Three runs for the good guys. Three times three runs in the game. Three extra innings. And three losses out of four in the series.
Frustrated on the road and amidst their worst stretch of the still-young season, the St. Louis Cardinals took another loss Thursday, this time 6-3 in 12 innings, at the hands of the San Diego Padres.
By falling again, the Cards dropped to 18-13 and saw their lead over Cincinnati in the National League Central fall to two games.
The crowning blow was a three-run, walkoff home run off the bat of former Cardinal Greg Garcia. With Garcia's rare home run -- this was only his 15th in over 1,000 career at bats -- he joins ex-Redbird Tommy Pham as a Cardinal killer in this series.
Garcia's short-porch, right-field pull came off GIovanny Gallegos, who had been little used as of late (but for no particular reason, according to team sources). Gallegos was off his groove the whole inning, and in fact did not get a batter out; a walk, single and home run were the sum of his outing.
The Garcia homer ruined a noble effort by the Cards, who had fought back twice in regulation, coming from 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to tie the game.
The pitching matchup between Adam Wainwright and Garrett Richards would not have been the one in the series most likely to produce nine shutout halves out of the gate. And yet, nary a run, and only seven total hits and walks, came off the starters leading into the bottom of the fifth inning.
But then Waino succumbed to a too-hot-to-handle one-hopper by Fernando Tatis Jr to Tommy Edman at third, which was ruled a hit because of its velocity and a modest bad hop. And after Pham lined to second, Manny Machado walloped a blast about 15 rows into the left-field stands.
"It wasn't a bad pitch, but it's Machado. That's what a really good hitter can do. I was more upset about the (Tatis) hit because I left it flat and he just plain smoked it. The Manny one, that was all him and what he's capable of."
The Cards came right back in the sixth. Dylan Carlson, playing left, drag bunted from the left side almost on top of the line, and both Richards and Hosmer rushed in and avoided a collision by some means. Harrison Bader lashed a triple in the left-center gap, scoring Carlson, and Edmundo Sosa executed a lovely safety squeeze to plate Bader.
"We knew (Sosa) bunted well," said bench coach Oliver Marmol. "This was a great time to test it out. And, you know, sometimes the best laid plans actually work."
The 2-2 score remained in place until the bottom of the seventh, which was handled on the mound by John Gant. Garcia was plunked in the ribcage by Gant, and then advanced first to second, then to third, on successive ground outs.
And then a fastball went totally awry, sailing over Matt Wieters head behind the plate, and Garcia scored. One run, no hits, no walks.
But in the top of the ninth, Dexter Fowler, playing first for a change, doubled on a ball that seemed to stay up in the air forever and then glanced off the top of the wall.
"I admit, I didn't run hard enough," said Fowler. "I thought, this is either a sure out or a homer, and so I dogged it. I'll be paying into the kitty on this one. Shoulda been a triple."
Fowler gained a reprieve, however, when Tyler O'neill singled him home to tie the game at 3-all.
The Padres had no chances of note in the ninth off Tyler Webb, who also worked the 10th before giving way to Gallegos, perfect in the 11th but not so much the following frame.
Next Up and Notes: The weekend will be an interesting one for the Cards. Not only must they travel back to the Midwest and Milwaukee to face the Brewers, but they're hoping that both Paul DeJong and Lane Thomas can return for at least one of the three.
They're also hoping for some healthy starts, as the bullpen has been taxed a bit in the last few days, and could use a breather. So it's probably good that ace Jack Flaherty's turn is up Friday. He looked good last Sunday, mixing strikeouts and groundouts in the victory over the Miami Marlins.
It wasn't Carlos Martinez' best, and neither was it his worst. But with the help of an outstanding bullpen, he and the Cards managed to eke out their first win of 2020 against the San Diego Padres.
With Paul Goldschmidt, Paul DeJong and Lane Thomas all unavailable (and only Goldy on the injured list), the trio of Dylan Carlson, Tommy Edman and Yadier Molina stepped up to propel St. Louis (18-12) to a 6-4 victory Wednesday night.
