The St. Louis Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds met up this week for a three-game inner-division series. A series with eight of ten total runs crossing the plate thanks to the long ball. The series was one ruled by pitching and a rather interesting one at that.
The first game of the series was started by a pair of right-handers, Lance Lynn and Raisel Iglesias. Cincinnati was able to get on the scoreboard first, in the fourth inning to be exact, when Jay Bruce hit a sacrifice fly. An inning divided from the event in which his lightning bolt of a bat swung through a few pitches and charged him with a “K”, Kolten Wong was able to redeem himself. Big time. The twenty-four-year-old Cardinal second baseman hammered a pitch into the Busch Stadium night for his eleventh homer of the year. Did I mention that the bases were loaded? Anyway, the bases were loaded. A grand slam, the second of his career, gave St. Louis a 4-1 lead and, ultimately, a victory by the same score. Yadier Molina had to exit the game because he was feeling ill. He received some IVs to help with the illness, which was presumably magnified by dehydration. He also passed all of the concussion tests he had to take following the foul ball he took straight off of his catcher’s mask. He would return on Tuesday.
Before the start of Tuesday’s game, the Cardinals optioned RHP Sam Tuivailala to Triple-A Memphis and activated LHP Jaime Garcia off of the disabled list. Tuivailala’s demotion wasn’t due to performance issues but due to an innings traffic jam. With the addition of Steve Cishek and the heavy amount of use Kevin Siegrist, Trevor Rosenthal, and Seth Maness get from Manager Mike Matheny, Sam won’t get very much work out of the ‘pen. Plus, even though he didn’t allow any runs in the outings he had ranging from 7/11 to 7/28, his command could use some sharpening. He allowed four bases on balls during that two week or so period, so some extra work in Memphis may straighten him out a bit more. As for Jaime, well, his return could not have came at a better time. Tim Cooney had to be optioned to Triple-A to make room for Mr. Cishek on the team’s 25-man roster. Had he been optioned and Jaime not have been ready to return, the Cardinals may have found themselves in a predicament. On Monday, July 27th, Tim Cooney was placed on the Minor League disabled list due to appendicitis. He’ll be out awhile, which is unfortunate. Tim earned his first Major League win on Friday, July 24th.
The middle game of the three game set was started by Jaime Garcia and Mike Leake. While the trade rumors involving him swirled around, Leake sparkled on the mound. He was great, actually. Leake shut out the Cardinals through eight well-pitched innings. He allowed only four hits and one walk in his start. Jaime’s only blemish on his outing came in the sixth inning off the bat of Joey Votto. After allowing a single to his counterpart and walking Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto drilled a ball onto the grass patch in centerfield for his nineteenth homer of the year. Cincy would add an insurance run in the top of the ninth and then turn things over to their gas-throwing closer, Aroldis Chapman.
Outfielder Randal Grichuk had been kept out of the first two games of this series due to some groin discomfort in which he began suffering on Sunday. He would return to the lineup on Wednesday.
The rubber game of the series was started by John Lackey and Anthony DeSclafani. The two righties owned the show but one in particular had the slight edge. The single run allowed in this game came off the bat of Jay Bruce, a homer of course. Other than the one swing, that one pitch, the ballgame was dominated by the prominent arms of either team. The Reds won the series at Busch Stadium for the first time since the 2011 season. Matt Holliday had to exit the game following the bottom of the first after appearing to injure his right quad again. He returned back on July seventeenth after missing five weeks with a right quadriceps strain.
The Colorado Rockies will fly into the Gateway City to begin a four-game series. Carlos Martinez will start in the first game against Colorado’s Chris Rusin.