Miles Mikolas wasn’t fantastic, but he was more than good enough to secure his second win of the season with plenty of run support from his offense. Five different Cardinals had two or more hits — headlined by Tommy Edman’s three hits and three RBI.
Yadier Molina opened the scoring in the third inning with his first homer of the season, and the Cardinals never trailed in a 7-1 victory over the Giants at Oracle Park. Juan Yepez tallied two more hits in his second major league game as well, and St. Louis went 5-10 with runners in scoring position en route to their 15th win of the year.
Here’s how it went down:
The Redbirds went 1-2-3 in the top of the first inning against San Fran’s first relief pitcher of the evening, Mauricio Llovera. Tommy Edman flew out to Darin Ruf in shallow left field, Paul Goldschmidt struck out swinging after an eight-pitch battle, and Nolan Arenado flew out to deep center field.
Miles Mikolas walked Mike Yastrzemski on four pitches to lead off the game — which was just Mikolas’ fifth walk of the season. But Yaz was immediately erased as Joc Pederson grounded into a 4-6-3 double play started by Edman at second base.
Wilmer Flores then yanked a Mikolas curveball down the third base line for a single, but got greedy and tried to stretch it into a double. Gold glover Tyler O’Neill hosed Flores at second — beating him by at least six feet — to end the inning.
Zack Littell took over on the mound and struck out both O’Neill and Juan Yepez looking for the first two outs of the second inning, although the ‘birds battled and made him throw 19 total pitches to do so. Harrison Bader then tapped a Littell slider right out in front of the plate (like, literally two feet in front of the plate) that Curt Casali jumped on immediately and threw Bader out at first.
Mikolas struck out Brandon Crawford looking to start the inning. Ruf then softly grounded out to Paul DeJong at short for a quick second out before Luis Gonzalez ripped a 1-1 sinker into center field. Bader dove out and trapped it before hopping up and firing the ball into second, nearly nabbing Gonzalez at second as he slid in for his third double of the season. Thairo Estrada then grounded out to DeJong at short for the final out of the inning, stranding Gonzalez at second.
Yadier Molina led off the third inning with his first homer of the season, socking a 1-1, ankle-high slider just over the fence in left field. He entered the game with an absolutely abhorrent .434 OPS, but I do think his at-bats have started to look much better over the past week or so.
Dylan Carlson then struck out on three pitches and DeJong flew out to very shallow right field for the first and second outs of the inning. With two outs, Edman yanked a first-pitch Littell slider up the first base line and off the bag for a double. However, Goldschmidt left him standing on second by grounding out to third for the final out.
Mikolas made quick work of the Giants in the bottom of the third, striking out Jason Vosler and Casali back-to-back and then got Yastrzemski to ground out to DeJong on one pitch to end the inning.
Former Cardinal John Brebbia took the mound in the fourth inning, and — despite a lot of hard contact — he was able to keep the Redbirds off the board. Arenado flew out to shallow right field to start the inning. O’Neill then destroyed an 0-1, center-cut fastball from Brebbia into the left-center field gap for a double. His double had an exit velocity of 107.4 mph, and got to the wall in a hurry. Yepez then singled on a ball hit up the middle that Crawford dove for and corralled, but was unable to throw Yepez out at first base.
With runners on the corners and one out, Bader stung a first-pitch slider towards the left side of the infield and it looked destined to be a base hit with an exit velocity of 95 mph. But Giants’ third baseman Matt Vosler dove out and snagged the hot grounder and turned a beautiful 5-4-3 double play to get San Francisco out of the inning unscathed.
Mikolas was able to navigate the bottom of the fourth on just 11 pitches. Pederson flew out to O’Neill in left field for the first out before Flores hit a clean single to left — but did not test O’Neill this time and stayed at first. Crawford then flew out to O’Neill in left on the first pitch he saw, and Ruf grounded out to a shifted Tommy Edman at second — who was playing directly behind second base.
Mikolas got through the first four innings on just 53 pitches.
Venezuelan-born lefty Jose Alvarez took his turn on the mound in the fifth and immediately was greeted by Molina with a single to left — his second hit of the day. Carlson then reached on an infield single to second base that was hit far to the left of the second baseman Estrada. DeJong struggles continued as he hit a cue shot up the first base line with an exit velocity of 31 mph, but it worked as a sacrifice bunt and moved both runners over. Edman then stepped in and smoked the first pitch he saw into center field for a two-run single, giving the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.
