clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Three Cards homer, Mikolas dominates in 6-0 victory over Phillies

New, 162 comments

Now THAT’S how you end a losing streak.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

When coming off a tough series sweep by a division rival because of dumb scheduling due to archaic tradition in a shitty stadium, the best thing to do is to take it out on another team. Sorry Phillies, you just happened to be the next team on the schedule. And you ran into a team that did what it does best: grind pitchers into dust.

You also received an uncharacteristically good pitching performance, giving you absolutely no chance. Well uncharacteristic for the 2019 Cardinals pitching rotation, not necessarily Miles Mikolas specifically (though he has also had a slow start). I’m not saying anything new. Obviously if the weakness of your team performs like a strength while the strength of your team plays as expected, your team is likely to win.

Strange as it may sound, both Mikolas and the Cardinals offense started shaky. In the 1st, he allowed a 1-out single to Jean Segura and a 100+ mph lineout by Bryce Harper produced an inning-ending double play. In the 2nd, he got into a full count on all three batters he faced. The second batter bailed him out on a 3-1 ball, not able to hold up his check swing, and then ump gave him a strike three on another ball. He struck out Odubel Herrera on a 3-2 curveball. A little less luck, a little more discipline by the Phillies hitters and this game might go a different way.

Similarly, it took a few innings for the offense to get going, though to be fair, they did make Vince Velasquez work for it. Valasquez threw 26 pitches to four batters in the first inning, which only produced a walk by Paul DeJong. No strikeouts though. He needed 18 pitches for his 2nd inning, which included two more walks. Jose Martinez walked the first time and advanced to second base on a deep flyout to center by Yadier Molina, which necessitated an intentional walk to Harrison Bader to get to the pitcher with two outs. The third inning was a 9-pitch inning from the top of the order, so it looked like the Cards may let him off the hook.

Naturally, things went differently. Mikolas needed just 35 pitches for his next three innings of work, which included four groundouts, a pop out, and two strikeouts. He had one hard hit ball, which was a line drive to Matt Carpenter, who seemingly instantly jumped as soon as possible for his catch.

Meanwhile, Molina helped jumpstart the Cards by hitting another long fly ball, but over the wall this time. Jose Martinez again walked, who started the season by not walking at all, but with more playing time has been more comfortable allowing pitchers to pitch around him. Molina then delivered a home run into left center field, who got into an 0-2 hole, but fouled off a couple pitches before homering in his seven-pitch AB. Kolten Wong drew a walk himself, but both Bader and Mikolas struck out.

Gabe Kapler made headlines by pulling his starters last year quickly in April, and I guess the headlines got to him, because he would have benefited greatly from pulling Velasquez quickly. And really, it wouldn’t have been that quick. The score was only 2-0, but Velasquez had 86 pitches and struggled to put hitters away all game. He had 4 walks and three strikeouts, but two of the strikeouts were to Mikolas so he really wasn’t missing any bats tonight. Anyway, he paid for that decision dearly. In order of succession, Carpenter homered, Goldschmidt lined a single (that I’m sure was 100+ mph), and DeJong homered. 5-0, no outs recorded, Velasquez out without recording an out in the 5th anyway.

In comes in Edgar Garcia, a 22-year-old making his major league debut. The Cards did not greet him warmly. He got Marcell Ozuna to foul out, but allowed back-to-back singles to Martinez and Molina. He threw a wild pitch that allowed both to advance and Martinez scored on a sacrifice fly by Wong. Kapler again told his pitcher to walk Bader to get to Mikolas, who flew out.

Mikolas’ string of 13 straight batters out ended in the 6th with a leadoff single, who was immediately removed from a double play ball. He allowed a 2-out hit, but that was his last hit allowed of the game as he had a 1-2-3 7th, including a strikeout of Bryce Harper. And that was pretty much the end of the game. Molina hit another single, but otherwise the offense was done for the night. John Brebbia pitched the 8th and started the 9th, before ceding to Jordan Hicks, who hadn’t pitched in six days, but who threw about 6 strikes to Bryce Harper with the umpire forcing him to get swinging strikes since he wasn’t calling strikes in the zone that Harper looked at. Seriously, he threw a 1-2 strike and a 2-2 strike and both were called balls and then delivered a slider inside that Harper looked absolutely hopeless against.

Pitches two and three were swinging strikes, lest you think he benefited from the strike zone called at first. He struck out Rhys Hoskin on a slider as well. Just an unbelievable performance by Hicks in a game that didn’t necessarily require him to be unbelievable.

Notes

  • Mikolas line: 7 IP, 5 Ks, 3 H, 98 pitches - This was probably Mikolas’ best start of the season and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Reminding you how early in the year it still is, his ERA sank from 4.73 to 4.02.
  • Matt Carpenter is heating up it looks like - again with how good the lineup has been and how not good Carpenter has been, opposing teams should be scared to death. In his last three games, Carpenter is 6-14 with a double, homer, and a walk.
  • DeJong is amazing. I can’t actually believe how good he is. He has exceeded my wildest expectations. Tonight, he made a great defensive play and went 1-3 with a HR and BB. His strikeout rate is, no joke, at 16.3%. He appears to suffer none of the normal consequences of hitters who don’t want to strike out either, so this may be just who he is now?
  • Jose Martinez showing why Tyler O’Neill got sent down. He was supposed to a bench player and has essentially made himself into a guy who you can’t not start. He went 1-2 with 2 BBs. I don’t actually believe it, but I kind of believe he is one guy who could BABIP .400 for a full year. Probably not but....
  • Molina, the other slumping hitter in the lineup, went 3-4 with a HR. He raised his wRC+ from 80 to 93. Again another reminder how early in the year it is when one game can massively shift your batting line like that.

Cards are back in 1st place after the Marlins beat the Cubs. Kind of hard to believe momentum is a real thing with the Cubs losing to the freaking Marlins after that weekend.

Tomorrow, the Cardinals sure have a tough game. Dakota Hudson will have to bring his A game, because the opposing starter is Aaron Nola, who is quite good at baseball. He has gotten off to a slow start, so hopefully that slow start will stay slow for at least one start longer. This one starts at 6:45 CT.