(Editor’s note: Connor Lemons has joined the VEB staff! Connor plans to contribute game recaps and analysis articles. Everyone, please welcome Connor! -J.C.)
The Cardinals were stymied by Marlins ace — and former St. Louis prospect — Sandy Alcantara through eight innings, but were able to rally off Miami’s bullpen in the ninth thanks to a clutch two-run bomb from Nolan Arenado. Miles Mikolas went five scoreless as well, and the duo of Andre Pallante & Genesis Cabrera covered three scoreless innings to bridge the gap to Gallegos in the ninth.
Gallegos allowed two baserunners in the ninth inning to give us a little scare, but he was able to punch out Jacob Stallings and get Miguel Rojas to ground out to third to lock up the Cardinals seventh victory of the season.
The Cards worked Sandy Alcantara in the first inning to the tune of 26 pitches, but were unable to score. Tommy Edman — batting leadoff in place of Dylan Carlson, who got the day off — singled on a soft dribbler to Jazz Chisholm at second. Chisholm chucked the ball into the Marlins dugout, and Edman was awarded second. Paul Goldschmidt then walked on eight pitches, giving the Birds two runners on and no outs. But Tyler O’Neill flew out to right, Nolan Arenado struck out, and Corey Dickerson flew out to left, ending the inning.
The Marlins went three up, three down in the bottom of the first on nine pitches. Jorge Soler struck out, Garrett Cooper grounded out to third, and Jesus Sanchez hit a slow grounder to Edman at second, who was able to gather and make a quick toss to first, beating Sanchez by a step.
Lars Nootbaar struck out looking to lead off the second inning on a pitch roughly three inches below the zone.
Paul DeJong and Yadier Molina each hit grounders to third base after that, and the Cardinals went quietly in the second.
The Marlins went in order again in the second inning. Jesus Aguilar and Avisail Garcia both grounded out to DeJong at short. Joey Wendle hit a scorcher up the middle that Edman was able to slide and pick before throwing back to first, beating Wendle by a few steps.
Miles Mikolas retired the first six batters of the game on 21 pitches.
After Harrison Bader flew out to deep right field to lead off the inning, Edman reached on a swinging bunt single down the third base line. Goldschmidt flew out to straightaway left, and then Edman stole second base with O’Neill at the plate — his first steal of the season. But then O’Neill grounded out to Miguel Rojas at short, stranding Edman.
After laboring through a 26-pitch first inning, Alcantara was able to get through the second and third innings on a very efficient 21 pitches.
Jacob Stallings grounded out to DeJong at short to begin the inning and Rojas grounded out to Arenado at third. Chisholm then lined one back up the middle for a single, giving the fish their first baserunner of the game. Chisholm stole second on a 1-1 count with Soler batting, but Molina’s throw sailed into center field, allowing Jazz to advance to third (Molina earned his first error of the season on that long toss). Mikolas then froze Soler on a 2-2 curveball to end the inning, stranding Chisholm at third.
The Cards went three up, three down in the top of the fourth against Alcantara on just eight pitches. Arenado struck out swinging and then both Dickerson and Nootbaar grounded out on the first pitches they saw from the former Cardinals’ farmhand.
Cooper led off the home half of the fourth inning and struck out looking on a 95 mph sinker from Mikolas that may have been juuuuuuust a bit outside — but we’ll take it. Sanchez was then plunked in the back foot by a Mikolas curveball, but home plate umpire Tom Hallion called Sanchez back, saying that he stuck his leg out. The Marlins challenged the call, and it was overturned — meaning that Hallion had to put the headset on and announce to the entire stadium that his own call was overturned — how embarrassing! Sanchez was awarded first base on a HBP.
Aguilar then singled on a line drive to center, giving the Marlins multiple baserunners for the first time all night. But Garcia struck out swinging and Wendle grounded to Arenado at third, stranding both runners and keeping the game scoreless through four innings.
DeJong struck out on three pitches to lead off the inning, and then Molina swung at Alcantara’s first pitch and hit a grounder to Rojas at short — who took his time before throwing Yadi out at first. Bader then lined a scorcher to left field for the Cards’ third hit of the night, but Edman grounded out, 4-3, to end the inning.
