I understand it’s prudent not to get carried away with SSS and arbitrary endpoints, but the current version of the 2019 version of the Cards is making it hard to remain blasé. I keep going back to the back-to-back sweeps at the hands of the A’s and Dodgers, two excellent teams. Since then, the Cards have gone 14-3 (yes, against lesser teams), and dare I say, they’re making it look easy. Tell ‘em Skip:
So in those key areas over the last 17 games:
Throwin’ the Ball - Starter ERA has been 3.38; Bullpen: 2.06, on the backs of Jack (1 ER over 18 IP) and Dak (2 ERs; 22.2 IP). Gimme a Jack ‘n Dak: a blended shot of Jack Daniel’s & Buffalo Trace bourbons. At first sip, you’re in Tennessee. After the last gulp, you somehow wake up in the Dakotas.
Hittin’ the Ball - The Bashin’ Birdos have scored at least 6 runs in 10 of the last 17 (and in the last 5 straight!), averaging 6.2 runs over that 17-game span. On the Run stores declared a state of emergency with dangerously low fountain drink supplies.
Catchin’ the Ball - Fielders have committed 8 errors for a .47 errors per game rate, a tick higher than their league-leading .42 errors per game average. Dex played center in all or most innings in 6 of the 17 games, so there you go.
Looking for their season-high 6th-straight win, the Cards sent a clean-shaven Mikolas against Adrian Houser. Houser had faced the Cards only once this season, but that was just last Wednesday (the infamous RainGate game), when he went 5.1, gave up 6 hits and 2 BBs but just 1 ER as he also struck out 6.
Quite oppositely, Miles faced Milwaukee way back on Opening Day for his only previous start against them, going 5, striking out just 3, and giving up 5 hits (3 HRs; gulp) and 5 ERs.
Familiarity with Adrian did not breed contempt for Cards hitters. But time healed all wounds for Miles!
Neither offense could muster much of anything off either pitcher through 6 innings, as the score was tied 1-1 at that point, with the teams matched at 4 hits apiece. But it was Old Man Yadi to the rescue while Mikolas kept the Brewers bats at bay.
The Brewers drew first blood in the second, plating one run with 3 singles with a wild pitch mixed in. Trading zeros through 4, the Cards finally broke through on a Yadi solo homer in the 5th to knot the score.
Meanwhile, Mikolas was throwing a whale of game, with a sharp hook all night and his usual great control. He lasted 6 innings, striking out 10 while walking no one. He topped off at 95 pitches and probably could’ve gone into the 7th.
Speaking of the 7th, it got wet and wild, ultimately resulting in the Cards getting some breathing room. Yadi clobbered his 2nd dinger, this one a 2-run shot off the fair pole to make it 3-1. Then weirdness ensued, as with Bader up, it started raining, and the retractable roof was still open, causing a brief delay as the players were ushered to their dugouts.
No tarp came out, ‘cuz duh, they got an actual roof. Nine minutes later, the thing closed and play resumed. Unfazed, the Cards tacked on another run with a Bader single and a surprise appearance by Kolten, who doubled him home to make it 4-1.
The Brewers got back in it in a hurry, however, as Grandal hit a 2-run homer off of Miller in the 8th. Martinez cleaned up for him that inning. But the resilient Cards answered in the 9th with back-to-back doubles from Yadi and Bader, with Kolten again driving in Tots, this time with a single to push it to 6-3.
Martinez remained in for the 9th, and as can happen with the enigmatic El Gallo, things got dicey, as he brought the tying run to the plate. But he got Hernan Perez to fly out to Dex...at the wall to end it! Oh, that Carlos.
Top of 1st
Dex eye-balled 4 of 5 pitches outside the zone and instead of attempting to drive those, said “No thanks, I’ll walk.” Tommy Edman did not do what lovable, under-sized Cardinal mascots are supposed to do, which is to move a runner over via bunt or hit and run. Instead, he flew out to center on a middle-middle fastball that he got under. Houser then went to 3-0 to Goldschmidt but then worked it to 3-2. With Dex running, Goldy struck out swinging on yet another fastball (the 6th one in his 7 pitches), and Dex was nailed, for the strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out DP. Houser threw 14 pitches: 1 slider, 13 fastballs.
