For some odd reason,I have decided to blog today while watching Game 4 of the NLDS between the Pittsburgh Pirates (boo, hiss) and my beloved St. Louis Cardinals. I thought there might be something therapeutic about doing this, so I’ll give some of my thoughts at the end of each half inning.
What a strange day. I have the Cardinals on the brink of elimination in the playoffs and, tonight, I will see my favorite band, the Eagles, for the 27th time. So I don’t know whether I’m coming or going with this strange mix of emotions.
If the Cardinals win, this could be one of my best days ever. If they lose, that’s a blog. I’m not exactly sure how I’ll react. Will it lessen my Eagles experience? I can’t imagine that, but we’ll have to do.
Rookie Michael Wacha goes for the Cardinals in just a few minutes. We’re literally minutes away from the first pitch from PNC Park as I type this. FYI, I’m in my basement, alone. My wife, my regular viewing partner, is working. So I’m free to cuss, but I’ll miss her sheer enthusiasm for the Cardinals.
And away we go.
I hate the shift. Matt Adams hit right into it to end the inning after a Matt Holliday two-out single. Hey Matt Carpenter, are you here? I love you and you had an amazing regular season, but you’re now 1 for 10 in this series. Scoreless against Charlie Morton in the first. Now Wacha takes the hill. He’s 22. Last year he was pitching for Texas A&M. His poor parents. They must be wrecks.
Wow. Wacha excites me. Three up three down and froze Andrew McCutchen with a 96 mph fastball to end the inning. I wonder: Does Dick Stockton watch any baseball games leading up to his play-by-play assignments for TBS? I’m not thinking he does. Bob Brenly is a fine analyst, but Stockton is terrible. I’m sitting here with a bag of sunflower seeds and a Diet Mountain Dew, trying to keep it together. We’re 0-0 and I like the way Wacha got through that inning.
One, two, three, nothing doing. Morton, who the Cardinals have pounded during his career, looks like Cy Young, though I have no idea what Cy Young looked like. I’m not that old. Three ground balls produced nothing but to get us to this Dodge Durango commercial that stars Will Ferrell. I wonder what Don Henley is doing? The Eagles always runs through a sound check the afternoon of their shows, so it’s likely the boys are down at IBA running through a couple of things. OK, back to the game. What a strange day.
Wacha looks overpowering. He’s pitching the way Joe Walsh plays “Rocky Mountain Way.” Nothing doing for the Pirates in the second and a couple more strikeouts for Wacha. He look like he needs only a couple of runs today. So how about we get him those couple of runs, Cardinals?
I see the frustration in Matt Carpenter, who is now 0 for 2 after grounding out to end an uneventful third for the Cardinals. This team isn’t the same when Carpenter doesn’t hit. He had only one real slump this season and it coincided with the Cardinals’ worth stretch of baseball in late July/early August. Wacha needs to continue to shut down the Pirates. I was hoping for a quick early lead today. I don’t always get what I hope for.
Nine up, nine down for the Pirates. Wacha was the 19th overall pick in the 2012 draft and got the Cardinals’ attention with a great spring training, when he almost made the 25-man roster. The kid looks dominant so far and is coming off a game against the Washington Nationals in his final regular-season start when he had a no-hitter through 8 2/3 innings. That’s a really cumbersome sentence I just wrote, but I’m too nervous to go back and re-work it. My bag of seeds is running low and this game might call for a second Diet Mountain Dew.
The leadoff walk to Carlos Beltran was promising, especially since the middle of the order was coming up. But Matt Holliday (fielder’s choice), Matt Adams (strikeout) and Yadier Molina (flyout) couldn’t produce. And now the Pirates will have the top of their order up in the bottom of the inning. I really thought the Cardinals would get to Morton. Hasn’t happened yet. By the way, Debby Boone (another commercial) doesn’t look bad.
The Pirates haven’t had a good swing at Wacha yet. I suspect the Dodgers will have quite a few tonight in Game 4 of their NLDS against the Atlanta Braves and Freddy Garcia. Freddy Garcia? Is pitching a playoff game? How did that happen. I don’t mean to lash out at the Braves or their fans, but they can’t be feeling about Garcia opposing the Dodgers’ ace and likely NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. Anyway, the Cardinals needs to get some offense going. For crying out loud.
