In Game 2 of the Show-Me Series (and the Cards’ final inter-league game), it was Dakota Hudson and Brad Keller hurling for their respective teams. They’ve performed similarly this season, especially as Dakota’s GB% has lowered a bit from the 60s% earlier this season (but still leading the majors):
GB%: 57.3%; EV: 89.5; Hard Hit%: 40.9%; K%: 17.0%; BB%: 10.4%
GB%: 51.3%; EV: 88.9; Hard Hit%: 38.3%; K%: 17.2%; BB%: 9.5%
Unfortunately, Dakota’s HR/FB of 22.9% also is 2nd in the majors, double that of Keller’s rate, as his is only 11.8% 26th lowest in all of baseball.)
Speaking of unfortunate things, did you know there’s a Kansas City, Missouri and a Kansas City, Kansas? True! Separately incorporated cities that share a border, unlike The Lou, a single city that properly spreads across a bi-state area. Pick a state, KC.
But a big part of the game tonight was the MLB playing debut of 24-year-old Randy Arozarena, who had his bench-warming debut in the first game. He made good use of that time, settling the age-old food debate: is a cuban a panini, a grilled sub, or a sandwich? (“It’s a cuban,” he explained.) Randy started in center and batted ninth.
The Cards’ offense has been listless overall this season, but this game was a new level of frustration. Until it wasn’t!!!
The Cards were hitless through 6, and their only baserunners to that point were due to an error in the second, a couple of walks in the third, and one walk in the 6th. They had their fair share of hard-hit balls that unluckily went into Royal gloves, but no excuses.
Then in the 7th: FUN!!! The Cards suddenly broke through against Brad Keller in a huge way, with not just one, but 6 straight singles! So tradition was upheld in that when ending a no-hitter, you immediately end the shutout as well. They sent 9 batters to the plate that inning, producing 5 runs. For good measure, Pauly D cruhhhshed a mammoth solo homer in the 8th, to make it 6-0, the final tally.
So what was an agonizingly frustrating two-thirds of a game suddenly became a relaxing fun evening watching your favorite team do what needed to be done against a bad team.
Meanwhile, Hudson only walked 2 through 6, but he didn’t have command all night. The Royals were very accommodating by not clustering their hits, albeit they only totaled 5 on the night. He wasn’t able to put his sinker where he wanted to for the most part, but his slider was good enough often enough to get him out of problematic situations. In the end, he threw 6 shut-out innings, which in this day and age, we’ll take every time. It took him 91 pitches to get there, but I’m sure he’ll work on that.
The bullpen, as has been consistently the case this season, covered the remaining 3 innings in style, giving up no hits, walking no one, and striking out 2.
And props to rookie Randy Arozarena, who went 2-4 with 2 singles, an RBI, and multiple smiles in his debut!!!
So with Carpenter no longer a leadoff hitter and Tommy Edman apparently too good to do it, I guess Dex is now it. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it exactly one other time: give Kolten a shot (.353 OBP, highest on the team; 14.1 K%, 2nd lowest (only to Yadi); but guess his
8.9 BB% isn’t shiny enough).
The Cards went down in order with only Paul Goldschmidt hitting the ball hard. Dex had a post-game meeting scheduled with his accountant, so he hurriedly swung at pitch 1, flying out to left. After watching an 0-2 pitch called a ball that really was a strike, Tommy Edman rolled over on a slider, bouncing out to second. On a 3-2 pitch, Paul Goldschmidt smacked a deep liner the center fielder backpedaled to catch 371 feet from home.
Kolton Wong is an exceptional fielder and took the opportunity to show it, with some ball-hogging action. Whit Merrifield hit a soft liner up the middle, but right where Wong was playing for out 1. Alex Gordon tried up the middle as well with a hard grounder, but Dakota slowed it just enough by deflecting it, and it continued to Kolten for out 2. Hunter Dozier then pounded a Dakota sinker on the ground to short, where shifting Kolten—yes, that Kolten—scampered to his right to glove, but his jump-throw pulled Goldy off the bag for an infield single.
Throwing everything down and away to Jorge Soler, Dakota couldn’t get the slugger to bite at any of them and walked him on 4 pitches. Cheslor Cuthbert then grounded up the middle to...yes, you guessed it...Kolten, who was able to corral it and throw him out.
Like last night, the Royals tonight gifted the Cards a baserunner via error; unlike last night, the Cards couldn’t capitalize. Ozuna started things off by hitting a routine grounder to third baseman Ryan O’Hearn, who fielded it cleanly but sailed his throw high, and it went off the top of the first baseman’s glove for an E-5. With Marcell on first, Paul DeJong swung at a fastball at the top of the zone and topped it to the shortstop for an easy 6-4-3 DP. He really can’t lay off that pitch despite not being able to do much with it.
So Carp’s really searching for production these days. On a 3-1 count, no one on, 2 outs, he attempted to bunt down third. He fouled it off; then, he swung through a fastball in the upper third of the zone for the third out.
In the 2nd, Dakota was either consistently missing the zone altogether or missing spots and catching too much of it. Ryan O’Hearn greeted Dakota with a hard single too far from Kolten to grab. Dakota then got away with an up and away slider that Bubba Starling topped and hit into a 5-4-3 double play. That was good, because next hitter Meibrys Viloria doubled to left-center. Nicky Lopez worked Hudson to a full count but inside-outed a not-strike/over but high slider for a fly ball out to Ozuna just a stride outside the foul line.
The Cards’ two hitters in a bloodsport battle for who should lead off both walked, but the Cards couldn’t capitalize. But first, looking for his first hit since coming off the IL, Yadier Molina led off and didn’t get it, hitting a weak pop-out the second baseman ran down in short right. Kolten Wong then stepped in and drew his walk, which woulda looked nice at the top of the order, huh?
Randy Arozarena then came in for his first at-bat. Down 0-2, he whiffed on a well-spotted 94-mph fastball low and on the outer edge not usually seen in the minors. His teammates did not ask for the ball. Get ‘em next time, son.
Learning from Kolten how to lead off, Dex walked on 5 pitches, producing a mini 2-out rally and giving Kolten the side-eye on his way to first. Tommy then bounced a slow hopping grounder to the shortstop, who charged it aggressively and just nipped Edman at first for the final out.
Hudson had his first inning without baserunners, which was nice to see, as the Royals turned the lineup over with their leadoff hitter Merrifield. Dakota got lucky, as Whit hit a sharp, 100 mph low liner to right that Dexter proposed to on one knee before catching at chest level. Alex Gordon then did Dakota a favor and grounded out on his first pitch to Goldy, who tossed to a covering Dakota at first. Hunter Dozier then struck out swinging on a good, biting slider, one of the few good ones from Dakota to that point.
Brad Keller kept the Cardinals hitless into the fourth inning. (Sorry to spoil that for you.) Pauly G led off by reaching low to smack a pitcher’s pitch down and away, sending it on a sinking line to right that Hunter Dozier made a nice sliding catch on, fighting the lights. Next, Marcell just missed nailing a down and in fastball that he golfed to deep left, but it died at the track. Pauly D then swung at a high strike (again) and did nothing with it (again), flying out to right for the final out. Somebody call Doc Rocks.
Dakota had an mostly poor command still in the fourth, but came out unscathed. He started off well, getting Soler swinging on a good slider. He got lucky against Cuthbert, though, when he center-cut a sinker that fortunately was smacked right to Randy in center for out 2 (and Randy’s first MLB putout). He didn’t get so lucky with another misplaced middle-middle sinker to Ryan O’Hearn, who shot it in the gap in right center for a double. Hudson again threw a sinker that didn’t, as it was middle up, but Bubba Starling topped it on a grounder that DeJong charged, gloved, and threw on the run to nail him at first.
Danny Mac now was trying his best to jinx the Royals’ pitcher into finally giving up a hit by mentioning that he’s tossing a no-hitter. Didn’t work, as Carp sent a liner to deep-ish center for out 1. Yadi also was retired by the center fielder, but on a fly ball that wasn’t so deep. Wong ended the inning by striking out swinging.
Dakota worked around a 2-out single to keep the Royals off the board. Meibrys Viloria helped Dakota out by check-swinging into a strikeout to lead things off. Number 2 hitter Nicky Lopez then grounded out to Pauly G on an easy play almost screwed up from his throw in the dirt, but Pauly G gloved it for out 2. Dakota then grooved a sinker that Merrifield shot back up the box into center for a single. Alex Gordon then broke his bat swinging on a high four seamer, grounding to Wong, who flipped to DeJong for the force at second.
Danny Mac again came back after the break by mentioning the no-hitter. He loves his superstitions. At least the Royals’ starter had been throwing a fair number of pitches, as his total ran up to 96 this inning.
Randy led off getting jammed, sending a slow grounder to third, but the third baseman was playing in, and he threw him out easily. Dex earned his second walk of the night (the Cards’ third), so at least it was a baserunner! Edman then got schooled on sliders to get behind in the count then went down swinging on a fastball for the second out. Goldschmidt then swung at a lousy slider in the dirt to end the inning.
Dakota entered the 6th at 77 pitches, and it felt like you just didn’t know what you were gonna get from him inning by inning. He began well, by striking out Hunter Dozier swinging on a sinker under the zone for his fourth K of the night. Pitching carefully to Soler, he walked him. That brought the Shoulder Whisperer out, who really just was buying time for Tyler Webb to warm up. After telling Dakota to duh, get a double play, he did just that! Cheslor Cuthbert sent a tailor-made grounder to DeJong for the 6-4-3 variety.
Danny Mac repeated the no-hitter jinx for the third time, and the third time always is the charm as the Cards got not just one but six straight hits! No no-hitter! No shut-out!
Ozuna led off the fun by lining a clean single into left for the Cards’ first hit. Thank GOB.
DeJong then shortened up, sending a hard grounder through the hole between first and second, but Marcell had to stop at second.
