With Jack Flaherty squaring off against Sonny Gray, the Cardinals defeated the Reds 5-2 Sunday afternoon, earning a series victory against their division rivals. They’ve now dropped just one of six series since April 8th. The Cardinals improve to 17-10 on the season with the win, while the Reds fall to 11-16 and have to eventually go back to a city that puts cinnamon in their chili and puts it on top of spaghetti noodles.
Flaherty tap-danced around trouble in the first inning. Kolten Wong uncharacteristically made an error on Joey Votto’s line drive to lead off the game. After retiring the next two hitters, Flaherty walked Yasiel Puig. With Votto and Puig on base, Wong redeemed himself with a diving stop of Tucker Barnhart’s line drive to squelch the rally.
Kolten Wong going all out! pic.twitter.com/5PgSQNOVwA— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) April 28, 2019
From there, both Flaherty and Gray settled in, with Dexter Fowler’s third inning walk representing the only offense the Cardinals could muster.
With one out in the fourth inning, Paul DeJong laced his 12th double of the season and Marcell Ozuna nursed a four pitch walk. José Martínez followed with a single past Votto at first base, driving home DeJong to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. Yadier Molina then lofted a sacrifice fly to right field, bringing home Ozuna for a 2-0 advantage. Fowler slapped an infield single before Jedd Gyorko grounded out to end the fourth. The two runs were all they would get against Gray, who finished his day with 5 innings pitched, three hits, two walks, and five strikeouts.
In the meantime, Flaherty cruised from the 3rd through the 7th. He procured three double plays and faced two batters over the minimum. By the time Tyler O’Neill pinch hit for him in the bottom of the 7th, Flaherty had spun seven scoreless innings, scattering just four hits and one walk while striking out four. In a magic trick that could only happen this early in the season, his effort shaved a full run off of his season ERA from 5.25 to 4.06.
Brebbia came on in the 8th and struck out pinch-hitter Derek Dietrich, gave up a duck fart single to Jose Peraza, and then yielded to Andrew Miller to face Votto. Miller assaulted him with four frisbee sliders and two fastballs, which earned a lazy flyball for the second out. Jordan Hicks was then summoned to face Eugenio Suárez, who he struck out to end the inning.
Wong doubled to lead off the bottom of the 8th off of Reds reliever David Hernandez when right fielder Scott Schebler misplayed an easy flyball in the sun. Hernandez then kicked the Cardinals in the Pauls, retiring both Goldschmidt and DeJong. A two out intentional walk of Ozuna and a walk of Harrison Bader loaded the bases. Yadier Molina capitalized, driving a single to centerfield, plating both Wong and Ozuna and stretching the lead to 4-0. Fowler smoked a line drive down the first base line, driving home Bader. However, Fowler was controversially tagged out at second base after Bader scored but before the play ended. It was ruled that Fowler’s foot was off the bag when tagged. The inning ended with the Cardinals ahead 5-0.
With the five-run lead, Cardinals skipper Mike Shildt called on Dominic Leone to pitch the ninth inning. Jesse Winker led off with a double, Jose Iglesias singled with two outs, and Schebler doubled to pull the Reds to within 5-2. John Gant relieved Leone and got a line drive out from Dietrich to close out the game.
Molina’s single in the 8th inning extended his hitting streak to 15 games, though Goldschmidt’s 0-for-4 day ended his hitting streak at 13. Flaherty was the Dogfish Head Super Eight Player of the Game on the back of his seven splendid innings. His record improved to 3-1 on the season, while Sonny Gray fell to a very hard luck 0-4. Gant picked up his second save of the year.
- Flaherty seemed to go after hitters more, needing only 89 pitches to get through seven innings. The gaudy strikeout totals weren’t there but he was quick, efficient, and bordered on dominant in a 1995 kind of way.
- I saw Avengers: Endgame this morning. If you wanted to make a Cardinals version of the Avengers, O’Neill is clearly the Hulk. Wainwright is royalty, which makes him Black Panther. Matt Carpenter is Captain America. You might think it’s Goldschmidt, but he’s the same amazing, indestructible force as Captain Marvel. Hicks is Traditional Thor as the God of Thunder. Without spoiling too much about this movie, I think DeJong is this movie’s version of Thor, what with his almost Scandinavian name, his own version of thunder at the plate, and... well, see this picture and then watch the movie. Mikolas’ deadly accuracy makes him Hawkeye, Wong is Ant-Man (aka the tiny guy who comes up big in special moments), and Marcell Ozuna is Doctor Strange. Yadi’s durability and heroic suit of red and yellow armor makes him Iron Man. Everything sticks to Harrison Bader’s glove, which makes him the team Spider-Man. José Martínez is underrated as the glue that holds everything together, which makes him Black Widow. Matt Wieters is Mantis because he’s just kind of there.
- Scoring based on the author’s beverage:
-Dogfish Head Super Eight: No score
-Bell’s Official: 2-0, Cardinals
-Black Flag 420 Haze-It: 3-0, Cardinals
-No beer: 2-0, Reds