Sloppy extra-inning defense burns Cardinals in loss to Pirates Friday

Pittsburgh Pirates' Liover Peguero, left, is safe at first for a single as St. Louis Cardinals...
Pittsburgh Pirates' Liover Peguero, left, is safe at first for a single as St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher JoJo Romero handles the throw during the 10th inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 1, 2023, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)(Jeff Roberson | AP)
Published: Sep. 2, 2023 at 12:25 AM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Perhaps it wasn’t the modern ideal of a well-pitched game seeing as Dakota Hudson failed to register a strikeout in his start on Friday night at Busch Stadium. But the Cardinal right-hander did what the Cardinal right-hander does, working his sinker to the bottom of the zone with regularity as Pirate hitters pounded it into the dirt, one after another for seven innings of one-run baseball.

Hudson pitched to his reputation, registering 14 groundouts on a night where the BABIP gods shined down upon him. Unfortunately, reliever JoJo Romero was made to pick up the tab for all that batted ball luck the Cardinals had enjoyed behind Hudson.

A 10th-inning sequence that saw Pittsburgh score three times without earning a hit that reached an outfielder’s glove doused cold water on the Cardinals’ hopes of a third consecutive walk-off win. The Pirates defeated the Cardinals 4-2 in 10 innings.

Though Hudson has long been a purveyor of a pitch-to-contact style, Friday was about as pure of an example of his propensity for grounders as he’s shown this year. The Cardinal starter drew a groundball rate above 50 percent for the game as he allowed just three hits and a pair of walks.

“It’s sinking,” Hudson said dryly on the effectiveness of his sinker Friday. “It’s sinking. It felt good to get back on the ground but I’ve been feeling good with my stroke. I feel like it’s just building, some good places to kind of build.”

Hudson’s third quality start in six total starts since August 2 came as the righty threw 52 strikes on 90 pitches while relying heavily on his sinker against a Pittsburgh lineup that seemed eager to swing at it to produce generally harmless contact.

“You start throwing a ton of strikes, guys starting swinging,” Hudson said. “That’s kind of how you get the ball rolling. I feel like it’s about putting the pressure on myself.”

As Hudson lowered his ERA back down to near 4.00, the Cardinal bats reverted back to a trend of hapless offensive efforts that had seemingly been snapped by back-to-back walk-off wins earlier in the week. The only St. Louis run in regulation Friday came courtesy of a Willson Contreras homer.

The Cardinals catcher mashed his 16th of the year to Freese’s Lawn in straightaway center, increasing his season-long OPS to .794 with a two-hit game. Contreras accounted for one-third of the Cardinals’ six hits on the evening. The top four hitters in the St. Louis lineup combined to go 0-for-16 with two walks, but seven strikeouts.

Though Paul Goldschmidt delivered a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th to plate the Manfred Man, it was a tough night for the veteran first baseman as his indecision on a chopper to first in the top of the 10th kicked off a frustrating sequence defensively for St. Louis.

Goldschmidt didn’t decisively charge the ball hit his way. The pitcher Romero didn’t break to cover the bag at first quickly enough. The combination of those factors led to an underhanded flip toward the bag that was not in time to retire Liover Peguero.

Pinch-hitter Andrew McCutchen then serves a comebacker past Romero. Perhaps screened on the play by his pitcher, second baseman Tommy Edman booted it for what was originally ruled an error and was later changed to a hit that Masyn Winn chased down in shallow center to put the Pirates ahead, 2-1.

A wild pitch, a swinging bunt single that stayed just fair down the first base line, and a sacrifice fly thereafter put the Pirates in command with enough insurance to take the wind out of the sails of St. Louis’ well-pitched game.

“At the end of the day, we scored (only) one on a homer leading into the extra innings there,” Cardinals manager Oli Marmol said. “But there were some oddities in that 10th that made it difficult.”

Cardinals to push back Wainwright’s next start

The Cardinals will send Drew Rom to the mound Saturday on his regular turn in the rotation but the team will reportedly reshuffle their rotation Sunday to delay Adam Wainwright’s next start until Tuesday in Atlanta.

Though a shot at career win No. 199 would seemingly carry a greater probability if it came against the Pirates than the daunting Braves lineup, the move presents Wainwright with a final opportunity to pitch in his home state of Georgia against the team that drafted him all the way back in 2000.