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.
It wasn't supposed to end this way.
And by that, we don't mean a loss. A loss on the road, while not preferred, is common. It happens to every team on most road trips. And yes, the Cardinals lost the finale of their road trip and this series with the Colorado Rockies by a score of 4-3.
No, what was weird about this ending was how the starting pitcher got ejected.
Well, not "how" exactly. Call it "when." Three innings after his departure, Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez was thrown out, after veteran home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi finally had enough of CMart's dugout antics.
And that came with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, right before David Dahl raced home from first on a Daniel Murphy double off John Brebbia, to break the tie and score the win for the home team.
Martinez had been jawing at Cuzzi from the time he left the game with one out in the seventh. Strangely, this was despite a fine outing, comprising three runs, two of them earned, on five hits and two walks.
But oh, those walks. Each of them figured in a run, and each came on 3-2 counts that both Martinez and Matt Wieters thought should have been strikes on the counter. Replays proved up their beef.
"He was robbed, twice," said Wieters. "I'll probably get in trouble saying so. But we called breakers, we got breakers, they easily grabbed the edge of the plate, and (Cuzzi) felt otherwise."
The first one came in the second. With two out and Ryan McMahon on second, Trevor Story's walk allowed Murphy to drive the lead runner home.
The second was even more painful, and came in the sixth. Ian Desmond seemed to take a 3-2 strike that video showed dropped neatly over the outside corner. Then shortstop Brad Miller cleanly fielded a two-bounder and fired to first baseman Matt Carpenter, who could not cleanly pick up a hop on the throw.
Martinez briefly vented at Cuzzi at that moment, but Wieters talked him down, and the pitcher came out again to start the seventh. It was after manager Mike Shildt came out to get him that the real friction began.
From that point out, he kept up a banter with Cuzzi, who, despite his reputation for a quick trigger, held his composure with the on again, off again taunts. At least, until the bottom of the ninth, when it got too much for the umpire to take.
Brebbia's run was the first one given up by the Cards bullpen after three and a third scoreless innings. Daniel Poncedeleon, who hadn't pitched since his last start, and Tyler Webb contributed to that spell, and so did Brebbia until his trouble with a single out left to get.
The Rockies got a fine performance from Kyle Freeland, who tossed eight innings on 94 pitches. He accomplished this with a bevy of groundouts and fly balls, 19 in total.
The Cards offense wasn't terrible, it just wasn't timely. They contributed eight hits, three by Carpenter alone. Lane Thomas drove in two, and Molina the other. But they left five on base and hit into a couple double plays.
Which, with the Martinez debacle, made for an exasperating afternoon.
"I'm not thrilled about this went down, on a number of levels," said manager Mike Shildt. "But the overall results of the LA and Denver road trip were solid. Today couldn've been better. But it'll be good to get home."
Next Up and Notes: The Cards jump right into a series with Cincinnati Monday night. Shildt has not announced his starting rotation for the series, but it will include Jack Flaherty and Dakota Hudson. Paul DeJong's hamstring is recovering very slowly, and it's expected he'll be out for at least a few weeks. Paul Goldschmidt and Miles Mikolas are inching along but a firm date is still not set for either.
No, it's not budget cutbacks that made us combine our stories for Friday and Saturday, but rather scheduling conflicts. Yet the compare-and-contrast essays we learned in middle school offer an excellent prism through which to view the Cardinals Friday and Saturday games at Coors Field.
The first one Friday was the prototype Big Bang Theory so common to Denver baseball, a 9-6 slugfest in favor of the Colorado Rockies, as the clubs combined for seven home runs.
The second, another polished Mile High performance by Adam Wainwright, resulted in a 3-1 Cards victory. And by evening up the series on Saturday, St. Louis assured at least a .500 road trip, as they finish up on Sunday before returning home to face Cincinnati.
Tight pitching, tight game, right result
It took some tightrope walking to secure the win on Saturday, as Andrew Miller and Ryan Helsley both recovered from two-on, one-out situations to preserve the eighth and ninth innings.
Helsley ended the game with a nifty double play on a sharp hopper to Kolten Wong's left, as he turned and delivered a perfect strike to shortstop Brad Miller, who nailed Ryan McMahon at first by a step.
Wainwright is one of the few non-Colorado pitchers who seems to have figured out the thin air; he still has not lost there, and his mighty 12-to-6 curveball appears unaffected. Saturday was no exception.
Despite time out of the rotation since the home opener two weeks earlier, Wainwright struck out six, walked only one, and induced seven ground balls in the same number of innings. The only run came on a David Dahl triple and Trevor Story sacrifice fly in the third.
