Game 17: Patience Pays Off (Bigtime!)
Cardinals 2 @ Cubs 3
What Went Right:
- Darwin Barney and Starlin Castro both reached base on infield hits in the 1st inning, and Barney scored on a sacrifice fly from Alfonso Soriano.
- Matt Garza was his usual, solid self for six of the seven innings he pitched. In the 1st through 3rd and the 5th through 7th, he was stellar, holding the Cardinals to two singles and a walk, along with five strikeouts. If not for the fourth inning, this would have been a career start for Garza.
- Tony Campana stole two bases in one at-bat.
- The Cubs came up against Cardinal closer Jason Motte in the bottom of the 9th, down a run and not showing many signs of life. Soriano struck out swinging to lead off the inning, and the Bryan LaHair pinch hit for Jeff Baker. LaHair’s patient at-bat was spectacular. He saw twelve total pitches, including six straight foul balls after the count was full. And then…
- Before I go on, I want to stress how game-changing LaHair’s walk really was. I’m not sure I can overstate its importance. Seriously–it was the kind of at-bat opposing hitters usually have against the Cubs. You know the ones, where it feels like we might be able to hold on, but then you can feel it slipping away with every foul ball. When the batter is totally locked in and he refuses to miss anything. Those at-bats are infuriating if your team’s in the field. I wish I could have watched it unfold in a room full of Cardinals fans.
- Anyway, back to the bottom of the 9th. Geovany Soto came up to bat after LaHair, and drew another quick walk from Motte. Then Steve Clevenger pinch hit in the pitcher’s spot and grounded to first, moving both runners over. And then Joe Mather, who already had a hit and a walk on the night, and who may have descended from the same super-utility bloodlines as Mark DeRosa, smacked a single up the middle into centerfield and punched a couple million (roughly) Cardinals fans in the gut.
What Went Wrong:
- LaHair’s patience in his lone at-bat was particularly uncharacteristic for the Cubs tonight, who freely swung at everything Jaime Garcia had to offer. A staggering 61 of his 85 pitches were strikes, and he threw first pitch strikes to 21 of the 28 batters he faced. Garcia looked good tonight, and the Cubs were happy to help.
- So, about that sub-par 4th inning for Garza. Here’s how it unfolded: IF single, double, run-scoring groundout, hit-by-pitch, run-scoring sacrifice fly, walk, wild pitch (both runners advanced), walk, fly out. Not what you’d call vintage Garza. Fortunately for him, LaHair, Mather, and Co. found a way to bail him out.