The Cardinals won 8-3. This team is absolutely on fire right now, and I don’t want them to ever leave this state again. The offense is getting fat on a poor Royal pitching staff, and the pitchers are benefiting from an overly-aggressive offensive approach.
Royals ace Danny Duffy has been troubled by The Big Inning all season, and tonight was no different. In the 3rd, the Cardinals made 2 outs and then barraged the Team USA starter with 5 straight hits, 3 of which went for extra bases, and accounted for all the offense Flaherty and Co. would need. But they kept the pressure on, and Harrison Bader and Jose Martinez later tacked on a pair of 2-run HRs.
Meanwhile, Jack Flaherty got good results despite uncharacteristically flighty command. He walked a couple of guys that are pretty hard to walk, but ended up striking out 9, across 7 innings of 2-run ball. Dakota Hudson struggled with his command just as much, and surrendered the first run of his career in 2⁄3 of an inning. Jordan Hicks was on point, and earned his 3rd career save.
Jack Flaherty: 7.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 1 HR, 9 K, 3 BB, 67 GSc, 106 pitches.
Danny Duffy: 5.1 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 1 HR, 2 K, 1 BB, 32 GSC, 100 pitches.
Duffy set the Cardinals down in order in the 1st. He stayed out of the middle of the plate, and as a result ran into a couple of 3-ball counts, but got the results he wanted in the end. He got Carpenter to pop out to LF on a 3-1 fastball, Yadi to ground out to 3B on a 1-1 change up, and Martinez to strike out swinging at an elevated, 3-2 fastball. He threw 14 pitches in the inning.
Flaherty did not have a good feel for his stuff in the early goings. His lead off walk of Merrifield was forgiven, as Alex Gordon promptly lined out to Carpenter at 1B, who then was able to double Merrifield off. But then he walked Salvador Perez, who has a 2.8 BB%. Fortunately, Jack was able to strike Duda out on 3 pitches to get out of the troublesome 1st inning. He threw 20 pitches.
The Cardinals fared a little bit better in the 2nd. Marcell Ozuna led off with a single through the hole on the left side of the infield. After DeJong popped out to SS and Gyorko lined out to CF, Bader worked a walk to move the lead runner into scoring position. But Wong grounded out sharply to 3B to end the threat. Duffy was at 27 pitches.
Flaherty got on track in the 2nd. He got Herrera to line out to CF on the first pitch, Phillips to strike out on 3 pitches, and O’Hearn to pop out to Gyorko in short LF on 4 pitches. The quick inning put his total at 28.
The Cardinals broke through in the 3rd. Though Garcia led off with a 1st-pitch ground out to SS, and Carpenter got robbed of a BB and eventually popped out into foul territory, Yadier Molina got things started with a 10-pitch PA that culminated with a double over Gordon’s head in LF. After Yadi moved up on a wild pitch, Jose topped an RBI, infield single down the 3B line to give the Cardinals the lead. Then Ozuna ripped a ball into the LCF gap and was able to stretch it into a triple because of a nice swim move to evade the tag at 3B. Paul DeJong then roped an RBI double to the LF wall, and Gyorko brought him home with a single through the left side of the infield. Bader ended the rally with a soft ground out to 3B, featuring a great barehanded play by Escobar, on Duffy’s 37th pitch of the inning, 64th overall. 4-0 Cardinals.
Flaherty made his new lead stand up. Though he surrendered a single to Alcides Escobar on a pitch half a foot off the plate, he struck out Raul Mondesi Jr. swinging with an elevated fastball, and then got Merrifield to ground into a 6-4-3 double play. He was at 40 pitches.
Duffy bounced back from his rough 3rd. Wong gifted him a first-pitch out with a bunt that wasn’t placed close enough to the line. Adolis Garcia then topped a fastball that had potential to be an infield single, but Escobar made another great barehanded play to retire him. Carpenter then worked a full count, but ultimately struck out looking at a wipe-out curveball in the zone. Duffy was now at 74 pitches.
