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Cards Upended by Steven Carlton Brault’s Complete-Game 2-Hitter in 5-1 Loss

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To add injury to insult, Dakota leaves after 2 with tightness in throwing elbow

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirate version of the YadiHug.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

In the Burgh of Pitts

The Wong Part of the Order: Out the last three games with “side discomfort,” Kolten Wong got the Yadi treatment tonight, returning to the line-up, just at the very bottom batting 9th, to limit his at-bats.

Something, Something the Right Way: With the Brewers Pirates throwing lefty Steven Brault, Mike Shildt shuffled the Cards’ lineup with 7 righties (Tommy being the lone switch-hitter), as Wong and fellow sinister-swinger DH Brad Miller were the 2 lefties.

A notable lefty omission was Matt Carpenter, as—oh, heck, just look at the pretty picture:

Oh, Oh (Point One) So Close: Going 2-3 in the previous series with Milwaukee put the Cards one game under .500 coming into tonight. And the streaking Reds, winners of their last 5 in a row, including a 4-game sweep of the Pirates, and 7 of their last 10, put themselves in a virtual tie with your Birdos for second place, technically .001 ahead.

The Dread Pirate Outing: Your starter tonight, Dakota Hudson, faced the Pirates one other time this season, actually his first start back on July 26. It was his worst outing to date, giving up 4 ER on 7 H, both highs for him in 2020. He got bit by the homer bug, giving up 2 long balls.

But in his 6 starts (32.2 innings pitched) since then, he's been tagged by just 3 dingers total (including another 2-homer outing against the Cubs on September 6th). Overall, when he limits the walks and homers, he’s done well. This game is easy, really.

O-fer Cards: Over 5 career starts against the Cards (34.2 IP), Brault has yet to defeat them, with a 5.97 ERA over those games. It’s his first time facing the Cards in 2020, so let’s keep that streak going.


The Bird’s-Eye View

You might be willing to forgive another anemic Cards’ offensive showing had it been against a high-caliber pitcher. No offense, Steven Brault, but Steven Carlton, you’re not. He has 5 pitches, none of them special. But tonight, he was masterful in mixing mostly four-seamers, change-ups, and sliders to shut down the Cards on just 2 hits and 2 walks to earn the first complete game of his 4-plus year career.

Meanwhile, the Pirates clogged the base paths all night, with the 8th being the only inning they were retired in order. If it weren’t for the 3 double plays turned by the Cards, the loss might’ve been by a wider margin.

Brault threw lots of strikes, with 65 of his 110 pitches on target. He worked quickly, and kept the Cards from barreling him up, as he gave up only 3 instances of hard-hit contact (over 95 mph EV), just one of those a hit, a single.

In worse news, Dakota has an elbow.

Dakota struggled early on with his control, walking a batter in each of the first 2 innings. Unfortunately, that turned out to be his last inning of work. After getting the third out in the 2nd, Dakota walked off the field, said something to one of the trainers, and went right into the clubhouse. Next thing we knew, Austin Gomber was on the mound to start the third. The culprit was “right elbow tightness.” Ugh.

Dakota threw 26 pitches, and his command wasn’t good, although he kept the Pirates off the board. He threw just 12 strikes and walking 2. So it seems his physical issue was causing a mechanical one.

Austin Gomber was tagged to give the Cards a few innings to not tax the ‘pen, as another double header looms tomorrow. Well, he got through the third just fine, but not the 4th, as the Pirates sent 8 hitters to the plate. He walked the first two hitters, obviously not a formula for success. He rebounded to retire the next two Pirates, but then Gregory Polanco made him pay, nailing a 3-run homer. The Buccos for good measure added a single and double to tack on a run to make it 4-1.

Brault mystified the Cards all night, starting off by setting down the first 8 batters of the game in order, pitching quickly as he rolled along. The Cards briefly seemed to figure him out, managing to manufacture a single tally in the 3rd by bunching together a walk by Rangel Ravelo and back-to-back singles (as you now know, the only hits on the night) from Wong and Edman.

But the Cards could muster just a single baserunner the rest of the night, which was a Yadi 2-out walk in the 4th. All Brault did after that was retire the next 16 in a row.

The Buccos tacked on another run in the 5th using a double, single, and sac fly to do so.


The Flight Path

Top of 1st - Nothing to see here. Move along.

Tommy Edman decidedly did not set the table; he didn’t even get the dishes out of the cupboard, as he struck out swinging, reaching for a low-outside change-up. Paul DeJong went after pitch one, a 92 mph fastball over and in the bottom third of the zone, flying out to center for a quickie second out.

Paul Goldschmidt ended the frame golfing a 2-0 slider into right for an easy fly-out.

Bottom of 1st - A one-out walk was erased by Dakota’s best friend.

Adam Frazier bounced a grounder that glanced off Dakota’s glove, rolling nicely to DeJong, who transformed it into out 1. Dakota walked next batter Ke’Bryan Hayes on 4 pitches, not getting the gimme 3-0 strike call on a close (but just out of the zone) sinker that stayed up and in.

