The Cardinals began another interleague series on Friday, facing off against the Royals in Kansas City. Jack Flaherty pitched for the first time since May 31, facing off against the 11-year veteran Mike Minor. Flaherty pitched well over six innings, giving up just two hits and striking out five while holding the Royals scoreless on 81 pitches. The bullpen pitched well, escaping an eighth-inning jam to hold up the shutout. The Cards opened the scoring against Minor in the fourth when Nolan Arenado and Tyler O’Neill hit back-to-back home runs. The Redbirds would tack on four more runs over the course of the game, including a solo shot from Lars Nootbaar, as they cruised to a 6-0 victory.
Tommy Edman flew out to the warning track in right-center to lead off the game. Paul Goldschmidt struck out swinging behind a fastball up in the zone. Nolan Arenado drew a two-out walk on seven pitches. Tyler O’Neill popped up a slider that was in on his hands for the final out.
Whit Merrifield skied a curveball to center for the first out in the bottom of the frame. Nicky Lopez tapped a curveball down the first baseline and Flaherty jumped on it and tagged Lopez out for out number two. Salvador Perez lined a fastball back up the middle to extend the inning to Carlos Santana, who worked a full count but went down swinging at a curveball at the knees.
Yadier Molina softly grounded a changeup just inside third base and was thrown out to start the second. Paul DeJong went down looking at a curveball that fell into the top of the zone. Harrison Bader also struck out looking at a changeup at the letters to put the Cards down in order.
Andrew Benintendi skied a 2-0 fastball to left for the first out. Hunter Dozier swung over a slider just below the knees for out number two. Ryan O’Hearns saw eight pitches before popping out to shortstop as the Royals went down quietly.
Edmundo Sosa led off the third with a strikeout, swinging ahead of a 1-2 changeup. Jose Rondon lined another changeup to second for the second out. Edman then skied a fastball to right for the last out.
Emmanuel Rivera chased an outside fastball for Flaherty’s third strikeout on the evening. Jarrod Dyson also struck out, looking at a 1-2 fastball that caught the black on the outside corner. Merrifield chopped a slider to third to send the game to the third.
Goldschmidt struck out swinging over a changeup low in the zone to kick off the fourth. Arenado crushed a hanging slider onto the concourse in left field to give the Redbirds a 1-0 lead. O’Neill then hammered a changeup left belt-high to dead center for another home run and a 2-0 lead.
Molina tomahawked a fastball above the zone for a double down the left field line. DeJong followed the double with a strikeout, chasing a slider that sat above the zone. Bader chopped another slider down the third baseline and beat the throw easily to put runners at the corners. Sosa stranded both runners, popping out to second for the last out.
Lopez chopped an outside curve to short for the first out. Perez jumped on a first-pitch slider and flew out to right. Santana then tapped a fastball back to Flaherty, who threw to first to retire the side.
Rondon laced a 1-2 curveball to left for a leadoff single. Edman rolled into a fielder’s choice for the first out. Goldschmidt then singled up the middle, moving Edman to third. Arenado saw nine pitches and flew an elevated fastball to deep center, scoring Edman to extend the Cards’ lead to 3-0. O’Neill was called out on a 1-2 fastball that caught the outside corner for the last out.
Benintendi was frozen by a 1-2 curveball on the outside corner for the first out in the bottom of the fifth. Dozier then flew out to right and O’Hearn popped out to second as Flaherty retired thirteen in a row.
Molina opened the sixth with a popout to second. DeJong then flew out to right and Bader flew out to shortstop as the Cards went down quickly in the sixth.
Rivera singled on a line drive that was deflected from a leaping DeJong to Edman, whose throw came in just late. Dyson then grounded into a fielder’s choice and replaced Rivera as the runner on first with one out. Merrifield lined out to right for out number two. Dyson tried to swipe second on the 2-2 pitch to Lopez, but the Cards called for a pitchout and Yadi made a great throw to get the final out of the frame.
Domingo Tapia replaced Minor to pitch the seventh for the Royals. The Cards went down quietly in the frame, with a groundout by Sosa, a lineout by Rondon, and a groundout to second by Edman.
Lars Nootbaar replaced Jose Rondon in right as part of a double switch. T.J. McFarland relieved Flaherty in the seventh and retired Lopez on a groundout to third. Perez hit a sharp grounder just inside third base for a one-out double. The double went for naught, however, as Santana and Benintendi both grounded out to strand Perez at second.
Wade Davis came out of the Royals bullpen to pitch the eighth and walked Goldschmidt on five pitches. Arenado jumped on a first-pitch curveball but flew it to center for the first out. Goldschmidt stole second during O’Neill’s plate appearance, in which O’Neill drew a four-pitch walk. Molina followed the walk with a single to right, scoring Goldschmidt to stretch the Cards’ lead to 4-0 as O’Neill took third on the hit. DeJong followed the RBI single with a sac fly, scoring O’Neill to make it 5-0. Bader ended the frame, striking out swinging through a cutter at the knees.
Dozier led off the bottom of the eighth with a single back up the middle. Hanser Alberto pinch hit for O’Hearn and also singled to put two on with no outs. Giovanny Gallegos relieved McFarland after the back-to-back singles and retired Rivera on a flyout to center on which Dozier tagged to third. Dyson was rung up on a fastball that caught the outside corner for a called strike three. Merrifield then drew a two-out walk to load the bases. Lopez flew out to center, stranding the bases loaded.
Ervin Santana replaced Davis on the mound in the top of the ninth and retired Sosa on a groundout to short. Nootbaar tattooed a 3-1 fastball into the fountains in right-center to extend the Cardinals’ lead again to 6-0.
Edman followed the home run with a one-out double. Goldschmidt singled, moving Edman to third. Arenado then lined out to short and O’Neill struck out to strand both runners on base.
Ryan Helsley came in to close the game and got Perez to line out center. Carlos Santana grounded out to first. Benintendi struck out, chasing a fastball well outside the zone to secure the 6-1 win for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals improve to 59-56 and gain ground on the Padres, who fell to the Diamondbacks Friday night. The Redbirds now sit 5.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot, but will still need to beat out the Mets, Phillies, Braves, and Reds, all of whom sit even with or above the Cards in the standings. The Cardinals look to extend their winning streak to five games against the Royals on Saturday, with Jon Lester starting across from Brad Keller at 6:10 PM CT.
Some good news came in regarding Wade LeBlanc, as structurally, his elbow seems fine, though it remains to be seen what the issue actually is. LeBlanc has been placed on the 10-day IL.
Mike Shildt says there is no concern structurally for Wade LeBlanc after further imaging, calls the news "super encouraging."— Katie Woo (@katiejwoo) August 14, 2021
They'll reconvene with the medical team and discuss the next step. #STLCards
Dylan Carlson traveled to Kansas City with the team but was scheduled to have an MRI on a sore wrist that pulled him out of Thursday’s finale against the Pirates. The tweet below was posted a day earlier than the one above, hence the different tones regarding LeBlanc.
Tough news for Wade LeBlanc, who is headed back to STL for imaging on his elbow. Dylan Carlson will get a MRI on his wrist, but will travel to KC.— Katie Woo (@katiejwoo) August 12, 2021
The Cardinals meanwhile need a 26-man & 40-man spot for Jack Flaherty tomorrow.
They were *so* close to having five starters.
Final Pitching Lines
Flaherty (W, 9-1): 6 IP / 2 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 5 K / 0 HR
McFarland (H, 3): 1 IP / 3 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR
Gallegos: 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 1 K / 0 HR
Helsley: 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 1 K / 0 HR
Minor (L, 8-11): 6 IP / 6 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 1 BB / 7 K / 2 HR
Tapia: 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR
Davis: 1 IP / 1 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 2 BB / 1 K / 0 HR
Santana, E: 1 IP / 3 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 0 BB / 1 K / 1 HR