Dineson Lamet, who had a couple strong outings already this year for the Friars, surrendered all the Cardinals runs. He coughed up two runs in three odd-numbered innings, and when he departed after five, the Redbirds held a 6-2 lead.
The Padres were able to plate a couple off four Cardinals relievers, who were, in succession, Daniel Poncedeleon, Andrew Miller, John Brebbia and Ryan Helsley. Brebbia was the only one who coughed up runs, giving two in the eighth. Helsley was perfect for the save in the ninth.
The fifth inning proved to be the ultimate difference. Up 4-2 going into that frame, Molina lumbered to second on a double into the left-field corner, and Carlson, with two outs, slammed his second career homer to stretch the Cards lead to four.
The Padres had pulled to within two in the fourth off CMart, who had been impressively perfect through three. But leadoff hitter Fermando Tatis Jr crushed the first pitch of the inning for a massive, 442-foot homer, and then successive one-out doubles by Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer brought the tally to 4-2.
The Cards had stormed to a 4-0 lead after three. In the first, Edman doubled, stole third and scrambled home on a short sacrifice fly by Tyler O'Neill. Then Molina homered to create a 2-0 lead.
The third featured Edman again. This time, he walked, and so did O'Neill. They advanced to second and third on a Lamet wild pitch, and Molina drove them both home with a sharp single to right, on which O'Neill barely and smartly eluded the tag by catcher Francisco Mejia, after a strong throw by right fielder Franchy Cordero.
Martinez was mostly out of gas after five. He was seen protesting to pitching coach Mike Maddux in the dugout as the Cards were batting in the sixth, but as Maddux said, not all two-run outings are the same.
"He was struggling, throwing too many pitches, not hitting his targets," said Maddux. "Yadi knew. Yadi always knows. I could lose my job tomorrow and there'd be a pitching coach on the field. In this case, we saw it, too, and it was time."
Poncedeleon, relegated to the pen after a couple early-season starts, was perfect in the sixth, as he struck out the side. And Miller gave up a hit and a walk, but induced center fielder Trent Grisham to pop up with two men on.
The only blip was Brebbia, and in truth, it wasn't much his fault. A swinging bunt single to Jurickson Profar was followed by a Mejia multi-hopper that handcuffed Kolten Wong.
With two on and no one out, Cordero singled home Profar with a grounder perfectly placed beween Edman and shortstop Brad Miller. Then Mejia came home on a fly ball off the bat of pinch hitter Brian Dozier.
"I don't think I've ever had such a bad result from such good pitches," said Brebbia. "They hit nothing solid. I did exactly what I wanted. Yadi even said so when he talked me down. But baseball, hey, sometimes bad things happen to good pitchers."
Next Up and Notes: The Cards could square the series Thursday afternoon. Adam Wainwright faces Garrett Richards. Shildt has already said he plans on spotting reserves, including Edmundo Sosa at second and Matt Wieters at catcher. Shildt has also had Dexter Fowler take some reps at first base in warmups, so don't be surprised if we see a lineup that includes Fowler, Bader, O'Neill and Carlson all in the game. DeJong is still on track for a weekend start in Milwaukee. Lane Thomas, with negative X-rays, is day to day after his high ankle strain last night.
Losing two in a row is hardly a big deal, except that it's not something to which the 2020 Cardinals are accustomed. And speed is not something that has been a liability for Lane Thomas. Yet both results inured from Tuesday night's game at Petco Park.
The Cards (17-12) lost 3-2 to the San Diego Padres, and in the process, Thomas came up lame and clutching his foot rounding first base in the sixth inning and had to be replaced by Tyler O'Neill. Preliminary reports after the game showed a high ankle strain, which, as with the hamstring pull for Paul DeJong, could be a major bullet dodged.
There was no dodging Chris Paddack, though. The young (24) hurler threw a gem over eight innings, offering five hits, a couple walks and one run while striking out nine. That last figure is hardly unusual for Paddack, who struck out almost 10 per nine innings last year.
