The Cardinals won 6-4. They’ve won 7 straight. They’re 1 game back of Philadelphia for the 2nd Wild Card, and 4 games back of Chicago for the NL Central.
Matt Carpenter extended his on-base streak to 32 games, with a walk in 5 PAs. The majority of the offense actually came from an unexpected source, though. Kolten Wong, 1 of 2 lefties in the lineup against the Nationals’ lefty starter, reached base 4 times, knocked in 3 runs, scored 2 times, and socked 1 dinger. John Gant recorded his first career hit, a 2-run home run, and could not have looked less interested off the bat.
Speaking of John Gant, the rookie righty was fantastic in his brief outing. He only went 5 innings, but he set the Nationals down in order in 3 of them, and didn’t walk a batter. Heck, he only reached a 3-ball count twice. Chasen Shreve pitched a solid 1.2 innings, striking out 2, and featured his fastball more often against lefties than you’d (or Bryce Harper’d) expect from a lefty specialist. Mike Mayers struggled tonight, but Dakota Hudson picked him up, and Jordan Hicks overcame a brief bout of wildness to nail down the save.
John Gant: 5.1 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 0 HR, 6 K, 0 BB, 67 GSc, 89 pitches.
Gio Gonzalez: 4.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 H, 1 HR, 2 K, 3 BB, 29 GSc, 78 pitches.
Gant set the Nationals down in order with the help of his change up and a little bit of a wide strike zone from Tripp Gibson. He struck Eaton out swinging with a change up that dropped off the table, before getting Turner to ground out sharply to 1B. Then he battled Bryce Harper to a full count before getting him to pull a change up away for a simple fly out to RF. He threw 15 pitches in the opening inning.
Well, at least Jose Martinez is still red hot. Gio Gonzalez was able to navigate a scoreless 1st despite him, as he got Carpenter to line out to RF, and Molina to pop out to LF. Then, after the aforementioned Cardinal right fielder scorched a 3-0 fastball to CF for a single, Ozuna grounded a ball sharply into the hole on the left side of the infield, where Trea Turner gloved, jumped, and threw a strike to 1B to beat Marcell by a stride. Gonzalez threw 17 pitches in the frame.
Gant put the Nationals down in order again in the 2nd. He got in on Rendon’s hands and got him to pop out weakly to SS, struck Soto out looking with his rarely-used curveball, and got Murphy to fly out to LF. Gant was up to 27 pitches.
The Cardinals then demoralized the Nationals for the 3rd time in the last 4 innings. Paul DeJong continued his recent torrid pace by lacing a double to the wall in RCF, and moved up to 3B on Gyorko’s ground out to SS. Harrison Bader then brought him home with a sac fly to LF. But the Cardinals weren’t done. Kolten Wong battled Gonzalez to a full count and then drew a walk, which then made John Gant’s subsequent home run to LF all the more potent. Carpenter flared out to 2B to end Gio’s nightmare. He was at 42 pitches. 3-0 Cardinals.
Gant made his shiny new lead stand up. After Molina stalled for time to get Matt Adams an ovation from the Cardinal fans, Gant got the former Cardinal to ground out to 1B. Then, after Wieters roped a double to RCF, he got Gonzalez to pop out to short RF, and struck Eaton out swinging with an elevated fastball. He was up to 44 pitches.
The Cardinals threatened but fell short of some insurance in the 3rd. Yadier Molina led off with a knuckling single up the middle, and traded places at 1B with Jose Martinez after the latter grounded a fielder’s choice to 2B. Marcell Ozuna then got a hold of a fastball and ripped it to LCF, where a shifted Juan Soto was waiting to make the catch, and Paul DeJong flew out to the track in CF. Gio was at 54 pitches.
Gant was rolling. He got Turner to pop a couple of balls foul before getting him out in front of a slider and popping him up to 2B, pitched Harper in reverse and struck him out with a fastball, and then got Rendon to roll over on a change up and ground out to 3B. He was now at 61 pitches.
The Cardinals tacked on in the 4th. Gio Gonzalez tweaked something in his leg during his battle with Gyorko, which ended with a walk, as did the following PA against Bader. Kolten Wong then cashed them in with a double to the RF corner. But Gio recovered and struck out Gant on a trio of failed bunts, and Carpenter with an elevated fastball. Finally, he got Molina to just get under a first-pitch fastball fly out to deep LF. He was up to 78 pitches, and his night was through. 5-0 Cardinals.
