Cardinals 5, Diamondbacks 4 (10 innings)
PHOENIX, May 27 — They blew a 4–0 lead in the seventh and eighth innings. Their pitcher even carried a no-hitter into the seventh. They let the host Arizona Diamondbacks have the tying or go-ahead run on third twice. But it ended all the same, as the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks, 5–4, in 10 innings Thursday night.
Cardinals Pounce on Diamondbacks Early
Cardinals starting pitcher Carlos Martinez baffled the Diamondbacks bats for the first six innings, carrying a no-hit bid into the seventh. His team gave him an early 3–0 lead thanks to a three-run second off Diamondbacks starter Jon Duplantier. Veteran catcher Yadier Molina led off with a single and scored when left fielder Tyler O’Neill followed with a mammoth two-run homer off the scoreboard. The prodigious blast stirred up the large contingent of Cardinal fans in the crowd. Their excitement grew when a bases-loaded walk plated Martinez, who had singled to reach base.
In the fifth, a leadoff double by former Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt turned into a run when third baseman Nolan Arenado followed with a double of his own. With the score 4–0, Duplantier struggled to finish off the inning. With two outs, he hit Edmundo Sosa to load the bases. That ended his night, as manager Torey Lovullo replaced him with Caleb Smith. Smith struck out Justin Williams to keep the score at 4–0, then pitched two more innings of scoreless, one-hit ball. Catcher Stephen Vogt praised Smith’s effort. “He stomped that game and gave us an opportunity to climb back in.” Lovullo added, “Caleb was fantastic, keeping everything in check. (He gave) us an opportunity to play catch-up.”
A Furious Comeback
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks broke up the no-hit bid in the seventh on a leadoff single by Josh Rojas. After Eduardo Escobar singled to put runners on first and second, David Peralta ripped a double to left. Rojas scored easily, and Escobar turned on the jets, intent on scoring from first. However, he had to go back to third — a fan reached over the left-field fence and deflected the ball with his glove.
Pavin Smith rendered that action moot when he welcomed reliever Genesis Cabrera with a double of his own, scoring both runners and cutting the deficit to 4–3. “I feel like I stole David’s RBI. But for that not to hurt us was good for morale,” Smith said after the game. Right fielder Josh Reddick followed with a single to right, but he hit it too hard for Smith to score from second. A walk by Nick Ahmed loaded the bases for Carson Kelly, who pinch-hit for Vogt. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt countered with Ryan Helsley, who struck him out on three pitches. Pinch-hitter Andrew Young did the same before Rojas hit an inning-ending grounder to second.
Cardinals Hold Diamondbacks Off
Ketel Marte led off the bottom of the eighth with an infield single. He scored when Smith ripped another double, this time with two outs. Josh Reddick could not bring him home, however, ending the eighth with the game still tied.
The Diamondbacks got the winning run to second with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Pinch-hitter Domingo Leyba drew a walk, and pinch-runner Tim Locastro stole second. However, Rojas grounded to second, sending the game to extra innings.
Paul Goldschmidt started the top of the 10th on second base. He scored on a one-out double by Molina, giving the Cardinals their fifth and decisive run. In the bottom of the inning, Rojas started on second. He never moved, as Daniel Ponce de Leon pitched a 1-2-3 inning for the save.
Cardinals Give Diamondbacks Even More Frustration
This was yet another close and frustrating loss for the sputtering Diamondbacks, who held a 15–13 record on May 3 but have gone 3–19 since. “It’s been tough mentally, physically, emotionally — you name it,” Vogt said. “We’re grinding right now. We’ve been in almost every game — been right in it and just haven’t been able to come through or hold them off the board.” Smith added, “It’s obviously frustrating. We’re in a lot of these games, and if one bounce goes our way, it’s a different story.”
It’s not like the team has given up the ghost only two months into the season. “You try to look at what we did wrong the day before, or what I as an individual did. If each person does that, and tries to get better themselves, it helps the team,” said Smith. Vogt acknowledged that injuries have played a large role, but he won’t completely attribute the skid to that. “We know who we’re missing, and to say that hasn’t played a part in it would be wrong. But we have a good team here, and we’re good enough to step up and overcome this. We just haven’t been able to up to this point.”