"He is just plain nasty, man," said Cards center fielder Harrison Bader, who struck out twice and weakly grounded against Paddack. "Given what he was throwing, I'm kind of pleased with the two runs. Other than the loss, of course."
Padres closer Kirby Yates secured the save in the ninth, surrendering a bases-empty homer to O'Neill, but otherwise striking out the side.
Paddack was competitively tested by Cards starter Kyung Hyun Kim, who went six innings and was responsible for the three Padres runs. But they all came on a three-run blast by former Cardinal Tommy Pham, and other than that clump in the third inning, Kim threw goose eggs.
Kim's trouble started after getting Fernando Tatis Jr. to fly out to right. He walked Wil Meyers, starting at first in place of regular Eric Hosmer against the lefty Kim. Manny Machado pulled a seeing-eye grounder between shortstop Brad Miller and third baseman Tommy Edman. Then Pham connected with a first-pitch fastball that missed location and found Pham's extended sweet spot.
"Yeah, there's some pleasure succeeding against the Cards," said Pham. "They're my friends though, too. I love so many of those guys. It's been cool checking in with them when we're not on the field. There, it's all business, man."
Paddack was scattering and grooving until the sixth, when Edman, batting from the left side, drove one down the right-field line past a driving Meyers. It caromed in the corner, allowing Edman to scamper to third. With two outs, Thomas singled to left, and as Edman scored, Thomas rounded first and pulled up, actually being tagged out by second baseman Jurickson Profar.
"He may be okay, he may not," said bench coach Oliver Marmol. "We got him in to the trainer fast, and iced and wrapped the ankle. Hope the (X ray) pictures are negative."
The Cardinals bullpen was back in its characteristically strong mode. Tyler Webb took the seventh, and other than a single to pinch hitter Brian Dozier, kept it calm. Andrew Miller looked strong in the eighth, striking out two and allowing a line drive out right at Edman.
Next Up and Notes: The Cards hope to get a win in San Diego tomorrow, as Carlos Martinez faces righty Dineson Lamet. CMart was strong in the Cards 6-1 victory last Friday night against the Miami Marlins, and is settling back into the starting groove. The Cards aren't quite sure what will happen when Miles Mikolas returns as expected in May. Whether the decision is based on who's pitched the best, or who can contribute best in the bullpen, is anyone's guess right now.
They're not going to win every game. And after traveling across the continent in the midst of a 13-game stretch with no days off, they are doing great to win most games.
This was not one of those games they were going to win.
Though it started innocently enough, and actually stayed that way for quite awhile, the Cardinals game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park ended with a huge thud. The home team plated five in the final three and a half innings, as they drubbed the Cardinals 6-1 Monday night.
Though Dakota Hudson has seen up and down results this year, this one was not on him, unless you blame him for only lasting five frames. The sinkerball expert took full advantage of his downward action, as nine of his 15 outs came via the grounder.
But six hits and four walks doomed Hudson's ability to last beyond five. While a couple double plays and other ground balls saved him from the loss, his consistent inconsistency resulted in 81 pitches and a 2.0 WHIP in the short start.
And for one of the very few times in 2020, the Cards bullpen, sitting atop the National League with a sparking 3.06 ERA, fell apart, largely in the couple innings handled by John Gant.
Loading the bases in the sixth, Gant, like Hudson before him, looked on the verge of escape. But on a 3-2 count with two out, Fernando Tatis Jr cleared the bases with a blistering low line double to right center. That broke a 1-1 tie and put the Cards in a permanent hole.
While Gant went scoreless in the seventh, Tyler Webb and Daniel Poncedeleon combined to give up a couple runs in the eighth on a hit, a walk, a passed ball and an RBI single by catcher Francisco Mejia, that scored both baserunners and set the final score.
The game looked at first like it would serve as a poor man's pitcher's duel, with scant runs despite a bunch of men on base. Just as with Hudson, Padres starter Zach Davies escaped serious harm a couple times in his six innings.
