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Miles Mikolas Shuts Out the Royals 5.21.18

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The Cardinals’ sudden star struck out 9 and allowed just 4 hits. Also, Tyler O’Neill is a monster.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve all seen this coming for a while now. Miles Mikolas has command of 3+ pitches, doesn’t walk anyone, and is crazy efficient. It was only a matter of time before he went the distance, and completely dominated someone - the Kansas City Royals were the team to finally oblige him.

In his last start, he didn’t have the usual feel for his pitches, and fell short of 5 innings in a victory over the Twins. He bounced back tonight, flashing that wicked curveball and sneaky fastball while confounding what looked like an under-prepared Royals lineup. The Royals came into tonight’s game the 9th-worst offense in baseball by wRC+, but were actually slightly better than Milwaukee, Cincinnati, & San Diego, who account for over half of his starts this season.

On the offensive side, Tyler O’Neill, Marcell Ozuna, and Matt Carpenter shone. O’Neill continued his torrid return to the majors with his 3rd home run in as many days, and added in a double for good measure. Marcell Ozuna reached base 3 times, and Matt Carpenter tacked on another double and HR.

Events

1st Inning

Mikolas had to do it himself in the opening frame. He struck out Jay & Soler on a curveball & 97mph fastball, respectively, before Moustakas somehow grounded a ball right through the jaws of the infield shift. Then, Perez ripped a hard-hit grounder off Greg Garcia’s glove to put Mikolas’ strong start in peril, but the Cardinal righty overpowered Whit Merrifield with a 96mph fastball to strike out the side. He used just 15 pitches.

The Cardinals did not get to Ian Kennedy in the bottom half, but they did at least make him work. Pham got worked away and eventually struck out swinging through an elevated fastball. Matt Carpenter picked him up by lining yet another double into the RCF gap, continuing his torrid week. Martinez worked a full count and lined out to 1B, and Ozuna drew a 4-pitch walk, but O’Neill flared out to CF on a ball off the end of his bat. Kennedy required 27 pitches to navigate the inning.

2nd Inning

Mikolas breezed through the bottom of the Royals’ order. He induced what looked to be a troublesome grounder to the left side of the infield, but Gyorko covered some serious ground in a short amount of time and retired the Kansas City first baseman. He then struck out Gordon looking, and got Escobar to ground out on an easy ball to SS. He was at just 23 pitches.

Kennedy fared similarly against the bottom of the Cardinals’ order. He got Gyorko to ground out on a ball that was bobbled but corralled in time by Escobar at SS, Garcia to line out to 3B, and Peña to ground out on a comebacker. His pitch count back to a manageable 34.

3rd Inning

Mikolas ran into another little bit of trouble in the 3rd. He surrendered a single to his counterpart to start the inning (which was almost turned into a 9-3 putout,) then got beaten by a classic Jon Jay inside-out swing for another single before recording an out. Fortunately he got Soler to ground into a 5-4-3 double play, and Moustakas to line out to CF. He was up to 44 pitches.

The Cardinals finally broke through in the bottom of the 3rd, and all with 2 outs. After Mikolas flew out to RF and Pham struck out again, Matt Carpenter started the rally with a controlled, half-swing to guide the ball over the SS head into LF. Martinez & Ozuna followed with singles to CF & RF, the latter of which broke the 0-0 tie. Then, Tyler O’Neill stepped up and crushed an opposite field HR into the RF bullpen. Kennedy escaped the inning with his 68th pitch. 4-0 Cardinals.

4th Inning

Mikolas made his new lead stand up. He caught Perez off guard with a fastball for a strikeout looking, before going too far inside and hitting Merrifield on the forearm. But he quickly got Dozier to ground into a 6-4-3 double play with his 51st pitch to bail himself out.

The Cardinals went down easy in the 4th. Peña grounded out to SS (featuring another slight miscue by Escobar in the form of a wide, but close enough, throw), and Mikolas & Pham struck out. Kennedy was up to 83 pitches.

5th Inning

Mikolas cruised through the bottom of the Royals’ order this time. He got Gordon to ground out into the jaws of the shift, struck out Escobar with a fastball up-and-away, and got his counterpart, to ground out to SS. He was up to 59 pitches.

The Cardinals mustered another 2-out rally in the 5th. After Carpenter flew out to RF and Martinez grounded out to 3B, Marcell Ozuna ripped a single to CF, and Tyler O’Neill crushed a double down the LF line to drive him in. Kennedy was up to 93 pitches. 5-0 Cardinals.

6th Inning

Mikolas was locked-in. He got Jay to ground out softly to SS, before he struck out Soler on 3 pitches, the last of which was, frankly, an obscene curveball. He got Moustakas to pop out to Peña in foul territory to complete the inning, still at just 71 pitches.

The Cardinals finally punted Kennedy in the 6th, though it had felt like he should have been gone a few innings prior. Greg Garcia, after apparently injuring a back muscle mid-PA, greeted him with a clean single through the left side of the infield, and was pinch-run for by Yairo Muñoz. After Peña popped out to CF, and Mikolas bunted Yairo to 2B, Kennedy was up to 108 pitches, and Ned Yost turned to his bullpen.

Jason Adam relieved, and struck out Tommy Pham. It was Tommy’s 4th of the game.

7th Inning

Mikolas just kept on dealing. He battled Perez for 9 pitches and eventually prevailed with a slider to earn his 8th strike out, then got Merrifield to ground out to 2B, and Dozier to pop out to O’Neill down the RF line. Mikolas was up to 88 pitches.

Mikolas got even more cushion in the 7th, courtesy of Matt Carpenter. The resurgent Cardinal infielder showed a vintage swing, lifting a long home run into the seats in RF. Adam was then able to recover and strike out Martinez, Ozuna, and O’Neill. 6-0 Cardinals.

8th Inning

Mikolas eased through the bottom of the Royals’ lineup again. He got Gordon to fly out just short of the track in CF, on a ball that carried much further than it seemed it should have. Then he got Escobar to bloop out to 2B, and pinch-hitter Goins to ground out to Carpenter at 1B. He was up to 97 pitches, and testing his manager.

Old friend, and human-trafficking deterrent Blaine Boyer relieved Adam. He struck out Gyorko with an elevated fastball, before getting Muñoz to ground out to 2B, and Peña to ground out to 3B.

9th Inning

Mikolas was able to talk his way into a crack at the CGSO, and he made good on it. He got Jay to fly out to CF on the first pitch, dominated Soler with a trio of curveballs for another strikeout, and, after walked Moustakas, got Salvador Perez to fly out down the RF line to complete the shut out. Cardinals win 6-0.

Final Lines

Miles Mikolas: 9.0 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 9 K, 1 BB, 93 GSc, 109 pitches

Ian Kennedy: 5.2 IP, 5 R, 9 H, 5 K, 1 BB, 38 GSc, 108 pitches

Notes

  • Mikolas retired 15 straight from the 4th to the 9th.
  • His walk of Moustakas in the 9th was his first of the season at home. It’s May 21st.
  • Marcell Ozuna reached base 3+ times for the 6th time this season.
  • Tyler O’Neill is a man.
  • Mikolas reached a 3-ball count 3 times all game. Pretty sure that’s Jordan Hicks’ average, too.
  • As a Kansas City resident, this is one of my favorite times of year.