LOS ANGELES--DODGER STADIUM--The Cardinals may not be defenders of the universe, but they were defenders of a patched-up pitching rotation Friday night at Dodgers Stadium.
The Dodgers stole a lot of offense from the Cardinals the night before, but Friday night featured some outstanding play in the outer gardens by the fellas in red.
The Cardinals needed to find a way to support their pitchers, and they did, with the aforementioned defense and just enough offense. Maybe the game they dropped with Adam Wainwright reminded the team to take note and respond.
If the Redbirds had produced just half the game (offensively and defensively) Thursday as they did Friday night, Wainwright and company would be up 2-0 in the Los Angeles portion of their west coast series.
Instead, Carlos Martinez enjoyed a start with good team backup, although he got a no-decision.
The Cards would use five pitchers, including Seth Maness, Sam Freeman, Pat Neshek, and Trevor Rosenthal, who picked up his 24th save.
The Cards had accumulated a dozen scoreless innings before Yadier Molina cracked a solo homer in the fourth inning, tying the game at one-each. The next inning would find Jhonny Peralta picking up a two-RBI double that would give the game its final 3-1 score.
The best aspect of the Cardinals game, however, was the defense. Allen Craig, who seems to slide better on catches in the outfield than on the bases, came up with two stellar grabs, one on a shallow pop-fly in right field, and the other where he took a perfect running line to what seemed like a sure double in the right field corner, again, sliding toward the wall just beyond the foul line, using his momentum to rise, spin, and fire a one-hop strike to second base to claim the base runner.
Teammate Jon Jay was nothing short of spectacular in center field, either, laying out with an Edmonds-esque reception heading toward the outfield wall at full speed.
Most MLB games quickly turn into high-scoring affairs, the way ownership loves it, but in those games, fans (of either team) seem to take interest only in the half-innings in which their favored team is batting. But in games featuring great pitching (such as the previous game and the game just completed), fans are compelled to give every half-inning its due attention. And maybe best of all,
the half of the game rarely noticed or considered important anymore, defense, becomes important once more.
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