Luke Weaver aimed to keep the dominant starts from the rotation rolling tonight, and to build on his last two starts, shaking his struggles from previous starts.
Weaver would toss a 14-pitch inning, pounding the zone with 10 strikes. Jon Jay led the game off with the classic Jon Jay bloop single to LF.
Matt Carpenter made a great play on Goins bunt attempt down the line, throwing him out by half a step. Carp showed good arm strength on play, something that’s been a problem in the past.
Weaver would strand Jay at second base retiring Moustakas and Perez next.
The Cardinals offense would get the chance to feast on a struggling Jason Hammel, and they were aggressive in the 1st. Fowler and Cafecíto would offer at the first pitch, Fowler leading off with a fly out to Almonte in CF. Hammel got his first out striking out Carp, and let’s just say he’s had his was with Carp in their careers. Cafecíto, who was first pitch swinging, but fouled it off, ripped the second offering into LF for a two out single.
Swags Ozuna kept his bat hot, going the other way, blooping a single into shallow RCF, advancing Cafecíto to third base. Then the Cardinals did some interesting things on the base paths. With O’Neill batting, Ozuna took off to steal second and Cafecíto would break for home on Perez’s throw to second, expect there was no throw to second. Perez deked a throw, getting Martínez caught between third and home, throwing the ball to Moustakas at third, who bobbled the ball on the transfer.
The bobble allowed a successful double-steal, and the first run of the game for the Cardinals. Cafecíto is the first Cardinal to steal home since Pete Kozma, I do apologize, I couldn’t resist a Kozma reference.
Alex Gordon got that run back on the board for the Royals in the 2nd, blasting a solo HR to the CF grass patch. Weaver added his first two strikeouts of the game, getting Almonte looking and Hammel swinging on a low changeup.
The Cardinals would strand two runners in scoring position in the bottom half of the 2nd. With one out, Yairo Muñoz poked a single to RF, beating an infield shift. (I don’t know why they were shifting him.) Peña followed with a broken bat bloop single into CF, bringing in Weaver who successfully laid down a perfect sac-bunt to move both runners up. Dexter Fowler, batting in the leadoff spot for reasons unknown to many, struck out getting tied up in on his hands.
Weaver must’ve wanted the bats back out asap because he had a 6-pitch in store in the 3rd, retiring the side in order.
Rightfully so, because the bats were aggressive in the bottom half, like super aggressive. Carp would fly out to CF on the second pitch, Cafecíto lined to RF on the first pitch, Swags hit a single up the middle on the first pitch, O’Neill hit a single to RF on the first pitch. Hammel stranded Swags and O’Neill, getting Wong to pop out to Moustakas.
The Royals would snatch the lead in the top of the 4th and wouldn’t give it up. After striking out Perez to open the inning, Weaver would walk Merrifield. Alex Gordon (3-4) followed with a single to RF before Wong would leap up to rob a line shot off the bat of Almonte.
With two outs and the pitcher, Jason Hammel on deck, Weaver would give up an RBI double to Escobar into LF, making it 2-1 Royals. Weaver ended the inning, in fact, striking out his counterpart, go figure.
Yairo Muñoz (4-4) had a solid night at the plate, unfortunately that didn’t carry over while running the bases. After leading off the bottom of the 4th lining a single up the middle, Muñoz would be the victim of a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double-play with Weaver batting, ending the inning.
Weaver didn’t waste any time in the top of the 5th, ending the inning with back-to-back strikeouts of Goins and Moustakas. Weaver earned both strikeouts on high 95 mph heaters.
The Cardinals tried to pull off one of their two out rallies they’ve been accustomed to lately in the bottom of the 5th, only to come up short against a horrendous pitcher.
Cafecíto reached base with two outs after being hit by a pitch and Ozuna would move him up to third base on a base hit to RF. Tyler O’Neill (1-4, 3 k’s) had the chance to be the hero again, but fell victim to Hammel for his 5th strikeout of the night, ending the inning.
Salvador Perez extended the Royals lead to 3-1 leading off the top of the 6th, hitting a hanging breaking pitch to LF for a solo HR. After an Alex Gordon one out single, Weaver induced an unconventional 5-6-3 double-play (due to the shift) to end the inning.
Yairo Muñoz made that mistake again, that mistake he made in the bottom of the 4th inning. I mean, literally, the same mistake. Maybe he wasn’t all to blame, though. After hitting a one out single to LF, Muñoz would fall victim to a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double-play with Peña batting.
Weaver’s last inning came in the top of the 7th, a 1-2-3 inning, ending with a strikeout of Jon Jay, his 8th of the game, to end the inning.
Brett Cecil was the first Cardinals reliever to pitch tonight, throwing a sharp knuckle-curve. This is a weapon he seemed to lack last season, and if he keeps throwing it like he is, he’s going to be a real legitimate weapon out of the Cards bullpen moving forward.
Cecil struck out his leadoff man, Ryan Goins on a buck nasty knuckle-curve before walking Moustakas. With Perez and Merrifield due up, Matheny turned to right-hander, Mike Mayers.
Mayers got Perez to lineout (100 mph) to Carp down at the hot corner, walked Merrifield, & got Gordon to pop out to SS.
Greg Holland was brought in for the 9th inning with the Cardinals being down 3-1, looking to keep the game within reach.
Holland would face four batters, all would reach base, as he would be ran from this outing without recording an out.
Almonte singled to RF, Escobar singled to RF, Dozier (pinch-hitter) walked, and Jon Jay hit a 2 RBI single, extending the lead to 5-1.
Holland seems to be throwing his slider effectively for strikes, but the fastball is the complete opposite. The hourglass might be running out on Greg Holland, and faster than we had hoped.
John "Brebs" Brebbia cleaned up the mess with ease, inducing three pop ups in-a-row, stranding Dozier and Jay. Brebs would’ve been the better option given the opportunity, but there really isn’t an ideal situation to throw Holland right now. Let’s just hope it’ll turn around quick.
The Cardinals would hit back-to-back singles to start the bottom of the 9th vs Kelvin Herrera before he got a huge 4-6-3 double-play on Peña. Herrera struck out Gyorko, pinch-hitting, to secure the 5-1 win for the Royals.
Michael Wacha (5-1, 3.08) will seek for the series win tomorrow afternoon. Wacha will be countered with Jakob Junis (5-3, 3.51).
First pitch 12:15 c/t.
Game 46 is 'in the books'
by Stew // @StewStilez