The Cardinals played a team that has lost 60 games out of 90 before they rolled into Chicago. When you get to a level of baseball that is as talented as the MLB though, it’s not really a guarantee you beat these teams. You hope for or even expect blowouts, but it could be as simple as your starter is having an off night and the bad team’s starter has got it figured it out and there’s a loss. That did not happen tonight.
It looked like it might happen at first. I’m sure Dylan Covey is a talented pitcher. He just has not figured it out in the major leagues. But he looked like he had it figured out in the first couple innings. It’s always difficult to ascertain when a bad pitcher is genuinely good or if the offense is just letting him get away with things, but it looked like Covey was genuinely good. He struck out four of the first seven hitters he faced, with the only blemish being a walk to Jose Martinez. The two non-strikeout outs weren’t particularly hard hit either with both being groundouts.
In the 3rd, it looked like that would continue when the first two hitters grounded out. But he struggled to find the strike zone against Matt Carpenter, and on 3-2, Carpenter singled. Paul DeJong swung at the first pitch and singled. Jose Martinez wasted little time, swinging at the second pitch he saw, driving in Carpenter and putting DeJong at third base. Marcell Ozuna joined in on the fun and drove in DeJong for a 2-0 lead.
Unfortunately, Miles Mikolas gave it back immediately. He too looked untouchable for his first two innings of work. He struck out five of the first six batters in this game. The normally low pitch count pitcher ended the first two innings having faced six batters and thrown 32 pitches. Unlike Covey, he made no pretense that he was going to have an easy 3rd, allowing a single and double right away after just four pitches. With two on and nobody out, the Cardinals played in and it didn’t work as Tilson hit a groundball that Carpenter would have been able to field had they played normal depth, but didn’t because they were in. The White Sox had tied the game after just three batters. With the White Sox top of the order up, Mikolas was able to get the 1-2-3 hitter out without allowing another run.
The Cardinals responded. Jedd Gyorko doubled and Dexter Fowler singled to begin a rally. With men on first and third, Yairo Munoz drove in Gyorko with a fielder’s choice groundout. Certainly not the most exciting way to drive somebody in, but a run’s a run. Kolten Wong doubled and here’s where I note that Jose Oquendo made a truly horrendous send. Munoz was thrown out by five steps. 3-2 Cards.
The Cardinals added more runs in the 5th. This was aided by poor White Sox defense. Tim Anderson muffed an easy groundball to allow DeJong to reach first base. Jose Martinez singled up the middle. Both Ozuna and Yadier Molina hit reasonably deep flyballs to center, which advanced DeJong to third and then home for the Cardinals 4th run. In the 4th and 5th, Mikolas didn’t allow a baserunner, getting four groundouts, a lineout and a strikeout.
The White Sox sent Covey back out for a 6th and took him out when he allowed a line drive comebacker up the middle to Munoz for a leadoff single. The White Sox brought in lefty Jace Fry, who allowed a beautiful bunt single hit by Wong and then walked Carpenter after starting the AB 0-2 to load the bases. Weirdly enough, he struck out the only right-hander he faced DeJong and then got taken out of the game. I don’t know the White Sox bullpen situation, but with the bases loaded, they brought in a guy with a 7.36 BB/9.
Martinez didn’t get the scouting report because he flew out to shallow right with the bases loaded for the second out. Then Bruce Rondon threw a wild pitch on 2-0 to Ozuna to allow the fifth run, and then walked Ozuna to load the bases back up again. He then threw another wild pitch with Molina up and then walked the bases loaded back up again. With Gyorko up, he walked in a run on four pitches. The Sox brought in Hector Santiago, who immediately gave up a grand slam to right-handed Fowler. Yay Dex! Suddenly, it was 11-2 Cards. Mikolas pitched just one more inning, walking the leadoff batter, but then getting a double play to end the inning. He finished with 91 pitches.
Brett Cecil replaced Mikolas for the 7th and he neither walked, nor struck anyone out, but he didn’t allow a run. In the top of the 8th, Gyorko led off with a walk and then was driven in by a two-run homer by Wong. The Cards added a 14th run in the 9th from a double by Martinez, driving in DeJong.
In the bottom half of the 8th, Greg Holland pitched. He wasn’t great. He wasn’t bad. He walked Tilson with one out, then struck out Yoan Moncada. He allowed a two-out double, but Tilson didn’t score on the play and both were stranded by a groundout by Jose Abreu. John Brebbia pitched a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts to end the game.
- Mikolas line: 6 IP, 6 Ks, BB, 3 H, 2 ER - If he could have spread his baserunners out more evenly, he would have rather easily not allowed any runs. But all three hits were back-to-back-to-back.
- Wong went 4-5 with a 2B and HR. His wRC+ on the season is now 89, which is pretty close to his career of 90. He also now has 1.5 WAR on the season. He could end up having a hell of a year.
- Jose Martinez went 3-4 with a 2B and 2 BBs, so I’d say being a DH is good for him.
- Gyorko with a 1-3 with 3 BB night. Gyorko batted 6th tonight and you know it’s a good day when you’re 6th batter in the lineup gets 6 plate appearances.
- In all the Cardinals went 14-42 with 8 BBs, 2 2Bs and 2 HRs. If you’re wondering, that’s a .333/.440/.550 line. Surprise surprise, the Cards hit well in a game where they scored 14 runs.
Tomorrow the Cards go for the two-game sweep against the White Sox. It’s Luke Weaver against Carlos Rodon. Rodon has not been good this year, but he has been good in the past, so I wouldn’t look past this matchup.