"I can't quite explain," said Wainwright. "It's not bothered me. In fact, I pitch better here. Why? I know some other guys' stuff doesn't break here. For me, seems no different. If I knew why, I could teach them all and retire tomorrow."
Brad Miller's two-run homer in the sixth off starter German Marquez, with Lane Thomas on base, was the difference. The Cards added an insurance tally in the eighth, as Dylan Carlson grabbed his first hit in Coors with a double and then scored on pinch hitter Edmundo Sosa's single up the middle.
Kim rocked, Gray shines as Rockies take opener
Friday's game never was competitive, despite the final difference. The Cardinals found themselves in a 5-0 hole after two innings, and 7-1 after five. Only a four-spot in the eighth and a single run in the ninth brought them to within three runs at the end.
Kwang Hyun Kim, having won his previous start this season, simply could not adjust to Coors. He pretty much left everything up or out of the strike zone, and he was fittingly punished for it.
Ryan McMahon, Josh Fuentes and off-season Cards target Nolan Arenado pounded homers off Kim early, and Trevor Story added another in the fifth.
Teams never want to see lengthy games on their travel day. But the result may have been worth it for the Cardinals.
After 3 hours and 46 minutes, St. Louis overcame two deficits and triumphed 6-4 over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the final game of their three-game set. With three games left on the road trip, the Cards climbed to 11-7 and claimed sole possession of first place in the National League Central.
Brad Miller broke the post-regulation tie in the top of the 14th off Caleb Ferguson, driving in Dexter Fowler and Matt Wieters, and John Brebbia held on for the save in the bottom half. In proud Dodger Stadium tradition, maybe a third of the 44,324 crowd was left at the bitter (at least for the home team) end.
"This was a total drain," said Wieters, who grabbed the start and contributed three hits in six at bats while backstopping the entire game.
"I know I am, at least. But so glad the guys persevered."
The trio of Giovanny Gallegos, Andrew Miller and Tyler Webb shut down the Dodgers for five innings before Brebbia held the 14th-inning lead. It was a rare appearance for Miller this season, as he has been struggling not with injury but with mechanics. This time, he seemed in sync and retired all three he faced in the 11th.
The Cards tallied a dozen hits and drew four walks, with all four of their runs prior to the final frame coming off of starter Walker Buehler. He was not his usual stellar self and couldn't find his targets often, but he kept the Dodgers in the game through his awkward seven-inning stint.
Wieters scored a run in the fourth and drove one in three innings later. He paired up with Tyler O'Neill on each, as they doubled back to back the first time and Wieters had a base knock in the seventh after O'Neill had again doubled. Both times, the Cards tied the Dodgers, who had taken one-run leads in the third and the sixth.
The other two Cardinals runs came in the first, on a Matt Carpenter single, a Fowler double, and a Tommy Edman single that drove the first two in.
The Dodgers were able to storm back in the third off Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson, who was almost exactly the opposite of the pitcher he was in Wrigley Field the Friday before. His sinker was inconsistent, and he was afflicted by the walk tendency that plagued him over pretty much the entire 2019 season.
After two uneventful innings, Hudson started the next frame with walks to Gavin Lux and Buehler. Mookie Betts then tripled them home, and with one out, scored on a sacrifice fly from Max Muncy.
"That was a regression," said Hudson, who only lasted through part of the fifth, giving way to John Gant. "I could not find a grip, I could not find a release point, not anything."
"We're going to focus on last Friday, not today," said pitching coach Mike Maddux. For Dakota, we want to emphasize the right things, not study the wrong ones. We'll have him back on track for sure."
Gant, after finishing the fifth without issue, surrendered a go-ahead home run to Muncy in the sixth. He remained in the game through the eighth.
The Dodgers relief corps was just as impressive between Buehler and Ferguson, who came on in the 13th. Joe Kelly and Dylan Floro ate all five stanzas from the 8th to the 12th, commanding eight strikeouts, scattering four hits and only one walk.
"Getting out of LA with a series win, that's huge," said Kolten Wong, who sat out to give Edmundo Sosa a start at second. "These guys are among the best, so it's a yardstick to measure us against. Not bad."
Next Up and Notes: The Cards begin a three-game stint in Colorado on Friday, with Kwang Hyun Kim getting another start and indoctrination to Coors Field. Adam Wainwright, who has often solved Coors like no other, rejoins the rotation Saturday, and Carlos Martinez finishes on Sunday. Miles Mikolas has suffered a bit of a setback in his rehab. Manager Mike Shildt said after Thursday's game that Miller, seemingly back on track, will probably start seeing more time in games and especially in leverage situations.