This isn’t the Matt Carpenter who played for the Cardinals all season. Swinging and missing at a ball in the dirt for strike three? Never happens. But it happened just now with runners at second and third and two outs. Those are the plate appearances the Cardinals have dominated all season. They hit and unheard of .330 with runners in scoring position this season but they’re not having even close to that success in this series against the Pirates. I’m not doing well right now. Not at all.
Some confusion there between Beltran and Jay in the Cardinals’ outfield, but no harm. Another 1-2-3 inning for Wacha. Now . . . please . . . can . . . the Cardinals score a run or two? The PNC crowd keeps trying to rattle Wacha by chanting his name. That might work against the likes of Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto, but it doesn’t work with this poised kid. He’s pitching his tail off.
I don’t know who I love more right now, Don Henley or Matt Holliday. Oh my, finally a big, big hit in the game, Holliday’s two-run homer on what looked to be a routine fly ball to center that just kept going and going and going. That’s a testament to Holiday’s strength. He followed another lead-off walk to Beltran with the blast that has put the Cardinals on top. Now back to Wacha.
Watching sports should be enjoyable, right. Except any fan knows it’s not, especially for a fan who has been following his team for 52 years. I don’t think what I’m experiencing here in my basement on this gorgeous fall day is fun. It’s excruciating and my team is ahead, 2-0. Wacha walked leadoff hitter Russell Martin, then buckled down to get the next three. He is dominant today but a couple more runs would sure be nice.
Still not sure what’s going on with Matt Carpenter, who just struck out (for the third time) to end the seventh. Nothing doing in that inning. My desire for another run or two was not answered. Of course not, that would be too easy. So the Cardinals go back on the field protecting a two-run lead with a young pitcher who doesn’t realize he’s young. Pirates have their 2-3-4 hitters coming to the plate. Oh boy.
Wacha breezed. Absolutely incredible pitching performance here today, no matter what happens in these last couple of innings. I wondered how Wacha would handle the pressure of this game, this day. The Cardinals are finished for the season if they don’t win this game. The Pirates are America’s sweetheart team because of their 21-year absence from the postseason. And PNC Park, which I visited with my wife a couple of years ago (it’s even more beautiful in person) has been wild and crazy during the previous two postseason games. But Wacha has been one cool customer. Now, more runs? Please?
Nope, no more runs. Nothing even close to more runs. A 1-2-3 inning for Pirates lefty Justin Wilson, who got through Beltran-Holliday-Adams. Off to the bottom of the eighth we go. I wonder how Wacha’s parents are holding up? I wonder how I’m holding up? Pirates have 5-6-7 hitters coming up. Gehrig, Ruth and Williams. At least that’s how it feels. Wow, wish I hadn’t checked the stock market numbers. Oh well, back to the game.
I used some words in that inning I probably shouldn’t have used. Forgive me, neighbors. Anyway, Pedro Alvarez hit a bomb to make it 2-1, breaking up Wacha’s no-hitter. I’ll give Cardinals manager Mike Matheny credit – the guy is brave. He went to rookie Carlos Martinez after Wacha followed up the home run ball by walking Russell Martin. And Martinez fanned Jose Tabata to end the inning, shortly after Yadier Molina threw out pinch-runner Josh Harrison attempting to steal second. That’s when most of the bad words came out. So now we go to the ninth with the Cardinals leading a game they have to win, 2-1. I wonder if the Eagles are watching this game in their dressing rooms? Help me. Please help me.
Nothing doing for the Cardinals. Of course not. Why make it easy? So here’s the ball, Trevor Rosenthal. Save the game, save the series, save the season with a bonkers crowd that is going to do everything it can to help their team rally. It’s 2-1. I don’t think I can watch. The Eagles take the stage in 3 1/2 hours. What am I going to be like in 10 minutes?
Did that just happen? Did Trevor Rosenthal just walk Neil Walker to get to Andrew McCutchen, one of the best players in baseball. And then did McCutchen get ahead in the count, 3-0, only to pop out to end the game? Oh my goodness. Make some noise now, Pirates fans. OK, that wasn’t a classy reaction at all. There’s still a Game 5 in this series and I have a lot of respect for Pittsburgh. But now I can totally enjoy this concert tonight and have tomorrow to regroup with Adam Wainwright pitching in the deciding Game 5. This day couldn’t have gone better. Tense, but a great result. Now, off to the pre-show festivities.