"How windy WAS it?"
"So windy that a Miller Park pop fly to short right ended up in Fargo."
Well, okay, it wasn't quite THAT windy. But the exaggeration helps those who didn't see it visualize the conditions in Milwaukee last night, as the bluster, or rather, the brief lack of it, contributed directly to the Cardinals' 3-0 shutout win. The Cards moved to 3-2 on the short season.
It was almost as if the Brewers had scheduled a Dancing Flags promotion, as it was mostly impossible to predict which way the pennants were going to blow next.
It isn't usually this way at Miller. Oh, there can be wind, but it usually blows from right and rarely interferes with offense, as Milwaukee is typically in the top three MLB stadiums for runs above the mean.
But tonight was the exception, as the twisty and turny currents only briefly swirled from infield out, and that interlude in the fifth inning led to the three Cards runs off Brewers started Josh Lindblom.
After two outs, Yadier Molina singled, and Kolten Wong and Dylan Carlson walked, an unusual occurrence for Lindblom, who last year walked less than two per nine in almost 200 innings with Korean league's Doosan. A towering fly ball from Harrison Bader followed, and it barely stayed in the park, glancing off the top of the left-center wall and allowing all three runners to score.
It could have been the first win of the season for St. Louis starter Daniel Poncedeleon, and given that he threw four shutout innings, maybe he should have been given the chance. But it took him 82 pitches for just that segment, and manager Mike Shidt had seen enough.
"He was lucky, he was unlucky, he threw a lot of pitches, a lot of balls they swung at, some they didn't, a fair number of fouls, and overall, it was a real slog," said Shildt. "Anyone would have gone nuts on the mound tonight. I felt for both those starters. Totally frustrating."
Cards pitcher Kwang Hyun Kim, in his second appearance, picked up his first win by pitching the fifth through seventh on only 32 pitches. He seemed relatively unfazed by the wind, even when a pop foul to Tommy Edman at third that started on the infield ended up almost 10 rows into the left-field stands.
But mostly, Kim kept the ball away from bats and the sky. Three strikeouts and four grounders made for seven of his nine outs. Only a single to Lorenzo Cain and a walk to Ryan Braun marred his outing.
Ryan Helsley pitched the last two innings, struck out four, and was able to work around an Orlando Arcia ball that Bader got right under...until it landed 20 feet from where his legs were planted.
"I can't say I've witnessed that too many times," said Bader. "Now you see it, now you don't. If it were like that every night, I would probably have quit this game a few years back."
In total, two fly balls on the outfield, and one on the infield, all that seemed sure outs, fell unpredictably from where they were expected. Each team benefitted from one of them with blustery doubles, and the third was captured by Cards shortstop Paul DeJong as he tumbled to his right and snared the pop inches from the ground.
"My fourth year now, and I've never seen Miller Park like that," said DeJong, who was the beneficiary of one of the wind-blown doubles in his first at bat. "It's usually like Coors (Field) here. I think I've experienced that at Wrigley Field. Not here."
Other than his walks, the breezy adventures, and the Bader bomb, Lindblom was solid over six. Brent Suter and Freddy Peralta finished up.
Next Up and Notes: The finale tomorrow afternoon pits aces, Jack Flaherty (1-0) versus Brandon Woodruff (0-1).
Braun, who had a sore shoulder in spring, said after the game he feels fine. Shildt said Matt Wieters would get his second catching start tomorrow, and that Rangel Ravelo would most likely be his starting first baseman. Tyler O'Neill returns from his two-game suspension for his part in the bench-clearing altercation in Cincinnati Sunday.