Hudson fell behind on a solo shot from the bat of Manny Machado in the first, but that wasn't what got him in trouble.
In both the second and third, Hudson put the first two men on with a walk and a hit. The first time, he escaped with a double play off the bat of Jurickson Profar. The next time, it took a sparking backhand from Kolten Wong and a flip toss to shortstop Edmundo Sosa to end the inning.
Davies was having about as much success, which is to say, none in keeping batters off base and a lot in preventing them from scoring.
Stranding six batters in the same number of innings, Davies only gave up a run in the third, when Dakota Hudson singled, advanced on Hudson's sac fly, and scored on a pop single to right off the bat of Dexter Fowler.
Otherwise, the lethargic Cards did little when the chips were on the line. Twice they had runners on third that could not advance. Twice they struck out with two men on and two out.
The oomph was just not there on this particular night.
"We had such a great run on our home stretch," said Wong of the Cards (17-11), who were coming off a sweep of the Miami Marlins. "Hopefully, we'll get rested up before Tuesday night and focus on getting back to our winning ways."
Next Up and Notes: Tuesday night brings Kyung Hyun Kim back to the mound and his first start against the Pads and in Petco. Young ace Chris Paddack goes for San Diego. Paul DeJong still looks on track for a weekend start, subject to any setbacks in the interim. Brad Miller committed his fourth error at shortstop but it made no difference in the final tally.
Carlson in his 10 starts is batting .273 with an OBP of .341, with three doubles and a homer. He's mostly in a center-field split with Harrison Bader, but has seen a few games of action in left field as well. It's been a luxury for the Cards to carry so many outfielders -- Carlson, Bader, Fowler, Tyler O'Neill, Lane Thomas and occasionally Tommy Edman, who has shuffled between third and left field.
It's been a good stretch for Brad Miller, but all good things must...well, you know.
As Miller contributed mightily Sunday to the Cardinals 8-3 win against Miami Sunday, the team was happy to learn that Paul DeJong is recovering quicker than expected from his severe hamstring strain, and may be able to return by the end of the coming week.
"I'm here to play in any way they need me," said Miller. "I've filled in at first, and now at short. However I can be useful."
And boy, was he useful Sunday, with his three-run homer and an RBI double accounting for half the Cards runs. And Matt Wieters, in a customary day-after-night catching start, knocked in a couple more.
Jack Flaherty was strong against a not-so-strong Marlins lineup. Going an easy seven innings on only 89 tosses, Flaherty was scored on in two innings but was hardly scratched in the rest. Seven hits, a couple walks and a plunked batter comprised maybe not his best level, but it was certainly good enough with the accompanying Redbirds offense.
John Brebbia was able to finish the last two innings with nary a hit and two walks, as the Cards ran their National League Central-leading record to 17-10.
The Cards only had to come from behind after the Marlins scored first, in the second inning on a Magneuris Sierra triple and Jorge Alfaro sacrifice fly.
In the bottom of that inning, though, Lane Thomas and Wieters got on with successive singles, and Miller drove a liner over the shortest part of the left-field fence. The homer cost Marlins starter the first three of the six runs he would surrender before departing after five innings.
With the score still 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Tommy Edman drew a one-out walk and Thomas followed with an opposite-field single to right, sending the speedy Edman to third. Thomas stole second and Wieters doubled into the right-field corner, swinging late on a Smith fastball.
No more scoring occurred until the fifth, when Flaherty grooved a too-fat fastball to Jonathan Villar, who drove both Corey Dickerson and himself in with a dead-center homer.
"That was a mistake, pure and simple," said Flaherty, who finished with a half dozen strikeouts and eight ground ball outs. "He's a good hitter, but that pitch would've been clobbered by a lot of major leaguers."
After Smith gave way to Adam Conley, the Cards expanded their lead in the sixth. Matt Carpenter doubled and Kolten Wong, moved up to the two-hole, singled him in for the sixth run. Edman struck out with Wong stealing second, Thomas popped out, and Wieters walked, after which Miller doubled Wong home.
