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Molina’s Homer Secures 2-1 Victory for Cards Over Cubs

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Cards might lose Mikolas again after just one start

Chicago Cubs v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The game was on national television on the regular Fox channel, with Joe Buck on the play-by-play, John Smoltz on color, and Ken Rosenthal contributing. Miles Mikolas took the mound for the Cards for his first major league action since September 22nd, 2019. Mikolas started the game by hitting Joc Pederson on the left foot with an 0-1 curve. Kris Bryant popped a 1-2 low-and-away curve towards the Cardinal dugout in foul territory, where Paul Goldschmidt caught it leaning over the rail. Willson Contreras sharply grounded an 89 mph 1-1 low-and-away sinker through the right side for a base hit to move Pederson to 2nd. Tommy Edman was lined up close to the 2nd base bag and the right side was wide open. Anthony Rizzo grounded a high 0-2 sinker to the right side, where Goldschmidt cut the ball off and fired to 2nd for a 3-6 force. Pederson advanced to 3rd on the play. With runners at the corners and 2 out, Javier Baez grounded an up-and-in 1-1 sinker through the hole to left for a base hit to score Pederson, move Rizzo to 2nd and put the Cubs on the board 1-1.

Ian Happ struck out looking at a 1-2 up-and-away curve that clipped the edge of the zone to end the inning. Righty Adbert Alzolay took the hill for the Cubs. Tommy Edman grounded a low-and-in 1-2 slider down the 1st base line, but Rizzo made a diving backhand stop and flipped to the pitcher for the out. Paul Goldschmidt struck out chasing an 0-2 elevated sinker. Nolan Arenado grounded a 1-1 low-and-away slider to short to end the inning.

Matt Duffy grounded a low-and-away 1-2 slider to 2nd to start the top of the 2nd. Nico Hoerner grounded an up-and-in 0-2 sinker back to the mound. Mikolas decided to field it with his bare pitching hand, snagged it and threw him out.

Alzolay struck out chasing an 0-2 slider about a foot outside to end the inning. To start the bottom of the 2nd, Yadier Molina grounded a high 0-2 sinker towards the middle where there were no Cub defenders initially. Hoerner raced over to his right and threw across his body to 1st. Molina tried to slide feet first into the bag, but the throw beat him by a step. Harrison Bader struck out looking at a 1-2 sinker on the outside corner. Justin Williams grounded a first-pitch inside fastball to the right side into the shift for the shortstop Baez to end the inning.

Mikolas retired the Cubs in order on 10 pitches in the top of the 3rd. Pederson struck out looking at an 0-2 low-and-in sinker. Bryant grounded a low-and-away 1-2 slider to 3rd. Contreras popped a first-pitch up-and-in sinker to the catcher to end the inning. Alzolay returned the favor on 10 pitches in the bottom half. Edmundo Sosa flied an 0-1 low-and-away slider to shallow right-center for Happ. Lane Thomas watched a 2-2 sinker go by that was almost down the middle and struck out. Mikolas struck out chasing an 0-2 low-and-away slider to end the inning.

To start the top of the 4th, Rizzo blooped a first-pitch inside slider to shallow right field. Thomas sprinted forward for it and tried to make a sliding catch. He got the ball in the webbing of his glove, but when his glove hit the ground in the process of the slide, his hand got twisted around and the ball fell out for a base hit. Baez got jammed on an 1-0 88 mph up-and-in sinker and flied out to left. Happ tapped a 1-1 outside sinker in front of the mound. Mikolas hustled forward, got the ball and threw Happ out by a step. After Duffy drew a 3-2 walk, Hoerner popped a 3-2 low-and-away slider to Goldschmidt in foul territory to end the inning. Edman tapped a 2-2 outside backdoor slider to the right of the mound to lead off the bottom half. Alzolay got off the mound, grabbed it and ran the ball to 1st himself for the out. Goldschmidt ripped a low 1-2 sinker down the right field line and into the corner for a double. Arenado grounded a 1-1 outside slider to short and Goldschmidt had to stay put. Molina flied a 1-0 down-the-middle fastball deep to left-center, but Pederson settled under it at the track to end the inning.

Mikolas threw his warmup tosses before the 5th inning very slowly, grabbed at his right elbow and asked for the training staff to come out. He ended up exiting the game after 59 pitches with right forearm tightness, and Daniel Ponce de Leon came in on no rest and had to warm up on the game mound. Alzolay tapped a 1-2 low-and-away fastball back to the mound. Pederson grounded a 1-0 high-and-outside change to the right side into the shift for Sosa. Bryant struck out chasing a 2-2 fastball that was about a foot too high to end the inning. Bader flied a high hanging 1-2 slider to right to lead off the bottom half. Williams grounded a 1-0 hanging slider down the 1st base line for Rizzo and a 3-1 flip. Sosa drove a first-pitch low slider into the right field corner for a triple. Bryant not only couldn’t stop the ball from getting into the corner, but took his time getting it out. Thomas ripped a first-pitch low slider up the middle for a base hit to score Sosa and tie the game 1-1.

Thomas stole second on the 1-0 pitch to Ponce de Leon, but Ponce struck out swinging at a low 1-2 slider to strand the runner.

Contreras walked on 4 straight pitches to lead off the top of the 6th. The last pitch was a fastball that looked like it should have been a strike at the bottom of the zone. Rizzo flied a 2-1 low-and-away change to left. Baez chased an elevated 2-2 fastball and struck out. Shildt then brought in Genesis Cabrera to turn Ian Happ around to the right side. Cabrera’s 2-1 pitch was a low-and-in curve in the dirt that bounced off of Molina’s glove and equipment and got away to the backstop for a wild pitch to allow Contreras to move to 2nd. Happ struck out swinging at a 3-2 98 mph high fastball to strand the runner. Edman led off the bottom half by popping a first-pitch outside change to Baez on the outfield grass. Goldschmidt grounded a 1-2 down-the-middle sinker to short. Arenado struck out swinging at an up-and-in 2-2 96 mph sinker to end the inning.

David Bote pinch hit for Duffy to start the top of the 7th and struck out looking at a low-and-in 2-2 98 mph fastball. Hoerner hit a 1-1 low-and-away fastball for a sinking liner to shallow center, but Bader raced forward to make a diving catch for the out.

Alzolay struck out looking at a high 0-2 fastball to end the inning. Alzolay came back out for the bottom of the 7th at 75 pitches. Bote stayed in the game to play 3B. Molina drove an 0-2 inside hanging slider into the seats in left field inside the foul pole for a solo HR to give the Cards a 2-1 lead.

Bader grounded an 0-1 low-and-in sinker to short. Williams grounded a first-pitch inside sinker into the shift on the right side for Hoerner. Sosa grounded a first-pitch hanging slider to Baez deep in the hole at short. The throw from Baez went to Rizzo at 1st on one bounce, but it handcuffed him, bounced off his glove and got away. Sosa advanced to 2nd base on the play, which was scored a single, E6. I’m not sure I agree with the ruling, because a good throw would have put Sosa out at 1st base. Thomas squibbed an 0-2 inside sinker back to the mound, where Alzolay jumped and threw to first to end the inning.

Giovanny Gallegos came out to pitch the top of the 8th. Pederson struck out swinging at a 1-2 fastball outside and about head level to lead off the inning. Bryant half-swung at an 0-1 low slider and blooped it into right for a base hit. Contreras then walked on 4 straight pitches, but Gallegos would get out of the mess. Rizzo struck out swinging at a low-and-away 1-2 slider in the dirt. Baez flied a low-and-in 1-1 slider to shallow left to end the inning. Righty Keegan Thompson came out to pitch for the Cubs in the bottom of the 8th. Matt Carpenter pinch hit for Gallegos and flied a down-the-middle cutter to shallow center. Edman grounded a low-and-in 0-1 curve through the right side for a base hit. Goldschmidt struck out swinging at an 0-2 outside fastball. Arenado flied a low-and-away 1-2 curve to center to end the inning.

Alex Reyes came out for the top of the 9th to try and close the Cubs out. Happ struck out swinging at a 1-2 curve in the dirt. The ball got away from Molina, but he was able to get it and throw Happ out at 1st. Eric Sogard pinch hit for Bote and grounded a low-and-away 1-0 98 mph sinker to 2nd. Hoerner tapped a hanging 1-1 curve down the 3rd base line a bit. Molina and Arenado went towards it, deciding to let the ball roll foul. The home plate umpire was right on top of the ball. Arenado picked the ball up, but the umpire ruled that he picked it up in fair territory. Hoerner was credited with an infield hit. Arenado and Molina were irate, Shildt came out to argue for a bit and the home replay showed that the ball was foul, but fair or foul calls in the infield are unreviewable plays and the Cards were stuck with the bad call. It turned out not to matter, because Nick Martini pinch hit for the pitcher Thompson and flied a high 2-0 fastball towards the left field line for Williams to end the game.

Mikolas (5 days rest since last minor league rehab start) 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO, HBP; Ponce de Leon (no rest, top 5, down 1-0) 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO; Cabrera (2 days rest, top 6, 2 out, man on 1st, tied 1-1) 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO, WP; Gallegos (3 days rest, top 8, ahead 2-1) 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO; Reyes (2 days rest, top 9, ahead 2-1) 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO.

ODDS AND ENDS

There was no update on Mikolas after the game other than that he was getting an MRI at the time of the post-game presser...Daniel Robertson’s solo homer in the top of the 7th on the first pitch from reliever Heath Hembree turned out to be the difference in the Brewers’ 4-3 victory over the Reds...Two homers by Ozzie Albies and another by Ronald Acuna, Jr. were more than enough to beat the Pirates 6-1