Dateline: Stratton Woods
It was a boiling hot afternoon as the Cards concluded their long road trip against the American league leading Tigers. The press had talked about it all week as it was the battle of the two clubs in first place in their respective leagues. The Cards were eager to avenge their 8-1 loss early in the season.
Conor led off with a chopper to the right of the mound, the pitcher fielded it and fired to first and got Conor by a step. The throw drew the first baseman towards Conor and to avoid a collision Conor slowed down and hurt his knee in the process. Austin walked, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a key RBI groundout by Daron.
Conor tried to pitch despite his injury, showed some heart, but had to leave the mound after nine pitches and two walks. Robbie came on and gave up two clean singles to score two runs. Keegan made a nice play on a grounder as he flipped to Jack at short for out one, but a run scored. Robbie struck out the next batter, but a clean single to right scored the fourth run. Cards fans looked nervous, but Coach Grossman talked to the team and everyone was ready to go for the second inning. After one the Cards trailed 4-1.
The Cards went down quickly on three groundout in the second. Robbie got the leadoff batter in the second to hit a sharp grounder to Keegan’s left. He moved quickly and made a nice play to get out one. Robbie struck out two more batter to end the inning. After two, the Cards still trailed 4-1.
Finally, the well-known Cardinal offense came alive. Greg beat out an infield hit. He stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch. Conor drilled a single to score Greg. He stole second and third and scored on a wild pitch. Austin walked and Daron singled to move Austin to put runners on first and second. Austin stole third and suddenly the Cards had runners on third and second. Two wild pitches scored Daron and Austin to give the Cards a 5-4 lead. Cards fans rejoiced. Robbie continued to throw well in the bottom of the inning. A tough hop to third put a runner on first. A bobbled ball at second put runners on first and second. A single to right scored one run. The next batter was hit to load the bases. On a wild pitch, Conor tore back to the backstop and made a beautiful toss to Robbie who applied the tag for out one. It was a huge out at the plate. A weak infield single scored a run to give the Tigers the lead. With one out, the next batter grounded out to the mound, but another run scored. Robbie settled down got the next batter to popup behind first where Aaron made a great catch the inning. After a tumultuous three innings the Tigers were back on top 7-5.
The Cards offense continued in the fourth. Robbie singled and moved to second and third on wild pitches. Jack smashed a long triple to left to score Robbie. Aaron walked and stole second. Keegan popped out to deep second base, but Jack alertly tagged and scored after the catch to tie the game and give Keegan a huge RBI. Aaron moved to third on the popup and scored on a wild pitch to give the Cards the lead. Greg and Peter walked and moved to second and third on a wild pitch. Coach Grossman sent Greg home on a wild pitch, but in a nice play the Tigers got him at the plate. Many fans were heard to be grumbling about Coach Grossman’s third base coaching.
In the bottom of the fourth, Greg came on and threw heat. He walked the first batter. Ian made a nice play on a ground ball where he alertly flipped to Austin covering second for out one. A ground ball to third in which Peter scooped up and nicely fired to second unfortunately wasn’t caught and resulted in runners at first and second with one out. Coach Grossman went to the mound and gave the ball to Ian who responded with two quick strikeouts to end the inning. After four it was Cards 8 Tigers 7.
Due to time constraints it was decided the fifth would be the last inning. After two strikeouts, Ian and Robbie walked to bring up Jack. Ian and Robbie moved to third and second on a wild pitch. Jack smashed a shot to short on the first pitch which was played nicely and the throw beat Jack by a step. Ian went to the mound and struck out the first batter, got the next batter to ground out to Austin who made a nice play for a key out. Ian calmly struck out the next batter on three pitches to end the game.
Coach Goldstein said, “We did a great job keeping guys from scoring on wild pitches. No one scored off of Conor when he was back there and Ian also did a fantastic job in the hottest part of the game.”
Coach Grossman made time for a brief interview and said, “I was really proud of how our guys kept their composure and stayed in the game even when we got behind and our starting pitcher was hurt. Robbie did a great job getting us back into the game, Greg again looked wonderful on the mound and I can’t say enough about Ian. I also like how all of our hitters either got on base with a hit or drove in a run. We still need to clean up some fielding mistakes, but I think we’ll continue to improve with time. “
This reporter asked Coach Grossman if he thought there might be a letdown against the last place Indians on Saturday. He said, “I think we’ll be fine. The reality is that I’ve seen the Indians play recently and they have really improved from the start of the season when we last played them. I’m sure they are going to win some games before the end of the year and I’m confident our guys will come ready to play.”