Pardon my French, but what a shitty way to lose. Leading into this game, expectations were pretty low with Sandy Alcantara on the bump for Miami. The Cardinals were able to scrape three runs off of him, which I would absolutely take if you offered it to me before the game.
St. Louis seemingly had the Marlins right where they wanted them, with a 3-2 lead and their infallible closer Ryan Helsley on the mound. But Avisail Garcia’s 411-foot homer to center field gave the Marlins the lead, and the Cardinals are now forced to accept a 3-3 homestand against the Cubs and Marlins.... which is bad.
Shout out to Conner Capel for getting his first big league knock, though. Here’s how this one went down:
No hits in the first inning for either team. Against Andre Pallante, Jon Berti flew out to right field, Garrett Cooper grounded out to shortstop, and Jesus Sanchez flew out to left field.
Against Sandy Alcantara, Brendan Donovan popped out to third baseman Brian Anderson in foul territory, Dylan Carlson grounded out to shortstop, and Paul Goldschmidt struck out swinging on a 98 mph sinker with tons of movement.
Another perfect inning for Pallante. Jesus Aguilar flew out to Carlson in center, Avisail Garcia struck out swinging, and Anderson grounded out to Nolan Arenado at third base.
Speaking of Nolan, he led off the second inning for the Redbirds and popped out to Anderson in foul territory for the first out in the bottom of the second. Juan Yepez then ripped an outside fastball the opposite way into right field for a one-out double. Lars Nootbaar flew out to the warning track in left field for out number two, with Yepez holding at second. In his first career at-bat, Conner Capel grounded out to second base on the first pitch he saw from Alcantara, stranding Yepez in scoring position.
Rojas and Jacob Stallings both grounded out to start the inning, but Bryan De La Cruz broke up Pallante’s perfect game with a double off the base of the wall in center field. Berti grounded out to shortstop for the final out, stranding the runner.
Cardinals manufactured a run in the third against Sandy. Sosa led off and chopped a ground ball between Anderson (3B) and Rojas (SS) that Anderson tried to make a play on, but couldn’t. Sosa reached with an infield single. Andrew Knizner struck out swinging for the first out. With Donovan batting, Sosa swiped his second base of the year, getting in scoring position with only one out. Donovan then reached on an infield single that was chopped into no-man’s land between first base and the mound, and Cooper wasn’t able to scoop it and flip to Alcantara in time to get Donovan. The official scorer ruled it an error on Cooper, but even with a good flip, it would have been a very close play. Sosa advanced to third on the play.
Carlson drove a ball drove a ball deep to right field foe a sac fly, scoring Sosa and getting the Cardinals on the board. Goldschmidt grounded out to Anderson for the final out, but St. Louis carried a 1-0 lead into the fourth inning.
The Fish were able to tie things back up in the top of the fourth inning. Cooper led off the inning with a seeing-eye single up the middle. Sanchez hit a ground ball up the line to Goldschmidt, who grabbed it, stepped on the bag, and tried to throw to second to also get Cooper on a tag play. His throw was just a tad late, and Cooper slid into scoring position with one out.
Aguilar then slapped a single the opposite way into right field, scoring Cooper to knot things up at one. Garcia grounded into a 3-4-3 double play (Goldy to Sosa and back to Goldy) on the second pitch he saw, ending the top half of the inning.
Cardinals went three up, three down on 11 pitches in the bottom of the inning. Arenado popped out to Cooper at first base, Yepez grounded out to Rojas at short, and Nootbaar grounded out to Anderson at third base.
The Marlins loaded the bases with no outs after a walk to Anderson and base hits from Rojas (to right) and Stallings (to left). This set up De La Cruz, who doubled off Pallante in the third inning. De La Cruz hit the ball sharply to Sosa at short, who turned the 6-4-3 twin killing — with a run scoring on the play.
Berti hit a chopper to Arenado at third base with two outs, but Nolan backed up, took it on a bounce, and threw out the speedy Berti to end the top of the fifth. Miami led, 2-1.
Capel grounded out to Cooper at first base for the first out, with Cooper flipping to Alcantara covering the bag. Sosa followed that with a booming triple to right-center field that looked like it had a chance to get out. It was his second straight game with a triple, and he represented the potential tying run. Knizner — who it hitting .085 in June — drew a five-pitch walk from Alcantara, passing the baton to Donovan.
Donovan came through with a sac fly to left field, and De La Cruz’s throw from left field went straight home, allowing Knizner to tag up from first to second base as well.
