The first inning promised a different game than how the game turned out. Miles Mikolas struggled with the Pirates, not necessarily due to poor pitching. He threw a first pitch strike to every hitter he faced in the inning, but couldn't quite figure out a way to put hitters away. Starling Marte made Mikolas throw 8 pitches, eventually drawing a one out walk. With as good of control as Mikolas has and with how little Marte walks, it's possible he purposefully threw a pitch out of zone, gambling he would chase. Josh Bell, who seems to have hit the ball well as of late, grounded a chopper to Matt Adams. Adams made a nice play to get the lead runner, but couldn't complete the double play. Francisco Cervelli, an obnoxious batter to face, singled to put runners at 1st and 2nd. Corey Dickerson struck out on a pitch in the dirt to end inning. Mikolas finished the inning with 24 pitches.
Joe Musgrove meanwhile looked shaky at first too. Musgrove doesnt walk many hitters (just 4.8% coming into today), but began his outing with a walk to Matt Carpenter. Jose Martinez hit the first ball he saw to the opposite field for a single. Marcell Ozuna saw a ball and then crushed a line drive double to left field to score two runs. The inning ended with Ozuna still at second due to a groundout and a very questionable decision to bunt by Kolten Wong. Musgrove only threw 16 pitches, but between Mikolas’ high pitch count and Musgrove not exactly lighting the world on fire, I was preparing for it to become a bullpen game fast.
The second inning by Mikolas didn’t exactly dissuade me from thinking Mikolas might be having a short game, though this time he was utterly dominant. He struck out all three batters he faced on 17 pitches. Musgrove similarly had a much improved second inning, though one was at least partially due to getting to face the bottom of the order. He struck out two in a 1-2-3 inning. Mikolas had a very quick 3rd inning, striking out his fifth straight batter to begin the inning, this one by the opposing pitcher, and finishing with a 1-2-3 inning. Musgrove had little issues with the 1-2-3 hitters of the Cardinals either in the bottom of the inning.
Mikolas had trouble in the 4th. Bell hit a line drive leadoff double that Ozuna came close to catching. Cervelli grounded out to short to advance Bell to third base. It didn’t end up matter a whole lot when Dickerson singled him home and Colin Moran singled after to put runners at the corner with one out. Mikolas had 70 pitches at this point, but benefited from some fortuitous luck. Rookie Kevin Kramer flew out to shallow center on the first pitch he saw and also a rookie Kevin Newman lined out to right field on the first pitch he saw. Musgrove at this point was still rolling, striking out two in another 1-2-3 inning.
Mikolas had a quick 5th inning, getting two groundouts and a flyout in a 1-2-3 10-pitch inning. Musgrove did him one better though, needing just 9 pitch to get through the bottom of the order, which included two strikeouts. At this point, a betting man would have a fairly easy choice if I were to tell them one of the two pitchers would end up throwing 7 innings and the other wouldn’t. Mikolas had 82 pitches while Musgrove had just 61 pitches through the first five innings.
Mikolas didn’t exactly have the easiest 6th, allowing an infield single to lead off the inning, but was helped tremendously be a one-out double play ball by Dickerson. He had 95 pitches after six innings. Musgrove on the other hand, immediately put himself in a hole. Carpenter hit a leadoff single which wasn’t exactly Musgrove’s fault. But he walked Martinez to put runners at 1st and 2nd. Adams singled this time to load the bases with nobody out. Ozuna then.... struck out.
DeJong, with the bases still loaded but with one out this time, looked in danger of stranding the bases loaded again. Musgrove got to 1-2 on him, making him chase on a pitch below the strike zone for strike 2. Musgrove, perhaps emboldened by how well his changeup played, tried it again to strike him out. This time, he threw it in the dirt and Cervelli couldn’t handle it, which allowed Carpenter to score and the runners to advance. DeJong fouled off two more pitches with two strikes before hitting a sacrifice fly to score the Cards’ 4th run. Wong struck out for the second time to end the inning, Musgrove had 88 pitches and his night was through.
