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Cardinals avoid sweep in 5-0 win over Cubs on Father’s Day

It was pretty much the ideal win with the starter, bullpen, and hitting all having good games.

Chicago Cubs v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images

All I can say is thank you Cardinals. Thank you for not getting swept by the Cubs. Also thank you for playing what was actually a pretty great game. This was a very solid win. Good pitching performance by the starter. Good performance by the four members of the bullpen who threw tonight. Hard to be mad at scoring five runs either. You still had an out on the basepaths and an error, but hey if you play well in every other facet, those aren’t as annoying.

Jack Flaherty pitched a very good game today and if there’s one weakness to how he pitched, it’s that he sure needed to throw a lot of pitches, which caused to him to only throw five innings. If you only throw five innings in your start though, make it a scoreless affair. Flaherty started strong. He struck out both Jason Heyward and Kris Bryant in a 13-pitch first inning. Jose Quintana also started strong though, but the Cards made it fairly easy for him. He threw just 6 pitches in the first, which included a strikeout of Harrison Bader.

Flaherty threw another 1-2-3 inning in the 2nd, and each of the Cubs three hitters made him throw at least five pitches to get them out. His 17-pitch 2nd inning gave him 30 pitches for the game. The Cardinals made Quintana work more for his 1-2-3 inning in the 2nd, thanks largely to Jedd Gyorko’s 8-pitch lineout to right field to end the inning.

In the 3rd, Flaherty ran into his first real trouble. He allowed a leadoff infield single and then hit Javy Baez, putting runners at first and second for the opposing pitcher Quintana. He struck out Quintana and got Ben Zobrist to pop out. With two outs, he walked Heyward, which loaded the bases for Bryant. He fell behind 2-0 on Bryant. It could have ended up being a very different game. He then threw three straight strikes and struck him out to end the inning. He had 52 pitches at the end of the inning.

It looked like Quintana would have yet another 1-2-3 inning in the 3rd, except Flaherty had something to say about that. With two outs, Quintana got Flaherty to a 1-2 count, but needed 7 pitches before giving up the first hit of the game to Flaherty. Carpenter grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the inning. Quintana had 36 pitches after three innings.

Once again, Flaherty ran into trouble in the 4th inning. He started the inning with a four pitch walk to Anthony Rizzo and then hit Willson Contreras. He once again got the next two guys out after putting himself in a hole and then again walked the bases loaded. This time it might have been on purpose. The pitcher was on deck and he walked Addison Russell on five pitches. I mean I wouldn’t want to walk Russell, who isn’t a good hitter, but I suspect he fell behind and then simply took his chances with Quintana. He struck Quintana out looking, though not without going to 3-2 first. He had 79 pitches after four innings.

Quintana still wasn’t having much trouble in the bottom of the inning. He needed only 15 pitches for the 4th, only allowing a single to Marcell Ozuna. He had 51 pitches. Somehow he only recorded one more inning in this game. Flaherty ended his day strong. He needed to get through the Cubs top of the order one more time and he did. He struck out Zobrist and got Heyward to ground out. With Bryant in an 0-2 hole, Bryant grounded towards the left side of the infield, which Carpenter dove for and it hit off his glove, allowing him to get an infield single. The better play is to let it go to Yairo Munoz, though I will add I kind of still think he’d be safe. He got Rizzo to ground out to end the inning, but Rizzo made sure he wouldn’t throw another inning and ended the 5th with 97 pitches.

The Cardinals didn’t let Flaherty get the win, as useless as a stat as that is for pitchers, but they did important work in the 5th, which only became evident later. Quintana was mostly cruising through four, with only 51 pitches, and because of how much they made him throw this inning, he ended his day much sooner than I would have expected. Gyorko made him throw 7 pitches and then lined out for the second time. Luke Voit very nearly walked on 3-1, but got a questionable strike two called and then Voit made it worse by half-heartedly swinging at an even higher pitch. That’s letting the umpire get to you. Munoz walked on six pitches. Dexter Fowler pinch-hit and walked on five pitches. Carpenter grounded to first to end the inning, but Quintana needed 26 pitches and finished the inning with 77 pitches.

John Brebbia replaced Flaherty and boy do I enjoy watching this man pitch. He didn’t even technically have that great of a game tonight, allowing two hits, but both singles were hit directly on the ground, which I consider a good sign from what was an extreme flyball pitcher last year. He struck out Kyle Schwarber after allowing a leadoff single, and then Molina threw out Contreras trying to steal. Contreras beat the throw but his hand flew off the base and Gyorko kept it it on him, getting the second out. After another single, he got a groundout from Russell. That’s three groundballs and a strikeout from Brebbia. Good job.

