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Cardinals Exceed the Braves 9.17.18

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4 Cardinals launch home runs to bail out a lackluster bullpen.

St Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Essential Information

The Cardinals won 11-6. They keep pace with Chicago and Milwaukee for the division, and trade Los Angeles for Colorado as 2nd Wild Card partners.

The offense did the heavy lifting in this one. The Cardinals launched 4 HRs, 2 ground-rule doubles, and 3 other extra-base hits, in addition to drawing 7 walks. Every Cardinal starter reached base at least once, and all but Carpenter & Munoz recorded at least one hit. The 11 runs scored tied them for their 7th-most runs in a game this season, a feat they’ve accomplished 4 other times.

The pitching was less inspiring. Though they recorded 11 strikeouts, 3 came after the game was in hand, and they came in contrast to 5 walks. Mikolas’ final line was strong, but he struggled in the middle innings, and just looked hittable. The bullpen was worse, and made this game a bit of a nail-biter. Tyler Webb, Dakota Hudson, and Carlos Martinez all allowed runs, and nearly gave the game away, before heroic swings from Harrison Bader and Yadier Molina put us back at ease. I’m not sure what Shildt is supposed to do with these guys.

Final Lines

Miles Mikolas: 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 1 HR, 6 K, 1 BB, 54 GSc, 97 pitches.

Mike Foltynewicz: 4.2 IP, 6 ER, 5 H, 2 HR, 2 K, 4 BB, 22 GSc, 87 pitches.

Events

1st Inning

Foltynewicz was not right tonight. Carpenter battled him to a full count and accepted the lead off walk, which isn’t out of the ordinary, and neither of Martinez’s & DeJong’s ground outs to the right side were that surprising either. But the Atlanta ace doubled over in either pain or fatigue after covering 1B on the latter ground out, and that was when the Cardinals went to work. Marcell Ozuna worked another full count and drew as a walk, as did Jedd Gyorko, which loaded the bases. Yadier Molina stepped in, fouled off the first pitch (because of course he did,) and then stuck his elbow out at an inside slider and earned an RBI HBP. Kolten Wong then inflicted damage by lining a haning slider for 2-run double to RF. Foltynewicz escaped the rough opening frame by striking out Mikolas after Brian Snitker intentionally walked Munoz. He threw 37 pitches. 3-0 Cardinals.

Mikolas worked around a lead off single to make the lead stand up. Ronald Acuna Jr. scorched the aforementioned single past Gyorko into LF, to give the Braves teeth. But Mikolas got Albies to fly out to LF, Freeman to strike out swinging through a curveball low in the zone, and Markakis to ground out to 1B. He threw 18 pitches in his opening frame.

2nd Inning

Foltynewicz fared much better the second time through the top of the Cardinals’ lineup. He got Carpenter to fly out to the track in the LF corner, Martinez to ground out to SS on a 3-0 pitch, and DeJong to hit a HR in a silo that ended up in Albies’ glove in short LF. The quick inning put his pitch count at 45.

Mikolas wasn’t missing many bats in the 2nd, but the Braves couldn’t capitalize. DeJong tracked down Camargo’s flare behind the 2B bag for the first out, but Ender Inciarte roped a single just past Wong to give the Braves speed on the bases. Mikolas then left a fastball too far inside, and Flowers’ check swing brought his arms into contact with it, giving the Braves a second baserunner. But Mikolas won a 9-pitch battle with Swanson, getting him to fly out to RF, and then struck out his counterpart for the final out. His pitch count rose to 39.

3rd Inning

The Cards continued to let Foltynewicz back into this game. Ozuna struck out swinging soon after blasting a moonshot foul down the LF line, Gyorko grounded out to 3B on 2 pitches, and Yadi popped out to LCF on 3 pitches. Folty’s pitch count was now a reasonable 56.

Mikolas didn’t fare as well his second time through the Braves’ order. Though he struck Acuna out swinging with a nasty slider to start things, Albies drew a 9-pitch walk to set up Freddie Freeman’s 2-run HR to RCF. Mikolas recovered to get Markakis to chase a low change out to ground out to 1B, and Camargo to strike out in an 11-pitch PA. But the damage was done, and Mikolas’ pitch count now exceeded Foltynewicz’s, at 75.

4th Inning

The Cardinals immediately got one back. Kolten Wong made this game his own with a mammoth HR to RF, his 9th of the season. Foltynewicz bounced back and got Munoz to ground out to 2B, Mikolas to pop out to SS, and Carpenter to uncharacteristically fly out to LF on the first pitch. His pitch count was 68. 4-2 Cardinals.

Mikolas looked much better against the dregs of the Atlanta order. He got Inciarte and Flowers to ground out to 2B, and struck out Swanson looking at a tight bender on the inside half. He was at 90 pitches, however.

5th Inning

The Cardinals got to Folty again in the 5th. Jose Martinez led the charge with a blast off the upper part of the brick wall in RF for a lead off double. Paul DeJong brought him around with a no-doubter 5 rows deep into the seats in LCF, seconds after the Braves made a call to get someone warming in the bullpen. Marcell Ozuna followed with a towering drive also off the top of the RF wall for another double, but Gyorko grounded out to SS, Yadi grounded sharply into a 3-2-5 fielder’s choice that erased Ozuna and, after Sam Freeman relieved, Wong flew out to CF. 6-2 Cardinals.

