Good teams are supposed to get fat on bad teams like the Reds. That’s just how baseball works. I won’t apologize for it, and neither should you.
Miles Mikolas continues to be such a pleasant surprise. He led the NPB in innings pitched and strike outs, but I just wasn’t ready for him to be as good as he’s been. He practically underhands the ball at 95mph, and he mixes in a bevy of breaking balls to flummox hitters. He lulls you to sleep out there, and I like sleeping. What a guy.
This game could have been 20-2 with all the opportunities the offense saw go to waste. Cardinal batters went 5-16 with runners in scoring position, which isn’t so bad in ratio form, but boy was it frustrating to watch for the first 6 comparatively fruitless innings. The were constantly letting Reds’ starter Luis Castillo out of trouble, and let the hapless Reds hang around for far too long. I don’t expect the rest of the league to be as forgiving as the Reds.
Mikolas had no trouble setting down the Reds in the 1st. Mixing sneaky mid-90s velocity with an 80mph curveball, he got Peraza to reach for a slider and pop out to Wong in foul territory, Winker to strike out swinging, and Votto to fly out to LF. He threw all of 12 pitches.
In what has become typical for this offense, the Cardinals mounted a rally and had the opposing pitcher on the ropes, only to let him off the hook. After Carpenter grounded out to 1B to start the inning, Yadi chipped a single into CF, and Jose Martinez blistered a double off the glove of third baseman Blandino. After Fowler walked to load the bases, and DeJong worked a 3-0 count, Castillo was able to induce a 5-4-3 double play off the bat of the Cardinal shortstop to escape the jam. All told, the inning cost him just 21 pitches.
Mikolas got dinged for a couple of singles in the 2nd, but no harm came of them. He made Cardinal-killer Scooter Gennett look foolish on a swinging strike out, before surrendering his first single to Scott Schebler, against the shift. Mesoraco guided a grounder towards the hole between 3B and SS, but Paul DeJong made an acrobatic play to field, throw, and retire the lead runner at 2B. Then, after Blandino poked another single through the right side of the infield, Mikolas got his counterpart to ground out to shortstop. He was at 28 pitches.
As most fans were expecting, Tyler O’Neill led off the 2nd with a weak ground out, and Kolten Wong launched his first home run of the season. Castillo recovered to strike out Bader and Mikolas. He was at 37 pitches. 1-0 Cardinals.
Mikolas breezed through the Reds in the 3rd in the blink of an eye. He got Hamilton to ground out to 3B on 2 pitches, retired Peraza trying to bunt his way on with 4 pitches, and got Winker to ground out to 2B on 2 pitches. Carpenter made a great barehanded play on Peraza’s bunt, and Wong made a wide-ranging play and jump-through to retire Winker. Mikolas was at 36 pitches.
The Cardinals mounted another rally in the 3rd, and cashed in this time. Carpenter walked and Molina singled to set the table. After Martinez moved Carp to 3B with a fly out to deep CF, Dexter Fowler chopped a ball back toward the pitcher. Carpenter was running on contact, and Castillo tried to barehand it and fire home, but botched the play and everyone was safe. DeJong followed with a clean single up the middle to load the bases, and O’Neill cashed one of them in with a sac fly to LF. Wong struck out to end the threat. Castillo was now at 60 pitches. 3-0 Cardinals.
Mikolas gave his center fielder some work in the 4th. He got all 3 of Votto, Gennett, and Schebler to fly out to the fleet-footed fielder, requiring just 10 pitches to do so. He was at 46 pitches through 4.
The Cardinals let Castillo off the hook again in the 4th. Bader led off with a single through the left side, and Mikolas followed by turning a sacrifice situation into a walk. But Carpenter and Yadi flew out to LF, neither deep enough for Bader to advance. Martinez ended the rally by grounding out to SS. Castillo was up to 77 pitches.
