The joke was on Shin-Soo Choo for most of Monday’s Reds-Cardinals game, as the newly converted center fielder dropped a pair of Yadier Molina flyballs to give St. Louis three of its four runs.
Then came the top of the ninth inning. With Cardinals closer Mitchell Boggs in a 4-4 game, the Reds exploded — well, that’s probably not precisely the right word — for nine runs, turning the NL Central battle into a 13-4 laugher.
Here’s how the inning went:
– Shin-Soo Choo walked
– Chris Heisey fouled off a sac bunt attempt, then popped out (1st out)
– Choo advanced to second on a wild pitch
– Joey Votto was intentionally walked
– Brandon Phillips flared a ball down the right field line that bounced off the chalk for an RBI double (5-4)
– Jay Bruce was intentionally walked, loading the bases
– Todd Frazier walked (6-4)
– Jack Hannahan grounded to third, David Freese bobbled, everyone safe on infield single (7-4)
– Ryan Hanigan grounded to short, Pete Kozma bobbled, everyone safe on error (8-4)
At this point, Boggs finally gets pulled in favor of Marc Rzepczynski
– Cesar Izturis singled to right (9-4)
– Shin-Soo Choo tripled to left (12-4)
– Chris Heisey grounded out (2nd out)
– Joey Votto singled to left (13-4)
– Brandon Phillips walked
– Jay Bruce grounded one off Rzepczynski’s glove for an infield single
– Todd Frazier struck out (3rd out)
Two intentional walks, three regular walks. An error and two more infield singles that could have been errors.
In all, it was pretty much the ugliest inning you’ll ever see from a good baseball team. Boggs and Rzepczynski combined to throw 52 pitches to 16 batters. Boggs was charged with six earned runs, taking his ERA to 14.54. Rzepczynski gave up two runs.
For the first time in major league history, both pitchers in a playoff game have struck out at least 11 batters, per MLB.com’s Paul Casella. Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched just a hair better than Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw overall. deGrom has blanked the Dodgers over six frames on five hits and a walk. Kershaw made one mistake, resulting in a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. He’s allowed four hits and four walks total in 6 2/3 innings.
The last time opposing starters each struck out 10 in a post-season game was back in 1944 in Game 5 of the World Series when Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 12 and Denny Galehouse of the St. Louis Browns struck out 10.
Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.
Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.
With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.
Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.
Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning, belting a solo home run to right field at Dodger Stadium off of starter Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw threw a 2-0, 94 MPH fastball and Murphy didn’t miss it.
Both teams’ starters are pitching quite well overall. Kershaw has allowed the one run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Jacob deGrom started off the game with six consecutive strikeouts and has struck out seven total while blanking the Dodgers on three hits and a walk in three innings.
Kershaw doesn’t have the most impressive post-season track record, owning a career 5.12 ERA across eight starts and three relief appearances spanning 51 innings. Aside from the homer, the lefty appears to be putting that notion aside.