The Narrative: The teams competing for the National League Championship do not like one another. This isn’t a combat sport where athletes say things about their opposition to stir up interest. This is baseball, and the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals don’t care for each other at all.
Or so we’ve been told. Yesterday, headlines from around the interwebs were claiming that Zack Greinke had called Chris Carpenter a phony.
Here’s what actually happened:
It seemed overblown until the bottom of the first when a two run Ryan Braun homer took the lead from the Cardinals (after a Matt Holliday single scored Jon Jay in the top of the first) and the very next batter, Prince Fielder, was hit by a pitch from Jaime Garcia. Both teams were warned by the home plate umpire, and some credence was given to the media’s claims of an intense rivalry between the two clubs.
The Brewers’ lead was temporary though, as the Cardinals came back in the fourth with a three run home run from David Freese. However, the Brewers went ahead in the fifth, scoring six runs in the inning, helping to buoy them to a 9-6 final score.
Anatomy Of A Bat Around Inning
In the big inning the Brewers created runs and distance between themselves and their opposition that was never overcome. Here’s how home the home half of the fifth inning shook out:
- The first batter of the inning was Corey Hart who singled off Jaime Garcia into left field. (STL 5 – MIL 2)
- Hart was followed by Jerry Hairston who took four straight pitches before doubling into left field and pushing the runner on first all the way over to third base. (STL 5 – MIL 2)
- Next up, Ryan Braun swung at the first pitch that he saw from Garcia to hit a ground rule double, scoring bout Hart and Hairston. (STL 5 – MIL 4)
- For whatever reason, Garcia was left in the game to face the Brewers’ clean up hitter Prince Fielder. Again the first pitch was absolutely shattered to right center field. The home run scores Braun. (STL 5 – MIL 6)
- Garcia gives way to Octavio Dotel, who promptly misplayed the ball off of Rickie Week’s bat, and allowed the Brewers second baseman to get all the way to second base. (STL 5 – MIL 6)
- Yuniesky Betancourt was up next, and he saw a total of eight pitches during his at bat, swinging at all, but one of them. Fortunately for the Brewers, the final one he swung at ended up going over the fence for a two-run home run. (STL 5 – MIL 8)
- Carlos Gomez popped one out to Albert Pujols. (STL 5 – MIL 8)
- Jonathan Lucroy doubles off of Dotel. (STL 5 – MIL 8)
- Zack Grienke flied out to right field. (STL 5 – MIL 8)
- And finally, it ends where the inning all began with Corey Hart flying out to center field. (STL 5 – MIL 8)
The Most Important Play Of The Game
Prince Fielder’s two run shot off of Jaime Garcia increased the probability of the Brewers winning the game by 21.2%. And it looked something like this (presented on the face of Garcia).
The Biggest Disappointment Of The Game
Down by three in the top of the seventh inning, Albert Pujols came up to bat after back to back singles were hit by Rafael Furcal and Jon Jay to lead off the inning. On the fifth pitch that he saw from Takahashi Saito, Pujols grounded into a double play. A run scored on the play, but the run expectancy in such a situation with an average hitter would call for something close to two. Albert Pujols is not your average hitter. The GIDP decreased the Cardinals probability of winning by more than 12%.
The Shamsky Award
Named after Art Shamsky, who single handedly increased the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of winning by 150.3% in a losing effort during a game in 1966, The Shamsky Award is given to the player on the losing team who contributes the most to them winning.
David Freese has put together a few timely hits for the Cardinals this post season, and today it continued. Adding a walk to his timely three run home run in the fourth inning, Freese contributed 26.2% WPA to St. Louis in a losing cause.
The Aggravating Thing That The Managers Did
This isn’t just hindsight, Tony LaRussa left his starting pitcher in far too long. He shouldn’t have been facing Prince Fielder in the fifth inning. He had thrown just over 80 pitches and had no consistency with his control.
The Statistics You Won’t Believe
Prince Fielder’s home run in the fifth inning off of Jaime Garcia travelled off his bat at an incredible rate of 119 miles per hour.
Jaime Garcia threw 46 pitches in the first two innings.
The Best New Nickname To Come Out Of The Game
Prince “The Cat” Fielder.
Stray Observations Of The Game
Based solely on today, I think Prince Fielder is going to make a lot of money this off season.
Take that with a grain of salt, because also based solely on today, I’d say the same thing about Yuniesky Betancourt, but probably not about Zack Greinke.
You can forgive the first run of the game on the basis of being unlucky, but Greinke’s first pitch curveball to David Freese was the epitome of a bad decision executed very poorly.
Here’s an idea for the Cardinals: don’t pitch Betancourt fastballs for strikes.
I don’t think I fully appreciated how important picking up Francisco Rodriguez would be for the Milwaukee Brewers.
I have a lot of difficulty imagining anything other than a Brewers versus Rangers World Series at this point, which is probably a kiss of death for both clubs.