Jose Quintana was nails in his second start as a Cardinal (3 ER over 12 innings so far), Albert Pujols recorded his first four-hit game in nearly two years, and St. Louis bounced back with a convincing win in Denver.
Nolan Arenado also homered, Paul DeJong continued his resurgence with a four-hit game of his own, and Yadier Molina hit a long single off the left field wall but was held at first base because he’s so damn slow. It turns out the Pirates fans on Twitter who told me that Chris Stratton stinks weren’t wrong, but he wasn’t bad enough to blow a seven-run lead.
All in all, very fun!
Dylan Carlson led off and worked a six-pitch walk. Tommy Edman grounded softly back to Kyle Freeland, but the Rockies were only able to get the out at second, with Edman reaching at first. Paul Goldschmidt followed with a single to right field, advancing Edman to second. With two runners on, Nolan Arenado hammered a double to left field that dropped on the chalk just in front of the wall and was ruled a foul ball. The Cardinals challenged, and it was overturned. Arenado was awarded a double, and both runners moved up — meaning Edman scored and Goldschmidt advanced to third base.
Albert Pujols followed Arenado with a base hit to left field, scoring Goldschmidt and moving Arenado to third base.
With runners on the corners and still only one out, Tyler O’Neill hit a line drive double into the gap in left-center field, scoring Arenado. 99% of players would have scored from first, but Albert rumbled into third and got the stop sign right there.
Freeland was visited by Rockies’ pitching coach Darryl Scott, and immediately after yielded another base hit to Paul DeJong. His RBI single to left scored Pujols from third and moved O’Neill to third base, where Albert stood just moments earlier.
After getting ahead of Yadier Molina 0-2, Freeland overcooked a curveball and hit Molina in the foot, loading the bases for Lars Nootbaar with one out. Noot smoked a 2-1, letter-high fastball 404 feet into center field, but Randal Grichuk tracked it down and it went into the box score as a ho-hum sac-fly to center field. On Freeland’s 38th pitch of the inning, Carlson flew out to Grichuk to finally put an end to the top of the first.
When all was said and done, the Cardinals had hung five runs on the Rockies before Colorado even picked up a bat.
Charlie Blackmon and Jose Iglesias both grounded out for a quick two outs, but a Brendan Rodgers single and a walk to C.J. Cron put Grichuk in a spot to get Colorado right back into the game. Fortunately, Grichuk tapped a sinker to Pujols at first, and Albert tossed over to DeJong at second for a force out to end the first inning.
Edman struck out looking on a high, outside sinker that looked to be a ball. Goldschmidt drew a one-out walk but was erased when Arenado grounded directly back to Freeland, who took the out at second base. Pujols had his second-straight quality at-bat, hitting a deep fly ball to left-center field that wound up as a ground-rule double — his ninth double of the season. With runners on second and third and two outs, O’Neill flew out to Blackmon in shallow right field.
Jose Quintana walked Elias Diaz leading off the second inning, struck out Ryan McMahon, and got Elehuris Montero to ground into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
DeJong led off the third inning and flew out to right field. Molina hit a sharp ground ball up the middle with one out, but Iglesias was able to range up the middle, make the play, and fire to first for the out. Nootbaar tripled to right-center field with two outs — his first triple of the season and 13th-straight game reaching base. Carlson stranded him at third base, however, with a soft groundout back to Freeland.
Yonathan Daza and Blackmon both reached base via base hits to the outfield, with Daza moving to third on Blackmon’s hit. Iglesias then hit a fly ball to Nootbaar in right field near the foul line, which Noot sprinted in to catch and then fired to second base to prevent Blackmon from tagging — basically ceding the run with a five-run lead. Rodgers struck out swinging and Cron popped out to Molina in foul territory with the Cardinals holding a 5-1 lead.
Edman grounded out to McMahon at first base for out number one and Goldschmidt grounded out to Iglesias for out number two. Arenado singled to left field with two outs — his second hit of the game. But Pujols grounded out to Iglesias to wrap up the Cardinals half of the fourth inning.
Grichuk grounded out to Edman at second base for the first out. Diaz singled to left field to reach base for the second consecutive at-bat. McMahon struck out swinging — his second punchout of the game. Montero reached base with a single to left field, but Daza struck out swinging on three pitches to kill the rally.
O’Neill led off the fifth and grounded out sharply to third baseman Ryan McMahon. DeJong stepped up and doubled off the right field wall — his eighth extra-base hit in his 10 games since being recalled on July 30th. Molina followed by ripping a single off the left field wall to score DeJong and make it 6-1 St. Louis in the fifth. It probably could have — and should have — been a double, but Molina took an odd turn around first and was the held there.
The centerpiece of the Nolan Arenado trade — left-hander Austin Gomber — took over for Freeland with one out in the fifth.
Nootbaar grounded into a force out, with Cron tossing over to second base to cut down Molina for the second out of the inning. With Carlson hitting, Nootbaar stole second base — his second theft of the season. Carlson grounded out to shortstop to end the inning and leave Noot in scoring position.