The final Cards run came in the eighth on an Edman solo shot.
Miller will have plenty of opportunities, said manager Mike Shildt. "We can fit him in all around the infield, and that's such a luxury to have, especially with (Paul Goldschmidt) still out for a few more weeks."
DeJong is expected to start taking swings early in the week, and to field ground balls by Thursday or so. He could return on Satuday.
"It'll be great to have Paul back," said Miller. "There's nothing like having your everyday guy in the lineup, and he plays such an outstanding shortstop, too. I'll gladly return to the supersub role."
Next Up and Notes: The Cards hit the road for seven against San Diego and Milwaukee. After having a day off last Thursday, the team is in the middle of 13 days without a break. The Padres have started the season particularly well and the Brewers are hanging right behind the second-place Reds in the Central, and ahead of the Chicago Cubs.
For those who appreciate the IFC series Brockmire, it's a grind to be stuck in the minor leagues for years on end.
There are some who might feel that way about playing for the Miami Marlins, too.
Winning a third of their games in 2019, the Fish fell to 7-18 with their most recent defeat, a 2-1 loss to the Cardinals Saturday night at Busch Stadium.
This actually was a well-played game on both sides, but as is the case so often, the Marlins came out on the short end even when performing to the best of their ability.
A rejuvenated Adam Wainwright lasted six and a third innings, and Matt Carpenter's two-run homer provided the only offense the home team needed. The trio of John Gant, Tyler Webb and Andrew Miller polished off the Marlins in the late innings, with Miller earning his first save of 2020 in a scoreless ninth.
"It felt good to get that," said Miller. I knew that Ryan (Helsley) and others would get save opportunities, but I'm happy that Mike (Shildt, the Cards manager) brought me into a close game to finish."
A tight pitching duel between Wainwright and Marlins starter, righty Jose Urena, stayed scoreless through four innings. In the fifth, the Marlins broke through with their sole tally.
After a Corey Dickerson bunt single with one out, Jonathan Villar drove a sharp single to right field. Dexter Fowler bobbled the ball with his pickup, which allowed Dickerson to achieve third base.
A Jesus Aguilar sacrifice fly gave Miami the lead.
But that was short lived, as Carpenter came to bat after Wainwright singled with one out, and drove a 2-1 fastball down the right-field line and just over the wall.
"He had been throwing about two-thirds fastballs, and I hadn't seen one this at bat," said Carpenter. I was guessing, pure and simple. I guess I guessed right."
Wainwright left with one out and a man on in the seventh, having thrown 93 pitches. He provided seven strikeouts, with three coming on his signature curveball. His fastball peaked at 92 mph, but he threw it with precision and varying speeds, and the Marlins never quite got their feet underneath them.
In addition to sharp pitching, the defense was excellent on both ends. Harrison Bader ranged back and to his right in the ninth to nab a deep tag by Aguilar. It was the second impressive running catch of the day for Bader, who had to run the other way and make a sliding grab off Dickerson's bat in the opening inning.
Meanwhile, Isan Diaz started a nifty double play for the Marlins in the second, as he ranged behind second and dove to stop a hard-hit hopper from Kolten Wong. Emulating the Cards second baseman, Diaz, backtossed to shortstop Miguel Rojas, who tagged the base a half-step before Dylan Carlson arrived and nabbed Wong by the same measure at first.
"Sharp play," said Wong. "I was impressed and I'd be happy to make that play anytime."
Next Up and Notes: The Cards (16-10) seek the sweep Sunday as Jack Flaherty returns to the mound. Caleb Smith will go for the Fish. Matt Wieters is expected to spell Yadier Molina at catcher. This will already be Wieters sixth start behind the plate, and he's on pace to catch about 40 games this year, though some may go to Andrew Knizner later on if he's called up. Wong and Carlson also contributed stolen bases on Saturday, but nothing came of either one.