In one of the most enjoyable pure baseball experiences of the early season, the Cardinals ace edged the home team legend.
Jack Flaherty was barely hittable over eight powerful innings, while Clayton Kershaw was just barely less strong over the same stretch, as the Redbirds claimed a 1-0 victory to even the series.
"This is what we knew Jack Flaherty would become," said Kolten Wong, who plated the only run of the game. "To duel a Hall of Famer like that, in Dodger Stadium, that's like, wow."
Two hits -- a single to Mookie Betts to lead off the bottom of the first, and a fifth inning double to Cody Bellinger -- accompanied a single walk, as Flaherty simply shut down the powerhouse Dodgers lineup.
With Flaherty at 88 pitches, Ryan Helsley came in for the ninth, setting down three in a row, on two whiffs and a popout, after a leadoff walk to Max Muncy.
Kershaw won his first outing against the Cards at Busch Stadium earlier this season. This time, he was almost as dominant as Flaherty, only giving up four hits and two walks over eight.
But three of those baserunners, in a single inning, were his undoing.
Wong led off the fifth with a bunt single that third baseman Justin Turner could not field cleanly. After Dylan Carlson bunted Wong over to second, Flaherty struck out and Matt Carpenter walked.
After Dexter Fowler flied to left, Tommy Edman dueled Kershaw to a 3-2 count, and then muscled a short fly right between shortstop Cory Seager and left fielder Joc Pederson that allowed Wong time to hustle home. Yadier Molina struck out leaving Carpenter and Edman at third and second.
Bellinger's leadoff double threatened the tenuous lead in the bottom half. But Flaherty, with nine strikeouts on the game, struck out the side on 11 pitches.
Flaherty threw no more than 16 pitches in any inning, and three times was at 10 or less.
"It's the Jack we expect now," said manager Mike Shildt. "Maybe not that extraordinary every time, but pretty close. He can go head to head against anyone, including the likes of Kershaw. Cardinals fans are fortunate to see his career blossoming like this."
In defeating the Dodgers Wednesday, the Cardinals climbed to 10-7 and stay competitive with the greatly improved Cincinnati Reds for supremacy in the National League Central.
Next Up and Notes: The series ends on Thursday with Dakota Hudson facing Walker Buehler.Matt Wieters is expected to give Molina a rest at catcher. Brad Miller got his first full stint at shortstop Wednesday, handling three ground balls without consequence. Lane Thomas got a start in left field and reached base on an opposite field single.
Don't think for a minute that Mike Shildt took the signing of Brad Miller for granted. In the midst of their 9-2 drubbing at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers, his appreciation quickly came into sharper focus.
"I've thought so many times since he came on board, hey, here's a guy with almost 400 games of major league shortstop experience," said Shildt after Tuesday's game. "Now, that background is going to prove so important."
The sad reality hit in the fifth inning today, as Paul DeJong came up lame in legging out a routine grounder. What appeared initially to be a major hamstring strain may sideline the starting shortstop for quite awhile.
While the Cardinals have other options in the system, none come with anywhere close to Miller's MLB stature. He's handled over 3,000 innings at short, and handled the final four of the Cards' eight innings of defense Tuesday night.
With DeJong moving to the injured list, the Cards recalled infielder Edmundo Sosa from their triple A affiliate Memphis. With Paul Goldschmidt still injured and Rangel Ravelo remaining on the farm, the team may try some unconventional approaches to backup Matt Carpenter, already the backup first baseman.
While contemplating all this, the Cards didn't show much life at Dodger Stadium. either from the mound or the batter's box.
Austin Gomber may not survive in the rotation after this outing, his second in a row without much success. Homers to Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Mookie Betts, in that order, torched Gomber for seven runs in four and two-thirds innings.
The last two runs from the home team came on a string of three hits in the eights against lefty Tyler Webb.
"He had a tough one today, and we're going to evaluate how to best get him back on track," said Shildt. "We'll have a chat and make a plan. We also want to get Waino back into the mix," referring to Adam Wainwright, who hasn't appeared since the home opener.
The only offense for the Cardinals against the Dodgers pitching staff came from a two-run Kolten Wong. He delivered a lefty-on-lefty pulled poke over the right-field fence against starter Alex Wood, who went seven innings with little stress. Blake Treinen took the last two innings for the Dodgers.
Next Up and Notes: The St. Louis rotation is well rested, after the abbreviated split in Chicago over the weekend owing to the Sunday night rainout. Jack Flaherty will face Clayton Kershaw, one of four lefties in the LA order. on Wednesday, and Friday's victor Dakota Hudson will go against Walker Buehler Thursday.
