Nolan Arenado broke out of his slump in a major way, Paul Goldschmidt extended his hitting streak to 23 games, and Dakota Hudson set down 18 straight Padres at one point all on the way to a huge three-game sweep.
Arenado, who saw his batting average drop more than 40 points during the Month of May, started June out much better with three hits and three RBI. Hudson had his best start of the season (one of the best of his career, in my opinion), going seven strong innings while only allowing one run and one walk.
With the bullpen stretched a little thin, the combo of Kodi Whitley and Nick Wittgren put a little scare into us in the ninth, but Robinson Cano’s potential go-ahead grand slam died just short of the wall. Never a doubt.
Here’s how it went down:
As is customary for Dakota Hudson most days, he dealt with some traffic on the basepaths early. Jurickson Profar led off the game with a double into the right-center field gap, and Manny Machado drove him in with a single to that same area moments later to give the Padres an early 1-0 lead.
Eric Hosmer grounded out to Juan Yepez at first base to advance Machado to second, and then Luke Voit drew a walk (Hudson is walking 4.6 per 9 innings this season). He was able to wiggle out of the jam by getting Jake Cronenworth to ground out to Yepez at first and then a shallow flyout to center field from Ha-Seong Kim that Bader dove for and saved two runs.
St. Louis started cooking up a rally in the bottom of the first but it was quickly squashed. Brendan Donovan led off with a single to left, and Goldschmidt walked behind him to give Nolan Arenado two runners on with nobody out. He swung at a 1-1 slider at the knees at grounded into a 5-4-3 double play, started by Machado over at third. Yepez then grounded out to third with the tying run 90 feet away.
Hudson was able to work a 1-2-3 second inning on 12 pitches, with Austin Nola grounding out to Arenado, Trent Grisham grounding out to Donovan at second base, and Jose Azocar grounding out to Edmundo Sosa at short.
The Cardinals got their leadoff man on in the second thanks to a Corey Dickerson single to right field that raised his batting average to .189. But like the first inning, St. Louis’ leadoff baserunner was erased on a double play as Lars Nootbaar grounded out to Hosmer, who stepped on the bag at first and then threw over to Kim at second base to tag out Dickerson as well. Sosa then grounded out to Machado at third to end the inning.
Another three up, three down inning for Hudson. Profar flew out to Dickerson in left, Machado grounded out to Nolan at third, and Hosmer grounded out to Yepez at first base.
The bottom of the Cardinals’ order was unable to get it going in the third. Andrew Knizner grounded out to Kim at shortstop on the first pitch he saw. Bader flew out to Azocar in shallow right field. Donovan grounded out sharply to Hosmer at first, who spun and tossed over to Yu Darvish at the bag.
Darvish navigated the first three innings on just 35 pitches, with the help of two double plays.
Another quick, perfect inning for Hudson in the fourth on 11 pitches. Voit flew out to Dickerson in left, Cronenworth grounded out to Yepez at first base, and Kim popped out to Knizner in foul territory.
The Padres refused to pitch to Goldschmidt early in this game, and it helped St. Louis tie things up in the fourth. Goldy led off the inning with his second four-pitch walk of the day, and Arenado singled to left field right behind him. Goldschmidt advanced to third on the play, and with the throw going to third base, Arenado alertly advanced to second. Yepez then tied the game up with a sac fly to deep right field, scoring Goldschmidt while Arenado tagged to third base.
San Diego moved the infield in with one out, and St. Louis was unable to score the go-ahead run. Dickerson grounded out to Kim at shortstop, and Arenado did not try to score (he would’ve been out). With two outs, Nootbaar hit a 100mph line drive to right field that Azocar settled under for the final out of the inning.
After a rough first inning, Hudson really settled in during the middle frames. He set down 14 straight Padres from the first inning through the fifth, including another three up, three down in the fifth on 10 pitches. Nola popped out to Donovan at second base, Grisham popped out to Knizner behind the plate, and Azocar flew out to Nootbaar in right field.
Like the Padres, the Cardinals also went down without so much as a whimper in the fifth. Sosa grounded out to Machado at third, Knizner flew out to Azocar in right field, and Bader grounded out softly to Cronenworth at second base.
Hudson set down his 15th, 16th, and 17th straight Padres in the sixth inning, as San Diego struggled to get anything going at all after the first inning. Profar grounded out to Yepez at first, Machado popped out to Knizner in foul territory, and Hosmer lined out sharply (105 mph) to Nootbaar in right field.