It's not really a fair fight, and not just with the Cardinals, but just about anybody.
Only 24 games into the 2020 season, the Miami Marlins are trying to top -- or should we say, bottom -- their futility of last year.
After finishing perilously close to .500 in 2016 with 79 wins, it's been deeper underwater since then. Last year, the Fish had the inverse record of the Los Angeles Dodgers' sparkling 105-57. Winning one out of about every three games is not going to win either division titles or beauty pageants.
The Cards rather easy 6-1 victory at Busch Stadium Friday night was fairly common for Miami this year, who fell to 7-17, which to emphasize last year's frustrations, is actually better than they did in 2019.
Carlos Martinez, who seems for the most part back to form, if not consistently so, pitched six easy innings, surrendering only three hits and a couple walks, while striking out seven. Daniel Poncedeleon, whose stint in the rotation has ended, at least for now, threw all three relief innings with nary a run.
Dexter Fowler, who's been sharing some of his right-field duties as of late with Tyler O'Neill, featured prominently on offense Friday, with two singles and a double. He drove in Harrison Bader in the second and Matt Carpenter in the fourth, and scored from first on a Tommy Edman double in the seventh.
All that was sandwiched around a three-run, 410-foot homer from shortstop Brad Miller in the fifth inning.
"That felt nice, that homer," said Miller. "I was able to get a hanger, and yeah, I'm not proud, I'll take anything that looks good up there. I was able to square it and was glad to see it go."
All those runs except the seventh inning ones were scored off Marlins starter, and former Redbird, Sandy Alcantara. He was not sharp, and his stuff was eminently hittable. In addition to giving up three runs, he stranded six baserunners, and just plain struggled the whole time.
Martinez, meanwhile, made it look easy. A walk to Isan Diaz in the fourth followed by a Jonathan Villar homer was about it for Cmart, who otherwise never had more than one runner on base in his other frames.
"He was totally nonplussed out there," said Cards pitching coach Mike Maddux. "Often the catcher heeds to chat with him a time or two. Today, not needed. Sharp, simple, confident, impressive. I'll take that every single time."
The Marlins still rely mostly on their youngsters in the lineup, but their mix is a bit more balanced now. Veteran outfielders Corey Dickerson and Matt Joyce, along with Villar and catcher Francisco Cervelli, accompany some of their less experienced position players.
So far, it's not looking much different than last year, or the year before that, or...well, you get the picture. But there's not quite as much pressure for the relative newbies to carry the load, and that might pan out over the course of a full season.
Next Up and Notes: Adam Wainwright takes the mound Saturday against an undetermined Marlins starter. Miller has been a nice surprise at short, with only three errors to date and a bit more range than the Cards were expecting. The Miller-Kolten Wong tandem have turned five double plays so far, and Wong appears well in sync with Miller's cadence on his movement and tosses.
An afternoon contest at Busch Stadium led to even more lineup shifts than usual, but all proved out in the end as the Cards topped Cincinnati 5-3 to claim the three-game series win. With the win, the Cards again moved two games ahead of the Reds in the National League Central race.
In his third start for the Cards (14-10), Kyung Hyun Kim threw five long innings, laboring through 82 pitches, eight baserunners but only two runs to score the win. Ryan Helsey followed two Cards relievers and notched his fifth save with no angst at all.
Kolten Wong propelled the win with a couple of hits and two RBIs, but the surprise contributor was the young shortstop Edmundo Sosa, who gave Brad Miller a spell on the bench. That is, until Miller gained a pinch hitting opportunity and an insurance tally late in the game.
Wade Miley took the loss for the Reds, though truth be told, he was pretty good. He lasted an inning longer than Kim, and while he surrendered four of the five Cards tallies, one was unearned. Miley therefore received the Quality Start designation, mostly useless other than for savvy agents and lawyers in arbitration hearings and free agency negotiations.
