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Cards win first game of series against Cubs 3-2 behind great Mikolas start

Miles Mikolas pitched great and Jose Quintana did not, so this really shouldn’t have been a 3-2 game.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

With their second win of the year against the Cubs, the Cardinals already have half of their 2017 win total against them. Their record against the Cubs, which has been well-documented here and on the broadcast, is basically the reason the Cards missed the playoffs. So far, so good. I mean let’s not make every win this much of a nail-biter at the end, but as long as it’s a win, I’m sure my heart can take it. I survived 2011 dammit, I can surive some regular season Cubs-Cards matchups!

Depending on your fan loyalty, Jose Quintana either had an off night or continued what will surely be his terrible 2018 season. With one out, he quickly got into a 0-2 hole on Matt Carpenter, but Carpenter looked at the next four pitches and took first base. Jose Martinez then hit one of his patented line drives that Albert Almora almost caught on a diving catch, but it hit off his glove and fell right behind him. With runners on 1st and 2nd, Marcell Ozuna hit a single to left, and Carpenter was sent home. Jose Oquendo shouldn’t have sent Carpenter home, but he was and was thrown out easily. Yadier Molina struck out to end the inning.

In the 2nd, Quintana got a bit more unlucky. Dexter Fowler reached on an error by Javier Baez, who bobbled it and should have held onto it, but threw it wild. He was lucky the ball didn’t go into the stands the throw was so high. Jedd Gyorko then reached on an infield single that only happened because Anthony Rizzo’s foot went off the bag for a brief moment. It looked like the Cards might squander this opportunity when Paul DeJong lined out to right and Mikolas struck out, but then the man, the myth, the legend, the Pham came to the plate and hit a three-run homer.

And thank to the baseball gods he did. In the 3rd, the Cardinals got three baserunners on base and didn’t score. Sequencing is to blame for this one. Jose Martinez singled to lead off the inning and then Ozuna walked. With men on first and second, Molina hit into a double play ball. After a walk by Fowler, Quintana pitched Gyorko damn near perfect, striking him out to end the inning. The 4th inning for Quintana was uneventful, except for a leadoff walk by DeJong. The Cardinals made him throw 19 pitches in the inning, which gave him 88 for the day. With his spot in the order coming up 3rd, four innings is all Quintana threw.

Miles Mikolas was much more on his game. He managed to last seven scoreless innings, despite the fact that his defense did him absolutely no favors. After a leadoff single by Ben Zobrist and a strikeout to Kris Byrant, Anthony Rizzo grounded towards first base, which Jose Martinez fielded cleanly and threw towards second with an accurate throw. Ironically, DeJong’s throw towards first hit the dirt and Mikolas couldn’t catch it, which allowed Rizzo to be both safe and advanced to second.

Mikolas allowed a one-out single to Albert Almora in the 2nd, but otherwise had no other problems in both the 2nd and 3rd innings. In the 4th, Jose Martinez committed one of those errors that 99 percent of 1B field easily, but there were already two outs and he got Almora to ground out as well.

He ran into some trouble in the 5th. With one out, Baez singled to right and pinch-hitter Ian Happ doubled to bring runners to 2nd and 3rd with the top of the order looming. But he was able to get Ben Zobrist to strike out looking an an absolutely perfect 1-2 pitch. Bryant hit the first pitch he saw on the ground to end the inning. In the 6th, Rizzo got a leadoff infield single, but Mikolas got the next three batters out. For the 7th, he pitched another scoreless inning with just a single baserunner getting on base as well.

With Quintana out, the Cubs turned to short-lived former Cardinal Steve Cishek, who I hold an irrational grudge against for the Cards being the only team in his career where he wasn’t very good. Yeah yeah his ERA was good, but he walked 13.1% of runners and it was terrible to watch. You can imagine my disdain when he was able to pitch not only one, but two scoreless innings. The first was messy, with him allowing a single and a walk without any strikeouts, but he threw 6 pitches in his second inning of work, including a strikeout of Pham.

Justin Wilson replaced him and he’s been quite bad for the Cubs. There were no signs of his previous inability to stop walking people as he struck Carpenter out looking, then allowed three straight hard hit balls, before striking out Fowler to end the inning. If you’re wondering, Martinez (of course) lined out to center, and then Ozuna and Molina hit back-to-back singles with two outs.

Mikolas came back out for the 8th with 92 pitches. He replaced Jose Martinez by bringing in Kolten Wong and moving Carpenter over to 1st. Good work Matheny. Mikolas allowed a leadoff double on a pitch that was literally outside the strike zone that Bryant just hit the other way by sticking out his bat. Good hitter that Bryant guy. He took Mikolas out and replaced him with Tyler Lyons with Rizzo up. Again, good work Matheny. Lyons got Rizzo to pop it up to right field for the 1st out. He then took Lyons out after only two pitches to bring in Dominic Leone. Less good Matheny. Willson Contreras was on deck, but then Schwarber was after him, and besides Lyons doesn’t need to be treated like a LOOGY!

Anyway, Leone hurt himself warming up, with what Mark Saxon is reporting as right biceps cramping, otherwise known as the excuse I will use to not work out in the future. He brought in Luke Gregerson, who was fine. He was finding it hard to throw a strike to Conteras, but on 3-2, he threw a slider in the dirt and Contreras bit. He bit hard. Schwarber grounded out softly to Carpenter to end the inning.

In the 9th, the game turned stressful. Bud Norris came in to the close the game and to say he wasn’t fooling hitters would be an understatement. Almora hit a line drive single to lead off the inning. Jason Heyward hit a deep fly ball to left field that Ozuna was able to catch for the first out. A line drive single by Baez that Pham almost caught - he dove for it and was able to keep it in front of him despite missing it - led to runners at first and second. Tommy La Stella pinch-hit and he singled too, driving in the first run and putting runners at the corners. Zobrist hit into a force out to score the Cubs second run. With Bryant up and the game on the line, Norris threw two straight pitches right down the middle. Bryant whiffed and then fouled it off. On an 0-2 pitch, he hit his spot, throwing it inside to Bryant, who grounded out to end the game. CARDS WIN

Notes

  • Miles Mikolas - 7 IP, 4 Ks, 7 H - This is sort of misleading as he looked a bit better than that line suggests. What I mean by that is it seems like he got lucky not allowing a single run, but there were a few weak hits in those 7 hits. Six of them were singles and the lone double was on a good pitch that Bryant needed to reach for to hit it.
  • Tommy Pham hit a 3-run-homer, possibly as a gift for yesterday’s Tommy Pham Appreciation Day at VEB. Every day is Tommy Pham Appreciation Day, but we don’t always write about him three times.
  • Ozuna had a great day! He went 3-3 with a BB (!), and while all three hits were singles, they were also hit very hard. Very hard hit balls tend to become extra base hits eventually. Tonight’s walk was only his fourth of the year.
  • Speaking of walks, DeJong walked again and didn’t strike out at all. He went 0-3, but I’m very excited about how good he’s been recently with his K/BB ratio.

Tommorow the Cards have a good shot of making sure they win the series. Tyler Chatwood faces Luke Weaver. Chatwood has a good looking ERA, but walks 6.91 batters per 9 innings, so he’s not actually good. You know who is actually good? Luke Weaver. Tune in tomorrow at 1:15 CT for this matchup.