Washington Nationals vs. St. Louis Cardinals Game 1: Live Score, NLDS Analysis
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FINAL SCORE UPDATE:
Nationals 3-2 over Cardinals
Davey Johnson's decision to go with Ryan Mattheus in the seventh inning with the Nationals down 2-1 and the Cardinals threatening to blow the game open with the bases loaded and no one out turned out to be a stroke of genius when Mattheus got Allen Craig to hit into a fielder's choice and Molina to hit into a double play to end the threat.
In the top of the eighth with two on and two out, Johnson sent up pinch-hitter Tyler Moore for Chad Tracy when Mike Matheny called on lefty reliever Mark Rzepczynki. Moore delivered with the go-ahead two-run single, and the Nationals hung on for a huge 3-2 victory in Game 1.
The Nationals have the home field advantage in this series, so its there's to lose now.
Storen gets Holliday swinging on a slider out of the zone to end it. The Nationals are victorious 3-2 in Game 1. With three of the final four games in this series in Washington, this win was huge for the Nationals.
Beltran hits a lazy pop-up to center for the second out. Holliday is up with the Cardinals down to their final out despite leading for most of the afternoon.
Jay gives it a good ride to fairly deep left field, but Morse runs it down in front of the track for the first out. The Cardinals are down to their final two outs.
Drew Storen is on to close it out for the Nationals. Clippard was the primary closer for the Nationals for most of the season, but Storen took over in September. He'll have to go through the heart of the Cardinals order here in the bottom of the ninth.
Matheny turns to Motte in the top of the ninth with the Cardinals now down 3-2. I would have gone with Motte in the bottom of the eighth when Johnson countered with the right-handed hitting Moore as a pinch-hitter.
Matheny's decisions to stay with Rzepcynzki and to bunt in the bottom of the eighth with Descalso are two signs that the rookie manager might be over-matched against the veteran manager Davey Johnson in this series.
Motte delivers a perfect ninth. Closer Drew Storen is coming on for the bottom of the ninth to face Jay, Beltran and Holliday, the top of the Cardinals line-up.
Carpenter pinch-hits for the pitcher's spot, and despite his .308/.391/.455 batting line against righties this season, right-handed reliever Tyler Clippard gets him looking to end the eighth on a questionable called strike three that appeared to be outside.
Zimmerman, who has received several cortisone shots on his shoulder this season, has looked awkward trying to throw all game. He makes a critical error to open the bottom of the eighth on a grounder off the bat of Freese.
Matheny decides to sacrifice with Descalso, a rather curious move with the light-hitting Kozma (.652 career minor league OPS) coming up. Matt Carpenter is on deck to hit for the pitcher. If I were Matheny, I would have let Descalso hit, then sent up Carpenter for Kozma.
As I mentioned earlier in the game, Davey Johnson's managerial ability loomed large in this game, as the Nationals led the NL with a .288/.367/.420 batting line this season in pinch-hitting situations.
His decision to send up Moore to pinch-hit for Tracy paid huge dividends in the eighth inning when Moore delivered the go-ahead two-run single.
Johnson counters Matheny by sending up the right-handed Tyler Moore to face Rzepczynski. Moore actually put up a higher OPS against righties than lefties this season (.928 to .780), but those were in small samples of playing time.
Matheny stays with Rzepczynski rather than turning the game over to closer Jason Motte to get the final four outs. Moore burns Matheny by blooping a go-ahead two-run single to right field.
After failing to break the game open in the seventh inning when they had the bases loaded with no outs, the Cardinals quickly regretted it when shortstop Peter Kozma made an error to open the eighth on a grounder hit by Morse, and Desmond singled to put runners on the corners with no outs against set-up man Mitchell Boggs.
A curious sacrifice bunt by Espinosa moved Desmond to second, with Morse staying at third. A strikeout by Suzuki ends the day for Boggs, with Rzepczynski getting the call to face pinch-hitter Chad Tracy with two on and two out in the top of the eighth.
Stammen's day is done after he nails Holliday to load the bases with no outs. Ryan Mattheus induces a fielder's choice grounder off the bat of Craig for the first out. Desmond makes a heads-up play to get the force at home to hold the score at 2-1.
On the next pitch, Mattheus induces an inning-ending double-play ball off the bat of Molina to keep the Nationals alive.
That was exceptional work by Mattheus to retire Craig and Molina, who hit .400 and .321 respectively with men in scoring position this season.
Jay reaches on a LaRoche error, and Beltran slams a line drive single to center.
The Cardinals have something brewing here in the bottom of the seventh.
Descalso makes a diving stop at second on a sharp grounder by Harper to keep him off the bases to start the seventh. TBS announcer Dick Stockton called it the defensive play of the day, but my vote is still with Werth for his home run robbing catch.