The Cards offense spotted Kim a lead in the second inning. With two out and Dylan Carlson on first as a result of a walk, Wong scorched a liner into the right-field corner, a rather impressive accomplishment in the lefty-on-lefty battle with Miley. Carlson would have most likely had to stop at third but for a billiards-like carom off two walls that enabled Carlson to speed through third and never slow.
In the fourth, Wong made it far less complicated. With Tommy Edman on third and Tyler O'Neill on second and two outs, Wong displayed his opposite-field patience with a slap single to left. Only Edman was able to score.
Enter Sosa. Batting eighth, he stunned both Wiley and third baseman Mike Moustakas with a perfect bunt down the third base line. There was no chance to catch either O'Neill at home or Sosa at first.
Meanwhile, Kim dodged any major catastrophes in the first four innings, scattering four baserunners on a couple hits and the same number of walks. But when he entered the fifth with a three-run lead, all seemed to disintegrate, and fast.
Catcher Curt Casali walked. Miley advanced him with a bunt. Shogo Akiyama walked. Votto singled in Casali. Freddy Galvis singled in Akiyama. All of a sudden, a 3-2 game, and fortunately, Kim induced an inning-ending double play off the bat of Jesse Winker.
That was it for the Reds offense. The Cards added a tally in Miley's last inning, the seventh, when after an Edman double, he advanced on a ground out and scored on a Carlson two-hopper to shortstop that Galvis bounced, it eluded Votto and Edman scored the unearned run.
Miller's glory came in the eighth, when pinch hitting for reliever John Brebbia, he took a Lucas Sims fastball 395 feet to the left-field stands.
Next Up and Notes: The Cards begin a three-game series at Busch Friday against the Miami Marlins. It looks like for now, the rotation has solidified, at least til Miles Mikolas returns. Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, Carlos Martinez (Friday's starter), Adam Wainwright and Kim will garner most of the starts for the next few turns, absent injury.
"We were glad to give Austin (Gomber) and Ponce (Daniel Poncedeleon) shots at the rotation early on," said manager Mike Shildt. "They're important to us. But with Waino seeming right and Kim having all that major league experience in Korea, we feel pretty comfortable with this group. The others will get their turns down the road." Gomber is likely to head down to Memphis in the near future.
If you're a baseball fan and enjoy accomplishments, no matter whether for your team or not, Tuesday night presented an interesting and impressive feat.
If you're a homer, then the game fairly well disappointed on every level.
In their 6-0 victory over the Cardinals Tuesday night at Busch Stadium, the Cincinnati Reds celebrated a joint no hitter by three pitchers. Starter Trevor Bauer, and relievers Amir Garrett and Michael Lorenzen, did it the hard way, with six walks, a wild pitch and a hit batsman. They struck out 10 along the way.
Meanwhile, Cards starter Dakota Hudson continued his up-and-down 2020 experience. He surrendered four earned runs in six innings, giving up only four hits, but, as is his tendency when he has inferior outings, five walks.
And three of those who received bases on balls scored.
"I know it's the same old story," said Hudson. "I was pleased with the velocity, the sinker, the stuff in general. I think that's been good most of the outings so far this year. But man, the strike zone got away from me. I didn't feel location from the beginning."
The Reds pitchers scattered walks across their nine innings. Bauer gave up one in each of four innings, and only had two men on in the fourth, when Tommy Edman walked and Yadi Molina was hit in the left thigh. Garrett and Lorenzen each walked one, but only Kolten Wong reached second, advancing there after Garrett threw a wild pitch.
Bauer was in no position to take the no hitter through nine, as he had already reached 96 pitches by the end of the seventh. "It would have been nice," said Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson, "but he really knew he had to pass it on. What a joy that Amir and Michael were able to get it done."
Hudson seemed on course in the initial frame, retiring three of four Reds with only a single to Joey Votto. But in the second, the free passes reared their ugly heads.
After Tucker Barnhart drew a one-out walk, Mike Moustakas slugged a high fly ball to the right field wall. Tyler O'Neill timed it right but the downward arc made a catch almost impossible. Barnhart, who was almost standing on second, was able to score as the ball bounced off the wall about 20 feet toward home plate.
