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Cardinals Claw Their Way Back into Playoff Position 8.18.18

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Mikolas deals, bullpen seals, and the Cardinals leap the Brewers.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Essential Information

The Cardinals won 7-2. I am losing my mind. They’re playing so well. Starting, relieving, hitting, playing defense. It’s all come together for this team that had lost its way, and it has been tremendous to watch. The Cardinals’ win tonight, their 13th in 16 games this month, thrust the team into the 2nd Wild Card, a half game behind the 1st Wild Card Phillies, and 4 games behind the NL Central leading Cubs.

Miles Mikolas pitched another gem tonight. The upstart righty had a signature game against a team that has actually gotten to him a bit this season. He threw 6 innings of 1-run ball, didn’t walk a batter, and allowed just 5 hits. By contrast, he had thrown 18.2 innings of 10-run ball, 2 walks, and allowed 18 hits against the Brewers in 3 games prior this season.

The offense broke through against the inexplicably effective Wade Miley, and then went to work on the much more effective Brewer bullpen. Each of the top 6 batters in the lineup crossed the plate at least once, and the 7th batter drove in a pair.

The bullpen continued its stingy ways. Mike Mayers, Chasen Shreve, and Daniel Poncedeleon worked 3 innings of 1-run ball, striking out 4, walking none, and allowing just the 1 hit.

Final Lines

Miles Mikolas: 6.0 IP, 1 R, 5 H, 1 HR, 7 K, 0 BB, 64 GSc, 91 pitches.

Wade Miley: 5.0 IP, 4 R, 4 H, 1 HR, 7 K, 1 BB, 49 GSc, 91 pitches.

Events

1st Inning

Miles Mikolas was mostly on point early. He got Yelich to ground out to 3B, before he popped Lorenzo Cain in the back of the upper arm. Cain, who had collided with Eric Thames in the outfield the night before, was very unhappy, and had words for Mikolas and the Cardinals’ dugout. But Mikolas bounced back to strike out Moustakas swinging with a back-foot slider, and Aguilar looking at a curveball at (above?) the top of the zone. He threw 19 pitches in the inning.

Things got interesting in the bottom half. Carp lined out to the RF track and Yadi grounded out to 3B to bring up Tyler O’Neill. Wade Miley, who pitches inside with regularity, lost control of a fastball inside and saw it scoot past O’Neill’s ankles. Home plate umpire Cory Blaser immediately issued warnings to both benches, which enraged Miley and his manager Craig Counsell, who was ejected shortly afterwards. After things settled down, O’Neill launched a moonshot down the LF line that went foul by just feet. He eventually grounded out to SS on Miley’s 14th pitch.

2nd Inning

The Brewers responded positively to their manager’s ejection. Travis Shaw got a fastball to his liking on the inside corner and launched it out to RF for a no-doubt HR. Mikolas recovered to get Broxton to ground out to SS, and Kratz to strike out swinging at a curveball. Then, after Orlando Arcia launched an elevated fastball off the RF wall for a double, Mikolas got Miley to ground out to 2B. Mikolas was up to 39 pitches through 2. 1-0 Brewers.

The Cardinals got the lead right back. Marcell Ozuna got a hanging change up and launched it into Big Mac Land. DeJong then fisted a little fly ball to short LF that was caught by a sliding Christian Yelich, Gyorko struck out on 3 pitches, and Bader struck out on a check swing. Miley was at 29 pitches. 1-1 Tie.

3rd Inning

Mikolas got a much-needed quick inning in the 3rd. He struck out Yelich with 4 pitches, getting him to go too far checking his swing at a back-foot slider. Then he got Cain to ground out to SS on 1 pitch, and Moustakas to ground out to 2B on 2 pitches. He was back to an acceptable pace at 46 pitches through 3.

The bottom of the 3rd was wild. Kolten Wong led off by slashing a cutter into RF for a single. Then, while Mikolas was trying to bunt him to 2B, Miley fired a pick off to 1B after Aguilar had broken towards the plate. Because baseball is a ridiculous sport, the ball hit Wong right on the elbow, causing him severe pain and preventing him from advancing. Mikolas then bunted the ball right back to Miley, who was able to retire the lead runner. Carpenter then traded places with Mikolas when Moustakas botched the transfer of his double-play grounder.

