Dateline: Fox Mill 2
The Cards returned home after a a long road trip to nearly perfect weather this past Saturday afternoon. The Indians, at the cellar of the American league came out ready to play the spoiler role against the league-leading Cards. With only a week to play in the season, every game starts to take on new significance. Cards fans braced themselves for yet another close, nail-biting game.
It was just not to be. Cards starter, Conor struck out two in the first and ended the inning on a groundout back to the mound after throwing only twelve pitches. In the bottom of the first, the Cards offense began their barrage with a single to left by Conor who stole second and moved to third on the overthrow to second. Austin walked, Daron popped out to first and with one out, Ian drilled a long double to left to score Conor and move Austin to third. With runners on third and second, Jack beat out an infield single to score Austin. Keegan then doubled on a long shot to center to score Ian. Greg singled and Jack scored for the fourth run of the inning.
Conor again dominated in the second with two more quick strikeouts and Ian made a great catch on a popup behind the plate. With two outs, Conor showing how speed plays a key role, walked, stole second and third and then scored on a passed ball. Austin walked, Daron hit a sharp single to left, but Ian grounded out to the end the inning. After two it was 5-0 Cards.
The leadoff man for the Indians walked and stole second. With one out, he foolishly tried to steal third on the Cardinals defense. Ian, behind the plate, fired a strike to Peter and the runner realized he was doomed and retreated towards second. Peter flipped to Jack at shortstop who quickly tagged the runner. With two outs the Indians leadoff batter hit a groundout to the mound which Conor easily tossed to Daron at first. The Cards offense resumed their efforts in the third with a walk to Keegan who quickly stole second. Greg beat on an infield single and on a bad throw to first Keegan scored while Greg moved to second. TJ and Peter walked to load the bases. Conor singled to right for his second hit of the day and scored Greg. Austin walked to score TJ and Daron crushed a single to center to score Peter. After three, the Cards held a commanding 9-0 lead.
Greg came on to relieve Conor and threw well. He struck out the first batter he faced and a couple of walks and wild pitches and a bloop single to right resulted in three Indian runs. Greg settled down and blew three fastballs by the Indians last hitter. The Cards continued to score runs with a leadoff walk to Ian who stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a wild pitch. Keegan and TJ walked and they each stole second, moved to third on wild pitches and scored on wild pitches. After four it was Cards 12 Indians 3.
Jack came in to pitch the fifth and he was throwing well. He walked the first batter and then on a dribbler in front of the plate, Conor made a nice play as he bounded out from catching, picked up the ball and fired to Daron at first. The next batter singled to score a run. Jack settled down and fired an inside fastball that the batter popped up to Conor behind home. It was the second popup to the catcher on the day. A ground out back to the mound ended the Indians threat in the fifth. Conor started things off in the bottom of the fifth with a sharp single to center. He moved to second on a wild pitch. Austin walked and Daron drilled a single to right to score Conor. A wild pitch put Austin at third and Daron at second. A bad throw back to the pitcher scored Austin and moved Daron to third. Ian and Jack walked to load the bases. Keegan walked to score Daron. Greg beat out an infield single to score Ian. After five it was Cards 16 Indians 4.
Ian came on and threw heat. A couple of meaningless runs scored and the highlight of the inning was with runners and first and third, Conor fired a perfect strike to Jack who applied the tag on a runner who was trying to steal second. With two out, Ian settled down and struck out the last batter on three pitches. When the dust had cleared, the final score was Cards 16 Indians 6.
Coach Goldstein said, ‘We really looked good behind the plate today. I was very pleased to see our catchers handle two popups and gun down two baserunners.”
Coach Grossman said,”The Indians have been playing people tough and we just played a great game. We didn’t give them many extra outs and we did a nice job shutting down their running game. With Robbie’s injury (a broken finger that this reporter doesn’t want to talk about), it was huge for Greg and Jack to have a good day on the mound and how about Conor’s stellar shutout performance. Ian again did the job for us and finished the game.
This reporter asked Coach Grossman if he thought the league championship was a given since the Astros lost their game earlier in the day — the Reds are now in second, two games back with three games to play. “Well, I’ve seen plenty happen over the years, the key thing I know is that no championship is ever a sure thing until its done. However, if we play like we can this coming week, I think we’ll be fine.”
This reporter asked Coach Grossman if he was happy to be playing the Royals on Tuesday in such a key game. “I tell you what. Those Royals can play some real baseball. They just about beat the Reds today and they have had a ton of close games. We just need to come out and play our game, make smart defensive plays in the field and keep hitting the ball.”