Gabe Kapler pulled Alvarez at this point and brought in the hard-throwing rookie right-hander Gregory Santos. Santos was able to get Goldschmidt to ground out and Arenado to fly out to escape the inning without any additional damage.
Mikolas finally ran into some trouble in the fifth inning after handing out a leadoff walk to Gonzalez. Estrada grounded into a force out to Nolan at third, who threw over to Edman to nail the lead runner. Vosler then got jammed on a slider and dropped it into right field, advancing Estrada to second.
Casali lined out to DeJong at short for the second out, but Mikolas hung a 1-2 curveball to Yastrzemski and he was able to pull it into right field for an RBI single, getting the Giants on the board 3-1. Joc Pederson then hit a fly ball to deep center field, but Bader made the catch on the warning track to end the inning.
St. Louis went down in order in the sixth inning. O’Neill struck out swinging for the first out, followed by back-to-back groundouts to third base by Yepez and Bader.
After getting Flores to fly out to right field to begin the inning, Crawford singled on a line drive to right. The action kept coming to Carlson in right field as the very next hitter — Darin Ruf — hit a line drive to him as well, which he caught for the second out. Gonzalez then singled to left field, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate in Estrada. Mikolas walked Estrada — the third walk he’d issued — and his night was through. Oli Marmol called on Andre Pallante to step in and take care of Vosler with the tying and go ahead runs on base.
Vosler grounded out to Arenado at third base to end the inning and strand the bases loaded. Left-handed batters have a sub-.300 OPS against Pallante this season. Marmol’s move to go the righty versus the lefty paid off.
Mikolas’ final line: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K’s (95 pitches)
Left-hander Jake McGee — the Giants’ closer in 2021 — took the mound in the seventh inning. Yadi flew out to left field for the first out. Carlson then hit a double to deep left-center field, banging it off the wall just out of reach of Ruf. DeJong — still completely lost at the plate — struck out for the second out of the inning. But our lord and savior Tommy Edman ripped a 2-2, 96 mph fastball up the middle for his third hit of the game, scoring Carlson and giving the Cardinals a 4-1 lead. Goldschmidt then singled to left, moving Edman to second base with two outs.
Kapler removed McGee and brought in submarining right-hander Tyler Rogers, who walked Arenado on five pitches to load the bases for O’Neill. Our beefy Canadian left fielder fell behind 1-2, but was able to line a 70mph slider into center field for a two-run single, giving St. Louis a five-run lead. Arenado advanced to third on the play.
With runners on the corners, Yepez kept the two-out rally going with an RBI single to right field — his first career RBI and second consecutive two-hit game — to give the Cardinals a 7-1 lead in the seventh. Bader flew out to right field to end the inning.
Pallante walked Casali to lead off the seventh, but he was immediately erased when Yastrzemski grounded into a 4-6-3 play moments later. Pederson then hit a ball up the middle that found its way to a shifted DeJong, who easily threw him out at first for the final out of the inning.
Left-handed Jarlin Garcia became San Francisco’s eighth pitcher of the day in the eighth inning. He was able to retire Molina (flyout), Carlson (groundout), and DeJong (flyout) in order on 12 pitches.
Nick Wittgren became the third man to toe the rubber for the Redbirds in the eighth inning. He was able to work around a two-out single from Ruf to post a zero in the eighth and lower his season ERA to 1.93.
According to Jim Edmonds, the Giants set an MLB record when they called on left-hander Sam Long in the ninth inning — their ninth pitcher in a nine inning game. Long was able to work around a two-out walk to Arenado to post a scoreless ninth inning.
Marmol called the bullpen and Kodi Whitley came on to close out the game in the ninth inning. After retiring Estrada on a groundout and striking out Vosler, Casali and Yastrzemski hit back-to-back singles. It was for naught, however, as Pederson struck out to end the game. Whitley’s season ERA dipped to 1.04.
The Cardinals (15-10) will look to secure — at the very least — a split of this four game series with the Giants (14-11) Friday at 9:15 p.m. Jordan Hicks (1-2, 3.65 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season after throwing a season-high 63 pitches over 3.1 innings his last time out. Alex Cobb (1-1, 5.40 ERA) is the expected starter for San Francisco.
Around the Central
Brewers 10, Reds 5 - The Brewers hit six homers and the Reds are now 3-22, which is very bad, in my opinion.
WARdle #57 - 4/9
One of these days the WARdle will be Stephen Piscotty and I will be a very rich man.