Bottom of 1st
Miles came out shooting strikes, going 0-2 on the first two hitters. Trent Grisham led things off and flew out to shallow left for out 1. Yasmani Grandal struck out swinging on a 96 mph fastball right down central. Facing Yelich the best way possible, with 2 outs and no one on, Miles got him to ground one (yeah, at 94 mph) but directly to your temporary replacement second baseman, Tommy Edman.
Top of 2nd
The Big Bear worked a 3-2 count then sizzled a fastball out over the plate into right for a leadoff single. Paul DeJong, still chuckling at receiving a bill to repair the Miller Lite sign in center dented by his dinger last night, couldn’t focus and topped a low-and-away fastball (duh) to short for the Brewers’ second double play already. Yadi got the count to 3-2 and took a walk 90 feet without having to hilariously try to out-run any throw.
Next, Carp, getting another start, frankly because of Kolten’s injury, grounded his second pitch to second for an easy third out.
Bottom of 2nd
Miles got ahead immediately 0-2 on Keston Hiura, but he didn’t get a slider out of the zone enough, and Keston sent a grounder up the middle for the Brewers’ first hit. Eric Thames arrived next, wearing his Transformer Starter Kit elbow pad. On a 2-2 pitch, Hiura committed thievery, easily stealing second on an unsuspecting Mikolas with nary a throw. Miles atoned, however, getting Thames to pop up to Goldy halfway to first, right over the line.
Batting down the order in the 6th spot, Lorenzo Cain wasted no time, singling up the middle on a first-pitch fastball. Hiura’s first move was back to second, so he could only travel to third as Bader returned the ball to the infield.
With first and third and only one out, lefty Cory Spangenberg attempted to get the Brewers on the board. After missing with a 2-2 curve just a bit too wide, Miles returned to that pitch, guiding it into the zone for a swinging third strike for the second out.
Positioned to get out of the inning unscathed, Mikolas faced 8th-place hitter Arcia. Instead of intentionally walking the bases loaded for the pitcher hitting next, he pitched to Arcia. After Arcia scorched a long liner just foul down right into the stands, he burned Miles on the next pitch, grounding it sharply between first and second to score Hiura for a 1-0 Brewers lead.
Predictably, Miles retired the pitcher next, getting his third strikeout on four pitches. That coulda also happened with no runs scoring.
Top of 3rd
Harry Bader stepped in, pretending he was leading off the whole game instead of just the inning, as I briefly dreamt on 98th percentile Harrison as Ricky Henderson. Alas, Bader chopped a grounder to third for an easy out. “Ricky wasn’t impressed,” Henderson was reported to have commented. Not hearing any reports of the DH yet reaching the NL, Miles went ahead and batted, getting jammed badly and floating a weak duck to short for the second out. Dexter got ahead on the count at 2-0 and sent a pitcher’s pitch from the very bottom of the zone out to deep center on a line that initially looked as though it would continue over Cain’s head, but he tracked it down on the run toward the wall like he was trotting on a treadmill.
Bottom of 3rd
Leadoff man Trent Grisham battled Mikolas for 9 pitches, but the last one was a sweet, sweeping 77 mph curve called for strike three. Miles liked the look of that pitch, so he returned to it vs. the next batter Grisham, who grounded it to Tommy at second for out 2.
Again facing Yelich with 2 outs and empty bases (yay!), Miles went to 2-0 then got a gift-called strike on an outside curve. He threw another hook, this one that Yelich again just looked at but was called a strike. Now with a full count, Miles snuck a meaty, only slightly up-and-in fastball by Yelich for a backward-K strikeout. Christian clearly was expecting another breaking pitch.
Top of 4th
Tommy Edman stepped in and top-spinned a slow grounder to second, but he couldn’t beat it out for out 1. Pauly G patiently got the count to 3-2 then on the 7th pitch zipped a harsh grounder (104 mph) just to the right of the shortstop Arcia, who booted it for his 12th error, as Goldy reached. That was the right call. It was a tough play, but one a pro makes regularly. Despite matching Goldschmidt’s batted ball EV and direction exactly, Ozuna’s grounder didn’t require Arcia to move as much, and he hit into an easy 6-4-3 DP to end the inning.