No worries, as Dakota got a grounder to Pauly D, who gloved it near second, told Kolten to rest his side, and turned it himself for the inning-ending double play.

Top of 2nd - Just 8 pitches were needed to get 3 outs.

Tyler O’Neill watched a 1-2 93 mph fastball down the middle at the knees for a backward K first out. Yadier Molina then got pretty good wood on an 0-1 outside sinker on the edge of the zone to right (90 mph EV), but it found the glove of Gregory Polanco. Brad Miller, however, got robbed by the GOB, as he nailed a 104 mph EV laser to Kevin Newman at second.

Bottom of 2nd - Another one-out walk was followed by a double, but don’t worry.

Josh Bell pulled a just-below-the-belt inside sinker sharply to the right side (104 mph EV), but Kolten, playing in shallow right, gloved it for the out. Going to a full count to Erik Gonzalez, Dakota walked him with a sinker well below the zone. Next batter Bryan Reynolds got excited, and swung at pitch 1, flying out to Tyler O’Neill in left for out 2.

On a 2-0 pitch, Gregory Polanco’s backswing nailed Yadi on the top of the helmet, but your iron catcher shook it off, of course. Polanco then turned on the next offering, lining it just fair down the right-field line for a 2-out double, with Gonzales holding up at third.

Now with 2 RISP, Kevin Newman hit a fly ball to right that Ravelo danced around, shuffling to his left to glove it, though not instilling confidence in the process.

Top of 3rd (In Play, Run(s)) - Three-straight batters reached to put the Birdos on the Board-o!

Going to a 3-2 count to first batter Harrison Bader, Tots watched a called strike 3 go by on the outer edge, a 92 mph four-seamer. Ravelo, however, became the Cards’ first base runner, walking on four straight, only one of which was even close.

Sore-sided Kolten stepped in next and kept the line moving by grounding a single right to the area where a not-shifting shortstop woulda gloved it for a double play, but instead produced a single, making it first and second one out.

Tommy wasted no time capitalizing, swatting a line-drive to center. Ravelo was waved around, and the throw was wide to the plate, making it 1-0 Cards!

Now with first and second again, DeJong grounded one down the third-base line that Ke’Bryan Hayes gloved right at the bag. He stepped on third and threw to first to complete a 5-3 double play to end the Cards’ fun.

Bottom of 3rd - Austin Gomber suddenly was brought in to start the inning, as we learned Dakota was experiencing “right elbow tightness.” Oh, boy.
A one-out single was erased with the Cards’ second double play of the evening.

Jacob Stalling was Austin’s first competition, and Gomber went to 3-2 but got a grounder on a slider to third that Edman fielded and flung across the diamond for out 1. The lineup turned over next, as Adam Frazier reached by lining to left for a single.

Gomber was looking for double play, but his first 5 offerings were all belt-high or higher, not conducive to a ground ball. On a full count, he buried a 92 mph fastball inside off the plate, slightly jamming Hayes, who grounded to Tommy, who went around the horn, with Kolten’s throw dug out by Goldy for a 5-4-3 twin killing, the second DP on the night for the Cards.

Top of 4th - A two-out walk was left standing at first.

Getting the count 2-0, Goldy struck out on the next 3, the final one a fastball outside. Tyler followed by flying out to left. Master Yadi, however prevented another quick, quiet inning, as he walked on four-straight, none close to the zone.

Brad Miller next got down 0-2 then offered at a slider down the middle just above the bottom of the zone, grounding out to second.

Bottom of 4th (In Play, Run(s)) - Back-to-back walks to the first two hitters came back to haunt Austin, and despite getting the next two outs, he didn’t finish the inning.

Colin Moran walked on a 3-2 fastball Austin yanked wide of the plate to start the inning. Pitching carefully (or just wildly) to cleanup hitter Josh Bell, Gomber issued another free pass. That earned a Mike Maddux visit to the mound to tell him to stop doing that.

He got behind yet again to Erik Gonzalez 3-1, but came back to strike him out on a nice 93 mph fastball buried at the bottom of the zone, fooling Gonzalez badly, who was looking for something off-speed, swinging comically late.

Exhibiting much better control now, Gomber got ahead of Bryan Reynolds 1-2, then struck him out looking at a pinpoint fastball on the outer edge for out 2.

Gomber couldn’t continue that trend, however, as he spun a 2-2 slider that hung right down central that Polanco nailed, lining a laser beam over the wall in right center (109 mph EV, 407 ft, 20 deg LA) to harshly flip the score to 3-1 Pirates.

Kevin Newman kept it going, grounding a single up the middle that DeJong could only deflect with his glove behind second.

Jacob Stallings followed that by lining a double into the right-center-field gap that plated Newman to bump the score to 4-1. That was all she wrote for Austin.

