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Cardinals Level Against the Cubs 7.21.18

Gant pitches well, and the offense finally awakes against the Cubs’ bullpen.

MLB: Game Two-St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports


1st Inning

The Cardinals sought atonement for their dismal offensive performance in the 1st game of the double-header, and so got off to a quick start in the 2nd game. Harrison Bader led off with a ground ball single up the middle, using his speed to beat out Baez’s throw. Jose Martinez followed with a ground ball single up just out of Rizzo’s reach, pushing Bader to 3B, and enabling him to score on DeJong’s subsequent fly out to LF. Ozuna got in on the action with another single, to LF, but Pham grounded into a 3-4-1 double play to cut the rally short. The Cardinals made Mike Montgomery throw just 11 pitches in the inning, somehow. 1-0 Cardinals.

John Gant made his early lead stand up. Though he allowed a lead off single to RF by Anthony Rizzo, he got Bryant to line out to 3B, Heyward to throw out to LCF, and Baez to ground out to SS (featuring a bad throw, but great scoot by Martinez.) Gant threw 14 pitches in his scoreless frame.

2nd Inning

The Cardinals just missed a scoring chance in the 2nd. After Garcia started the inning with a strikeout looking, Yairo Munoz worked a walk, and Francisco Pena followed with a clean single to LF. After Gant struck out on a foul bunt, and Munoz & Pena executed a successful double steal, Harrison Bader launched what looked to be a an absolute bomb to LCF that the wind knocked down at the wall. Montgomery was up to 33 pitches.

Gant held the Cubs in check a second time. Though Contreras led off with a 1st pitch single to RF, Gant won a 10-pitch battle with Kyle Schwarber that ended in a long line out to Ozuna in LF to get the first out. He then got Almora to pop out to CF, and Russell to ground out sharply to RF. Gant was up to 28 pitches.

3rd Inning

The Cardinals went peacefully in the 3rd. After Martinez lined out to RF to start the inning, DeJong managed a well-struck single to RF. But Ozuna popped out to short LF, and Pham lined out to SS to end the inning. Montgomery was up to 50 pitches.

Gant kept the Cubs off the board a third time. After Montgomery started the frame with a ground out to 2B, Rizzo did was Rizzo does and singled past Wong into CF. But John got Bryant to pop out to LCF, and Heyward to ground out to 2B to cap the 9-pitch inning. He was at 37 overall.

4th Inning

The Cardinals went down in order in the 4th. Garcia & Munoz were each retired on a ground out to 3B, and Pena was robbed on his liner to short CF by Albert Almora Jr. Montgomery’s quick inning bumped his pitch count to just 57.

Gant kept on throwing 0’s. Baez got a hold of one of his fastballs, but lined out to Bader on a tricky play in RF. Then, after Contreras worked a full count and drew a walk, Schwarber pulled a pop up to RCF that was nearly a disaster, as Pham overruled Bader and partially collided with him while making the catch. Bader was the one that should have made the play, as Contreras was able to tag from 1B and advance on Pham’s off-angle throw. Gant then walked Almora to put 2 on, but he was able to get Russell to ground out on a come-backer to end the threat on his 57th pitch.

5th Inning

Montgomery was able to coax a trio of ground outs to the left side to navigate a perfect 5th. He got Gant & Bader to ground out to SS, and Martinez to ground out to 3B. He was at 70 pitches.

Gant worked himself into and out of trouble again in the 5th. Though he struck his counterpart out to start the inning, Rizzo worked him for an 8-pitch PA and looped another single to RCF, and then Kris Bryant worked a walk. But Gant got Heyward to fly out to LCF, and then struck out Baez on a questionable check swing call by the home plate up Will Little to escape on his 82nd pitch. Baez lost his cool, chucked his bat, and was immediately ejected, followed closely by his manager.

6th Inning

The Cardinals couldn’t manage anything substantial in the 6th either. DeJong led off with a ground out to SS, and Ozuna followed with a strike out looking. After Pham worked a 2 out walk, Garcia popped out to 2B. Montgomery was at 87 pitches through 6.

Schildt went to his bullpen early, tapping Greg Holland to relieve Gant. Holland was trash. Though he got Contreras to pop out to Carpenter in foul territory, he walked Schwarber, and then hung curveball that Almora smoked to CF for a single. Then, Russell grounded what should have been an inning-ending double play ball to SS, but DeJong whiffed on the ball to load the bases. Holland responded by spiking a series of pitches in a 4-pitch walk to La Stella that brought home a run, and ended his night.

Jordan Hicks relieved him, and surrendered an infield RBI single to Rizzo that brought home the go-ahead run, a fielder’s choice to SS by Bryant that brought home another run, and finally an inning-ending ground out to SS by Heyward. 3-1 Cubs.

7th Inning

The Cardinals were able to claw one run back, in predictable fashion. After Munoz grounded out to SS, and Pena grounded out on a come-backer, Matt Carpenter stood in and launched another home run to RCF, and chase Montgomery from the game. Pedro Strop relieved, and struck out Wong after walking Bader to end the inning.

Hicks returned to eat another inning. He started the inning off by getting Zobrist to ground out to 2B, but walked Contreras. Then, after Schwarber lined out to LF, Contreras was awarded a stolen base on a questionable safe call that Schildt did not challenge. It ended up not mattering as Hicks struck out Almora looking, but it was still a bizarre decision.

8th Inning

The Cardinals clawed back to even in the 8th. After DeJong & Ozuna led off with a pair of outs to the pitcher & LF, Pham started the rally with a well-hit single to CF, and pinch-hitter Yadier Molina followed by worked a walk. Yairo Munoz then hit a sharp, RBI single past the second baseman to tie it. Pena then ended the inning with a strikeout.

Sam Tuivailala relieved Hicks, and pitched a scoreless 8th. He got Russell to quickly ground out to 2B before walking Happ with a fastball in a full count. But the righty was able to retire Rizzo and Bryant on a pair of fly outs to LF, the latter of which required a nice, diving play by Ozuna.

9th Inning

The Cardinals finally broke through in the 9th. With Justin Wilson pitching for the second time today, the Cubs opted to give Matt Carpenter the old unintentional/intentional walk. The problem with that is that it wrecked Wilson’s feel for the zone, and he followed Carpenter’s UIBB with a regular walk of Bader, which ended his evening.

Steve Cishek relieved him to face Kolten Wong, who was up there to bunt. Wong was able to drop the bunt, but Rizzo was right there to field it and nail the lead runner at 3B. Fortunately Paul DeJong was able to pick him up, and lined an RBI double down the LF line to give the Cardinals the lead. Then, after the Cubs intentionally walked Ozuna, Tommy Pham put the game out of reach with a 2-run double out of Heyward’s reach down the RF line, which also chased Cishek from the game.

Third time was the charm for the Cubs, as Dillon Maples was finally able to get them out this disaster of an inning. He battled Fowler to full count before getting him to swing over the top of a slider, and then battled back from 3-0 against Munoz to strike him out with a slider. 6-3 Cardinals.

Bud Norris closed this one out. After allowing a lead off single to Jason Heyward, he got Zobrist to pop out to DeJong in short LF, and then got Contreras to ground into a 1-6-3 double play to end the game. Cardinals win 6-3.

Final Lines

John Gant: 5.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 0 HR, 2 K, 3 BB, 58 GSc, 82 pitches.

Mike Montgomery: 6.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 0 HR, 3 K, 2 BB, 62 GSc, 87 pitches.

The Cardinals will look to win the series tomorrow, sending Miles Mikolas to face Jose Quintana. Game starts at 1:20 CST, and can be viewed on FSMW, and TBS if out of market.