That heads-up play from Knizner paid dividends moments later, when Carlson poked a 2-2 changeup into right field for an RBI single, scoring Knizner and giving St. Louis a 3-2 lead. Garcia’s throw home was not in time, and Carlson advanced to second on the play as well. Carlson’s double made it five straight games that he’s registered a two-bagger. With Carlson in scoring position, Goldschmidt struck out swinging to end the fifth inning. St. Louis had pulled ahead, 3-2.
Pallante pitched a clean sixth, as he continued to rely on his defense and induce weak contact. Cooper and Sanchez both grounded out to Donovan at second base, and Aguilar flew out to Nootbaar in right field.
Arenado grounded out to Rojas at short for the first out. Yepez jumped on the first pitch he saw from Alcantara, and pulled it down the left field line for a double. Each of his last six hits have gone for extras bases. Nootbaar then hit a very high bouncer to Rojas at short, who barehanded it on a bounce and fired to first to get Noot. With two outs and Yepez at third base, Capel grounded out to Berti at second base.
Pitching into the seventh inning for the first time in his career, Pallante struck out Garcia on a big curveball for the first out of the inning. Anderson grounded out to Edman at second base, who entered the game in place of Yepez (Donovan moved to left field). Rojas grounded out to Goldschmidt at first base for the final out, with Pallante covering the bag and completing seven innings in a major league game for the first time in his career.
Pallante’s final line: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K’s (96 pitches)
Alcantara got Sosa to ground out to short for the first out of the inning, followed by a Knizner single to right field. Knizner was immediately erased when Donovan hit into an inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play.
Giovanny Gallegos took the mound in the eighth inning — pitching on back-to-back days for the first time since June 13/14. He pitched a perfect inning on 11 pitches. He struck out Stallings, got De La Cruz to fly out to left field, and got Berti to ground out to Edman at second base.
At 95 pitches, Alcantara returned for the eighth inning and got Carlson to ground out to Berti at second. Goldschmidt broke his bat and grounded out to shortstop. Arenado grounded out to Anderson at third base to end the third inning, and the bullpen door opened to release Ryan Helsley for the ninth inning.
Sandy Alcantara was very good tonight, but a rookie pitcher who joined the Cardinals’ rotation one month ago was up for the challenge and pitched just as well.
Also pitching on back-to-back days for the first time since June 13/14, Helsley walked Cooper leading off the ninth inning. His slider appeared to catch the low outside corner, but home plate umpire Chad Fairchild did not see it that way. Helsley then turned around and punched out Sanchez on a 101 mph fastball for the first out of the inning. Aguilar did the same, hacking at a 91 changeup (?) that bounced in the dirt for out number two.
Then Avisail Garcia hit a two-run homer to dead center, silencing every single person at Busch Stadium. He hammered a first pitch, 99 mph fastball from Helsley 411 feet into the center field lawn, putting the Marlins back in front, 4-3.
Brian Anderson followed with a base hit to left field, but Rojas struck out swinging to end the inning. It was the first homer Helsley has allowed this season, and it made his ERA jump to 0.88 on the season.
At 104 pitches, Alcantara returned to the mound to be his own closer in the ninth inning. He got Edman to ground out to second, but walked Nootbaar on pitch 111. Conner Capel then poked a single up the middle for his first base knock of his career, moving Nootbaar into scoring position with one out.
(How about that for your first big league knock? Off one of the best in the business with the game on the line? Good for him. BUT Nootbaar needed to be on third base there, I think.)
Turns out, it didn’t matter where Nootbaar was. Sosa grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end it, and the Cardinals could not finish off the sweep.
Alcantara’s final line: 9 IP, 7 H, 3 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 3 K’s (117 pitches)
FINAL: Miami 4, St. Louis 3
St. Louis (43-35) has a day off Thursday before beginning a three-game set with the Phillies (39-37) at Citizens Bank Park on Friday night. Miles Mikolas (5-5, 2.57 ERA) owns a 1.55 ERA over his last four starts, and will take the mound in game one. The Phillies had not announced starters for this series as of Wednesday afternoon. First pitch Friday is at 5:05 p.m.
Around the Central
Brewers 5, Rays 3 - The first-place Brewers took four out of five from the Blue Jays and Rays and now head to Pittsburgh
Pirates 8, Nationals 7 - Bryan Reynolds hit three homers in the nation’s capital this afternoon. Huge day for those lucky folks who have him in fantasy baseball.
Cubs 7, Reds 1 - TOP 7TH
Pickle #112 - X/9
If I had a gun to my head and had to recite other teams’ middle relief options — other than the Cardinals’ — I’d be toast.