We know what Dakota Hudson's sinker can do when it's on. And boy, was it on, and in timely fashion, helping the Cards sneak a 3-1 win from their first Wrigley Field outing of the season.
Hudson's "ground game" was electric Friday afternoon against the Chicago Cubs. He induced 15 outs on 13 grounders, three of the four hits he surrendered were either wormburners or bouncers.
The only run the Cubs managed was a Kyle Schwarber home run in the fourth inning, and it temporarily put the home team ahead before the Cards retaliated.
In fact, all the runs came in back-to-back half innings, with the Redbirds plating three in the top of the fifth.
Yadier Molina led off with a walk, and Paul DeJong singled him to second. Tyler O'Neill, sliding to right field to give Dexter Fowler a rest, advanced the runners with a grounder to the right side.
After Kolten Wong walked, Harrison Bader pounded an opposite field double to the wall of the right-center field fence, clearing the bases.
It was otherwise a good outing by Yu Darvish, who despite a tepid 6-8 record, pitched well in 2019 other than giving up a ton of homers. He finished the fifth and added another frame before giving away to former Cards farmhand Rowan Wick.
"We didn't do much in the rest of the game," said Wong. "But we did in that inning. That's baseball, I guess, you find a seam of opportunity and you grab it. We did, and Dakota was like, wow."
He was, indeed. Hudson lasted six and a third, coming out of the game with two on and two out from a walk and a single. But Giovanny Gallegos stranded the runners by nabbing an outside corner called third strike from Javier Baez, who was none too happy about the call, and was ejected for saying so.
Gallegos took the seventh as well, and uneventfully, before John Brebbia and Ryan Helsley retired six of eight batters to end the game.
"When Hudson is down and stays down, just kinda forget it," said pitching coach Mike Maddux. "He was sensational, and to get that kind of performance in Wrigley is a huge plus, especially if there's a bit of breeze like today."
The Cards upped their record to 9-5, and by and large continue to get very strong starting pitching, even without the injured Miles Mikolas. And the bullpen has been even stronger to date.
"We've all felt our oats early on," said Brebbia. "The two Mikes (Shildt and Maddux) have talked to us regularly, chosen well, and we've delivered so far. It's fun to come out of the box well, but hey, it's a long season."
Next Up and Notes: The debut for Dylan Carlson in Wrigley was fun for the young outfielder. "Everyone wants to play at his place, it's living baseball history. Those covered walls, even the changes with the scoreboard and stuff. They did the updates well. It was a thrill."
The Cubs have scuffled to a 7-8 mark so far, and their offense has been week, with only 44 runs in those 15 games. That's been frustrating for new manager David Ross.
"We haven't kicked it into gear yet," said Ross. "You've seen it. I've seen it. Shoot, I played alongside these guys. They'll get it going. It's tough when you start slow. At least the pitching has been pretty good."
Saturday afternoon brings Carlos Martinez to the mound to face Kyle Hendricks, who seems particularly tough in Wrigley against, well, against everyone. He holds a 2.61 home ERA over his six-season career at Wrigley.
It's never good to lose, but today, the St. Louis Cardinals lost to a team that showed the full brunt of the tools that led to its majestic 106-56 record from 2019.
And then some.
In addition to a power display from last year's National League MVP Cody Bellinger, newcomers David Price and Mooke Betts added to the already stacked Dodgers club in a 7-2 thrashing of the Cards (8-5) and starter Jack Flaherty.
Bellinger slammed two home runs off Flaherty, who, quite frankly, didn't have his best stuff. His fastball was down on average about three miles per hour, and his breaking balls weren't, well, breaking.
"There was nothing physically," said Flaherty. "I didn't have a sore or tired arm. I didn't have any distractions. I just couldn't fine that gear I usually have. Why, I couldn't say. But the Dodgers are far too good to succeed when that happens."
Indeed. Both Bellinger's homers were of the two-run variety, one in the first with Joc Peterson on base, the other in the fifth with Gavin Lux aboard. That poke sent Flaherty packing, and left his line at five runs, six hits and two walks in a brief, four and two-thirds inning stint.
Betts reached base three times, including an insult-to-injury home run in the eighth off Tyler Webb.
Price was nonplussed throughout, as he pretty much cruised through six innings giving up no runs, three hits and a walk. Only once, in the fourth, were two Cards on board, and Price induced a Matt Carpenter weak flare to short to end the inning.
The Cards only scored in mop-up time, as the former St. Louis hurler Joe Kelly grooved one to Tyler O'Neill and he didn't miss, powering a 425 footer to deep left with Paul DeJong in front of him.