Yadier Molina then stepped in and, after fouling a ball off his knee, struck out swinging for what should have been out #3. But Eric Kratz could only get a piece of the ball, and saw the rest of it go to the backstop, which gave Yadi enough time to reach 1B. Miley then got Tyler O’Neill to pop a ball into short RF, where Aguilar couldn’t make the catch, and a run scored. Miley walked Ozuna to load the bases, and DeJong guided an inside cutter through the vacated 2B position to bring home another 2 runs. Gyorko flew out to LF to spare Miley any more misery. He had seen his pitch count balloon to 63. 4-1 Cardinals.

4th Inning

Mikolas made the lead stand up. He got Aguilar to fly out to RF, Shaw to flare out to SS, and Broxton to ground out to 3B. His pitch count was up to 60.

Miley bounced back from his nightmare inning. He let Bader give a 3-2 cutter a ride, but the ball died on the LF track. He then struck out Greg Garcia and Mikolas swinging. He was at 77 pitches.

5th Inning

Mikolas kept rolling. He got Kratz to fly out to RF, and struck out Arcia tipping a slider into Molina’s glove. Then, after Miley guided an infield single to DeJong in the hole on the left side of the infield, Yelich popped out into foul territory. He was at 68 pitches.

Miley just decided to do it himself. After he got Carpenter to ground out softly to 1B, he struck out Yadi swinging at a curveball in the zone, and he struck out O’Neill looking at a cutter off the plate. He was at 91 pitches, and his night was over.

6th Inning

The Brewers put Mikolas in his first jam of the game in the 6th, but the Lizard King endured. Cain led off with a doubel down the RF line and, after Moustakas popped out to CF, Aguilar ripped a single to RF, and advanced to 2B on a terrible throw by O’Neill. So with 1 out, runners on 2B & 3B, Mikolas was able to get Shaw to wave through a 3rd pitch curveball way off the plate, and pinch-hitter Eric Thames to stare at a 3-2 slider on the inside corner. Mikolas was also up to 91 pitches, and his night was through.

The Cardinals tacked on to their lead in the 6th, against the embattled Corey Knebel. After Ozuna struck out swinging through 99 mph cheese, Paul DeJong reached on what was ruled a throwing error by Arcia, but was really just Aguilar’s inability to scoop a throw bounced by a running shortstop. DeJong then stole 2B, and Gyorko worked a walk, setting up Harrison Bader’s 2-run triple into RCF. Garcia grounded out to the pitcher and a pinch-hitting Jose Martinez flew out to RF to strand him at 3B. 6-1 Cardinals.

7th Inning

Mike Mayers relieved Mikolas, and picked up right where his predecessor left off. He got Kratz to pop out to 3B, and then struck out Arcia swinging at a slider off the plate, and struck out pinch-hitter Jonathan Schoop swinging at an elevated, 3-2 fastball.

Dan Jennings, who should have pitched last night, relieved Knebel in a 5-run game. He got Carpenter to ground out to 2B, struck out Molina swinging, and got O’Neill to fly out to the track in RCF.

8th Inning

The Cardinals traded a run for a signature moment in the 8th. The down payment came in the form of a Christian Yelich home run off the dinger-prone Chase Shreve. Shreve remained in to redeem himself, and quickly got Cain to tap out to Molina and bring up Moustakas. Moose chased a low fastball, but was able to line it to short CF. But Harrison Bader had a bead on it, and made a spectacular, diving catch to rob the Brewer third baseman. Shreve then struck out Aguilar swinging at a change up. 6-2 Cardinals.

Corbin Burnes relieved Jennings, and gave that run right back. Ozuna battled him to a full count and drew a lead off walk, and then scored on DeJong’s subsequent double to the wall in LCF. Gyorko then flew out just short of the track in RF, and Bader struck out swinging. Then, after Garcia was hit by a pitch, pinch-hitter Patrick Wisdom grounded out to 3B. 7-2 Cardinals.

9th Inning

Daniel Poncedeleon closed it out. He got Shaw to fly out to RCF, struck out Thames with a series of flummoxing fastballs and change ups, and got Kratz to fly out out to LF for the final out.

Notes

  • Jose Martinez was a late scratch due to soreness in his right hip.
  • Wong was removed from the game after getting hit on the elbow in the 3rd.
  • Corbin Burnes was not ejected for hitting Greg Garcia in the 8th inning, despite warnings being issued earlier in the game. The pitch was low, and no intent was apparent.

The Cardinals will look to cement their place in the Wild Card standings tomorrow, sending John Gant to face Jhoulys Chacin. Game starts at 1:15 CST, and can be viewed on FSMW.