The Cardinals entered today with an odd “stop the bleeding” feeling — odd, because they’d actually gone 3-3 in the week before, which is pretty unremarkable. But two of those losses had been to the Marlins, so... yeah, it seemed like they should stop losing games to the Marlins. And they did! They beat the Marlins 4-1.
Miles Mikolas, as of course we all expected him to be from the moment he was signed and especially during his first couple spring outings, has been the team’s best starter in 2018. He took the mound for the home team, and it’s been a real pleasure to watch him pitch this year. The Marlins pitcher was some guy named Trevor Richards.
I’ll confess that I had never heard of Richards before, but he’s actually a pretty cool story. He’s from Breese, Illinois, a small town not too far east of St. Louis. He went to Drury University in Springfield, wasn’t drafted, and kept his playing career going with the Frontier League Gateway Grizzlies. He caught some Marlins scout’s attention and they signed him a couple years ago. And now he’s... kinda good? He’s walked too many so far in MLB this year, but his minors profile looks like that’s something he can get past, and God knows the Marlins don’t have any reason to not to let him try. Huh! Good job, local guy.
Anyway, the neat story would have been even neater, I suppose, if he’d beaten the team I’m guessing he rooted for growing up, in a stadium where I’m guessing he’s been to games as a fan. But he didn’t; there is a ceiling to the neatness of the opposing starter’s story, here, and I for one am glad for it. After retiring Matt Carpenter in the bottom of the first, Richards surrendered a lined single to Tommy Pham and then a two-run dinger to Jose Martinez. He settled in after that — in innings 2-5, the Cardinals never got more than one man on base in any of them — before tiring and getting into some trouble in the 6th, when he was pulled. His final line: 5 IP, 4 K, 0 BB, 1 HR, 3 R. I’m sure it was a thrill for him and for any friends and family that made it to the park on a weekday. And hey man, you’re on the Marlins, winning isn’t the point.
Mikolas was Mikolas. He was efficient and didn’t give up much that was hit hard. He went seven innings, struck out five, walked one, and gave up only one run — unearned. It came in the 6th inning, when Starlin Castro hit a fly ball to right on which Dexter Fowler made what I will call a highly unprofessional play. Fowler kinda loped over to it, the way he does sometimes, and it just tailed away from him more than he was expecting, and all of a sudden he had to catch it down by his waist, and then whoops he didn’t catch it at all. That’s not what you’re supposed to do, kids! E9, Castro ended up on second base. Justin Bour then hit a weird bloopy-looking double into the gap in left (which appeared wide open due to how they had him shifted; them’s the breaks sometimes) to plate the only Marlins run of the day. Bour was the tying run at the time, but Mikolas induced an inning-ending grounder from J.T. Riddle (who is not a Harry Potter character) to end the inning.
Richards got into the aforementioned trouble in the bottom of the 6th, when Pham and Martinez led off with back-to-back singles. Brad Ziegler came on in relief, and Marcell Ozuna greeted him with a RBI single to make it 3-1. The Cardinals couldn’t pad the lead more, though, as Fowler grounded out, Yairo Munoz flew out (and too shallowly to score Jose from third), and after an IBB to Kolten Wong, Francisco Pena struck out.
That was plenty, though. Mikolas pitched a perfect 7th, Luke Voit tacked on an insurance run with a solo shot in the bottom of the 7th, Jordan Hicks handled the 8th, and Bud Norris closed it out. Cards win, 4-1, salvaging a, uh, not-sweep at the hands of the Marlins. Yuck.
- Jordan Hicks: good? Seems good! As always, we at VEB will be carefully monitoring whether Jordan Hicks is good or not. The arrow is definitely pointing up.
- Dex, I want to be on your side here, but buddy, a little help.