Cards run into wall of steel in Pittsburgh, much-needed All-Star break 

 The Cardinals got their ship rocked in the four-game series that recently concluded with the Pirates. Being that the ‘birds dropped three of four, the separation in the division hovers at 2.5 games. Not bad, but not anything like the nine game advantage they once had. There was about 14:39 of play in the series, if you’re curious as to how much time you really do put into baseball…

 Thursday was the opening game of this series which seemed longer than the ages. A rather fun pitching matchup- Jeff Locke and Carlos Martinez- was an important one to the young and powerful Martinez. Martinez, probably referred to by the outer-organization as one of those good and young St. Louis’ hurlers, was in the midst of a heated competition with Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto, and Troy Tulowitzki in the Final Vote race. By heated, I mean the phones and computers that began to get hot due to excessive use. The player who received the most votes via text message, Twitter with a special hashtag, and on the MLB website, would claim the final remaining spot on their respected league’s All-Star game roster. Carlos made his case on Thursday. A scoreless start spanning over seven-and-a-third innings with only four hits and eight strikeouts to add to his staff leading total of, what is now, 113. You mix that start with four runs, two from Matt Carpenter and two from Yadi, and it’s the perfect recipe for a victory. Hell, I can smell the meal! The ‘birds cruised to a 4-1 win, Tsunami’s (Carlos Martinez’s) tenth win of the season, Rosey’s twenty-sixth save, and a sigh of relief from the minor-worrywarts of the Cardinal fanbase. The relieving qualities courtesy of the fact that the Cardinals were now guaranteed to leave Pittsburgh on Sunday with, at worst, two-and-a-half games up over the Bucs. It’ll never be enough, though, they say. They’re the same ones who would complain if the Cardinals won the World Series in six games instead of four. Just sayin’. 

 The second game of this long weekend matchup was started by Gerrit Cole and Lance Lynn, again, another fun matchup. It didn’t end as fun for the Cardinals as Thursday’s game did. I’ll tell you about it, though. Pittsburgh won the ballgame, 5-3, with the help of a two-run homer by Neil Walker. The Cards’ runs came from a two-run shot by Matt Carpenter, his first dinger since late May. Gerrit showed us firsthand why he is a member of the National League All Star squad with a seven-inning pitching performance of only two runs to earn his thirteenth win of the season. Kolten Wong started the game, his first start since hitting his head on a fantabulous play back in the series with the Cubs. 

 On Saturday, the Cardinals placed reliever Mitch Harris on the disabled list with a groin strain. Groin strains must be the thing to have this season. It seems like half of the people who are hurt have one! Xavier Scruggs was optioned to Triple-A as well. A pair of relievers were shipped up from Memphis- RHP Sam Tuivailala and lefty Nick Greenwood. 

 Saturday’s game was started by a pair of oldies, following baseball standards anyways.. A.J. Burnett and John Lackey shared the rubber. The game was forced by a 3-3 scored to play on passed the basic nine innings. Both teams scored in the tenth inning, 4-4. The Cards scored in the fourteenth only to have their hearts blown away by the jolt of a two-run homer by Andrew McCutchen to win the whole shebang. Baseball is funny, really. Cutch, riding a seventeen-game hit streak coming into the game, was granted one too many chances, according to Cardinal fans, to keep the steak going. If the game had ended in the ninth, Andrew’s streak would have been dead; he was 1-for-4 with three bases on balls in the game. I guess a moment that makes all baseball fans smile from this game would be watching a pitcher take their counterpart deep, just as A.J. did off of Lackey. 

 Sunday’s game of the world was started by a couple of lefties, one way more popular than the other, respectably. Francisco Liriano and Tim Cooney pitched. Tim held his own- through five innings. A game that was not-played well and featured some poor pitch selections turned out to be another extra-inning 6-5 loss at the mercy of the Pittsburgh for Saint Louis. Hats off to the Pirates, no matter how bad of taste it puts in my throat. I won’t, like ever, say “Raise the Jolly Roger!” with you. Sorry. 

 Carlos Martinez, Yadier Molina, Michael Wacha, Trevor Rosenthal, and Jhonny Peralta will be heading to Cincinnati to accompany the other grand players in the league. Matt Holliday did make the team as well, but he will not play in the game because of that bitter quad injury he’s been battling. The other Cardinals’ players will spend the next few days with their friends and family, something that brings a smile to my face. They will, also, hopefully, use this All-Star break to rest up for what looks to be a chest-clinching second half. 

Thanks for reading! 

Twitter: @Curtis_Josey

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