterday, this just didn’t seem like the correct move to make. But who am I to question Shildt? He seems to be on top of things pretty damn well. Bud would face the top of the order to earn this save, walking Eaton to leadoff the inning. An immediate red flag to me. Turner then grounded into a 6-4 fielder’s choice to bring in the tying run in Harper. It was clockwork.
Jimmy and Dan chatting about how Harper hasn’t hit a bomb in ages and bam, he hits a freakin’ two-run piss rope to tie the game 3-3. Un-fucken-believe-able. Swags pretty muched saved the game up to the this point next, sliding to take away a hit from Rendon following the HR. Norris then walked Soto and proceeded that with a single up the middle to Zimmerman. Shreve would come in for the final out, walking Difo to load the bases for Wieters. Shreve won a tough battle, striking out Wieters on a heater to take us to extra innings.
Holland remained in the game to pitch the 10th, walking Peña to begin the inning. JAG would pinch-run for Peña to add a little speed on the bases with another catcher still on the bench. Wisdom would line a ball back up the middle, looking like a sure base-hit to move JAG to 3B, but JAG would run on the play and Difo moved over to the 2B bag for the stolen base attempt and the ball was hit directly to him for the easy 4-3 double-play. Just the Cardinals luck the past few days. Carp would strikeout on a slider to end the inning, taking things to the bottom of the 10th.
Mark Reynolds pinch-hit for Holland to lead off the 10th, lining a double off O’Neill’s (defensive replacement) glove to end up in scoring position with a double. The speedy Taylor would pinch-run for Reynolds and Eaton would lay down a perfect bunt on the left-side, beating it out for a single, Taylor moving up to 3B on the play. Shreve got a big first out getting Turner to pop out to Carp in foul territory. With Harper coming up and the chance to load the bases to face Rendon, the Cardinals elected to pitch carefully to Harper. Harper ended up getting enough on a sac-fly to Swags in LF for the 4-3 walk-off winner for the Nats. The Cardinals 3rd consecutive loss.
The Lizard King (13-4, 2.96) looks to end the losing streak tomorrow night as he is matched up against Erick Fedde (1-3, 5.79). First pitch 6:05 c/t.
Thanks for reading this long disappointing recap, cheers!
Game 138 is in the books