The Nationals finally got on the board in the 5th. Juan Soto led off with a double guided down the 3B line, and moved up to 3B on Murphy’s fly out to LCF. Gant struck out Adams swinging with a nice change up to give himself a chance to escape unscathed, but Matt Wieters ripped a 2-out, RBI single to LF. Then, after pinch-hitter Ryan Zimmerman smacked a single through the hole on the right side of the infield, Mike Maddux came out for a visit to give his starter a breather, and Chasen Shreve some time to warm up. But Gant was able to escape the threat when Adam Eaton’s liner to LCF was tracked down by Ozuna. Gant was up to 86 pitches.
Right-handed side-armer Trevor Gott relieved Gonzalez. He battled his control a bit and was working from behind a lot, but he got the job done. He struck out Martinez swinging with a 3-2 fastball, but surrendered a soft infield single to Ozuna and walked DeJong to get himself in trouble. But he recovered to get Gyorko to ground into a 6-4 fielder’s choice, and struck out Bader swinging with a fastball.
Gant returned for the sole purpose of retiring a righty before the Nationals’ gauntlet of lefties. He did just that, making Trea Turner look foolish as he swung through an elevated fastball that was, frankly, nowhere near the strike zone. Chasen Shreve relieved and struck Bryce Harper out swinging with a fastball, and got in on Anthony Rendon and made him pop out to Carpenter in foul territory. Carpenter misjudged the ball, and bad to make a falling catch as he retreated back towards foul territory.
The Cardinals pushed their lead back to 5 in the 6th. Kolten Wong, who’s rather quietly been awesome during this run since his return from the DL, led off by popping a 2-2, slightly elevated fastball over the wall in RF for his 8th HR of the year. Shreve then batted for himself and struck out swinging, before Carpenter extended his on-base streak by working a walk. But Yadi flew out to LF, and Martinez flew out to CF to strand him. 6-1 Cardinals.
Shreve batted for himself in the 7th, so he returned to pitch the 7th. He struck out Juan Soto with a 3-2 slider on which the rookie was unable to check his swing, before surrendering a clean single to CF to Daniel Murphy. But he got Adams to pop out to RF, and Wieters to fly out to deep LF to end the inning.
Old friend Greg Holland relieved Gott, and of course he set his former team down in order with ease. He got Ozuna to pop out to Murphy in short CF, DeJong to ground out harmlessly to SS, and Gyorko to pop out to short RF.
Things got dicey in the 8th. Mike Mayers relieved Shreve and pitched decently, but got beat nonetheless. After Mike got pinch-hitter Wilmer Difo to fly out to CF, he surrendered a single over DeJong’s head to Eaton. Trea Turner then chopped a surefire infield single down the 3B line, but Jedd Gyorko made a remarkable barehanded play to beat the fleet SS to 1B. Then Mayers traded a strike called a ball for a ball called a strike to set a pissed Bryce Harper up at 2-2, but he then left a fastball up and Harper was able to hook it around the base of the LF foul pole for his 30th HR. Rendon followed with a double to LCF and Shildt decided that was enough.
Dakota Hudson relieved Mayers. He battled Soto to a full count but lost him with a walk, and Daniel Murphy followed with an RBI single to RF and brought the go-ahead run to the plate. But that go-ahead run was the strike out-prone Matt Adams, who did just that on 3 pitches. 6-4 Cardinals.
Lefty Tim Collins relieved his fellow former Royal, and got similar results. He got Bader to pop out to 1B, surrendered a single to Wong, got Wisdom to ground into a 6-4 fielder’s choice, and got Carpenter to foul out to Wieters in foul territory.
Jordan Hicks closed it out. His defense picked him up right off the bat, as Matt Wieters smoked a grounder up the middle for which DeJong dove, snagged, double-clutched, but converted into the first out. Difo then grounded out to 2B, before Hicks got Eaton to a 2-2 count and smoked him in the arm above the elbow guard at 101 mph. He then started making fans sweat by falling behind Turner 3-0, but battled back to 3-2, and ultimately got him to fly out to RF for the final out.
- Gio started Carpenter out with a curveball in the 1st that was aimed for his shoulder, and broke away. In that moment, as I found my heart in my throat, I decided Matt should consider acquiring some Bonds armor.
- DeJong’s double 2nd inning was his 8th straight hit that has gone for extra bases.
- I hate make-up calls. 2 wrongs don’t make a right.
- “The guys coming up from Memphis are... no strangers to winning ballgames.” -John Gant
Perhaps lost in the excitement of his outburst at the plate tonight... John Gant is showing himself to be a worthy MLB starter. He's been really solid. #STLCards— Brenden Schaeffer (@bschaeffer12) August 15, 2018
The Cardinals look to make it 8 in a row and clinch a series win tomorrow, sending Austin Gomber to face Jeremy Hellickson. Game starts at 7:15 CST, and can be viewed on FSMW.