Saturday marked the annual Progressive Game Blog collaboration by the United Cardinal Bloggers, where a host of the member site from the UCB come together to cover a game, frame by frame. Here at I70, we were assigned the third inning, so here is my take on the action, which found the Cardinals ahead 4-0 entering the inning, with pitcher Zack Greinke coming to the plate.
For the action before this coverage, head over to the United Cardinal Bloggers host site, then to Aaron Miles Fastball for the first inning and Cardinals Nerve Center for the second. On deck following our coverage is Bird Tales for the fourth.
Top of the third—Cardinals 4, Dodgers 0
The story: Despite pitching into a couple of jams early on, Joe Kelly was able to produce double plays in each of the first two innings to escape unharmed. Entering into the third, he was able to face his counterpart in Zack Greinke to open up the inning with an out, but shortly thereafter a familiar outcome from the beginning of the game arose, as Dee Gordon singled into left field.
The National League leader in steals with 43 (at the time), Gordon was unable to test Kelly the first time around, as he was the lead out in a double play Carl Crawford. However this time around he was able to apply his craft, as he stole second on a 2-0 pitch to put a runner in scoring position again for the Dodgers. Kelly seemed to settle in some once the steal was ‘out of the way’ to an extent from Gordon, until he hooked a curveball into the dirt and allowed Gordon to take third base easily. With a full count, Kelly unleashed a changeup down and away on the full count, catching Crawford off-guard and working a strikeout for the second out of the inning.
Following came the third All-Star of the inning for the Dodgers, in Yasiel Puig, who worked a very cautious walk his first time up. Kelly was far more aggressive the second time up, working ahead to a 1-2 count by mostly challenging Puig with fastballs in the zone. After fouling off a couple of pitches, Kelly was set on owning the inside of the zone. But with the 1-2 count still intact, he ventured too far inside and hit Puig on the bottom of the hand to put runners on the corners with two down still and Hanley Ramirez coming up.
Ramirez, also no stranger to Kelly hit by pitches (as one essentially ended his 2013 campaign, mid-NLCS) stepped up with a chance to pull LA back into the game early on. On a fastball away, Ramirez chopped a ball up the line towards third base which Matt Carpenter could not come up with cleanly enough in time to get Hanley at first. The hit allowed Gordon to score and pulled the score to 4-1 in the Cardinals favor.
Kelly worked well against a tough foe in Adrian Gonzalez next, inducing a bouncer back to Carpenter who went across the diamond to end the inning.
Analysis: Kelly looked more comfortable than he had in other innings, with a strong command of his fastball, outside of the at-bat against Puig. He worked deep into counts, and was especially good at finding the right off-speed pitch against Crawford to put him on his heels. The only strongly hit ball was Gordon’s single. It was an encouraging inning for him after falling deeply into trouble in those same situations last Friday.
– Zack Greinke: broken bat ground out to shortstop
– Dee Gordon: Base hit to left
o Stole second base
o Went to third on wild pitch
o Scored on Ramirez base hit
– Carl Crawford: Strikeout swinging
– Yasiel Puig: Hit by pitch
– Hanley Ramirez: Infield RBI single, scoring Gordon
– Adrian Gonzalez: Groundout to third base
Bottom of the Third—Cardinals 4, Dodgers 1
The Story: Grienke was sharp in the opening at-bat of the inning, and made quick work of Matt Holliday in route to a strikeout, where the Cardinal left fielder fanned on a sharp fastball on the outside corner.
Matt Adams followed him, and Grienke worked the zone well, getting over with a strike on the outside to open the at-bat, before chasing it with the same pitch for a ball inside. He landed the out with a sharp curveball he slowed Adams’ bat down with and produced a ground out to first base.
Jhonny Peralta followed and got ahead in the count 3-1, before a swinging at a sharp curveball to bring the count full. With the full count, Grienke issued a challenge fastball over the plate which Peralta fouled down the line just outside of the reach of Puig. With another full count shot, Grienke threw a fastball in the dirt, which put Peralta on base with two out.
Oscar Taveras followed, after being eliminated by a borderline foul tag out by catcher AJ Ellis his first at-bat. He got ahead in the count this time 3-0, as Greinke struggled to get command on his fastball and curve. After a visit to the mound by Ellis, his fortunes did not change as he tossed another ball to walk Taveras and put two on with two outs for George Kotteras.
Greinke opened up the at-bat with a strike low in the zone. Then he followed with a nasty changeup away to get to a 0-2 count. With some breathing room on his side now, he wasted one pitch away before throwing a slider in the same position which Kotteras watched for the third strike
Analysis: Greinke mowed through Holliday and Adams with his usual efficient mixture of hard fastballs and slippery breaking balls. Peralta earned the walk against him in his at-bat, fouling off some tough pitches to make his way on. Greinke flat struggled to find the zone against Taveras, falling down 0-3. It seems that the outcome of the visit to the mound during Oscar’s at-bat was to give him the unintentional, intentional walk and take their chances with Kotteras instead. If this indeed was the strategy it paid off, as Greinke was able to enforce his will on the newest Cardinal addition and work his way out of the jammed he walked on base.
– Matt Holliday: Strikeout swinging
– Matt Adams: Groundout to first base, unassisted
– Johnny Peralta: Walked
o To second on Taveras walk
– Oscar Taveras: Walked
– George Kotteras: Strikeout looking