The 38,344 crowd left disappointed, but did get to see rookie Dylan Carlson grab one of the few Redbirds hits and secure a stolen base as well. Carlson has performed reasonably well early on, and is playing roughly half time.
"That's enough to keep him here," said manager Mike Shildt. "If he dropped much below that -- if we felt other outfielders needed more time in the mix -- then we would consider getting him more ABs in Memphis. But not right now."
The Cards solved the first base equation today with Brad Miller there and Carpenter at third. Tommy Edman took second, helping Kolten Wong deal with his still-aggravated upper right leg, which appears to be a superficial injury. Matt Wieters took the catcher slot today.
Next Up and Notes: The Cards are playing at about a .600 clip, having gotten through the Dodgers, Orioles, Brewers and Reds. They now head out on the road to play the rival Chicago Cubs for two afternoon games Friday and Saturday and a national telecast Sunday evening.
It took two weeks for him to join the club, but once he did, things sped up fast for Lane Thomas.
Or rather, he sped them up himself. And the results led to a 4-1 victory for the St. Louis Cardinals over the Los Angeles Dodgers, ensuring the home team at least a split in this four-game series. With two hits and two stolen bases, Thomas participated in three of the four runs for the Redbirds.
The glut of Cards outfielders, including the debut of Dylan Carlson, and the need for some infield corner protection in the absence of the injured Paul Goldschmidt, led to an odd-man-out situation for Thomas.
But the front office and manager Mike Shildt decided that Thomas was due some time with the big club. And the exchange sent reserve infielder Rangel Ravelo to Memphis, which means that in addition to Matt Carpenter, Matt Wieters might get the occasional start at first until Goldy is healthy.
And so might Brad Miller, who's been mostly unheard from the first couple weeks. Miller only had a handful of pinch hitting and defensive sub assignments before being inserted into the lineup at second base Wednesday, giving Kolten Wong a day to nurse his achy upper leg.
"There was nothing wrong with Ravelo, and there was nothing wrong with Lane not being here. There also was nothing wrong with Brad, even though he didn't get much playing time this last couple weeks.
"It's a good problem to have, and sometimes it doesn't work out for every player the way they'd like. But we needed to give Thomas some time here, he deserves it.
As for the corner situation in Goldschmidt's absence, Shildt said, "We'll figure out the first base thing. It's awkward but we'll make it work. We have a bunch of looks and we want to see them all as soon as we can."
The lineup has shifted quite a bit this season, with 10 starting lineups in 12 games. This time, it looked even more unusual, as Thomas and Miller took the first two slots in the order against lefty Jose Urias.
The Cards (8-4) needed to come from behind, as the Dodgers opened the scoring from the get go, on a blast from Mookie Betts off Daniel Poncedeleon. But it was the only run the starter would surrender, and he scattered six other hits and three walks through six laborious but effective innings and 88 pitches.
Thomas whiffed badly his first time up on a sick Urias slider, but after that, he looked alive. In the third he singled sharply to left and came around on a Dexter Fowler double to right center.
In the fifth, though, Thomas truly showed his afterburners. Walking with one out, he stole both second and third, and scored on an only modestly deep Paul DeJong sacrifice fly.
The Cards touched the Dodger bullpen for two more runs after Urias departed, as Matt Carpenter homered from the 3 hole off Pedro Baez, driving in Miller, who had walked before him.
The Cards bullpen has been strong in the early going, and this was no exception. After Tyler Webb gave up a hit and a walk in the eighth, John Brebba came in with two outs, retired Max Muncy, and threw a perfect ninth to seal the deal.
Poncedeleon, while floundering on control of his off-speed pitches, hung tough and left seven stranded. "We know he can do it," said pitching coach Mike Maddux. "Got the stuff. Got the tough. Good to see him work through situations tonight. It will give him confidence going forward."
It's not clear what the ultimate five-man rotation will look like for Shildt and Maddux. So far, seven have started -- Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, Austin Gomber, Kyang Hyun Kim and Poncedeleon. All have stayed on the roster the whole season other than Gomber, who's been up and down.
"We're figuring roles out," said Maddux. "We'll settle in. So far, almost everyone's had success. And those who haven't will get another shot," he added, maybe referring to Wainwright, who had a tough home opener.
Next Up and Notes: Wong was almost, but not quite, ready after his Tuesday pinch, but after the game said he might go for the Thursday afternoon game. Miller more than doubled his 2020 at-bats with one start. Flaherty will see his third start Thursday afternoon, against the veteran David Price, who joined the Dodgers in the Betts deal.
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.