Mikolas came back out for the 7th for two very basic reasons. His spot didn’t come up in the bottom in the inning. He was the last out of the 5th, so he was the 9th man due up that inning. The Pirates’ bottom of the order was coming up. Mikolas, who hadn’t struck anybody out since his five straight strikeouts earlier in the game, struck out Moran. He struck out Kramer for the second out. Newman grounded out to third base. He finished the game with 107 pitches.
Michael Feliz replaced Musgrove and he didn’t pitch bad. He struck out Bader looking on the seventh pitch of the at-bat. On 0-1, he got Francisco Pena to chase a pitch below the strike zone, but Pena stuck his bat out and managed to single to left field. With Greg Garcia announced, Clint Hurdle brought in his lefty, Steven Brault. Mike Shildt countered with Tyler O’Neill. O’Neill fouled off three pitches, eventually getting into a 3-2 count before walking for just his fifth time all year. No problem for Hurdle, Carpenter was up. Brault walked him on five pitches. The most surprising thing is that Brault has never been a lefty reliever for the Cardinals, though I wouldn’t blame you for thinking it. With the bases loaded, Jose Martinez struck out, but not before yet another wild pitch brought in the fifth run of the game. The Pirates, uh, intentionally walked Adams to face Ozuna, which is something I don’t agree with at all, but it sort of worked when Ozuna lined out to first to end the inning.
Bud Norris came in and briefly looked like old Bud Norris, at least by results. He threw a 1-2-3 inning, which included a strikeout. The top of the 9th is where the Cardinals bats when crazy. After a flyout by DeJong, the next seven Cardinals hitters reached base. Wong singled and Bader walked to begin the rally. Pena grounded to third base, but Moran committed an error, allowing Wong to score and Pena to reach base. O’Neill homered, making it 9-1. They weren’t quite done. Yairo Munoz, who pinch-ran for Carpenter for I assume defensive reasons, singled. Jose Adolis Garcia pinch-hit for what was the pitcher’s spot at this point and doubled home Munoz for the 10th run. Adams singled to put runners at the corner. Ozuna hit a sacrifice fly to score the 11th run. DeJong, the 10th batter of the inning, singled so that he wouldn’t get out two times in one inning. Wong struck out for his third time of the game.
Weaver came in and had an easy inning. It would be nice if that were true. He got a groundout to start his inning and then two straight doubles gave the Pirates their second run. He got another groundout for his second out. Then single, double, walk, double, which got him taken out of the game with the score now 11-5. John Brebbia needed just two pitches to get a groundout to end the game.
- Mikes Mikolas: 7 IP, 7 Ks, BB, ER, 5 H - The seven strikeouts ties with two other games for his second highest strikeout total of the year. His highest was nine strikeouts.
- This was a strange game. Of the starting lineup, Carpenter, Martinez and Adams were the only ones who really had “good” days (unless you believe RBIs make a day good, then Ozuna’s 1-4 with a sacrifice fly counts, but 1 out of 5 times on base is not usually considered good).
- This game, however, involved the bench players playing quite literally perfectly. O’Neill went 1-1 with a HR and BB, JAG with a 2B, and Munoz went 1-1 with a single. Like I said, strange game.
- I hope I don’t hear any complaining about scoring 11 runs if the Cards struggle with offense tomorrow. (You know, “save some for tomorrow”) For one, the vast majority were gotten off garbage time pitchers and they do not get to face those pitchers tomorrow if the game is at all close.
- If there were any hope that Luke Weaver would get back his starting rotation spot back, I think this game pretty much put the nail in the coffin.
Tomorrow the Cardinals go for the sweep and it will not be easy. They have Daniel Poncedeleon facing Jameson Taillon, who is a pretty good pitcher. Also pretty good pitchers? Trevor Williams and Musgrove so you know, Cards can handle him.