It was obvious from the start that the potential was there for a long day. Check out the location of the three pitches that led to a 3-0 count on Dustin Pedroia to start the game.
Brandon Morrow went on to walk Pedroia on five pitches. He later walked David Ortiz with one out, only to get out of the first on a double-play ball from Mike Carp.
The second inning played out the same way: Grady Sizemore and A.J. Pierzynski walked, but then Will Middlebrooks flew out to the wall in right and Jonathan Herrera grounded into a double play.
The third inning, on the other hand, started with two quick outs. And then everything unraveled. Morrow walked four in a row, bringing him up to eight for the afternoon and getting him pulled from the game, even though he still hadn’t allowed a hit. Chad Jenkins replaced him and immediately gave up a grand slam to Pierzynski, followed by another homer to Middlebrooks.
For Morrow, it was an ugly combination of bad control, a patient offense and a horrible day from Jeff Kellogg behind the plate. Just 26 of his 66 pitches were strikes, but as you can see, even before he established himself as lacking command on the day, the pitches on the corners weren’t being called. Opposing starter Clay Buchholz struggled with the same phenomenon, though he did bounce back nicely after a three-run first.
Morrow became the first starter to walk eight and throw no more than three innings since Houston’s Jonathan Johnson against the Red Sox in 2003. David Ortiz was in Boston’s lineup for that one, too, but he didn’t walk in the contest.
Prior to that, Kerry Wood walked eight in 1 1/3 innings for the Cubs in Sept. 2000. Steve Adkins did it for the Yankees in 1990. Those are the only three times it happened in the previous 35 years.
Update (11:09 PM EDT):
From unlucky to lucky, the Cardinals maintained their position in the National League Wild Card race with walk-off victory over the Reds on Thursday night.
The Cardinals went into the top of the ninth with a 3-2 lead over the Reds, but saw the game tied when Scott Schebler dribbled a two-strike, two out ground ball down the third base line. It seemed as if the baseball gods had turned their backs on the Cardinals.
In the bottom of the ninth against reliever Blake Wood, Matt Carpenter drew a one-out walk. Randal Grichuk then struck out, leaving all of the Cardinals’ hopes on Yadier Molina. Molina went ahead 2-0 in the count, then ripped a 95 MPH fastball to left field. The ball bounced high and over the left field fence for what seemed like an obvious ground-rule double. Carpenter motored around third base and scored the winning run.
The Cardinals poured onto the field in celebration and the umpires walked off the field. Manager Bryan Price wanted to have the play reviewed, but when he went onto the field, the umpires were nowhere to be found. Price chased after them but to no avail. As the Cardinals left the field and the stadium emptied, the Reds remained in the dugout. The Reds’ relievers were left in a bit of purgatory, standing aimlessly in left field after exiting the bullpen. Finally, the game was announced as complete over the P.A. system at Busch Stadium. The results are great if you’re a Cardinals fan, but terrible if you’re a Mets or Giants fan.
As Jon Morosi points out, the rules clearly state that the signage above the fence in left field is out of the field of play. The umpires got it wrong.
Price, however, also took too long to speak to the umpires. Per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
If this happened between two teams playing a meaningless game, it would’ve been a lot easier to swallow, but Thursday’s Reds-Cardinals game had implications on not only the Cardinals’ future, but the Mets’ and Giants’ as well.
Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman went 0-for-4 during Thursday’s win against the Phillies, snapping his hitting streak at 30 games. It marked the longest hitting streak of the 2016 season. Freeman’s streak of 46 consecutive games reaching base safely ended as well.
The longest hitting streak in Atlanta Braves history belongs to Dan Uggla, who hit in 33 consecutive games in 2011. Tommy Holmes hit in 37 straight for the Boston Braves in 1945.
During his hitting streak, Freeman hit .384/.485/.670 with 11 doubles, seven home runs, 27 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 136 plate appearances. That padded what were already very strong numbers on the season. After Thursday’s game, Freeman is overall batting .306/.404/.572 with 33 home runs, 88 RBI< and 101 runs scored in 677 plate appearances.