The Cardinals took the field in the fifth inning cruising along with a 4-1 lead and an 85.4% win expectancy. After the Dodgers touched Joe Kelly for a run in the third, the Cardinal righty continued the groove he found in the fourth inning, making short work of the Dodgers’ 9-1-2 batters. Kelly finished the inning by retiring his seventh in a row, the last five of which were groundouts. Moreover, Kelly conserved some energy, using only 10 pitches in the frame, which allowed him to get through 26 batters on the day and seven full innings, only the second time in his career he has pitched that deep in a game. He would finish with a commendable 2.85 FIP/3.39 xFIP.
In the bottom half, Zack Greinke continued his every-other-inning struggles. After the Cardinals roughed him up for all four runs in the first and put two runners on via walks in the third, Greinke again seemed off-kilter. He dispatched of Kolten Wong easily enough. The Dodger All-Star got a favorable strike-one call on Wong, then dropped a beautiful curveball on the outside corner for strike two. But Wong worked the count 2-2, before getting jammed and foul popping to third base. The chinks in Greinke’s armor began to resurface, though. Peter Bourjos, pinch hitting for Matt Holliday, whom Mike Matheny removed for precautionary reasons due to Holliday’s collision in the first inning, wouldn’t chase any of Greinke’s pitches off the plate and finally chopped a base hit.
Greinke and catcher AJ Ellis clearly were following the book on Bourjos, who basically can’t hit anything other than middle-in:
To Bourjos’s credit, he made Greinke come to him and reached on an infield hit:
If not for Juan Uribe stabbing the ball along third-base line, Bourjos would’ve been on second. But it was no matter to Bourjos, who took matters into his own feet and stole on the second pitch. Throughout his career, Greinke has been better than average at holding runners on (54% SB rate; MLB average during his career is 72%). But this year, runners have pilfered with impunity four of five times.
Despite Greinke then being all over the strike zone with Matt Adams, who tried to pull an outside slider and grounded out weakly, and Jhonny Peralta, who walked, the Cardinals couldn’t pad their lead. Oscar Taveras, who had walked on four pitches in his previous plate appearance, chased Greinke’s second pitch — a ball out of the zone — and grounded a comebacker to Greinke. It was the beginning of the end for the Dodger starter, though, laboring through 26 pitches in the inning. After a scoreless inning, the Cardinals exited with an 87.9% win expectancy.