St. Louis’ 2-3 combo of Goldschmidt and Arenado has been the best in baseball this season, and they teamed up to give the Cardinals the lead in the sixth. After Donovan grounded out to start the inning, Goldschmidt worked the count to 2-2 before stroking a single to left field and extending his hitting streak to 23 games. Arenado then hammered a 1-0, high fastball from Darvish about 4 rows into the seats in left field, putting St. Louis ahead 3-1. It was Arenado’s tenth homer of the season and left the bat at 103.4 mph. It traveled 380 feet.
Yepez then hit a ground ball to the right side that looked like a base hit, but Cronenworth ranged way over to his left and made a diving play before getting up and gunning Yepez at first base for the second out of the inning. Dickerson struck out to end the sixth.
Hudson’s consecutive batters retired streak ended at 18 in the seventh inning, but he was still able to put up a zero to complete a stellar start. He punched out Voit to start the inning, and then Cronenworth singled on a clean hit to right field. Kim struck out swinging for out number two, but Nola’s bloop single to center field set up Trent Grisham — who homered last night — with an opportunity to give San Diego the lead.
...this did not happen, however, as Grisham was called out on strikes on a high, inside fastball to end the inning.
The bottom of the Cardinals’ order didn’t tack on in the bottom half of the seventh, going three up, three down against Darvish. Nootbaar was called out on strikes, Sosa popped out to Cronenworth at second, and Knizner struck out swinging.
Hudson’s final line: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K’s (104 pitches)
With a few of the big arms unavailable today, Drew VerHagen took the mound in the 8th. Azocar and Profar both grounded out to Sosa at shortstop for the first and second outs of the inning. Machado then popped out to Yepez in foul territory for the final out of the inning, and the Padres were down to their final three outs.
With his pitch count only at 84, Darvish returned for the eighth inning. Bader hit a shallow pop up into center field, and Kim drifted back to make a fantastic play with his back to the playing field for the first out of the inning.
Donovan then singled on a soft fly ball to center field that dropped in front of Grisham. With Goldschmidt hitting, Darvish uncorked a slider that snuck past Nola, which let Donovan advance into scoring position with one out.
Goldschmidt struck out, but Arenado picked him up with a base hit to right-center field that scored Donovan and made it 4-1 St. Louis in the 8th.
Darvish was pulled with two outs in the eighth inning for right-hander Nabil Crismatt, with Arenado running on first. Yepez greeted him with a double down into the left field corner that scored Nolan from first — his first hit of the day and second RBI. His double made it 5-1 Cardinals, and all five runs were charged to Darvish.
Dickerson grounded out to Machado for the final out of the eighth, but the Redbirds had tacked on two runs and led 5-1 heading into the ninth.
Darvish’s final line: 7.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K’s (95 pitches)
Kodi Whitley replaced VerHagen in the ninth, his 13th appearance of the season. He gave up a solo homer to Voit to make it 5-2, and then things got just a tad hairy. Kim singled with two outs and Nola drew a full-count walk, bringing up Grisham as the potential tying run.
Grisham — whose eighth-inning homer tied the game last night — drew a walk to load the bases for Jose Azocar. The Padres were down to their final strike three different times with Whitley on the mound, and each time they were able to reach base. Marmol removed Whitley at this point and called on Nick Wittgren to get the final out, with Whitley responsible for all three runners.
Once the Cardinals announced Wittgren as the new pitcher, San Diego chose to pinch-hit potential Hall of Famer Robinson Cano with the bases loaded. Cano hit a deep fly ball that was — almost — a go-ahead grand slam, but Dickerson made the catch up against the left field wall for the final out of the game. Bader gave Dickerson a big celebratory hug on the warning track.
FINAL: Cardinals 5, Padres 2
After a sweep of the Padres, the Cardinals (29-21) travel to Wrigley Field to take on the Chicago Cubs (20-29) in a five-game series, including a double-header Saturday. Matthew Liberatore (1-0, 3.72 ERA) makes his third career start after picking up his first win against the Milwaukee Brewers last weekend. The Cubs have not announced starters for the series as of this afternoon. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.
Around the Central
Reds vs Red Sox - Hunter Greene (2-6, 5.89 ERA) vs Garrett Whitlock (1-1, 3.49 ERA) - 6:10 p.m.
Brewers vs Cubs - Jason Alexander (Debut) vs Kyle Hendricks (2-5, 5.20 ERA) - 7:05 p.m.
Pirates vs Dodgers - Jose Quintana (1-2, 2.15 ERA) vs Mitch White (1-0, 4.60 ERA) - 7:10 p.m.
Pickle #84 - X/9
You could have given me 90 guesses and I don’t think I would’ve guessed this one.