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Game 25 Recap: Mikolas stifles Pirates, Holland blows save, Cardinals lose

Also, Jose Martinez is really bad at first base.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports


The thing about recaps is that we’re generally writing them as the game goes on, then wrapping them up quickly once it ends. Games are trending in certain directions the whole time — either the Cards are probably gonna win, or probably lose, or it’s close. In any of the cases it’s pretty easy to write with the appropriate tone as you go, and then fill in the ultimate results. Nobody wants to go back and rewrite a whole thing after things take an abrupt turn late. Especially if they have a deadline in the morning and haven’t written that thing yet either. And especially if the abrupt turn was the game going to crap.

This one went to crap. Did I just delete it all and restart with things looking extremely grim in the bottom of the 9th? Indeed I did. Pretty mad about that! Let’s see how it ended.

Miles Mikolas started for the Cardinals, against Steven Brault. Mikolas was very good. He’s fun to watch pitch, too; he works quickly and throws strikes and his games tend toward being aesthetically pleasant, in a way that modern three-true-outcomes baseball often isn’t. He went seven innings, which was great after an extra-innings game. He allowed just two runs. One was a mammoth solo homer, and the other was largely due to Jose Martinez being lousy at first base.

And the Cardinals pounded Brault. They got five off him. At one point, it was 5-0. Marcell Ozuna had a couple RBI singles, Jedd Gyorko mashed a tater, Tommy Pham doubled in a run, etc. The “soft tossing lefties kill the Cardinals” thing has been trash for a while, and the Cards put Brault in the trash. It was good.

So they were cruising along late, Bud Norris held the lead in the 8th, and Greg Holland was apparently deemed adequately... whatever it is that means he’s recovered Veteran Proviness, and he came in for the save with a three-run lead.

Ringing double, lined single, error on Martinez (sighhhh), a second ringing double. Lead gone. Man on third due to Pham fumbling the second ringing double (E8). Nobody out. Except Holland: Holland was taken out.

But then, the Cards’ bullpenners stepped in and did some hero work. Dominic Leone got a shallow enough pop fly to center that the runner couldn’t score from third. Tyler Lyons struck out Gregory Polanco. Then Matt Bowman — I rolled my eyes, too, but at that point it was just him, Mike Mayers, and a tired Luke Gregerson left — struck out Starling Marte to at least salvage a tie.

A stupid, terrible tie. But not yet a loss.

Felipe Rivero Vasquez is awesome and he held the Cards off the board in the top of the 10th. Bowman kept it tied in the bottom of the 10th. The Cardinals got some bad luck when Kolten Wong ripped one deep to right on a hit and run (with Harrison Bader running) in the 11th but right at Gregory Polanco, and it turned into a double play.

Jordan Hicks came on to pitch in the bottom of the 11th. If you’re comfortable yet with him pitching in the bottom of extra innings, you are... not me. He walked a guy, allowed the guy to advance to second on a wild pitch, the guy got to third on a grounder to the right side, and the guy scored on a slider on the outside corner that Starling Marte calmly poked up the middle for a walk-off single.

Bad loss. $14 million for Greg Holland, though, so if you’re one of those people who likes to get on the team about spending for spending’s sake (you know who you are), this one’s for you. They sure did spend some money.


  • Can’t take Jose Martinez’s bat out of the lineup, but they need to start taking him out late for defense. Routinely. He’s so good at hitting, but so bad at first base. So very bad.
  • Fun story, every time anybody at VEB wrote anything questioning Martinez’s defense in a post last year — like even an offhand comment — there was this one guy who would send us hate mail about it. Sometimes he’d call us racist! Will I get one of those after this recap?? Bring it on, random weirdo: Jose Martinez is just awful at first base.
  • Listen, if my post tomorrow morning is either bad or, um, not existent, I’m sorry. Recapping extra-inning games two nights in a row places a surprising amount of strain on a person’s (or at least my) writing schedule. Especially when a person is (or at least I am) too dumb to check what others are doing and has to tear something up on short notice because it’s duplicative.
  • The “Greg Holland reclaims the closer role” clock has been reset to two consecutive scoreless appearances. Watch this space for updates.
  • The “woo” thing spreading to fans around the country now is a scourge. I think it started in Pittsburgh. I will neither forgive nor forget. If you are reading this and you’ve ever done that: you’re bad.