The Bottom Line:
-The Cardinals (75-65) defeated the Milwaukee Brewers (69-71) on Sunday afternoon in St. Louis by a score of 5-2 in 10 innings. The win moves the Cardinals back to 10 games over .500 and allows them to avoid a 3-game sweep.
– The game winning hit was courtesy of Allen Craig, who singled to right field with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, scoring Matt Carpenter from second base. Carpenter narrowly avoided the tag at the plate, diving headfirst and just brushing the corner of the plate with his left hand.
–Joe Kelly got the start for the Cards and pitched admirably, working out of multiple jams throughout the afternoon. He exited allowing only 2 earned runs through 6 innings. He struck out 5 and allowed 5 Milwaukee hits. The Brewers countered with Shaun Marcum who struggled in the early going. Marcum lasted 5 innings, giving up 4 earned runs on 8 hits. He also struck out 5.
– Kelly escaped a leadoff double in the first inning by striking out Aramis Ramirez looking to end the frame without allowing a run.
– Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran hit home runs in the first inning for the Cards. Holliday blasted his 26th long-ball of the season to left field, driving home Jon Jay who had singled to lead off the inning. Beltran followed a Craig out with a solo homer of his own to stake the Redbirds to a 3-0 lead.
– Kelly atoned for a wild pitch that gave the Brewers a run with a double himself in the bottom of the second. He scored two batters later on a double by Carpenter to give the Cards a 4-0 lead that they would not relinquish until the top of the 9th.
– Jay was a table-setter all afternoon, going 3-5 and scoring a run. Beltran had 2 hits as well out of the 5th spot in the batting order.
–Mitchell Boggs recorded arguably the biggest outs of the game to that point in the top of the 8th, snuffing out a Brewers two-on one-out rally by getting Jonathan Lucroy to ground into a double play. Boggs pumped his fist walking off the mound, and it appeared like the Cards were well on their way to victory in regulation.
-However, Jason Motte gave up a game-tying 2-run home run to Norichika Aoki in the top of the 9th inning. The ball skidded over the top of the fence in right field as Aoki stumbled around first base. The Cards would appeal the call, insisting that Aoki missed first base, but to no avail. Replays were inconclusive, but Aoki twice stopped and hesitated on his trip around the bases and looked like he badly wanted to go back and touch first base. Nevertheless, down to the final strike, Motte blew the save in dramatic fashion.
Kelly’s performance, while not dominate, was huge for the Cards. Not only did he cruise deep into another game, he helped himself from the plate as well. His double and run scored provided a needed insurance run for himself and the relievers behind him. Offensively, Beltran’s day was also a great sign for Cards fans. He has slumped as of late but produced on Sunday with 2 hits and a solo homer.
With rosters expanded, some interesting lineup moves are to be expected during games. Matheny removed Holliday in a double switch late in the game, giving the Cards a better defensive lineup with plenty of options off the bench and the Cards in the lead. However, due to Motte’s blown save, the Cards were forced to go through their batting order again without the presence of Holliday. Some observers may question the move because of such a small lead, and on Sunday afternoon they were right, as Adron Chambers struck out in the 10th batting for Holliday. However, it is generally still the right move to make due to Holliday’s defensive issues. Get a better fielder out there late in games, and use the deep bench again if another lineup change is needed offensively.
For Sunday, a win is a win. Thanks to Carpenter’s great slide and Craig’s game-winner, the Cards grabbed a huge victory. With the win, St. Louis holds a 1 game lead over the Dodgers, who play later on Sunday, in the race for the final NL Wild Card spot.
What’s Next: The Cards fly out to San Diego for a 3 game set with the Padres. Jaime Garcia (4-6, 4.16 ERA) takes on fellow lefty Eric Stults (5-2, 2.38 ERA). Monday’s start time is at 9:05 CT and can be seen on FS-M, with all pre-game and post-game coverage right here on CardsBlog.