Act I: Flaherty Finds His Feel
In the early goings, Jack Flaherty showed the results typical of a pitcher still trying to find his feel. He’d miss spotting his fastball, but never by too much. It was just consistently a little bit off. This manifested itself the most in his 2nd inning, when he missed with a couple of fastballs inside and away to Cory Spangenberg, before serving up meatball that the underwhelming Padre infielder snuck over the RF wall on a line. A pair of singles followed to put pressure on the young righty, but Jack forced weak contact from everyone else and bailed himself out of trouble.
Meanwhile, the offense plied itself to figuring out Jordan Lyles. Lyles had been outstanding earlier in the year, even throwing 5 innings of 2-run (1 earned) ball against the Cardinals in early May. However, he was on the heels of his worst start of the season, in which he served up 8 runs in 4+ innings to the Braves. It looked as if the Cardinals were going to get to him early, as they mounted a 2-out rally on the backs of a trio of singles from Martinez, Ozuna, and Molina, but Gyorko flew out to strand them all. The bottom of the lineup faired little better as they only managed an infield single in the 2nd.
Through 2 innings, the Cardinals trailed 1-0.
Act II: Flaherty Takes Over
In the middle innings, Jack Flaherty dominated. After Raffy Lopez singled in the 2nd inning to put 2 on with 2 out, Flaherty retired his next 14 batters, which extended all the way through the 6th, into the top of the 7th inning. In that time, he struck out 5, induced 2 pop outs, and 5 ground outs. He was a new man.
Meanwhile, the offense found its groove. Tommy Pham led the 3rd off with a ground ball single to RF, and Jose Martinez immediately followed with a bomb to bleachers in CF, his 5th in 4 games. In the 4th, Jack himself smacked a line drive single to RF that Franmil Reyes misjudged and let slip past, allowing the surprisingly fleet Flaherty to reach 3B. Imagine Puig’s error on Yadi’s single in the NLCS, but without the fielder making contact with the ball, and the runner not being a Molina. Then, in the 5th, Martinez singled ahead of another bomb off the bat of the red-hot Marcell Ozuna, his 4th of June after hitting all of 1 in May.
Through 6 innings, the Cardinals led 4-1.
Act III: The Bullpen Holds On
Flaherty coasted into the 7th and retired his first batter, but had the wheels fall off in a 4-pitch walk to Spangenberg that just so happened to culminate with his 98th pitch. Matheny, showing an unusually quick hook, stalled long enough to get Brebbia warm and then removed his young starter. Brebbia entered and poured some gas on the fire by walking his first 2 batters, but recovered to strike out Lopez and Pirella on a pair of of wicked sliders to escape the bases-loaded jam. Gomber and Tuivailala combined for a scoreless 8th, but it wasn’t without its warts. Gomber surrendered a lead off double to the lefty Travis Jankowski before getting Hosmer to ground out, and Tuivailala uncorked a wild pitch to move the runner up a base while getting Renfroe to ground a run in and Reyes to strike out on a slider.
Meanwhile, I’d be remiss not to mention Jedd Gyorko doing what comes naturally, and blasting yet another home run off his former team, this time clobbering a 2-2, center-cut fastball into the visitors’ bullpen. Never fails.
Through 8 innings, the Cardinals led 5-2.
Bud Norris closed this one out. Despite pitching the day before, the Cardinals’ closer was still surprisingly well-rested, having pitched just 2 of the Cardinals’ 9 games this month. He got Spangenberg to ground out to 2B, hit Villanueva, got Galvis to ground to to 1B, and struck out Lopez to end it.
Cardinals win 5-2.
Jack Flaherty: 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 1 HR, 6 K, 1 BB, 67 GSc, 98 pitches.
Jordan Lyles: 6.0 IP, 4 ER, 11 H, 2 HR, 2 K, 0 BB, 32 GSc, 102 pitches.
- Kolten Wong made an incredibly smooth sliding play to his left on Spangenberg’s sharp grounder in the 9th.
- Yairo Munoz was shaken up after getting run over by Christian Villanueva while trying to retreat to 2B during a 6th-inning rundown. He finished the game.
- Jedd Gyorko is up to 9 HRs in 15 games against the Padres.
- Marcell Ozuna is now above average with a 103 wRC+, up from 62 on May 19.
The Cardinals look to complete the sweep tomorrow, sending Miles Mikolas up against Matt Strahm. Game starts at 7:15 CST, and can be viewed on FSMW.