I don’t really want to talk too much about this one. The offense will come around, but St. Louis does not have the starting pitching depth to chase down Milwaukee. Will the Cardinals make moves to shore up the rotation this month? History says probably not, but we’ll see!
Also, I’ll be making the trek to St. Louis next week for the Dodgers series, my first time at Busch. Last month I asked for suggestions for bars and restaurants....I also have one hell of a sweet tooth. You fine folks know of any bakeries in the city/west of the city I can stop at for donuts or a breakfast sandwich in the morning? I’ll be staying about 10 miles west of the city.
Oh yeah, there was a baseball game wasn’t there? About that...
As they’ve been doing quite a bit recently, the Cardinals got something going with two outs in the first inning of today’s ballgame. Brendan Donovan grounded out to second base for the first out, and Juan Yepez flew out to Eddie Rosario in left field for out number two. But two-out singles from Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado set up Nolan Gorman in a spot to put St. Louis on the board, and he did that with an RBI single to right field, extending the two-out rally. Dylan Carlson worked a seven-pitch at-bat after Gorman, but grounded out to first base.
Unfortunately for Andre Pallante and the Cardinals, Atlanta turned around and scored five times as many runs in the bottom of the first inning. Ronald Acuna led off the bottom of the first inning with a base hit to right field. Dansby Swanson flew out to right field for the Braves’ first out, but during his at-bat Acuna stole second base — his 17th steal of the season. Matt Olson’s subsequent base knock to left field scored Acuna and tied the game at one run apiece.
Austin Riley followed Olson’s hit with one of his own....although his cleared the fence in right field. Riley muscled a 2-2 curveball from Pallante into the right field seats up near the “Chop House” and Atlanta led 3-1. It was the fifth homer Pallante had allowed this season over 56 innings.
Marcell Ozuna fell behind 1-2, and then pulled a low, inside fastball from Pallante down the left field line for a one-out double. Rosario grounded out to Goldschmidt at first base for out number two, advancing Ozuna to third base. William Contreras followed with his 10th homer of the season on the first pitch he saw, just sneaking a line drive over the wall down by the right field foul pole. His two-run homer made it 5-1 Braves in the first inning.
Second baseman Phil Gosselin kept the line going with a bloop single to right field with an exit velocity of 61 mph. It was a slider that dipped outside the zone, but Gosselin somehow got enough wood on it to dunk it into right field for Atlanta’s sixth hit of the inning. Michael Harris grounded out to Edman at shortstop for the third and final out of the inning.
For the second straight evening, St. Louis was down big pretty much from the get-go.
Edman lined out to Olson at first base and Capel hit a ground ball to Olson for the first and second outs of the inning, but Austin Romine singled to left with two outs. Donovan laced a base knock to right field, and St. Louis appeared to have something cooking with two outs once again. But it was for naught, as Yepez grounded a ball up the middle to a shifted Gosselin, who threw him out at first base for the third and final out.
After his disastrous first inning, Pallante worked a perfect second. Acuna grounded out to short and both Swanson and Olson struck out swinging.
Ian Anderson worked through the middle of the Cardinals’ lineup without a problem in the third inning. Goldschmidt grounded out to short, Arenado struck out swinging, and Gorman flew out to center field.
Atlanta caused some traffic on the bases in the third but came away empty-handed. Riley led off with an opposite field single — his second hit in as many at-bats and his second time taking it to right field. Ozuna grounded into a force out, with Nolan taking it over to second base for the first out. Rosario reached on a throwing error from Gorman, as the rookie’s short toss to Edman at second pulled Tommy off the bag and instead of two outs, the Cardinals got zero. But Contreras flew out to left field for out number two, and Gosselin struck out swinging to put a bow on the third inning.
Carlson and Edman both hit scorchers towards the right side of the infield, but Carlson’s found the glove of a shifted Riley in shallow right field and Edman’s was hit right at Phil Gosselin. With two outs Capel pulled a single to right field, but he was stranded there with Romine’s flyout to left field.
Harris led off the fourth inning with a spinning infield single to shortstop, where Arenado was the only defender within 20 feet of the batted ball. Nolan grabbed it with his barehand and made the throw, but it wasn’t in time to nab the speedy Harris. Acuna and Swanson both struck out after that, but Harris stole second base while Acuna was batting and stole third base while Swanson was at the dish. Not a hot start for Romine back there, but Pallante isn’t exactly swift to the plate, either.
