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Bullpen Yields 5 Runs in 7-4 Loss to Braves

J.A. Happ made a good debut, allowing only two runs in five innings, but the bullpen came up short as the Braves came back from three runs down to take game two of the series.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Cards played the second of three games against the Braves on Wednesday and it was another sour loss, albeit a different flavor from Tuesday’s. J.A. Happ made his debut for St. Louis and pitched five solid innings of two-run ball with four strikeouts. Drew Smyly wasn’t sharp for Atlanta, but his only earned runs came off a three-run home run in the first by Nolan Arenado. The Cardinals managed a run off the Braves’ bullpen after a crazy double steal in the seventh inning, but the game unraveled with the Cardinals’ bullpen, as Ryan Helsley and Giovanny Gallegos gave up five combined runs en route to a 7-4 Cardinals loss.

1st Inning

Ozzie Albies singled to right field to begin the game. Jorge Soler was called out on a 2-2 fastball that looked just off the outside corner. Freddie Freeman struck out swinging through a 2-2 fastball. Austin Riley chopped out to Nolan Arenado for the final out.

Tommy Edman grounded out to short to start the bottom of the frame. Dylan Carlson ripped a fastball right back at Smyly, who knocked it down with his glove but was unable to make a play on the ball. Paul Goldschmidt then singled to left on the very next pitch. Arenado launched a hanging curveball into the bullpen in left field, putting the Cardinals ahead 3-0.

Tyler O’Neill followed the homer with a line drive to right for the Cardinals’ fourth straight hit. Yadier Molina was robbed by Adam Duvall, who dove to catch a sinking liner off the end of Yadi’s bat. Harrison Bader swung under a fastball high in the zone for the third out.

2nd Inning

Dansby Swanson began the second with a single away from the shift. Duvall walked on four pitches. Guillermo Heredia flew out to center for the first out. Stephen Vogt struck out chasing a fastball off the outside corner. Smyly lined out to left to end the Braves’ threat.

Paul DeJong struck out chasing an elevated fastball. Happ skied a fastball to center for the second out and Edman lined out to right to put the Cards down in order.

3rd Inning

Albies chopped a 3-2 sinker to short for the first out of the third. Soler grounded out to third and Freeman flew out to left to make for an easy inning for Happ.

Carlson grounded to short to lead off the bottom of the inning. Goldschmidt flew out to deep center field. Arenado doubled down the left field line for his second extra-base hit on the night. O’Neill drew a two-out walk to extend the inning to Yadi, who popped out to center to strand both runners.

4th Inning

Riley kicked off the fourth with a groundout to short. Swanson chased a low breaking ball but reached on a swinging bunt for an infield single. Duvall lined out to center on a first-pitch fastball up in the zone for the second out. Swanson swiped second without a throw and Heredia doubled off the left field wall to close the deficit to 3-1. Vogt flew out to center to send the game to the bottom of the frame.

Bader beat out a ground ball to Swanson for an infield hit. DeJong popped out to the catcher for out number one. Happ popped out on a failed bunt attempt for the second out and Edman grounded out to third to strand two more runners.

5th Inning

Abraham Almonte pinch-hit for Smyly and struck out swinging through a 3-2 fastball. Albies followed with a lineout to left. Soler got a hold of a first-pitch fastball at the top of the zone and tattooed it to the lawn in dead center to bring the Braves within one run at 3-2.

Freeman chopped out to first after a challenge by the Cardinals on a play where Happ had to cover and barely beat Freeman to the bag for the last out.

Richard Rodriguez relieved Smyly and retired Carlson on a groundout to first. Goldschmidt chopped out to second for out number two. Arenado grounded out to short, putting the Cards down in order.

6th Inning

Ryan Helsley got the call to pitch the sixth for St. Louis and struck out Riley with a low cutter. Swanson singled just over Edman’s glove for his third hit of the game. Duvall got ahead 3-1 in the count before cranking a fastball left up in the zone for a two-run homer, putting the Braves ahead 4-3.

Heredia lined out hard to left. Vogt drew a six-pitch walk that ended Helsley’s outing. T.J. McFarland came in for another appearance after pitching two innings on Tuesday as Ehire Adrianza pinch-hit for Rodriguez. Adrianza flew out to left to retire the Braves’ side of the inning.