The larger lead made the decision whether or not to stick with Mikolas a bit easier, as Shildt opted to ride his starter for another inning, and Miles rewarded his manager with another clean inning. He easily struck out pinch-hitter Rio Ruiz on 3 pitches, before surrendering another single to Acuna. But he bounced back to quickly get Albies to pop out to LF, and Freeman to fly out to deep CF. Mikolas was at 97 pitches, and his night was through.

6th Inning

Luke Jackson relieved Freeman, and put up a 1-2-3 inning. He got Munoz to chop out to 3B, pinch-hitter Greg Garcia to sharply ground out to 3B, and Carpenter to ground out weakly to 2B.

Nothing good can last. Tyler Webb relieved Mikolas, and though he got Markakis to line out to LF, he surrendered a pair of singles to Camargo and Inciarte, the latter of which was booted by Munoz in CF (???) and allowed runners to reach 2B and 3B.

Shildt turned to Dakota Hudson to try to escape this jam. Hudson was able to get Flowers to fly out to CF for a sac fly, but the righty did not back up Munoz’s off-target throw toward 3B, which went to the backstop and allowed the trail runner to score. Hudson got Swanson to ground out to 2B to end the inning. 6-4 Cardinals.

7th Inning

Jackson returned and worked around a brief Cardinals rally to put up another zero. He got Martinez to ground out on comebacker after a 10-pitch battle, put then surrendered ground rule double to DeJong, and walked Ozuna. But he battled back to get Gyorko to ground into a 5-4 fielder’s choice, and Molina to fly out to CF.

The Braves pulled within a run in the 7th, and the Cardinals were lucky to still have the lead. Hudson returned for a full inning, and got 2 quick outs in the form of a Preston Tucker fly out to LF, and an Acuna pop out to 3B. But Albies singled to LF, and Freeman singled up the middle, setting up Nick Markakis’ double off the RF wall. Yairo Munoz, who had moved over to RF, played the carom perfectly, and fired a laser to home plate, which held Freeman at 3B. This was a huge play, because Hudson was able to get Camargo to fan on an elevated fastball to cut the rally short. 6-5 Cardinals.

8th Inning

Lefty Jesse Biddle relieved Jackson, and the Cardinals were able to give themselves some breathing room. Though Wong & Munoz started the inning with a ground out to 2B & strike out, pinch-hitter Tyler O’Neill battled to a full count and ended up working a walk, and Matt Carpenter did the same, which brought up Harrison Bader. Bader was subbed into the game in the inning prior in a swap that take Martinez out of the game, and pushed Munoz to RF, in order to improve the defense. He would prove to be some much more, as he worked himself to a 3-1 count and launched a long, 3-run HR to LF. DeJong struck out after Bader killed the rally dead. 9-5 Cardinals.

You know those cartoons from your childhood where a leak springs in the boat, then another, and another, and another, while the protagonist uses the best of their Twister skills to contort their body and uses their various digits to plug each new hole? That’s Mike Shildt deploying this bullpen. Carlos Martinez was tapped with the clear intention of putting a stop to the Braves and getting a 2-inning save. It would not be. Carlos immediately walked Ender Inciarte, signaling the command issues to come. He managed to get Flowers to pop out into foul territory and Swanson to flare out to 1B on a 3-2 pitch. But pinch-hitter Lucas Duda worked a walk on a questionable 3-2 slider, and Ronald Acuna Jr. lined an RBI single to CF to put the pressure on. Ozzie Albies then battled him to a full count and drew a walk to load the bases and bring up MVP candidate Freddie Freeman. Freeman also worked a full count, but swung over the top of wicked slider for the final out. Carlos threw 32 pitches in the frame. 9-6 Cardinals.

9th Inning

Former closer Arodys Vizcaino relieved Biddle, and probably shouldn’t have. He made Ozuna look foolish with a series of sliders to get him to strike out, but Jedd Gyorko got a hold of a fastball and lined it down the LF line for a ground-rule double. Yadier Molina then followed him with a HR to RCF on a first-pitch (surprise!) fastball down the middle. Wong followed with a single to CF, but Munoz & Adams struck out swinging over a pair of sliders in the dirt. 11-6 Cardinals.

John Brebbia closed this one out. Though he initially tacked on a lead off walk to Markakis, he bounced back to strike out Johan Camargo, Ender Inciarte, and Tyler Flowers. Cardinals win 11-6.

Notes

  • Jose Martinez’s double off the wall in the 5th was his first extra-base hit since 8/28.
  • This was the second time Foltynewicz allowed 6+ runs in a game this season — the other instance came against the Giants on 5/4/18.
  • Never doubted them for a second, you guys.

The Cardinals will look to win the series tomorrow, and will send Austin Gomber to face Anibal Sanchez to do the job. Game starts at 6:35 CST, and can be viewed on FSMW & ESPN.