There is not a whole lot to pontificate about when it comes to this game. Miles Mikolas had some balls hit hard off of him, but otherwise provided the standard issue performance we have come to expect, with only 1 walk. He pitched well enough for the Cards to win, but he simply got outdueled by Dodgers’ starter Clayton Kershaw, who lasted two-thirds of an inning longer, gave up 2 fewer hits, also walked 1, but struck out two more. The Dodgers and Cardinals both had 7 team hits , but the Dodgers had 2 more hits with runners in scoring position in the same number of opportunities, and that proved to be the difference in the game. DeJong did hit a double early in the game, but he and Goldschmidt did not come through in a big situation when the game was on the line, the two had 4 strikeouts between them and Goldschmidt looked almost overmatched all night swinging at sliders out of the zone. Lane Thomas did not get the start in the outfield, and I’m now convinced that just won’t happen unless it’s a getaway game where multiple regulars rest.
Fowler drove a low-and-inside fastball down the left field line that rolled to the wall for a double to lead off the top of the 1st. Jose Martinez grounded weakly to the mound, with Fowler deciding to stay put. Paul Goldschmidt flied to center, deep enough to allow Fowler to tag up and advance to 3rd. But Ozuna popped out to 1st base in foul territory to strand Fowler there. Justin Turner worked a 3-2 walk after taking some very close pitches with 2 out in the bottom of the 1st, but Mikolas blew Cody Bellinger away with fastballs to end the inning. The Cards got another leadoff double to start the top of the 2nd, this time when Paul DeJong drove a center-cut fastball to the gap in left-center that one-hopped the wall. Matt Carpenter was sent up to bunt, and after not being able to get it down, sharply grounded a 1-2 low slider just inside the 1st base line past the diving Bellinger for a base hit that bounced off of the side wall in right field. DeJong scored to give the Cards a 1-0 lead. Carpenter stopped at 1st. Tommy Edman squared to bunt late and popped an up-and-in fastball over Bellinger’s head at 1st base. Carpenter had to wait to see if Bellinger would catch the ball, but when it dropped, Bellinger fielded it on a perfect hop, spun and made an off-balance throw to 2nd that retired Carpenter on a force play. With Andrew Knizner at the plate, Kershaw bounced a 1-0 curveball in the dirt that got away from the catcher for a wild pitch, allowing Edman to move to 2nd. But the Cards would strand another runner at 2nd, as Knizner and Mikolas both struck out.
Corey Seager started the bottom of the 2nd by lining a center-cut fastball to the gap in right-center. Fowler was shading Seager the opposite way and ran over to cut the ball off, but Seager still slid in safe with a double. Will Smith struck out, and Matt Beaty sharply grounded a curveball to 1st for an out to move Seager to 3rd. Kristopher Negron hit a sinking liner on a middle-in 0-1 fastball that dropped in front of Fowler for a base hit to score Seager to tie the game 1-1. It was one of those “tweener” balls that Fowler might have been able to come up with had he sprinted and dove for it, but we’ll never know for sure, as he let up and decided not to risk it. With Kershaw at the plate, Mikolas bounced a curveball in the dirt that got away from Knizner for a wild pitch to move Negron to 2nd, but Kershaw struck out swinging on the next pitch to end the inning.
Fowler lined a 2-2 inside slider for a base hit for center, but he was stranded when Jose Martinez and Goldschmidt struck out back-to-back and Marcell Ozuna grounded out to 3rd. Joc Pederson lined a first-pitch hanging slider for a base hit to right to lead off the bottom of the 3rd. Max Muncy grounded a ball to 2nd towards the outfield grass. Edman had to run to his left to get it, spun around and decided he could not get the lead runner at 2nd, choosing the safer out at 1st base. Turner waited on a low-and-away curveball and lined it to right field, with it rolling towards the corner for a double to score Pederson and give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. Turner would be stranded there, as Bellinger struck out for the 2nd time and Seager flied out to left-center.
Matt Beaty grounded a low fastball through the hole to left-center for a base hit with 1 out in the bottom of the 4th, but Mikolas struck out Negron and Kershaw back-to-back to end the inning. With 2 out in the bottom of the 5th, Turner grounded a low-and-away slider deep into the hole at short. DeJong did make a diving stop, but once he reached his knees, he thought better of trying to make the throw and Turner reached on an infield single. But Mikolas got Bellinger to ground out to DeJong playing on almost the right side of the infield in the shift. Mikolas got out of the inning in 10 pitches. Meanwhile, Kershaw retired 13 Cards in a row, and the Cardinals did not get another baserunner until Carpenter walked on 4 pitches with 1 out in the top of the 7th. Edman popped out to first, with Bellinger making a basket catch. With 2 out, Knizner smoked an inside slider to the gap in right-center that looked like it might bounce on the track, but Pederson raced over and made a great stretch to catch it on the run and save a run.
