Players of the game
- Adam Wainwright: With a 1.78 Fielding-Independent Pitching over 28 batters, the staff ace was in postseason form, striking out one out of every three batters he faced.
- Yadier Molina: Our pick for NL MVP went yard against Johnny Cueto in his home park on opening day. What could’ve been better?
- Johnny Cueto: Begrudging credit where it’s due (2.64 FIP).
Plays of the game (win-expectancy change from Cardinals’ point of view)
- Joey Votto reached on error by Kolten Wong, bottom 8th (-.254): With the Cardinals clinging to a one-run lead, Wong’s error virtually assured the Reds of scoring the tying run; with runners on first and third and none out, their run expectancy for the inning was .97.
- Jay Bruce reached on fielder’s choice to first, Brandon Phillips out at home, bottom 8th (+.249): Kevin Siegrist kept the ball on the ground, averting a potential game-tying sacrifice fly.
- Yadier Molina homered, top 7th (+.230): Just when it looked like Cueto had the Cardinals’ number, Molina singlehandedly dialed back the Reds’ win expectancy from 51% to 31%.
- Jason LaRue, this win’s for you.
- With Molina’s home run accounting for the game’s only tally, and the Cardinals and Reds combining for 21 strikeouts and seven walks, only 59% of the game’s plate appearances ended with balls in play. The ghost of Adam Dunn apparently still haunts Great American Ballpark.
- Kolten Wong’s drag bunt single against lefty Manny Parra was an exciting flash of his toolset — and a reminder of how he could be an effective on-base man even against southpaws.
- Irony is: Peter Bourjos getting the start because of his glove and making an error.
- Matheny has apparently drunk the Bourjos Kool-Aid. Despite Jay having a platoon advantage and a career .500 OBP and .952 SLG in 23 appearances against Cueto, the right-handed leatherworker got the start.
- Put another way: Cueto is the most-favorable pitching matchup of Jon Jay’s life. If he doesn’t start against him, when would he ever start?
- The Reds actually had a favorable win expectancy for most of the game. That is, on 60% of the plate appearances, their game win-expectancy was greater than 50%. Fortunately for the Cardinals, the only number that matters was the win-expectancy after out #54.
- Three of the team’s four relievers succeeded at their jobs. Pat Neshek was the only anomaly, walking Brandon Phillips on a full count. The walk was particularly egregious, coming as it did with a one-run lead and Joey Votto due up next.
- But what appears to be the relief core of 2014 — Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal — shut the door. Siegrist induced grounders to the two lefties he faced, and Carlos Martinez entered with a flashing-alarm siren leverage index of 5.37, blowing away his previous career-high of 3.42, set last year against Milwaukee on 9/20.
- Assuming that Rosenthal is the more reliable hurler, we would’ve handed the ball in that situation to him and given the mercurial Martinez the Robb Nen save opportunity in the ninth. But perhaps Matheny read Joe Strauss‘s article and wanted to compensate his troubled righty for his bullpen banishment after outpitching fifth-starting spot winner Joe Kelly in spring.
- Speaking of spring performances, Matheny obviously de-prioritized Martinez’s March when evaluating the fifth starter competition. But he evidently put stock in Peter Bourjos’s spring display, crediting it as a reason for the right-hander’s opening-day start in center field. Thoreau said that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds, but someone will have to help us embiggen ours to understand.
- After finishing second in the majors in home runs the last two seasons, Great American Ballpark isn’t the first place that comes to mind as venue for a pitchers’ duel. But despite that, the field is actually about average in runs scored.
- Nifty touch by Matheny to double-switch defensive specialist Pete Kozma into shortstop for the bottom of the ninth.
- Does anyone know Billy Hamilton‘s hat size? We’d like to buy him a sombero in a lovely flaxen hue.
- Speaking of strikeouts, the Cardinals’ fireballing young relievers, Siegrist, Martinez and Rosenthal, fanned three of the eight batters they faced. #WhiffKids for the win!