The Cardinals began a three-game interleague series with the Minnesota Twins on Friday with Wade LeBlanc starting across from Griffin Jax, who was tasked to take the place of Jose Berrios in the Twins’ rotation after Berrios was traded to Toronto earlier on Friday. Both pitchers made strong starts, giving up one run each as Jax went five innings and LeBlanc threw five and two thirds. The Cardinals offense broke through against the Twins’ bullpen, however, highlighted by a bases-clearing double by Tommy Edman in the sixth. The Redbirds’ bullpen then held the Twins in check as the Cardinals cruised to a 5-1 win.
Jorge Polanco led off for the Twins and lined a changeup into center for a hit to start the game. Brent Rooker followed and skied a 1-2 fastball to right for the first out. Mitch Garver struck out swinging, out in front of a 1-2 changeup. Trevor Larnach closed the top of the inning with a groundout to second.
Dylan Carlson got under on a 3-1 fastball and flew out to right to begin the bottom of the frame. Paul Goldschmidt went down chasing a slider that broke off the plate for out number two. Nolan Arenado singled to extend the inning, but Tyler O’Neill left him on the bases with a flyout to right.
Willians Astudillo opened the second with a flyout to right. Miguel Sano worked a full count before drawing a walk. Nick Gordon grounded out softly to second as Tommy Edman’s only play was to go to first for the sure out. Andrelton Simmons laced a base hit to left, knocking in Sano to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. Jax was then called out on strikes to retire the Twins.
Andrelton gets the #MNTwins on the board pic.twitter.com/hhkF1muFHd— Bally Sports North (@BallySportsNOR) July 31, 2021
Yadier Molina led off the bottom of the inning with a flyout to center. Harrison Bader chopped a 1-2 slider to second for the second out. Edman drew a two-out walk and then stole second before Paul DeJong grounded out to second for the final out.
Polanco laced an 0-2 cutter to left for a leadoff single. Rooker followed with a flyout as he got under a 1-1 changeup. Garver rolled into a fielder’s choice for the second out and Larnach went down swinging at a changeup that dropped below the zone, ending the Twins’ threat.
LeBlanc struck out looking at three pitches to open the Cards’ half of the frame. Carlson followed with a groundout to first. Goldschmidt then drew a four-pitch walk, but Arenado popped a fastball straight up to the catcher to close the inning.
Astudillo jumped on a first-pitch changeup and ripped it into right field. Carlson approached the line drive to make a sliding catch but he looked to have lost the ball in the lights and the ball got by him, giving Astudillo a leadoff double. Sano walked on five pitches. Gordon jumped on a curveball but lined it straight to Goldschmidt for the first out. Simmons then singled, loading the bases with only one out. Jax, however, flew out to shallow right, holding the runners in place, and Polanco grounded out back to LeBlanc, stranding the bases loaded with no damage done.
O’Neill began the bottom of the fourth with a single to center field. He then stole second before advancing to third on a flyout to right by Molina. Bader lifted a fastball to left, deep enough to score O’Neill and tie the game at 1-1. Edman closed the inning with a popout to third.
Sac fly, RBI! pic.twitter.com/pLPzTfWARf— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) July 31, 2021
Rooker kicked off the fifth with a groundout to third. Garver then skied out to center and Larnach chopped out to first as the Twins went down in order.
The Cardinals went down in a 1-2-3 inning as well, as DeJong flew out softly to short, LeBlanc grounded out to the pitcher, and Carlson flew out to right field.
Astudillo singled on a soft ground ball to Arenado for his second hit of the night. Sano lined a fastball to DeJong for the first out. Gordon followed, popping out to LeBlanc for out number two. Ryan Helsley then got the call to finish the sixth and gave up a two-out hit to Simmons that put runners at the corners. Max Kepler pinch-hit for Jax but struck out looking at a 1-2 fastball, stranding both runners.
Tyler Duffy replaced replaced Jax to pitch the sixth inning for Minnesota and surrendered a leadoff hit to Goldschmidt. Arenado followed with a groundout to third that moved Goldshmidt to second. O’Neill drew a walk on four pitches to put two on. Molina struck out looking at a curveball that caught the outside corner. Bader singled on a liner that hit off of Simmons’ glove and stayed in the infield, loading the bases with two outs. Edman then smoked a curveball down the right field line for a double, clearing the bases and giving the Redbirds a 4-1 lead. DeJong flew out to left for the final out of the frame.
Tommy clears 'em!#STLFLY pic.twitter.com/VkAGapqhqO— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) July 31, 2021
Polanco led off the seventh with a single on a 1-1 cutter. Rooker struck out looking, frozen by an 0-2 cutter at the top of the zone. Garver followed with a popout to third for the second out. Larnach then grounded out to second for the last out.
The Twins made a double-switch in the bottom of the frame, placing Jake Cave in right field, batting ninth, while Danny Coulombe replaced Tyler Duffy on the mound, batting fourth. Jose Rendon pinch-hit for Helsley and singled into left. Carlson grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. Goldschmidt doubled to extend the inning to Arenado, who laced a slider into right field. Goldschmidt scored on the hit to lengthen the Cards lead to 5-1, but Arenado was thrown out at first to end the inning as he was caught off the base on the throw home.
Giovanny Gallegos pitched the eighth for the Cardinals. Astudillo notched his third hit on the evening, dropping a first-pitch fastball into left field for a leadoff single. Sano then flew out right before Gordon grounded into an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play.
O’Neill struck out swinging at a curveball at the bottom of the strike zone. Molina then grounded out to third and Bader grounded out to short, putting St. Louis down quietly in the eighth.
Alex Reyes came in to close the game and retired Simmons on a flyout to left field. Cave followed with a groundout to third. Polanco flew out to left, sealing a 5-1 win for the home team.
The Cardinals improved to 52-51 after the win, but remain 9.5 games back of the Brewers and 6.5 games behind San Diego for the second wild card spot. The series against the Twins continues on Saturday, with Jake Woodford currently scheduled to start against Bailey Ober at 6:15 PM CT.
As most people reading this probably know by now, the Cardinals made a couple of moves at the trade deadline, receiving J.A. Happ from the Twins and Jon Lester from the Nationals. If you haven’t yet read it, VEB’s J.P. Hill wrote a great breakdown on the trades and I highly recommend you take a look at it.
We have acquired LHP J.A. Happ and cash considerations from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for RHP John Gant and minor league LHP Evan Sisk. pic.twitter.com/hWBToQme1o— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) July 30, 2021
We have acquired LHP Jon Lester from the Washington Nationals in exchange for OF Lane Thomas. pic.twitter.com/jg5TV2R57Z— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) July 30, 2021
Final Pitching Lines
LeBlanc: 5.2 IP / 6 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 2 BB / 3 K / 0 HR
Helsley (W, 6-4): 1.1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / 0 HR
Gallegos: 1 IP / 1 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR
Reyes: 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR
Jax: 5 IP / 2 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 2 BB / 2 K / 0 HR
Duffey (L, 2-3): 1 IP / 3 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 1 BB / 1 K / 0 HR
Coulombe: 2 IP / 3 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 0 BB / 1 K / 0 HR