Freeland’s final line: 4.1 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K (90 pitches)
Iglesias hit a one-out double to left field and Rodgers struck out swinging to put C.J. Cron in a two-out situation with a runner in scoring position. Cron lined an 0-1 sinker from Quintana down into the right field corner for an RBI triple, getting that run back and pulling the Rockies back within four runs again. Grichuk flew out to Carlson in center to end the inning with the Rockies trailing 6-2.
Edman grounded out to McMahon for out number one. Goldschmidt struck out swinging for out number two. Arenado proceeded to hit a missile off the man who he was traded for, depositing a 77 mph Gomber curveball 403 feet into the left field seats. It was Nolan’s 23rd homer of the year.
Pujols then fought Gomber for nine pitches — fouling off six in a row — before taking a Gomber slider and blasting it into the Rocky Mountains. Pujols’ eighth homer of the season traveled 412 feet into the left field seats and made it 8-2 Cardinals in the 6th. It was Pujols’ third hit of the evening and his 687th career homer. O’Neill struck out swinging to end the top of the sixth following Nolan and Albert’s back to back homers.
Quintana’s final inning was of the 1-2-3 variety. Diaz flew out to center, McMahon grounded back to Quintana, and Montero struck out swinging.
Quintana’s final line: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K’s (103 pitches)
DeJong stayed hot in the 7th inning, leading off the frame with a double to left-center field. Since being recalled, Paul has an OPS well over 1.000.
Molina singled to right field right after, and DeJong tried to score from second base. Blackmon’s throw from right was cut off by Iglesias, who relayed home and gunned down DeJong fairly easily. Molina took second on the play. It’s unclear if DeJong was sent by Pop Warner or if DeJong blew through a stop sign.
Nootbaar grounded out softly to second base for the second out of the inning, and Carlson grounded out to short for out number three.
Andre Pallante took over on the mound following six strong innings from Jose Quintana. Daza grounded out to second, Blackmon grounded out to third, and Iglesias grounded out to DeJong at short for the final out of the seventh.
Edman finally joined the hit party in the eighth inning, leading off with a line drive single to left. Goldschmidt flew out to center field for the first out of the eighth inning. With Arenado batting, Edman stole second base — his 23rd steal of the season. Arenado flew out to left field and Edman was not able to advance. Pujols stepped in and hit a 104 mph line drive into left field for a base hit, but Edman was thrown out at home plate to end the inning. It was the Rockies second straight inning with an outfield assist.
Pujols’ base hit in the eighth inning also made it his first four-hit game since August 30th, 2019.
Rodgers led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a base hit up the middle off Pallante. Cron struck out flailing at a slider at least an entire foot away outside of the zone. Grichuk was called out on strikes for out number two, and Diaz struck out swinging to send this one to the ninth.
Robert Stephenson relieved Gomber in the ninth inning. O’Neill struck out swinging. DeJong recorded his fourth hit of the night with a ground ball single up the middle. Molina flew out to semi-deep left field, where Daza made the catch. With shouts of “Nooooot” raining down at Coors, Nootbaar laced his second triple of the game — this time into the left-center field gap. It scored DeJong, giving the Cardinals a touchdown lead in the ninth. Carlson flew out to left field for out number three, stranding Noot.
Chris Stratton was called on to finish this one out, and McMahon greeted him with a base hit to left field. Montero singled to center seconds later, moving McMahon to second. Daza scorched a single to left field to score a run. An error on O’Neill in left field allowed Daza to stretch it to two bases, bringing up Blackmon with two runners in scoring position.
Blackmon hit a high popup in foul territory in left field, and Arenado made one of his most impressive plays of the season. Jogging towards the seats, Arenado made an over-the-shoulder basket catch and immediately tossed it back towards the infield to stop either runner from tagging.
Iglesias blooped a single into center field to score another run, making it 9-4 St. Louis with one out.
Rodgers singled to center as well, scoring another run and getting the Rockies back within four runs.
Stratton struck out Cron and was able to induce a weak ground ball from Grichuk to end the game, with the tying run in the hole.
FINAL: St. Louis 9, Colorado 5
The Cardinals (61-49) will try to wrap up their ninth win in their last 10 on Thursday afternoon at Coors. First pitch is set for 2:10 p.m. and the pitching matchup points to more mile-high offense. German Marquez (6-9, 5.18 ERA) will go for the Rockies (49-64), while Dakota Hudson (6-6, 4.20 ERA) will take the mound for St. Louis.
Personally, I cannot think of anyone better to pitch in Denver, Colorado than the guy with an ERA of 4.20...
Around the Central
Mets 10, Reds 2 - Remember when it looked like the Braves might catch the Mets?
Brewers 4, Rays 3 - A Rowdy Tellez homer tied it in the 9th inning, and Willy Adames walked it off in the 10th for Milwaukee
Cubs 4, Nationals 2 - The Chicago Cubs are now only 20 games below .500
Pirates 5, Diamondbacks 3 - TOP 8
MLB Pickle #154 - 3/9