Bottom of 4th
Owner of one of the three hits against Miles, Keston Hiura couldn’t increase that total, as he grounded out to DeJong on an easy one for the first out. Pitching to another full count to next batter Thames, Miles threw a good down-and-in fastball off the inside edge, but Thames belted it into right for a single.
The Cards did not yet have a double play on the night, and next man up Cain was not a good candidate. But Miles took himself out the DP situation by dropping the ball before going into his stretch, balking Thames to second. Cain then grounded out sharply to Goldy, who took care of him unassisted, with Thames moving to third.
Miles then struck out Cory Spangenberg on a check-swing on a curve in the dirt called by the third-base ump.
Top of 5th
The Cards reached the midway point of the game with 4 base runners total (via 1 hit, 2 walks and an error). Pauly D didn’t help that, as he grounded out weakly to third.
But then Master Yadi said, “Try not. Do.” as he pulled those old, beaten-up hands in to get the barrel to an up-and-in fastball over the left-center wall for a homer to tie the game 1-1!!!
Beleaguered hitter Carpenter then followed by shooting a liner to deep left center that caromed off the top of the wall for an
easy double long single, as he missed first base and didn’t have time to continue to second. That sucked, as Bader then smoked a diving single to center that Cain went to his knees to block cleanly. Actually, it was hit so hard that the slow Carp likely wouldn’t have scored from second anyway.
But as it happened, beleaguered base runner Carpenter thought Cain going to his knees bought him enough time to get to third, but the gifted center fielder immediately popped up and fired a laser to third to easily nail Carpenter. Harrison did make it to second, but Mikolas struck out in three pitches, swinging.
At least it certainly looked as though the Cards were dialing in Houser.
Bottom of 5th
Arcia started things of in the 5th by sending a harmless-looking grounder to DeJong. But even charging in, Pauly got it on the short hop; however, he’s good, so he gloved it cleanly and flung it to first with a little hop to nail the runner.
Mikolas then retired his counterpart pitcher-hitter, getting Houser to strike out swinging for out 2. He then also struck out Trent Grisham (his 8th) on a nifty slow curve that Grisham waived over for a quick 1-2-3 inning.
Top of 6th
The Brewers made a pitching change, bringing in righty “Don’t Call Me” Junior Guerra to face leadoff man Fowler. Houser had only thrown 74 pitches, but I guess all the loud hits the previous inning prompted the move?
Swinging on 3-0, Dex let Junior off the hook by not getting good wood on a bottom of the zone fastball, skying it to very shallow left for an easy out. Hitless in 2 previous trips, Edman remained so, as he rolled over one, grounding out meekly to first. Junior then totally got into Pauly G’s kitchen, sawing him off, inducing a slow grounder to second for a nuthin’-doin’ 1-2-3 inning.
Bottom of 6th
Now facing the Brewers’ lineup for the third time, Mikolas began this inning against Grandal at 81 pitches. Getting jobbed by the ump on a perfectly placed up-and-in fastball called a ball, he came back to get Grandal to swing through a curve in the dirt. But Yadi’s backhanded attempt at blocking it was insufficient, and it rolled to the backstop, allowing Grandal to get to first.
Now up with a baserunner on and less than 2 outs for the first time tonight, Yelich got anxious and swung on the first pitch, popping it up to shallow right, as Dex raced in from his deep position to snag it.
Miles then jammed Hiura, and the ball cued to Goldy, who charged it aggressively and threw to second to get the lead runner, with no chance for the Cards first DP of the night. Now with a runner still at first and 2 outs, Miles got ahead 0-2 on Thames. The next pitch was in the dirt, and it bounced just enough in front of Yadi for the runner to take off. Despite a quick response and spot-on throw from Molina, the runner was safe.
That didn’t worry Miles, however, as he went back again to his hook, which had been working all night, to get Thames on a forward-K strike for his 10th punchout.
Top of 7th
Mountain Man righty Matt Albers came on in for Brewer relief. Ozuna hit a chopper that the third baseman fielded cleanly, but he threw high to first. But the first baseman leapt, gloved it, and tagged Marcell near the chest on the way down for out 1.
DeJong, however, next worked a walk, reaching base for the first time this evening.