In the bottom of the 7th, Negron lined a high fastball much like Knizner’s drive that just ended the last half-inning, with Jose Martinez making a great running catch on the track very similar to Pederson’s catch. After the Dodgers announced lefty Alex Rios as a pinch hitter for Kershaw, Shildt countered with a double switch. Andrew Miller came in to pitch in the #7 spot and Kolten Wong came in to play 2B in the #9 spot. Rios worked a 3-2 walk and righty Tyler White pinch hit for Pederson. White tapped a ball to the right of the mound, not too far in front of the plate, and Miller had to hustle, charge, field the ball and spin around and throw to 1st to just nip White at 1st. Rios advanced to 2nd. The Cards had the shift on the lefty Muncy with DeJong on the right side of the bag, but Muncy grounded a low 1-2 fastball through the infielders on the right side to beat the shift for a base hit to right-center to score Rios and extend the Dodgers’ lead to 3-1. Turner flied a ball to right to end the inning, with Jose Martinez running far to make a basket catch and grimacing at the end.
For the top of the 8th, Rios stayed in the game in the #9 spot to play 1B with Bellinger moving from 1B to RF, and sidearm lefty Adam Kolarek came in to pitch in the #1 spot. Wong grounded a high 3-2 fastball to the opposite field to beat the shift for a base hit to left, the first Cards’ hit since the 3rd inning. Righty Pedro Baez next came in, and after Fowler popped a hanging changeup to 2nd, Jose Martinez softly lined a low 2-2 slider up the middle for a base hit to left-center. Wong hustled all the way to make it to 3rd base. Lane Thomas ran for Martinez. Goldschmidt softly lined a low-and-away slider right to the shortstop for the 2nd out. Ozuna worked a 3-2 walk to load the bases. DeJong just couldn’t catch up with Baez’s fastball as he struck out swinging on an elevated 97 mph pitch. He had fouled off of a couple of earlier fastballs, and swung and missed at a hanging slider for strike 2. The Cards had now left 8 men on base, and went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
Lane Thomas stayed in the game in the bottom of the 8th in the #2 spot to play CF, with Fowler moving from CF to RF. Tyler Webb came in to pitch, and retired the Dodgers in order with 1 strikeout. The strikeout was of Will Smith and the home plate umpire gave Webb a gift call on a 2-2 slider that was actually a ball outside. Dodgers’ closer Kenley Jansen came out for the top of the 9th. Jansen made quick work of Carpenter and Yairo Munoz, who pinch hit for Webb. Knizner extended the game briefly when he grounded a high fastball through the right side for a base hit. It looked at first like Jansen hit Wong with an inside fastball with his first pitch, but it turned out it just hit the knob of Wong’s bat for a strike. Wong couldn’t catch up to Jansen’s fastball and struck out swinging on a high fastball outside of the zone, giving Jansen his 26th save.
Odds and Ends
Public Service Announcement: The final game in the series against the Dodgers is not on television. This is an exclusive YouTube game, and you do not need to have a YouTube account or pay any money to watch it...The Oakland Athletics saved us from dropping any further in the standings as they scored 11 runs off of Jon Lester in 4 innings to win 11-4...Orlando Arcia’s sacrifice fly with the bases loaded broke a 2-2 tie with the Pirates in the top of the 7th, and he would get another RBI on a fielder’s choice as the Brewers would go on to win 4-3...Aristides Aquino hit a leadoff solo HR for the Reds in the bottom of the 4th to break a 3-3 tie with the Los Angeles Angels, and the 3 runs the Reds scored in that inning would be enough for the win...Memphis had the night off and heads to the West Coast for a 7-game road trip starting on August 7th...Springfield got crushed 10-0 by Tulsa, although Jedd Gyorko did not have anything to do with it this time. Starter Angel Rondon and former 40-man roster player Merandy Gonzalez each allowed 4 runs. Rondon walked 4 in 5 innings, and Gonzalez walked 2 and gave up 2 hits without recording an out...Palm Beach’s game was cancelled due to wet grounds, and the team will play a doubleheader on August 7th...Peoria lost both games of a doubleheader. They outhit Wisconsin in the first game 7-5, but went 2-9 with RISP to lose 4-1. Delvin Perez and Leandro Cedeno had 3 hits each in the 2nd game, but starter Connor Thomas allowed 4 runs on 4 hits in 3 IP in a 5-3 loss.