As a light rain began to fall, Mikolas kept rolling. He struck out Mesoraco with a low-and-away slider, got Blandino to ground out to 3B and, after allowing a single to his counterpart Castillo, struck out Hamilton looking at a curveball. He was at just 58 pitches.
The Cardinals squandered another opportunity in the 5th. Fowler led off with a walk, stole 2B, and then advanced to 3B on DeJong’s ground out to SS. But Tyler O’Neill crushed a liner right at third baseman Alex Blandino, who was then able to double off Fowler with ease. Castillo was at 89 pitches and his afternoon was through.
Mikolas was having it a little too easy, so Carpenter decided to shot put Peraza’s grounder out of the limited reach of Martinez at first. Winker followed with an RBI double just out of Fowler’s reach in RF, and Votto then grounded a ball off Mikolas’ arm into short LF that scored another Red run. Mikolas bore down and got Gennett to fly out to the track in RF, Schebler to pop out to Wong in short RF, and Mesoraco to swing through another slider. Despite the long inning, his pitch count was still just 74. 3-2 Cardinals.
Right-hander Austin Brice relieved Castillo and put up the Reds’ first 1-2-3 inning of the game. He got Wong to ground out to 2B, Bader to ground out to 3B, and Mikolas to strike out swinging.
Mikolas rewarded Matheny for sticking with him after getting touched up a little in the inning prior. He made Blandino look foolish with a sharp cutter down the middle, got Gosselin to ground out with the help of a second wide-ranging play by Kolten Wong, and got Hamilton to pop out to short LF. He was now at 85 pitches, and his afternoon was complete.
The Cardinals finally broke through in the 7th, against Kevin Quackenbush. After Carpenter struck out, Molina doubled into the LF corner. Then, after Martinez lined out to RF and Fowler walked, Paul DeJong fouled off a couple breaking balls until he got a hanger, and unloaded a HR into the Reds bullpen in LF. 6-2 Cardinals.
Bud Norris relieved Mikolas. Mixing 93mph fastballs and 90mph cutters, he got Peraza to ground out to SS, Winker to strike out swinging, and Votto to line out to deep CF on 8 total pitches.
With the game seemingly out of reach, Quackenbush returned for a second inning of work, despite having already thrown 29 pitches the inning prior. That wear proved to be too much to overcome. Wong led off with a 4-pitch walk before Harrison Bader stung a single back up the middle. Wong tested Hamilton and successfully went 1st-to-3rd, and the throw he drew allowed Bader to advance to 2B. Greg Garcia, pinch-hitting for Norris, then smacked a 2-run double to LCF to chase the beleaguered Red reliever from the game.
Jared Hughes sprinted in to relieve his teammate. Jedd Gyorko, who subbed in for Carpenter in the top half of the inning, laced a single past a diving Gennett to advance Garcia to 3B, and Yadi cashed him in with a sac fly to deep LCF. Martinez flew out to RF, Fowler walked again, and DeJong grounded out on a comebacker to cap the big inning. 9-2 Cardinals.
With a comfortable, 7-run lead, it was a perfect opportunity to get Greg Holland some work. As the sky finally opened up, the Cardinal reliever battled Gennett for 8 pitches before getting a generous called strike three. He then got Schebler to fly out to deep LF, and Mesoraco to pop out to 3B. Cardinals win 9-2.
Miles Mikolas: 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 6 K, 0 BB, 72 GSc
Luis Castillo: 5.0 IP, 3 ER, 7 H, 3 K, 4 BB, 36 GSc
- Adam Wainwright spoke before the game about how he has had to lower his arm slot to stay healthy, and that trying to fight that in his first start this year is what caused the pain that has landed him on the disabled list.
- Fowler reached base 5 times today, four times via walk, and stole a base.
- Really enjoying Miles Mikolas, you guys.
- Greg Garcia’s pinch-hit double provided the Cardinals’ first pinch-hit RBI of the season.
The Cardinals are off tomorrow, and will resume play on Tuesday at home against the Mets. Game starts at 7:15pm CST, and can be viewed on FSMW or SNY.