Quintana stayed in for the 6th inning and allowed back-to-back singles, from Bader and Pham. Both were hit pretty hard too. Joe Maddon had seen enough and took him out. It was a good move. What was not a good move was bringing in Anthony Bass in this situation. I admittedly don’t know their bullpen situation very well, but Bass is not very good and this was fairly high leverage. Bass actually didn’t do too badly. He allowed an infield single to Ozuna, but that’s not his fault. He got a double play ball from Yadier Molina, though Molina did crush it. That scored the Cards first run. Gyorko drove in the second run with a two-out single and a man on third. 2-0 Cards.

Austin Gomber replaced Brebbia and he pitched good this time out. He struck out Ian Happ, an admittedly not very hard thing to do (an unbelievable 39.5% K rate). Zobrist grounded out back to him and Heyward popped out. Good job Gomber.

The Cardinals tacked on a third run in the 7th against Brian Duensing, which made me happy because it is absolutely infuriating how good he was for the Cubs last year despite being a legitimately awful pitcher the previous two years where he pitched in a full season. Anyway Carpenter got a good pitch to hit and hit a high flyball into the right field stands. He then tried to breathe and drink water at the same time, which led to him explaining this to Adam Wainwright and well

Jordan Hicks replaced Gomber and he had a short outing, which is good because he pitched yesterday. Bryant flew out to center on a pitch that I’m sure Hicks regretted. But he got away with it. Rizzo grounded towards Gyorko who made an uncharacteristic error, putting Rizzo on first. No matter. Contreras grounded into a double play to end the inning. He only needed 9 pitches. Good job Jordan.

The Cards tacked on a couple more runs for Bud Norris. Duensing walked Pham to begin the inning and was taken out after Ozuna flied out. Luke Farrell, who you might remember from being the pitcher who allowed a walkoff homer and being the pitcher who allowed a different walkoff homer against the Cards, couldn’t keep Pham from scoring. Molina hit a popup towards left and the Cubs must have been played Molina closer to center because Schwarber couldn’t reach it. He misplayed the hell out of it in fact. The ball bounced over his head and slowly went towards the wall. It allowed Pham to score from first and Molina to reach 2nd base. After Gyorko struck out, Greg Garcia did a very Greg Garcia thing and that was walk. He made Farrell throw 8 pitches too after initially being in a 1-2 count. Munoz hit a slow groundball towards Russell, who threw it too low and it got past Rizzo to allow the fifth run of the game to score. The replay showed Munoz would have been safe anyway so it was a 1B, E6 on the play.

Norris looked a little rusty, but ended up getting a 1-2-3 inning, despite falling behind the first two hitters, including 3-0 on Albert Almora. Cards win and avoid the sweep. Frustrating as this series was, a 2-1 series loss to the Cubs is not all that devastating. They gained a game on the Cards. That’s manageable.

Notes

  • Flaherty line - 5 IP, 7 Ks, 3 BBs, 2 Hs - I probably wouldn’t recommended walking the bases loaded twice, but he at least had the good sense to strike out the next guy both times.
  • Everyone got a hit in the starting lineup except for poor Luke Voit. Kolten Wong came in from a double switch, replacing Voit and he didn’t get a hit either. Everyone else got a hit including Flaherty (and Garcia and Fowler both pinch-hit and walked.)
  • Good day for the three Cardinals who were struggling to begin the season: Carpenter went 1-4 with a HR, Ozuna went 2-4 and Fowler went 0-0 with a walk.
  • On that same note, there is more of an argument to start Fowler sometimes than you’d think because Bader’s production has come almost entirely against lefties. Just saying next time everyone freaks out when Fowler starts. Bader has been a 58 wRC+ hitter against righties and while you’d expect better, you’d also expect better from Fowler’s season line. (I know defense and all, but Fowler is still likely to be a much better hitter against righties than Bader)
  • Glad we finished the week with a win over the Cubs.

Tomorrow the Cardinals start a three game series against the Phillies, and wouldn’t you know it, both teams have the exact same record. It’s Miles Mikolas against Nick Pivetta, and while Pivetta has been good this year, I don’t feel good about the chances of winning the series if we lose that one.