The Cardinals won tonight, propelled by a couple of very Cardinals players — you know, the ones who piss off Cubs fans by coming out of seemingly nowhere to play well in red — by a score of 2-1 over the San Diego Padres. The Padres get to live in a very nice place to live, but are otherwise unenviable.
Tommy Pham returned to action after a few games off nursing some groin tightness, and with that St. Louis ran out their regular lineup (sans Yadier Molina at catcher, of course) for what seems like the first time in a while. Early-spring-training goat turned early-season savior (HINT) Miles Mikolas took the hill for the visitors, with Jordan Lyles — a classic “oh yeah, that guy” guy if there ever was one — opposing for the home team.
The Cardinals struck right away in the 1st, as my unverified suspicions state has often been true this year. Pham led off the game with a lined single then took two bases on two Lyles wild pitches, and Jose Martinez hit a solid sac fly to plate him. The Cards were unfortunate not to get more, as my unverified suspicions state has also often been true this year, because they got two more runners on with two outs but Paul DeJong lined one straight at the second baseman to end the inning.
St. Louis next threatened in the 4th: Marcell Ozuna singled and stole a base to lead off the frame, and after a Dexter Fowler flyout, DeJong singled to center. Ozuna had to hold at third because it wasn’t clear the ball would drop, though, leaving men on first and third with two out. Kolten Wong hit the ball hard but — again — right at the second baseman, for an easy inning-ending double play.
Meanwhile, Mikolas was doing what he’s done all year: throwing strikes and taking names. The bottom halves of the innings were downright boring until the 4th, when one of the year’s interesting minor storylines (can Ozuna throw, or...) got an emphatic “yes” data point added to it. Or at least yes, he can when he needs to: Ozuna gunned down Jose Pirela at second on what was nearly a homer but ended up a single off the wall and a perfectly played outfield assist.
In the top of the 5th, Tommy Pham had clearly had enough of this nonsense. He crushed a hanging breaking ball to left field, where extremely-Padres-named Franchy Cordero chased it but quickly ran out of outfield. It was Pham’s 6th dinger of the year. He is very good. So very good.
Speaking of very good: Miles Mikolas, you guys. Wow! Every once in a while, a guy who wasn’t very good early in his career figures some stuff out and slowly blooms into a really good MLB pitcher by his late 20s. It’s not that weird a thing — Corey Kluber and Jake Arrieta had their first great seasons at 28, etc. I’m not comparing Mikolas to those guys, just saying: a guy emerging as good around Mikolas’s age (29) despite not being so good earlier in his career isn’t that weird. It’s a little weird to have the got-good development happen in Japan, which is probably why it still doesn’t quite feel real that Mikolas is really good, but... man. How many guys are there that can just throw strikes and strikes and strikes and nobody can really do much with it? He seems good.
Anyway, that’s enough of me gushing about a guy based on what, fine, might just be a good six weeks of BABIP. This is a game recap, and what happened in the game was: Miles Mikolas was really good. Through six innings, he walked one (first of those in a while), struck out three, and allowed no runs. In the 6th inning, with a guy in scoring position and two outs and a 2-0 count, he kinda went hmmm and threw three perfect pitches in a row — the third a 96 mph fastball on the corner, because he’s one of those guys who has that velocity in reserve whenever he decides he needs it, even the 87th pitch of the game.
Miles Mikolas, folks. Huh!
On the other hand: Mike Matheny. Ever the reactive instead of proactive manager, Matheny kept Mikolas out there to try to get an extra inning despite a day off yesterday and the perpetual extra bullpen arm. The result was not as bad as it could have been — a double-play grounder squeezed between a laced single and a homer meant the homer only scored one. But it was still an example of why you take the starter out before he gets into trouble instead of after, and also an example of why they ought to just move on from Matheny, because he just doesn’t get that and isn’t going to learn.
Jordan Hicks got the last out in the 7th, after Mikolas was pulled with the score 2-1. The Cardinals didn’t score in the bottom of the inning, and guess who warmed up to pitch in a one-run game? If you guessed anything but Greg Holland, I envy your innocence. It was Holland.
Holland did get a scoreless inning, which is so thoroughly not the point that I almost hate to write it. But hey, this is a game recap, so: that’s what happened this time.
The Cards didn’t add anything in insurance, so spring-training goat turned early-season savior (HINT) Bud Norris came on to save a one-run game. And he did it with no trouble. Which, thanks Bud, I’m sleepy. Good guys win 2-1.
- I could watch Kolten Wong start or turn double plays all day.
- Who knows, maybe this is the time Greg Holland turned the corner. But if you’re confident of that, remember to own it for a month. Because me, I’m waiting a month. I hope I’m the one looking dumb in a month.
- Other humans attempt baseball, but none of them are Tommy. Only Tommy is good.