Mujica continues his excellent work with a three-up-three-down seventh. He stabilized the Cardinals bullpen by delivering 26.1 innings with 18 holds, a 1.03 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP since being acquired by Cardinals GM John Mozeliak.
Mozeliak also propelled the Cardinals into the postseason last year by stabilizing the pitching staff at the deadline with the acquisitions of Octavio Dotel, Mark Rzepczynski and Edwin Jackson.
Craig Stammen is the first man out of the pen to relieve Gonzalez for the Nationals. Stammen had an outstanding year, going 6-1 with a 2.34 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 88.1 innings of relief work.
Werth robbed a home run in right field with a leaping catch on a fly ball off the bat of Descalso to hold the score at 2-1.
Edward Mujica, who has been outstanding in 29 games since being acquired from the Miami Marlins at the deadline, is coming on for the Cardinals in the seventh.
Lynn walks Bernadina to load up the bases for Werth with two outs following Wainwright's walk of Suzuki.
Lynn then gets a huge strikeout of Werth to end the threat. Werth has left six men on base today.
Lynn went 18-7 with a 3.78 ERA pitching as mostly a starter for the Cardinals this season, but he's been moved to the pen due to the return of Chris Carpenter from the DL, and concerns about Lynn's workload.
Wainwright continues to stifle the Nationals with his hook. He finishes the day with 10 whiffs in 5.2 innings of work, almost exclusively on the curve ball. Danny Espinosa has a hat trick with three strikeouts on the day for the Nats.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, right fielder Carlos Beltran may be having flashbacks to the 2006 NLCS when Wainwright struck him out with his curve ball to end the Mets season.
Lance Lynn has entered the game in the top of the sixth with two on, two out and Roger Bernadina pinch-hitting for the Nationals. Wainwright getting pulled after only 100 pitches is an interesting call here by Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.
Well, Gonzalez has been somewhat effectively wild today. Through five innings, he's held the Cardinals potent offense to just two runs despite walking seven and uncorking a wild pitch. He's thrown 109 pitches, so his day could be over.
The Nationals bullpen had a 3.23 ERA this season, seventh best in the game.
Gonzalez set a career-low in walk rate this season, but he's been all over the place today. Back-to-back one-out walks to Jay and Beltran give him seven walks for the day. He's only allowed one hit, which isn't surprising given that he led the league by holding opponents to a .206 batting average this season.
Wainwright continues to dominate the Nationals with his curve ball. On the day, he's struck out nine against two walks, five hits and one run through five outstanding innings of work.
Like Strasburg, Wainwright underwent Tommy John surgery last season. However, Wainwright is a veteran, and not the future of the Cardinals franchise, so the Cardinals have been able to be more aggressive with their star pitcher.
2-1 CARDINALS TOP OF 5
The no-hitter is over! David Freese singles to open the fourth for the Cardinals first hit, though they managed two runs without the benefit of a hit in the second. A double-play ball by Kozma kills the rally.
Speaking of Freese, the Cardinals supplemental first round pick Stephen Piscotty, a third baseman from Stanford, reminded me a lot of Freese and Allen Craig when I saw him this spring. He hit .295/.376/.448 for the Cardinals in the Midwest League.
Interesting that Desmond didn't try to steal after a lead-off single to open the top of the fourth inning. Desmond was 21-for-27 stealing this season, and Wainwright is fairly slow to the plate.
Then again, Molina is quite the deterrent for the running game, throwing out nearly 48 percent of runners this season which was second best in the game. Molina didn't have quite as good of an offensive season as Buster Posey, but his defense is simply unparalleled.
The score remains 2-1 Cardinals headed into the bottom of the fourth.
Gonzalez settles down in the third, getting Holliday to bounce out, Craig to strikeout on a nasty change-up and Molina to pop out. Gonzalez is at 71 pitches through three innings, so his day may still be short-lived.
A quiet top of the third for the Nats, who manage just a Zimmerman single, and trail 2-1 going into the bottom of the third. Zimmerman got off to a horrible start this season, but a series of cortisone shots helped him hit .319/.381/.564 after the All-Star break compared to just .243/.308/.386 during the first half.
David Freese, last year's Mr. October, just misses a two-home run homer to straight away center field in the bottom of the second following a lead-off walk to MVP candidate Yadier Molina.
Gonzalez follows that up with three straight walks to the light-hitting Daniel Descalso, Peter Kozma and the pitcher, Adam Wainwright. A wild pitch with Wainwright batting brings home Molina to tie the game at 1-1. A sac fly by Jon Jay gives the Cardinals a 2-1 lead after two innings.
Through two innings, Gonzalez has faced 11 batters and walked a season-high five of them, plus thrown a wild pitch.
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