Tyler Matzek came out of the bullpen for the Braves and struck out O’Neill with a 97 mph fastball on the inner half of the plate. Yadi popped out to first. Bader walked on seven pitches to extend the inning to DeJong, who struck out swinging to end the frame.

7th Inning

Genesis Cabrera pitched the seventh and got Albies to pop out to second. Soler went down on a called strike three that looked off the inside corner. Freeman grounded out to first for a quick inning from Cabrera.

Jose Rondon pinch-hit for Cabrera, triggering a bullpen move by the Braves to put in Chris Martin. This, in turn, caused Mike Shildt to pinch-hit Matt Carpenter for Rondon. Carpenter ripped a low fastball into center field for a leadoff single. Edman took a fastball to the elbow guard to put two on with no outs. Carlson flew out to left for the first out. After Carlson’s at-bat, it was apparent that Martin was paying no attention to the runners on base, so the Cardinals put on a double steal, resulting in Carpenter and Edman taking second and third with no throw. Goldschmidt then flew out deep to right, scoring Carp to tie the game at 4-4. Arenado, now with a runner on second and one away, grounded out to third to strand Edman.

8th Inning

Giovanny Gallegos got the eighth for the Cardinals and gave up a leadoff single to Riley. Swanson sent another line drive over Edman’s glove for his fourth hit, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Duvall went down chasing a ball in the dirt for the first out. Heredia worked the count full and drew a walk on a very close check swing to load the bases. Vogt flew out to deep center, scoring Riley for a 5-4 lead for Atlanta.

Joc Pederson pinch-hit for Martin and lined a fastball that hit off of a sliding Carlson’s glove for a double to extend the Braves’ lead to 7-4. Pederson then advanced to third on a fielding error during the play as Bader and Carlson collided trying to field the loose ball. Luis Garcia replaced Gallegos after the double and retired Albies on a flyout to left to finally retire the side.

Luke Jackson was brought in to relieve Martin and he hit O’Neill with a 2-2 fastball that ran inside to start the inning. Yadi moved O’Neill to second with a swinging bunt to third for the first out. Bader went down swinging after three consecutive sliders for out number two. DeJong flew out to center, stranding O’Neill at second.

9th Inning

Soler just missed a hanging slider and flew out just shy of the warning track in left. Freeman hit a sinking line drive to left which was caught by O’Neill on a great sliding catch. Riley went down on a 1-2 sinker that caught the zone for a called strike three, resulting in a clean inning for Garcia.

Will Smith came in to convert the save for the Braves and struck out pinch-hitter Edmundo Sosa with a breaking ball low and inside. Edman followed with a groundout to second. Carlson struck out chasing a ball in the dirt to seal a 7-4 loss for the Cardinals.

The Cards drop to 53-54 on the season, falling eleven games back of the Brewers in the division and remaining seven and a half games out of the second Wild Card spot behind San Diego. The series finale is scheduled for Thursday at 7:15 PM CT, with Wade LeBlanc taking the bump across from Touki Toussaint, who is making just his fourth MLB start in 2021.

Quick Notes

Jack Flaherty is scheduled to make one more rehab start before rejoining the big league rotation, as reported by Katie Woo of The Athletic. Miles Mikolas continues to progress through rehab starts as well and will hopefully return sometime this month.

In other unexpected news, Jordan Hicks is reportedly being considered for a starting rotation spot next season as reported on Twitter by Frank Cusumano.

Final Pitching Lines


Happ: 5 IP / 5 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 1 BB / 4 K / 1 HR

Helsley: 0.2 IP / 2 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 1 BB / 1 K / 1 HR

McFarland: 0.1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR

Cabrera: 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 1 K / 0 HR

Gallegos (L, 5-4): 0.2 IP / 3 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 1 BB / 1 K / 0 HR

Garcia: 1.1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 1 K / 0 HR


Smyly: 4 IP / 6 H / 3 R / 3 ER / 1 BB / 2 K / 1 HR

Rodriguez: 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR

Matzek (H, 13): 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 2 K / 0 HR

Martin (W, 1-3)(BS, 3): 1 IP / 1 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR

Jackson (H, 14): 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 1 K / 0 HR

Smith (S, 22): 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / 0 HR