The third inning posed even more difficulty. Hudson went walk, hit, walk to to Bauer, center fielder Shogo Akiyama and Votto. With the bases loaded and no one out, Josh VanMeter bounced to deep short. Brad Miller's only play was to force Akiyama at third, as Bauer scored. Then after Freddy Galvis flied out, Barnhart drove a single to right and drove in Votto, the third walk to score.
The other Reds run off Hudson came on a VanMeter homer, and the other two runs came off Tyler Webb on a walk and two doubles in the eighth.
"There wasn't anything good from our side," said Cards manager Mike Shildt. But kudos to them, especially (Bauer). I know they walked some, but to be unhittable? That's a big deal."
Next Up and Notes: Wade Miley goes for the Reds Wednesday, while Shildt has not yet announced the Cards starter.
After six games and a split on the West Coast and in the Rocky Mountains, the St. Louis Cardinals came home to St. Louis, Busch Stadium and the National League Central.
And it was good.
In what can best be called a normal and straightforward baseball game, the Cards downed the Cincinnati Reds 5-1 Monday night. A superb pitching effort, coupled with two clusters of runs, powered the home team to victory.
The game proved a return for Jack Flaherty to his typical dominance on the mound, after an unsatisfying stint at Dodger Stadium last Wednesday. His seven strong innings, along with John Gant's eighth and Ryan Helsley's ninth, shut down a powerful Reds lineup, though Helsley cut it close this time around as he recorded his fourth save.
Meanwhile, the Cards offense strung together two in the second and three in the third against Reds starter Sonny Gray, and that was all it took.
With Paul DeJong out due to a serious hamstring strain, and Paul Goldschmidt not close to returning, the Cards have mixed it up quite a bit with their lineups. While Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler have most commonly taken the top two spots, and Kolten Wong has typically batted seventh, the other five spots have seen an oft-changing permutation.
This time it was the outfield tandem of Dylan Carlson and Harrison Bader, in the six and eight holes, that produced the majority of the Cards runs.
In the second, Carlson walked and stole second with one out. Wong grounded out to second base, advancing Carlson to third. Then Bader pounded a high fly ball to the top of the right-center field wall, driving in a run. He then scampered home on a Gray wild pitch.
The next inning, Carpenter singled, Tommy Edman walked with one out, and Brad Miller scratched out an infield hit, loading the bases. Carlson climbed on the first pitch, a misplaced Gray fastball, into the left-center gap, and cleared the bases.
Flaherty, staked to the 5-0 lead, showed no signs of letting the Reds back into the game. He retired 11 of his first 12 batters, only allowing a single to Joey Votto in the fourth.
His fifth inning could have imploded, but after a walk and a hit with one out, he gave up a sac fly to catcher Tucker Barnhart, scoring Freddy Galvis, and retired Mike Moustakas on an easy grounder to end the threat.
The next two innings saw Flaherty mow down four on strikeouts, with a hit in each frame that led to nothing. In the seventh, Wong and shortstop Brad Miller completed a spiffy double play, as Wong ranged behind second base and backhanded a toss to Miller who threw a perfect strike to Carpenter.
Gant was perfect in the eighth, while Helsley, despite a couple hits, coaxed three fly ball outs, including one towering blast by Jesse Winker to the center-field wall that Bader flagged down to end the game.
"I was a little bit nervous. No, maybe more than a little bit, on that last one," said Helsley. I didn't know if it was staying in the park. I knew (Bader) would catch it if it did. If it goes out, all of a sudden it's a one-run game. Glad I didn't make Mike (Shildt) have to make that call."
Next Up and Notes: Dakota Hudson returns to the mound tomorrow to face Trevor Bauer Tuesday evening. The 42,058 crowd Monday was the second highest of the year to date. Pitching coach Mike Maddux was not on hand due to a bout with the flu, but was reporting in that he felt much better by Monday evening.