Flaherty started fighting himself again in the 4th. He had a long, 10-pitch battle with Alex Gordon, and lost him to a lead off walk. He battled back to strike out Perez with a fastball away, and then got Duda to pop out to DeJong in short CF. Then, after Carpenter whiffed on a pick off throw to send Gordon to 2B, Rosell Herrera rocketed a grounder into the hole on the right side of the infield, where Kolten Wong made a diving grab and nailed him at 1B. Flaherty was up to 63 pitches.
Duffy set the Cardinals down in order again in the 5th. He got Yadi to ground out to SS, Martinez to pop out to RF, and Ozuna to hit a laser right at Duda for the final out. He was up to 84 pitches.
The Royals broke through against Flaherty in the 5th. Though Brett Phillips led off with a swinging strike out on a low slider, Ryan O’Hearn rocketed a single past Carpenter, and Alcides Escobar scored him with a home run to LF on an inside, belt-high fastball. Flaherty recovered to get Mondesi to ground out to 2B, and Merrifield to strike out looking at a fastball in the bottom of the zone. Flaherty’s pitch count was 82.
The Cardinals finally ran Duffy off in the 6th. After DeJong flew out to the RF track, Gyorko lined a single to LF, bringing up Harrison Bader. Bader got a couple of good swings early, lining a flurry of foul balls, one of which had no-doubt HR distance. The critical moment of the PA came on the 7th pitch, where Bader tried checking his swing, failed, and was gifted a check swing call from 1B ump Adam Hamari. 2 pitches later, Bader launched a hanging slider into the Cardinals’ bullpen in LF. As Ned Yost made his way out to lift his starter, Duffy took that moment to lose his cool on Hamari, and got ejected.
Kevin McCarthy relieved his fallen teammate, and got Wong to ground out on a come-backer, and Adolis to strike out swinging. 6-2 Cardinals.
Flaherty bounced back again. He got Gordon to ground out to SS on the first pitch, Perez to line out to SS, and Duda to strike out swinging at a curveball that fell off the table. He was at 89 pitches.
Brian Flynn relieved McCarthy. The lefty was not exactly accurate, but got the job done. He battled Carpenter to a full count before walking him, but then got Molina to ground into a 6-4 fielder’s choice. Then, after battling Martinez to a full count and losing him to a walk, he got Ozuna to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.
Jack finished on a high note. He battled Herrera to a full count before striking him out on a slider under the strike zone, got Phillips to pop out to DeJong in short LF, and struck out O’Hearn with an elevated fastball. He was at 106 pitches, and his night was complete.
Flynn returned to eat another inning. He struck out DeJong looking at an elevated fastball, and got Gyorko to ground out on a come-backer. Then, after Bader ripped a single over the SS’s head, Wong tapped out to Perez.
Dakota Hudson relieved Flaherty, but didn’t really have his control. He walked Escobar, he of the 4.0 career BB%, on 5 pitches, and then took a sharp grounder off the shin from Mondesi, which went for a single. After taking a few warm-up pitches, he got Merrifield to ground into a 5-4-3 double play, but then walked Gordon. To make matters worse, the ball 4 slider slipped under Yadi’s glove and went to the backstop, allowing Escobar to score. Shildt decided to go with Jordan Hicks to escape the inning, and Hicks struck out Perez swinging with a slider. 6-3 Cardinals.
The Cardinals tacked on against Flynn in the 9th, again rallying with 2 outs. After Adolis grounded out to 3B and Carpenter grounded out into the jaws of the shift, Yadi slapped a single through the hole on the left side of the infield. Jose Martinez then stepped in and demolished the first pitch he saw, clearing the fountain pool in LF for a home run. 8-3 Cardinals.
Hicks stayed in and closed this one out. After he allowed a lead off single to Duda, he botched the transfer on a double-play come-backer off the bat of Herrera, and was only able to get the trail runner. But he was able to get Phillips to ground out to 1B, and O’Hearn to ground out to 2B to end the game.
- The start of game was very briefly delayed as an overzealous BBQ pit had filled the playing field up with a haze of smoke. Kansas City, folks.
- Yadi’s double in the 3rd inning was his 352nd of his career, tying him with Red Schoendienst for 7th most in franchise history, and was his 500th career extra-base hit.
- The official measurement on Martinez’s HR was 418 feet, which feels low to this lowly recapper.