After a 26-pitch first inning, Alcantara navigated the next four innings throwing just 39 pitches — bringing his count up to 65 through five.
Stallings grounded out to Edman to start the inning, followed by a Rojas single to left — the Marlins’ third hit of the night. But Chisholm struck out swinging and Soler popped out in foul territory to Goldschmidt, ending the inning and keeping this one scoreless through five innings.
Alcantara continued his wizardy against his former organization in the sixth, retiring the heart of the Cardinals’ order on 10 pitches. Goldschmidt got sawed off and hit a soft liner to Alcantara, which he caught. O’Neill grounded out to Wendle at third, and Arenado struck out for the third time, earning his first hat trick of the season.
Cooper led off the sixth inning with a line drive single to right field, and Mikolas’ night was finished. Andre Pallante was called on from the pen, and immediately struck out Sanchez and Aguilar. He then got Garcia to ground into a force out, with Arenado fielding the grounder and going to second for the final out of the inning.
Mikolas’ final line: 5 innings, 4 hits, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 KO (86 pitches)
Alcantara continued to stymie the Redbirds, sitting them down one-two-three on 11 pitches. Dickerson lined out to center, Nootbaar struck out swinging (after fouling a ball off his own face), and DeJong flew out to right field.
Pallante returned for the seventh and sat the Marlins down in order, sending this game to the eighth inning scoreless. A Stallings strikeout (looking) was sandwiched in between Wendle and Rojas groundouts to third and short, respectively.
The eighth inning kicked off with the oddest play of the day. With the infield in an exaggerated shift, Molina hit a popup in the vicinity of where the second baseman would typically be if there was no shift on. Instead, Chisholm sprinted over from behind the second base bag and tried to catch it, but it dropped for a single. But Bader then flew out to Soler in left and Edman grounded into a double play, 4-6-3, to end the inning.
Sandy Alcantara’s final line: 8 innings, 4 hits, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 KO (98 pitches)
Genesis Cabrera took over after two perfect innings from Pallante. He got Chisholm to pop out to DeJong and then was able to induce a ground ball from big Jorge Soler to shortstop as well. Cooper worked a six-pitch walk, but Cabrera turned around and struck out Sanchez on a 98 mph heater at the knees to get out of the eighth inning and keep the game scoreless.
The Marlins finally pulled Alcantara in the ninth inning, as he was replaced by Anthony Bender, who was making his fifth appearance of the season. Bender got a struggling Goldschmidt to strike out swinging before walking O’Neill on six pitches.
Arenado — who had struck out in all three of his at bats against Alcantara — then stepped to the plate and deposited a 98 mph Bender fastball into the left field seats. Soler almost made a spectacular play leaping at the wall, but it glanced off his glove and popped over. Arenado’s fifth homer of the season gave the Redbirds a 2-0 lead in the ninth.
Dickerson then grounded out and Nootbaar was called out on strikes to end the inning, but the damage had been done.
Giovanny Gallegos was called on in the ninth and wiggled out of a jam, working around a base hit from Garcia and a walk to pinch-hitter Brian Anderson before retiring Stallings and Rojas to secure his third save of the season and Redbirds’ seventh victory.
The Cardinals (7-3) finish up their three-game set with the Marlins (4-7) tomorrow at 5:40 p.m. Jordan Hicks (1-0, 0.00 ERA) is set to make his first-ever MLB start. Opposing him will be Pablo Lopez (1-0, 0.87 ERA), who has given up one earned run over 10.1 innings this season.
Around the Central
Brewers 5, Pirates 2 - Brandon Woodruff pitched six scoreless innings and struck out nine (nice).
Padres 6, Reds 0 - Padres’ phenom Mackenzie Gore goes five scoreless, and the Reds lost their ninth-straight game.
Rays 8, Cubs 2 - Randy Arozarena’s OPS has now climbed to .615
If you haven’t tried WARdle yet, give it a whirl. It’s a baseball version of the popular game “Wordle” where you have 9 tries to guess a current MLB player. I nailed it in two tries today.
WARdle #42 - 2/9