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Flaherty, bullpen win pitching duel in 2-0 Cardinals win

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The Cardinals beat the Brewers 2 out of 3 as well.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals had a tough task heading into this series. They had to face the Brewers #1, #2, and #3 starters. Their top two are legitimate aces and could stand with any starter in the league. And their #3 has been off to a very strong start, and if his stats could remain what they are now, would give the Brewers three legitimate #1 pitchers on most teams. The good news, for their opponents, is that this is pretty much their entire team. Their lineup is Christian Yelich and a whole bunch of guys you don’t mind facing, and Yelich is hurt. It just so happens the Cards happened to run into their three best starters.

If you saw the last two games, this was pretty much the same game. Neither starting pitcher really budged, and it all came down to how the bullpen pitched. The Cardinals best arms were available, and the Brewers were mostly not, although it would not have mattered if they were since the Brewers didn’t score at all.

The Cards scored immediately and it’s all thanks to Tommy Edman. Corbin Burnes, recently activated from the COVID-19 list, threw two immediate strikes. But then he gave Edman a pitch right down the middle on 0-2, and Edman hit a hard grounder towards right field to start with a leadoff hit. With Dylan Carlson up, Edman stole second. Burnes then struck out Carlson. And Paul Goldschmidt hit a grounder towards the shortstop that would have been a double play without the steal, but instead advanced Edman to third base. With two outs, Nolan Arenado hit a grounder in the hole towards left field to drive in Edman.

With a 1-0 lead, Matt Carpenter hit a Texas Leaguer that Cain tried to make a diving catch on. He missed it, the ball went behind him, and Luis Urias had to fetch it behind him. Arenado was on first base, and had made it to 3rd base when Urias grabbed the ball. But Urias threw a strike to Omar Narvaez at the plate and threw him out. Arenado really shouldn’t have went because he had slowed down running to 3rd. If he was running full speed the whole way, he’d be safe.

In the bottom of the inning, Jack Flaherty only threw 10 pitches. Kolten Wong hit it back to him, Lorenzo Cain flew out to right field, and Dan Vogelbach hit a hard grounder down the first base line. Luckily, the Cardinals were playing him that way - well I suppose it’s not lucky, that’s good planning - and Goldy was able to field it cleanly and beat Vogelbach to first.

Whatever struggles Burnes had in the 1st - and it says something about his season that two groundballs and a Texas Leaguer count as “struggle” - they went away by the 2nd. He struck out both Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader. With two outs, Knizner had a bloop hit for a single. Burnes struck out Flaherty to strike out the side.

In the bottom half of the inning, Flaherty fell behind Travis Shaw. On 2-1, Shaw hit a deep fly ball to right field. The ball doesn’t seem to be carrying at Miller American Family Field right now. But Carlson didn’t see the ball and by the time he finally did, he couldn’t reach it in time. So Shaw had a leadoff double that should have been an out. Flaherty then got his first strikeout of the day, by throwing a nasty slider to Avisail Garcia. And he got Narvaez to pop out on a slider as well. Jackie Bradley Jr. flew out to center to end the inning.

In the top of the 3rd, Edman does something he rarely does: strike out. Burnes was in danger of his first walk to Carlson when he fell behind 3-1, but on 3-2, Carlson unfortunately chased a ball which he fouled. He then fouled a ball off his foot. And then drama. Stupid drama, but drama. To the naked eye, it looked like he grounded out to first. But Carlson was insistent on it hitting his foot - because it did - and they changed it to a foul. And then Craig Counsell looked like an idiot arguing - and getting throwing out of the game for it. Okay. Carlson flew out to left field, so it didn’t matter. Goldschmidt lined a single to left field, but Arenado popped out.

The Brewers got the leadoff hitter on in the bottom of the 3rd, who was advanced to 2nd base on a sacrifice by Burnes. But then Flaherty struck out both Wong and Cain. In the 4th, Burnes struck out two batters back-to-back and then Bader jumped on a hanging slider, but the ball was lined directly to Bradley Jr.’s glove.

Flaherty struggled in the bottom of the 4th. He walked Vogelbach to start the inning - and after a popup and flyout - he walked Narvaez. But they played Bradley Jr. up the middle, and when he hit a hard hit grounder there, Edman was stationed there for the out. In the 5th, Burnes again struck out the first two batters he faced - Andrew Knizner and Flaherty. And then the streak ended. Burnes walked Tommy Edman. First walk of the year. 58 Ks, one BB. He understandably got a standing ovation. With Carlson up, Edman stole second again. Carlson hit a soft lineout to Cain to end the threat.

The Brewers changed things up by singling with one out - instead of getting the leadoff batter on - in the 5th. But it ended up the same - the guy on base never moved to the next base. Wong hit into a force out and Cain struck out.

After this, the game changed a bit. The Brewers bullpen didn’t really pitch well, but the Cardinals didn’t take advantage of opportunities. Drew Rasmussen walked Goldschmidt to begin his outing. Arenado hit a near identical hit to his first inning RBI to put runners at 1st and 2nd base. He struck out Carpenter, and got O’Neill to ground out to 2nd base to put runners at 2nd and 3rd base. He then IBB’d Bader to face Knizner, who hit a fly ball to the warning track for the third out.

Would you believe that the Brewers got the leadoff man in the 6th and it didn’t matter? Because that happened again. Vogelbach doubled and then proceeded to take a nap at 2nd base when Flaherty struck out Shaw, got Garcia to ground out, and caused Narvaez to fly out.

In the 7th, the Brewers brought in Brent Suter, who immediately walked pinch-hitter Justin Williams. He was removed on a forceout on a grounder by Edman. When Carlson singled, Edman made his way to third. With men on 1st and 3rd, Goldschmidt hit a shallow fly ball to Cain, who proceeded to throw out Edman at home plate. It was a good send though because he needed the throw to be that good.

Suter had similar problems in the 8th. Arenado singled again, and Carpenter walked. But the 7-8-9 guys couldn’t drive in a run to add to the 1-0 lead. Meanwhile, the Cardinals bullpen replaced Flaherty and was better. Gallegos did walk a batter in his inning of work, but also struck out a guy. The walk was his only baserunner. Genesis Cabrera, however, featured a weak flyout, a strikeout, and a popout for his 11 pitch inning.

In the 9th, the Cardinals offense finally broke through... sort of. Lane Thomas pinch-hit and walked. After Edman moved him to 2nd with a groundout, he stole third. This Narvaez guy must not be great at throwing out runners. Carlson then walked to put runners at the corner. And with Goldschmidt up, pitcher Angel Perdomo tried to pick off Carlson but threw it a little low. Vogelbach should probably have caught it, but didn’t and Thomas scored from 3rd. Then Goldschmidt walked for his second time. After Arenado flew out, Goldschmidt stole 2nd base without a throw. And Carpenter flew out to end the inning. So tacked on a run.

In the bottom half, Reyes struck out Manny Piña looking to start his inning... only for it to be called ball four. Didn’t matter. He struck out both Narvaez and Bradley Jr. on nasty sliders. Urias wanted no part of the strikeout so he swung at the first pitch and singled. Only for Tyrone Taylor to strike out to end the game. Congrats, Reyes. You basically struck out four guys.

Notes

  • Flaherty line: 6 IP, 101 pitches, 6 Ks, 2 BBs, 4 Hs - Is it just me or does Flaherty seem to get better as the start goes along? I always feel like his line looks surprisingly unimpressive through 3 or 4, and then by the end, he has racked up the strikeouts
  • Arenado went 3-5 with three singles. That seems alright.
  • Goldschmidt walked twice. Need a Goldy BB counter, because he has been lacking so far. The road to 10% or better continues.
  • For a game started by a starter who is known for never walking hitters, the Cardinals ended up with eight walks on the day.
  • In fact, Brewers bullpen: 4 IP, 3 H, 2 Ks, 7 BBs, ER - How they only allowed one run, we’ll never know.
  • Four stolen bases today! I don’t know if it was Narvaez’s fault or not, but that’s kind of embarrassing in today’s game. Nobody steals bases anymore and you guys allowed four!

Tomorrow, a brand new series. The Cardinals play the depleted because of COVID Padres. They do face another tough starter though in Joe Musgrove. I’m about ready for the Cards to face a scrub already. He faces Johan Oviedo, looking for his first MLB win - hell I think he’s never pitched a game the Cards have won period. So he wants to change that tomorrow, whether or not he himself gets an actual win. It’s in San Diego so 9 pm start.