Then with the home crowed booing Molina as he strode to the plate, OMG, YADI YADI YADI YADI YADI YADI YADI went down to golf a down-and-in sinker off his shoe tops that clanked off the fair pool for his second homer of the night!!! Suddenly it was 3-1 Cards!!!
YADI HOMERED AGAIN!— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 28, 2019
YADI HAS DRIVEN IN ALL THREE RUNS!
With the crowd still buzzing (or swearing, depending on your shersey), Carpenter followed with a groundout to first for the second out.
With Bader batting, a fairly hard rain started. No, you’re not crazy. Miller Park does have a retractable roof. But Homer Simpson was asleep at the switch and unable to press the “CLOSE” button. After a few rained-on pitches, the home plate ump directed all players off the field.
Barreling into the stadium control room, a screaming Mr. Burns woke Homer with a start. Clearing the drool from the corner of his mouth, Homer finally determined what all the yelling was about and hit the button.
Unfortunately, it took the roof 9 minutes to close, allowing more rain to wet the field. Grounds crew members didn’t bother to cover the mound or any other area, instead opting to spread some drying agent.
Rain delay in a domed stadium, yo. SMDH
Back to the action with Bader up and a 3-1 count, Harrison didn’t miss a beat by slamming the second pitch he saw into right-center for a 2-out single.
!!!THIS IS NOT A DRILL!!! REPEAT: NOT A DRILL!!!
KOLTEN AND HIS TOE PINCH-HIT!!!
Just 3 days after suffering a crunched right big toe via self-inflicted foul ball, Kolten Wong hit for Mikolas. The Tryin’ Hawaiian didn’t miss a beat, yo. With Bader running, Kolten zipped a hard liner down the third-base line! Bader was haulin’ a$$ ‘round the bases and scored easily as Wong cruised into second with no discernible hobble for a double. 4-1 Cards!!!
Nothing Wong with being Bader! pic.twitter.com/sQStbtYxWH— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) August 28, 2019
Dexter then turned the lineup over and drew his second walk of the night, to make it first and second, 2 out. Counsel then relieved his reliever with a reliever, bringing in lefty Drew Pomerantz to face switch-hitter Edman, who hits better as a righty (e.g.,: .878 OPS RH vs. .718 LH). Ah, but the youngster didn’t back me up, as he popped out to first to end the 2-out rally.
Bottom of 7th
Gio Gallegos came in to relieve Miles and his fine night. He kept first batter Cain off the bases by getting him to pop up on a sky-high fly that DeJong finally caught. Cory Spangenberg put up a good fight for a while but ultimately acquiesced by grounding out to Kolten on the 7th pitch. I could not see any odd foot movements from Kolten. Looked normal.
Gio then struck out Arcia on a check-swing the first-base ump called a full swing, setting the Brew Crew down in order quietly.
Top of 8th
Goldschmidt started the 8th by grounding out to second to remain hitless on the night. Cleanup hitter Ozuna jumped on a hanging breaking ball, slamming a grounder into left (109 mph; good lord he hits the ball so hard, so often) for a single and his second hit. Pauly D, however, followed that up with a grounder not hit quite as hard (but at 98 mph) or placed as well, as he erased the inning via a 6-4-3 double play, the fourth for the Brewers on this rainy night. (Heh, heh.)
Bottom of 8th
Young Gio remained in the game to continue in relief. Hernan Perez snuck a ground ball single through the infield that DeJong dove for to his left but came up short. That was all for Gallegos, as Miller entered, because there were three lefties in a row coming up next.
So the Brewers countered by swapping lefty Grisham for righty Braun. That backfired, though, as Braun lifted an easy fly to Dex in short right for out 1. And next hitter Grandal is a switch-hitter, so he flipped to hit righty. Well, that move worked, as Grandal smoked a long homer into left-center on a 3-2 slider that frisbeed right down the middle to make it a 4-3 game.
That brought up Yelich, hitless to this point. Miller went 3-2 on him, then slung one nowhere near the zone, way outside to walk him. That brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of righty Hiura, which got Shildt’s attention. He switched out Miller for El Gallo to extinguish the situation.
Getting all defensive, Shildt put Lane Thomas in left. Ozuna’s position in the lineup would come up as the 8th hitter next inning.
Martinez began by throwing everything inside, going 3-0 on Hiura. But forget about that, as his next pitch was a nice sinker that Hiura dutifully grounded right to Pauly G for an easy 6-4-3 double play—the first of the night for the Cards—to get out of the inning and preserve the lead.
Top of 9th
St. Louis native righty Devin Williams came in to pitch now for Milwaukee. Two-dinger hittin’ Yadi came in, embracing even louder boos now from the Brewer faithful. After falling behind 0-2, Yadi got the count even at 2-2 then used a smooth, wise old man swing to rip an over-and-a-bit-low liner into right center for a double.
Now with a huge IRISP (Insurance Runner in Scoring Position), Matt Carpenter stepped in with a shot at it. He worked a walk to make it first and second with Bader now up. Danny Mac and Jim Edmonds discussed if he would bunt, and the Brewers did the same in a meeting on the mound.
His hand was tipped, as he squared just as time was called. He switched up to swinging, but missed for strike one. He remained in swing mode, then ka-banged a harsh high liner off the base of the wall in left center to score Yadi. 5-3 Cards!!! Carp was held up at third as Bader boogied into 2nd for his 3rd hit of the night.
Now with 2nd and 3rd and nobody out, Kolten looked to tack on. He came through again, hammering a high fastball on a line into right to score Carpenter, making it 6-3!! Bader was held up at third.
Williams finally got the first out of the inning by striking out Dexter swinging. Unbelievably, sore-toed Wong stole second, and made it look easy. Now with 2nd and 3rd again, Lane Thomas stepped up and got plunked on the right wrist on a fastball running up and in, as he slammed his helmet, obviously miffed. He remained in the game to load the bases.
The Brewers then removed Williams for righty Jay Jackson to face Goldy, who struck out swinging on a meaty fastball for the second out and to remain hitless. Now in the spot that Ozuna would’ve been, had he not been switched out previously, came...Carlos Martinez. Opting to keep him pitching instead of going for more runs, Shildt therefore had to have him hit. Them’s the rules. Wieters and Munoz were the available hitters. Brebbia was warming up during this time as well, and could’ve started the 9th.
Not surprisingly, El Gallo struck out. He took his hacks but made no contact to end the inning.
Bottom of 9th
Back to his more comfortable surroundings on the mound, El Gallo sought to close this one out. Pinch hitter Manny Pina took him to 12 pitches, but he ultimately swung through a well-placed 96 mph heater just beyond the outer edge of the zone. Getting Cain behind 1-2, Carlos threw a mind-blowing inside slider that fooled the ump, who called it a ball. But El Gallo prevailed, getting Cain on a weak comebacker for the 2nd out.
Spangenberg tapped a short grounder down first that halfway down the line was clearly going foul. But Carlos channeled his former shortstop and tried barehanding it, to no avail, touching it in fair territory to turn it into an infield single. Spangenberg went to second on defensive indifference while El Gallo couldn’t find the plate. He walked 8th-place hitter Arcia on 4 straight, bringing the tying run to the plate in the form of Hernan Perez, with Ryan Braun looming on deck.
After a brief “Cut the crap” visit from Maddux, Carlos got ahead 0-2, and all seemed cool. But then on a 1-2 pitch, Martinez elevated a fastball over the center of the zone that Perez hammered to deep right, but Fowler tracked it the whole way, snaring it at the wall for the third out!!!
Cards win 6-3!!!
THE BOTTOM LINE
- Mikolas was in 2018 form, but a little inefficient (95 pitches): 6 IP, 4 Hs, 1 ER, 10 Ks, 0 BBs
His 10 Ks tied his season high.
It was his 42nd straight start in which he walked 2 or fewer.
- Yadi tied his career high with 10 total bases (last done in 2017) with a walk, 2 HRs, and a double.
- Wong must have a great toe doctor and a very high pain tolerance.
- The Cards scored at least 6 for the 6th-straight game.
- The win pushed the Brewers now to 6.5 games back.
- The Cubs beat the Mets 5-2 and remain 3 back.
- Dylan Carlson was named Texas League Player of the Year.
- The roof operator was seen sprinting from the stadium after the game.