Next up, Carpenter squared to bunt (again) on the first pitch, but at least it made more sense here than earlier (when he had a 3-1 count, no one on, 2 outs). But he stopped squaring after pitch one and got the count to 3-0. Fake-bunting now (just to bother the pitcher), he watched strike one. Then, he came through on the next pitch, sending a liner right up the box just under the pitcher’s glove into center, scoring Ozuna! 1-0 Cards!!!
That was the end of Keller’s excellent and almost super-duper-excellent night, as the Royals brought in reliever Kevin McCarthy.
Yadi then broke up his personal no-hitter by sending a seeing-eye grounder between short and third for a single to score DeJong for a 2-0 lead!!! Next up, with first and second, no outs, Kolten for some dang reason was determined to bunt. But he did successfully, bunting a high bouncer off the plate that allowed him to reach first safely.
With the bases loaded now and no out, young Arozarena stepped in for a cool opportunity for his first hit. He certainly looked jacked up, as he swung aggressively through pitch one. Getting to a full count, Randy bounced one to the left of the shortstop, who was playing in, and he dove to his left, barely deflecting the ball into Molina, with Carpenter scoring. The umps originally ruled Molina was out, having missed the initial deflection. But the ball was past the infielder before it hit Yadi, so he would’ve been safe anyway. It all got squared away, so Randy earned his first hit and RBI!!!
Fowler then sent a deep-enough fly ball to center, deep enough to even score Yadi from third. Kolten tagged up and made it safely to third but Randy wisely stayed at first, as the throw went to second. With finally one out, Edman then grounded to the second baseman, who flipped to the shortstop for the force, but speedy Tommy beat the throw as Kolten scored.
Now with 2 out and Edman on first, Goldy came in as the 9th hitter of the inning. He struck out, however, ending the Royals’ nightmare. 5-0 Cards!!!
Breathing easy now, the Cards switched pitchers, bringing in lefty Tyler Webb. He struck out Ryan O’Hearn swinging on a sweeping slider and induced Bubba Starling to ground out to Pauly D. Not done, on the next play, Pauly D then ranged far to his left on the Wong side of second to snare a slow roller and get enough on the throw to nail the runner on a nice scoop by Goldy for the third out.
Sad Royals brought in reliever Josh Staumont to face the Cardinals, who hit the ball hard against him, including one very, very, very hard. Ozuna ripped a screamer to right that Hunter Dozier made a nice running play toward the track on to flag. Paul DeJong then bombed a long (431 feet!), wet homer to left center (went into the fountain) to make it 6-0!!!
Paul DeJong is the first shortstop in franchise history with multiple 20+ HR seasons! pic.twitter.com/KrMDPmLmEN— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 15, 2019
Carp then grounded out sharply to the first baseman for the second out. Molina ended the inning by lining out softly to the second baseman.
Randy Arozarena decided to take care of the 8th. Tyler Webb remained in the game to get lefty hitter Nicky Lopez, and he did his duty, retiring him on a flyout to center. John Gant then was called on to move things along toward completion. Whit Merrifield sent a fly to center that Arozarena flagged down for the second out. And why the heck not, but just for good measure, Randy took care of the third out, gathering a third fly ball to end the inning.
Another new pitcher entered for the Royals, this time it was Ian Kennedy (former 21-game winner in 2011—huh), a right-hander. Kolten struck out on a check swing on a breaking ball. Feeling his oats, now, Randy came up and smacked a hard liner to right on an outside fastball for his second hit of the night. Dexter then battled through an 8-pitch at bat but succumbed to strike out swinging. Tommy Edman, 0-4 on the night, then stayed hitless by grounding out easily to the second baseman, who forced Randy at second for the final out.
With a comfortable lead, the Cards brought in Junior Fernandez to finish things off against the 3-4-5 hitters. With his first pitch, he got Hunter Dozier to ground out to DeJong. Reaching 99 mph on the gun against Soler, he induced a grounder to Edman at third for the second out. Fernandez then went to a full count on Cuthbert before getting him to chase a slider in the dirt for strike 3!!!
Cards win 6-0!!!
THE BOTTOM LINE
- Dakota got the ‘ol Quality Start, throwing 6 shutout innings with 2 walks and 4 Ks, but just 52 of his 91 pitches were strikes. He’ll need to improve that, especially against better teams to have sustained success.
- A shut-down bullpen is like warm blanket, yo.
- The 6th inning was the poster child for sequencing as a major factor in run production. That inning created their 4-6 RISP stat
- DeJong had a nice 2-4 night with 5 total bases. More, please!
- And Pauly D’s 20th homer in the 8th made him the only shortstop in Cardinals history—history to have multiple 20-homer seasons! (He hit 25 in his 2017 rookie campaign.)
- Danny Mac gets a special Star of the Game award for persisting with his jinx-inducing no-hitter mentions at the beginning of each inning from the 5th to the fun 7th.
- Our newest, bestest buddies the Phillies spanked the Cubbies 11-1 tonight, so your St. Louis Cardinals are back in first!!! (By .001!!!)
- The Cards next travel to Cincy tomorrow to start a 4-game series. While they’re not the Royals, gotta keep chewing up the lesser teams.