If this game was a Friends episode, it would be titled “The One With Greg Holland Walking In The Go-Ahead Run.” If it was a Scrubs episode, it would be titled “My Closer,” and the guest-star patient dies. It was Greg and the No Good, Very Bad Game.
The Cardinals’ new closer made his Cardinal debut after 2 appearances with High-A Palm Beach. He was all over the place, showing no signs of improving while he walked the bases loaded and ultimately walked in the go-ahead run in extra innings. He bounced his first pitch a foot in front of home plate; hardly any of his next 18 pitches were much better.
Miles Mikolas looked good, on the other hand, but recorded another underwhelming final line vs. the Brewers’ offense. His line probably looks a lot better if his right fielder cleanly fields an innocent hit in the 4th inning and limits the damage incurred to just 1 run.
To make matters worse, each of the Cardinals’ corner outfielders was thrown out making a bone-headed attempt to stretch extra bases out of base hits. Between those and the persistent cold, Jose Oquendo might be missing his gig in Florida.
Mikolas mowed the Brewers down to start the game. Sitting 91-95mph on his fastball, and flashing sharp sliders and curveballs, he fooled Lorenzo Cain into chasing a wide breaking ball for his first strikeout. After he induced a weak ground out to 2B from Eric Thames, he overpowered Ryan Braun with an elevated fastball for his second strikeout. He required just 12 pitches.
Jhoulys Chacin did not look as sharp, early. Unable to crack 90mph with his fastball, the Brewer righty surrendered a leadoff single to Fowler, but benefited from an ill-advised decision by the Cardinal RF to try to stretch the liner to medium LCF into a double. Lorenzo Cain threw him out. Pham followed with a pop out to RF, and Carpenter grounded out into the jaws of the infield shift. Chacin threw just 10 pitches.
Travis Shaw led off the 2nd by golfing a low & inside fastball off the wall in RF. Fowler played the carom perfectly, but was unable to also make a perfect throw to get the third baseman at 2B. Domingo Santana followed with an ground ball, RBI single up the middle off DeJong’s glove. Mikolas slowed things down and got Sogard to line out to LF, balked Pina to 2B, and got Pina to fly out to CF. With 2 outs and the pitcher on deck, the Cardinal battery decided to pitch to Orlando Arcia, who lined an RBI double down the 1B line to score a second run. Mikolas got Chacin to ground out weakly to SS. Mikolas was at 32 pitches. 2-0 Brewers.
Marcell Ozuna led off the bottom half with a double grounded down the 3B line. If only he’d left it at that. He tried to stretch it into a triple, but was thrown out by Braun. Martinez grounded out to 3B, and Molina dinked an outside pitch to 3B for the final out. Chacin was getting under all his breaking balls, but the Cardinals were unable to hit them. He was at 23 pitches.
Mikolas recovered and retired the top of the order in sequence. He got Cain to ground out on a hot shot down to 3B, fooled Thames badly with a back-foot curveball for a punch out, and retired Braun on a tapped come-backer with his 44th pitch of the game.
The Cardinals finally put something together in the 3rd. Though Paul DeJong’s sudden cold streak persisted with his pop out to 1B to lead off the 3rd, Kolten Wong showed signs of life by working a walk ahead of his pitcher, and was sacrificed over to 2B by Mikolas. With 2 outs, Dexter Fowler redeemed himself with an RBI single to RF. Pham followed by drawing a well-fought walk and then, after a mound visit, Carpenter drew a 4-pitch walk of his own to load the bases for Marcell Ozuna. The Cardinal LF was able to redeem himself, too, with a sharp grounder up the middle to score a pair. Martinez grounded out to Chacin to end the threat. The 35-pitch inning ballooned Chacin’s count to 57. 3-2 Cardinals.
Mikolas and his defense were unable to make the lead last. Travis Shaw threaded a needle past Martinez and under Wong’s glove in short RF for a lead off single. Then, after Santana struck out, Eric Sogard laced a 1-2 slider into RF, on which Fowler whiffed and allowed the runners to advance to 2B/3B. Manny Pina cashed them in with a single into RCF. Arcia and Chacin grounded out to SS to end the inning. Mikolas was at 67 pitches. 4-3 Brewers.
The Cardinals tried to claw their way back to even in the 4th, but came up just short. Molina led off by watching a fastball just off the outside corner called strike three, but Paul DeJong managed a double to LF. Wong and Mikolas could not cash him in, but not for lack of effort. Wong was thwarted on a grounder up the middle by a shifted Arcia, and Mikolas was thwarted on a grounder in the hole by the same man. Chacin was at 71 pitches.
Mikolas handled the top of the Brewers lineup with no trouble once again. He got Cain to ground out to SS on 4 pitches, flashed 98mph and struck out Thames on another 4 pitches, and got Braun to ground out to SS on 2 pitches. Mikolas was at 77 pitches.
Errors giveth, and errors taketh away - after booting a ball in the 4th, Fowler reached safely because of a bobble by Arcia on his slow-hit grounder. Pham advanced him to 2B on a ground out to 3B, and Carpenter advanced him to another base on a scorched, sinking line out to RF. Craig Counsell decided he’d seen enough of Chacin, and made the move to his bullpen.
Jeremy Jeffress received the call, and struck out Ozuna with a splitter below the zone. Ozuna did not look good.