Lefty Tyler Webb entered and thankfully got lead-off man Frazier to fly out to Ravelo in right to end the long inning.

Top of 5th - The Cards were making Brault look like Koufax now.

The first two Cards went down before you could get up off the couch and to the fridge for an ice-cold, frosty Budweiser. Bader grounded out to third on pitch 1, and Ravelo grounded back to Brault on pitch 2. Kolten at least had a 5-pitch at-bat, but it ended with him bouncing a grounder up the middle Brault couldn’t glove, but shortstop Gonzalez did, to end the inning.

Bottom of 5th (In Play, Run(s)) - The Pirates manufactured another tally that started with a lead-off double.

Hayes picked things right back up where the Pirates left them in the 4th, as he led off with a double into right-center on a 89 mph sinker that did the opposite of what sinkers are to do, staying middle-up above the zone.

Colin Moran then grounded one off the glove of Tommy, and it rolled behind him. No one covered third, so Hayes was able to advance there safely without a play.

Now with first and third nobody out, Bell hit a deep fly to right-center that Bader caught backpedaling, and Hayes scored easily on a sac fly to make it 5-1 now.

Gonzalez, fortunately, ended the inning by grounding into the third DP of the night, another of the 5-4-3 variety.

Top of 6th - No walks, no hits, no errors, no hit batters, no baserunners.

Edman cued a spinning grounder down the first-base line that Bell waited on and gloved when it spun foul to fair, stepping on the base for the easy out. Pauly D struck out swinging next on a 2-2 change-up over and just below the knees. Pauly G got a full count and on the 9th pitch, pulled an outside change-up, nailing it on a line, but right at third baseman Hayes for the final out.

Bottom of 6th - Rocket-Arm Ravelo prevented another run!

The Bucs produced even when they didn’t get good wood, as Bryan Reynolds broke his bat on pitch one but hit a fliner to left for single. Polanco next hit a deep fly to left that O’Neill caught at the track. He fired into second, but Reynolds successfully tagged up and advanced.

Shildt traded Webb for righty Seth Elledge. The action started up again immediately, as Newman singled to right on pitch 2. But Ravelo charged it and threw an accurate, strong one-hopper to Yadi, who tagged out Reynolds for out 2. Yadi fired to second, but Newman advanced safely ahead of the throw.

Elledge then went 3-1 on Stallings, then on a full count, he banged a one-hop grounder to Kolten, who snagged it and tossed it to first to end the inning.

Top of 7th - 9 pitches produced 3 quick outs.

Tyler O’Neill grounded out softly to Brault, tapping a 1-2 changeup wide of the outside corner he lunged at for out 1. Yadi then grounded out to short on his second pitch for a quick second out. Brault then just breezed through Miller on 3 pitches, striking him out looking on a 93 mph fastball at the knees.

Bottom of 7th - Andrew Miller relieved Webb. It didn’t start well, but he turned things around.

Miller allowed the first two hitters to reach without requiring any contact. He walked Frazier then hit Hayes on the inside of his right knee. But he got Moran to pop out to Edman in foul territory for the first out and struck out Bell on a 1-2 high fastball on pitch 6. Miller then escaped the jam, as he induced Gonzales to pop out DeJong.

Top of 8th - Bader made a bid for a tater, but it wasn’t to be.

Bader gave a 2-1 slider a long ride (401 ft, 100 mph EV), but his counterpart in center, Bryan Reynolds jumped up against the wall to snag it for merely a long out. Ravelo had a quick at-bat, grounding out to second on pitch 2 for out 2. Kolten ended the inning by flying out to center.

Bottom of 8th - Righty Junior Fernandez came in to get some work.

First batter Bryan Reynolds grounded out to Tommy four out 1 on an 0-2 change-up. Polanco then belted an 0-1 sinker that stayed up and right down central, cranking it to the track in center (102 mph EV, 388 ft), but Bader gloved it for out 2. Junior then went 3-0 against Newman but got him on a come-backer that Junior snagged and tossed to first to end the inning.

Top of 9th - Brault ended what he started.

Edman led off by chopping a grounder to third for the first out. Brault then started DeJong with a fastball for a ball then threw 5-straight change-ups to ultimately strike him out. Goldschmidt followed in like fashion, striking out on a 2-2 change-up to end the game.

Pirates won, 5-1.

Bottom of 9th

Not applicable.


The Bottom Line

  • Have a night, Brault: 9 IP, 1 ER, 2 H (singles), 2 BB, 8 SO
  • Before tonight, Brault had never made it into the 8th inning in his career.
    Now he can tell his grandkids he has a complete game.
  • The win was the Pirates’ fourth straight against the Cards this season.
  • The Pirates put the ball in play all night, clubbing 9 hits and striking out just 3 times.
    They also added in 5 walks.
  • The Cards were 1-2 with RISP; the Pirates were 3-11.
  • The Cards had no answer after the Bucco’s 4-run 4th:
Ugly.
  • As final commentary on this game, I’m just gonna leave this here: