It rarely hurts for a team to send a hurler to the mound that hasn't been seen in person by the opposing lineup. It hurts even less when that same opposing lineup boots a few defensively to undermine their offense.
Such as it was Tuesday, as the Cardinals Kwang Hyun Kim made his MLB starting debut and defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 in a game that was, let's be honest, decided mostly by the visitors' bungles.
The decisive blunder came in the fifth, when, with the score knotted at 2-2, Yadier Molina hit a two-out, bases loaded grounder that could only be described as routine to third baseman Justin Turner.
Rather than trying to beat Dexter Fowler to the bag at third, Turner threw to second to nab Tyler O'Neill. But lowering his throwing arm caused the ball to soar about five feet over second baseman Gavin Lux's upstretched glove hand, and Flower and Paul DeJong scored on the miscue.
From there, a Harrison Bader solo shot took the Cards (7-4) to their final tally, and a two-run Dodger rally in the eighth fell short. Walker Buehler took the loss and, strangely, four unearned runs on the day.
Kim, who had only received relief innings before Tuesday, was quite something. Mixing four pitches from the left side, few Dodger hitters could get comfortable. He didn't throw beyond 92 mph other than a small handful of exceptions, but his overhead motion and the huge number of angles at which his deliveries arrived kept most everyone off balance.
It was only the lefty Cody Bellinger who guessed well enough on a tailing slider to drive in A.J. Pollock with a line home run to left-center. But, then again, Bellinger seems to solve most everyone at some point.
Then Bellinger was part of the almost-comeback in the eighth against John Gant, as he drove in Mookie Betts with two on and two outs. Then Max Muncy, moved down in the lineup from his usual, singled in Cory Seager. Gant, who despite a tough inning saw confidence from manager Mike Shildt, got pinch-hitter Chris Taylor to pop out to second and end the threat.
The ninth was pretty easy for closer Ryan Helsley, who was able to strike out Betts and induce a couple of meaningless grounders to finish up.
The Cards had scored twice in the second, with help from- what else? -- Dodgers field troubles. Kolten Wong reached on a Lux bobble, and he got to third after Harrison Bader singled and took second when Betts reached down for the ball and it glanced off his glove and ran about 10 feet to his right. Matt Carpenter singled with two out to drive both of them in.
"That," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, "was ugly. I don't want to take away from Kim, who was excellent, but we didn't help ourselves. Heck, we didn't help anybody. Might be some extra fielding practice in our future."
One way to break a team as talented as the Dodgers, is to let them break themselves. Problem is, it doesn't often happen. Tuesday, it did.
"It was great getting that first start," said Kim, through translator Craig Choi. "We got some timely hits, and took advantage of the struggling defense. From what I know of the Dodgers, that won't happen too often, so we'll take it this time."
Next Up and Notes: Wong felt a tinge in his upper right leg after the second-inning action, but continued. After the game, and some massage therapy, he reported no issue. Tomorrow, the Dodgers Jose Urias will face Daniel Poncedeleon in the third of the four-game series.