He continued, “The mood is great. Guys are showing up. We expect to win every single day. But this is some kind of stretch we’ve been on. All of us are looking internally to see how we can get better each day and do our part to help contribute to a win.” Vogt let out an exasperated sigh as he said, “We’re working hard, and it’s really frustrating.”
The seventh, eighth, and ninth all saw the Diamondbacks in great position to take the lead but ended in disappointment. Wednesday night, a similar situation happened against the San Francisco Giants. The team blew a 4–0 lead, but had both the tying and winning runs in scoring position with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Vogt said, “We’ve had moment [sic] or moments through this entire stretch where we think this is it. This is where we’re breaking out — this is where it’s going to happen. And then one thing leads to another.”
He continued, “When we load the bases two nights in a row, you feel like we’re going to come through. This is it. We’re going to come through…. It’s frustrating. Every single one of us believes in each other to get the job done, and, unfortunately, we haven’t come through in those big moments as of late.”
Learning from the Losses
Hall of Fame basketball coach Dean Smith, who helmed the University of North Carolina Tar Heels from 1961-1997, said he learned more from losses than he did from wins. The same is true for Lovullo. “There are times to change the DNA of the game and reshuffle the deck completely. And then there are other times where I can’t overmanage or overthink a situation. Sometimes it’s so plain that it’s right in front of my face. And I have to just rely on my baseball instincts for what is actually taking place rather than trying to overcoach or do too much.
He continued, “Our natural instinct is, in this case, that I want to fix everything and fix it right now. I want to take control of it and make something positive happen out of that. But sometimes the athletes don’t respond to that. They respond to trust — in being given trust in those trustworthy situations. To continue to coach is always going to be my default, but it’s a tough balance that I’m walking through right now. I want to never have a bad day in front of this team. That’s the main thing for me. I need to show them that I’m engaged here and believing in them and making good baseball decisions based on the outcomes of each situation.”
Frustrated, but Not Giving Up
Some might hear “the mood is great” and think that the players are not taking the losing streak seriously. That is not the case at all. Vogt explained, “Everybody is expecting to go out and win. (We’re all) frustrated. Everybody is working. We expect ourselves to win. That’s what I mean by the mood is good. When we show up, we are excited to play and to win. We think we’re going to win — we believe we’re going to win, because we’re a good team, and we’re good enough to win every single day. But we just haven’t in a while.”
He continued, “Obviously, people are frustrated. (And) obviously, we’re (ticked). Obviously, we don’t like the way results have been going the last couple of weeks. But to say that the mood in the clubhouse is great — it is. We show up every day expecting to win, and everybody shows up with a great attitude. We’re working our backsides off, but we’re just coming out on the short end.”
Wearing on Everyone
This is also, obviously, weighing on Lovullo. “I wear it 26 different ways,” he said after the game. “The players, I know, are extremely frustrated, too. And, really, it’s about them. But my responsibility is no matter what the circumstances are today, I have to walk in here tomorrow with a plan, a thought, and an idea to keep this ship on course. So that’s my focus when I wake up in the morning.”
“It’s been a struggle. I’m not going to lie. But it’s been a struggle for all of us. We can’t make an excuse — can’t play the “what if” game. We’ve got to take everything that’s been dealt to us, make the adjustments, and get after it. Those are my demands. I still feel like these guys are getting after it, so we’ll see how tomorrow turns out.”
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Carlos Martinez, Jon Duplantier, Yadier Molina, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Edmundo Sosa, Torey Lovullo, Caleb Smith, Justin Williams, Stephen Vogt, Josh Rojas, Eduardo Escobar, David Peralta, Pavin Smith, Genesis Cabrera, Josh Reddick, Nick Ahmed, Carson Kelly, Andrew Young, Mike Shildt, Ryan Helsley, Ketel Marte, Domingo Leyba, Tim Locastro, Daniel Ponce de Leon