Mikolas finally conquered the bottom of the Brewers’ order in the 6th. He got Shaw to pop out harmlessly to CF, and induced a ground out off the bat of Santana. After Sogard doubled to LCF, he got Pina to ground out softly to SS. Mikolas was at 91 pitches.
Jeffress returned for a whole inning of work, and made it look easy. He retired Martinez on a come-backer, and got Molina & DeJong to ground out meekly to 3B.
Mikolas returned for the 7th, looking to perhaps save his besieged bullpen some trouble. After he got Arcia to ground out to 1B, pinch-hitter Jonathan Villar beat out an infield single. In reality, Carpenter fielded the ball and threw it well enough to retire the Brewers infielder, but the ball somehow went under Jose Martinez’s glove. Mikolas was at 99 pitches and was out of leash.
Tyler Lyons relieved and got Cain to pop out to Wong in short RF, but walked Thames on 4 pitches ahead and surrendered a single to Braun to load the bases. Villar should have scored, but slammed on the breaks after stumbling as his 3B coach waved him home. The guy seems rather error-prone. Shaw flew out to RF to spare the home 9.
Josh Hader relieved Jeffress. Kolten Wong battled the lanky lefty for 10 pitches and ultimately drew what looked to be a big, lead-off walk. But pinch-hitter Harrison Bader struck out chasing a low change-up, Fowler struck out looking at a fastball just off the plate, and Pham struck out swinging at a wicked 3-2 slider in the zone.
The long-lost Sam Tuivailala pitched the 8th. Working quickly and sitting 93-95, the Cardinal righty got Santana to fly out to RF, but then surrendered a double to RCF of the bat of Eric Sogard. After Pina flew out to RF, Matheny was tasked with deciding whether to pitch to Arcia, or walk him and force Counsell to pinch-hit for Hader. Matheny opted for the former, and Tui got Arcia to pop out into foul territory.
Since Hader remained in the game, he got to face the Cardinals’ best lefty hitter, Matt Carpenter, and struck him out on 6 pitches. Jacob Barnes relieved and struck out Ozuna and Martinez on some excellent cutters. That was 6 straight strike outs for this wayward Cardinal offense.
Tui remained in the game for another inning of work. He got pinch-hitter Brett Phillips to fly out to Pham in LCF before inducing a weak tapper in front of the mount from Cain. Tui made a great barehanded play and fired a bouncer in front of Martinez at first, which the stone-handed first baseman could not corral. To make matters worse, Cain clipped Martinez’s Achilles on the play, and both went down in pain and had to leave the game. Thames grounded into a 3-6 fielder’s choice, and Braun flew out to RF.
Matt Albers entered to close it out. Yadier Molina got the comeback in motion with a clean, lead off single to RF, and Paul DeJong was gifted an infield hit when his come-backer glanced off Albers glove and died before Arcia could field it in time. With Luke Weaver in to pinch-run for Molina, Kolten Wong dropped down an absolutely perfect bunt down the third base line, and reached to load the bases with nobody out. After pinch-hitter Greg Garcia popped out to short CF, Dexter Fowler lifted a sac fly to deep CF to tie the game. Pham grounded out to 2B to end the rally. 4-4 Tie.
Greg Holland made his Cardinal debut to start the 10th, pitching to someone name “Francisco Pena.” Showing his rust, he featured a series of non-competitive pitches before walking Shaw and Santana. After a meeting with Matheny, he accepted a sacrifice bunt from Sogard, to finally record an out. But after an intentional walk, he walked Arcia on 4 pitches to force in a run an put a cap on his debut. This is why I drink. 5-4 Brewers.
Bud Norris entered to put out the fire. He struck out Brett Phillips, and got Hernan Perez to fly out to LF.
Albers remained in to redeem himself and earn the Izzy. He got Carpenter to chase a fastball way above the zone for a strike out, lucked out that an absolute laser by Ozuna was hit right at the CFer, and struck out Yairo Munoz with a low 2-seamer. Brewers win 5-4.
Miles Mikolas: 6.1 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 5 K, 0 BB, 55 GSc
Jhoulys Chacin: 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 1 K, 3 BB, 44 GSc
Maybe a lower-leverage spot for Holland might have been in order for his first appearance, given that's off his usual early-season routine.— Dayn Perry (@daynperry) April 10, 2018
So the plan was to intentionally walk the bases loaded with a pitcher who had walked two and shown no semblance of control? And it backfired? Weird.— Craig Edwards (@craigjedwards) April 10, 2018
Holland was terrible and Matheny is a moron but this game should have been over. Bases loaded with no outs and only getting one run is bad.— Joe Barker (@_JoeB) April 10, 2018
remember how the cardinals carry an extra reliever literally so that they don't have to worry about extra innings, and because they do that they ran out of position players tonighthttps://t.co/KNquuh4DIXhttps://t.co/wiRmhV0WTD— Andy Schrag (@aschrag83) April 10, 2018
Sports are bad. All of them. All the time.— Black Death Bird (@azta110790) April 10, 2018
- Jose Martinez is making Brandon Moss and Matt Holliday look downright competent at first base.
- Jose’s injury was diagnosed as an achilles contusion. No timetable for a return.
- The Cardinals started off 7-3 in 2015, 6-4 in 2016, 3-7 in 2017, and 4-6 this season.
- Starting to think Bud Norris might be good.
- “Free baseball” is a monkey’s paw if I’ve ever seen one.
- Greg Holland was not ready to pitch today, which makes one wonder who in the front office decided he was.