Olson went the other way for an RBI double, scoring Harris and making it 6-1 Atlanta in the fourth. Halfway through the season, Olson has already hit 32 doubles.
Riley followed Olson’s double with an RBI double of his own off Pallante, this time pulling into the left field corner for his third hit of the evening. That was it for Pallante, as Oli Marmol went to the pen and brought in left-hander Packy Naughton.
Naughton got Ozuna to ground out to end the inning, but Atlanta extended their lead to a half-dozen runs in the process, leading 7-1 after four innings.
Pallante’s final line: 3.2 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 5 K’s (96 pitches)
Anderson got Donovan swinging at a high fastball for the first out of the inning. Yepez took advantage of the shift and reached on an infield single with one out. Goldschmidt struck out swinging for out number two, and Arenado singled to left field — his second knock of the day. Gorman worked a two-out walk to load the bases, and Carlson stranded all three ducks on the pond with a lazy groundout to first base.
Anderson’s final line: 5 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K’s (99 pitches)
Naughton struck out Rosario and Contreras before Gosselin grounded out to Arenado at third base to wrap up the fifth inning.
Right-hander Collin McHugh entered the game in relief of Anderson. Edman grounded out to second base, Capel struck out looking, and Romine flew out to center field all on eight pitches.
Harris tried to squib a single the other way just like he did in his last at-bat, but Arenado jumped on it and threw him out for out number one. Acuna flew out to right field for the second out, but Swanson extended the inning with a line drive single to center field. Naughton struck out Olson with a high fastball to end the inning. Atlanta carried a 7-1 lead into the seventh.
Donovan flew out to left field and Yepez struck out swinging on an ugly slider in the dirt for the first and second outs of the seventh. Goldschmidt was hit by McHugh’s 78 mph slider, the second time he’s been plunked this season. Arenado worked the count full and then drew a walk. With two runners on, Gorman grounded out to Olson to end the inning. Through seven innings, the Cardinals left 10 runners on base.
Junior Fernanzed took the mound in the seventh, his seventh appearance of the season. He got Riley to pop out on the infield for the first out and struck out Ozuna. Rosario singled to center field with two outs, and Contreras drew a walk. Gosselin grounded out to Goldschmidt at first base to end the inning and keep the deficit where it was.... at half a dozen runs.
Tyler Matzek, a big piece of Atlanta’s bullpen during their World Series run, took the mound in the eighth for his first appearance since early May — he has been dealing with shoulder inflammation for two months.
Matzek got Carlson to ground out to third for the first out. Edman hit a ground ball back up the middle that Matzek snagged behind his back, while he was following through. Matzek underhand tossed to first base for the second out. He walked Capel on four pitches, but Romine flew out to left field to end the top of the eighth.
Also, the Braves tweeting the peanut emoji to point fun at his nickname “Tyler Nutsack” was subtle but hilarious.
Zach Thompson pitched the bottom of the eighth for St. Louis, throwing a scoreless frame with a strikeout of Harris mixed in there. 4+ innings of shutout ball from the Cardinals’ bullpen tonight was maybe the silver lining.
Jackson Stephens was tasked with protecting that six-run lead in the ninth inning. He worked a scoreless ninth to lock it up for Atlanta, with the only blemish being a two-out knock from Lars Nootbaar.
FINAL: Braves 7, Cardinals 1
St. Louis (44-39) needs their offense to wake up soon, because it does not look like the starting pitching will — nor does it look like reinforcements are coming. Miles Mikolas (5-6, 2.61 ERA) takes the mound Wednesday night hoping to right the ship for the Redbirds. Opposing him will be the Braves’ (48-34) ace, left-hander Max Fried (8-2, 2.66 ERA). First pitch is set for 6:20 p.m.
Around the Central
Pirates 5, Yankees 2 - Raise the freaking jollyroger. The Pirates beat the best team in baseball in front of the first sold-out crowd this season at PNC Park.
Reds 1, Mets 0 - The Mets did absolutely nothing for Max Scherzer, who punched out 11 in his return from the IL
MLB Pickle #118 - 7/9
Two guys from the same team in the past four days threw me a little bit, but we got there eventually.