GAME 106: One Man Wrecking Crew
Joe Kelly endured the worst outing of his brief career, throwing nearly as many balls as strikes and allowing 11 of 15 batters to reach during the first four innings. But Kelly was saved by an inspirational performance from Yadier Molina, who did nearly everything to kick-start a dormant Cardinal offense en route to a 9-3 bashing of the sinking Brewers.
KID A: Kelly has endured the worst run support of any pitcher on the staff this season, and that’s the main reason why he came into this game with a paltry 1-4 record despite a sub-.300 ERA. It looked like a repeat of that problem, as the Brewers led 3-0 after three innings. That changed in the fourth, as the Cards tacked on four runs with an RBI double by Carlos Beltran, an RBI single by David Freese, a wild pitch, and a single by Kelly himself (the eventual game-winner). It sure was nice to see the team support this kid, who has pitched his heart out and throws himself fully into every appearance.
EL CAPITAN: What can you say about Molina’s outstanding performance? He threw out two runners. He stole two bases, both times advancing on errant throws by catcher Martin Maldonado. He scored two runs. He had three hits. He did all of this while still nursing a sprained thumb that nearly kept him out of the lineup. I don’t know what change has occurred in Yadi this year; maybe it’s the money, maybe it involves his move to a leadership position. But Molina has played aggressively all season, and the difference is noticeable. Without Yadi, this team simply lacks the heart to continuously battle.
APOLOGY: I was grumbling when I saw Daniel Descalso in the starting lineup against lefthander Randy Wolf while two other lefties (Jon Jay and Skip Schumaker) remained on the bench. I was wrong. Descalso ripped Wolf for two hits and two RBI in three at-bats. Just shows what I know.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Molina, of course.
CONCLUSION: This was just the sort of win in front of the home crowd that this frustrated team needed. They capitalized on every failure by the Milwaukee defense, and stroked some timely hits as well. While Kelly wasn’t strong, the bullpen threw 3.1 innings of scoreless relief one day after giving up six runs, so that’s a plus. The Cards remain 8 games back of the Reds, who also won, and 3.5 games back in the wild card. A long way to go, and we need to see tonight’s effort duplicated many more times in a row to see improvement.