The Cardinals wrapped up a three-game set with the Reds on Sunday afternoon, with J.A. Happ taking the mound for the Redbirds across from Sonny Gray. Happ was dominant through five and a third, and the bullpen continued to hold the Reds scoreless throughout the remainder of the game. Gray was phenomenal outside of a first-inning mistake to Nolan Arenado, whose two-run home run was the difference in the 2-0 victory for the Redbirds.
Jonathan India led off for the Reds and skied a sinker to center for the first out of the game. Tyler Stephenson struck out looking at a fastball high and inside. Nick Castellanos reached at a changeup off the outside corner and lobbed it to Harrison Bader for the final out.
Tommy Edman tapped a 1-2 sinker back to Gray for out number one. Paul Goldschmidt ripped a first-pitch fastball to the right, but straight at Joey Votto for the second out. Tyler O’Neill singled to left to extend the inning to Arenado, who hammered a sinker off the Big Mac Land sign in left (and knocked out the “A” in land) for a two-run shot, putting the Cards ahead 2-0. Carlson then flew a fastball to right to end the inning.
Nolan banks it in off the backboard! pic.twitter.com/X4bXCEV0ZG— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 12, 2021
Votto struck out chasing a sinker well below the strike zone. Eugenio Suarez worked a full count and popped a fastball up to Bader for out number two. Aristides Aquino followed with a groundout to third as Happ retired the first six hitters he faced.
Paul DeJong got a hanging slider but popped it to center for the first out. Bader hit a 1-2 sinker hard to right, but Castellanos made a tough running catch to rob the hit. Andrew Knizner closed the frame swinging over a 2-2 slider on the outside corner.
Asdrubal Cabrera hit a rocket to Arenado, who threw wide of first and allowed Cabrera to reach on a throwing error. Delino DeShields followed with a flyout to right. Gray attempted to move the runner over with a bunt but struck out offering at an outside sinker. India worked the count full and reached at a sinker off the outside corner, dropping it into center for a hit. Cabrera, despite being off with the pitch on 3-2, only got to second on the play. Stephenson swung at a first-pitch sinker and grounded it to short for the last out.
Happ grounded out to second to open the bottom of the inning. Edman tipped a 3-2 curveball into Stephenson’s glove for a strikeout. Goldschmidt chopped a slider to third to end the frame.
Castellanos began the fourth, walking on ten pitches. Votto struck out for the second time on the afternoon, swinging way out ahead of a curveball. Suarez followed the strikeout with a lineout to right and Aquino rolled out to second to strand Castellanos.
O’Neill led off the bottom of the frame and popped out to left. Gray came in high and tight to Arenado on a 2-1 pitch, and Arenado just got out of the way. Arenado’s bat broke the plane and the pitch was ruled a strike, causing Matt Carpenter to get ejected from the Cardinals dugout for disputing the call. Arenado then grounded out to third and Carlson grounded out to first for the last out.
Cabrera hit a first-pitch sinker on the ground to short for the first out of the fifth. DeShields got a fastball up in the zone and lined it to Bader for out number two. Gray grounded out to second to put the Reds down in order.
DeJong grounded out to short to open the bottom of the fifth. Bader struck out on five pitches. Knizner chopped out to short to send the game to the sixth.
India got a sinker up in the zone and flew it to deep center for the first out. Stephenson lined a sinker back up the middle for a single, triggering a double switch for the Cards. Edmundo Sosa replaced DeJong at short and Luis Garcia relieved Happ on the mound. Castellanos flew a first-pitch sinker to center for out number two. Votto, after yelling a colorful string of nouns and verbs when he hit a foul ball, struck out for the third time, swinging through a low sinker on the outside corner for the last out.
Sosa hit a weak popout to first for the first out in the bottom of the frame. Edman lined a first-pitch fastball back up the middle for a single and then stole second for his 25th stolen base on the season. Goldschmidt drew a four-pitch walk to bring up O’Neill, who worked a full count and must have been looking breaking ball since he froze on a fastball down the pipe. Arenado popped up a breaking ball on the outside corner, allowing Gray to escape the inning unscathed.
Suarez swung over a 3-2 sinker for a strikeout. Max Schrock pinch hit for Aquino and singled to left, ending Garcia’s outing. T.J. McFarland replaced Garcia and got Cabrera to ground into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
Carlson struck out looking at a sinker that brushed the inside corner. Lars Nootbaar pinch hit for McFarland and just missed a high sinker, flying out deep to right field. Bader got a nasty curveball in the dirt and chased it for the last out.
Genesis Cabrera got the call to pitch the eighth for St. Louis and surrendered a leadoff double to DeShields on an 0-2 fastball that was middle-middle. Jose Barrero pinch hit for Gray and struck out chasing a fastball off the outside corner. India popped out to foul territory in right, where Carlson made the catch reaching into the stands for the second out. Stephenson, with DeShields on third after tagging up, worked a 3-2 count but chased a high 100 mph fastball to end the Reds’ threat.
Tony Santillan replaced Gray in the bottom of the eighth and retired Knizner on a groundout to second. Sosa then grounded out to short and Edman grounded out to second to put the Cards down in order.
Giovanny Gallegos came in for another save attempt and struck out Castellanos, who chased a fastball way out of the zone. Votto popped out to Sosa on the infield for the second out. Mike Moustakas, pinch hitting for Suarez, lined a fastball into the left-center gap for a two-out double. Schrock then chased a slider in the dirt for the final out, securing the 2-0 win for the Cards.
The Cards improve to 73-69 and pull within one game of the Reds in the Wild Card hunt. At the time of this writing, the Dodgers lead the Padres 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth. A Padres loss will bring them within a game of the Cards as well. The Redbirds will begin a three-game series with the Mets in New York on Monday, with Adam Wainwright starting against Rich Hill. The first pitch is scheduled for 6:10 PM CT.
Dakota Hudson has just one more scheduled rehab start on Sunday before possibly being activated. If he does make a return, it will likely be only in a bullpen role. Jack Flaherty is also on track to make a possible return this season, though whether he’ll be back in the rotation or coming out of the bullpen is in question. Right now it seems likely that Flaherty would have a role out of the ‘pen. Both updates were taken from the latest injury report on Cardinals.com.
Final Pitching Lines
Happ (W, 9-8): 5.1 IP / 2 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 4 K / 0 HR
Garcia (H, 8): 1 IP / 1 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / 0 HR
McFarland (H, 8): 0.2 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR
Cabrera (H, 24): 1 IP / 1 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / 0 HR
Gallegos (S, 8): 1 IP / 1 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / 0 HR
Gray (L, 7-7): 7 IP / 3 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 1 BB / 6 K / 1 HR
Santillan: 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR