This game looked like it was headed in the same direction as the previous four, with the Cardinals trailing San Diego 2-0 in the fifth inning against an All-Star starting pitcher. But one inning before St. Louis would’ve set a record they really did not want to set, Lars Nootbaar popped a homer to get them on the board. Then Donovan followed with a grand slam shortly after.
Plus, Jack Flaherty didn’t just get by today, he actually looked strong for the first time in over a year. His fastball topped out at 97 mph in the sixth inning, and his slider was sharp and was effective against both righties and lefties. Four walks is too many, but Flaherty looked solid overall and was able to navigate six innings despite the free passes.
Here’s how Wednesday’s winner went down, but feel free to skip ahead to the fifth inning if you only want the good stuff:
After nearly being no-hit on Wednesday, the Cardinals registered multiple knocks in the first inning of the series finale, although it led to no runs. Tommy Edman led off and struck out on a fastball at the eyeballs for the first out, and Brendan Donovan grounded softly back to the pitcher, Joe Musgrove. With two outs, Paul Goldschmidt stung a ball up the middle and Jake Cronenworth ranged to his right and made a diving stop. The ball popped out, he picked it up and threw to first and Goldschmidt was called out. The Cardinals challenged the call, and review showed that Brandon Drury pulled his foot off the bag. The call was reversed and Goldschmidt was given a base hit.
Nolan Arenado followed with a double to left field, his 41st of the season. With two runners in scoring position and two outs, Corey Dickerson grounded out softly to shortstop.
Jurickson Profar led off the bottom of the first with a mammoth home run into the right field seats, about 15 rows deep. It was his 15th homer of the season and came on Jack Flaherty’s second pitch of the game. Padres led 1-0 early.
Juan Soto, batting second for the Padres, got in Flaherty’s head right away. After a first-pitch ball, Soto called time once Flaherty had already began his motion, and time was granted. Then, Soto faked a bunt and took a ball to make it a 1-1 count. Before the third pitch of the at bat, Soto called time again, causing Flaherty to bark at him a bit. Flaherty eventually struck Soto out on a 96 mph fastball on the inside part of the plate.
Manny Machado grounded out to Arenado at third base for the second out, and Drury flew out to Dickerson in left field.
Albert Pujols led off the second inning and blistered a ball 109 mph off the left field wall, coming about 10 feet short of home run number 699. Alec Burleson struck out swinging and Andrew Knizner popped out on the infield for the first and second outs of the second inning. Lars Nootbaar drew a seven-pitch walk to put Edman in a run-scoring opportunity, but Tommy struck out on the eighth pitch of his at bat to strand both runners.
The Cardinals stranded four runners over the first two innings.
Flaherty struck out Cronenworth on four pitches to start his second inning of work, but walked Josh Bell on five pitches. Ha-Seong Kim followed the walk with a single to left, moving Bell to second base. Trent Grishman struck out flailing at a slider in the dirt for the second out. Luis Campusano, who has a career OPS of .506, singled up the middle with two outs. Nootbaar charged it and had a strong throw home, but it bounced off the back of the pitcher’s mound and rolled towards the Cardinals’ dugout. Bell scored to make it 2-0 San Diego.
Profar flew out to Nootbaar in center field for the final out of the second inning.
Brendan Donvan grounded out to second and Paul Goldschmidt popped out to Drury in foul territory for the first two outs in the third. Arenado hit a massively high chopper behind the pitcher’s mound that Kim tried to barehand, but the throw was not in time and Nolan was safe. Dickerson grounded out softly to second base to end the inning.
Flaherty walked Soto and Machado to start the third inning, but Drury grounded into a 5-3 double play. The ground ball went to Nolan, who tagged Soto running to third and then threw to first base to also get Drury. Cronenworth popped out to Arenado at third base for the third out, with the Padres still leading 2-0.
Pujols popped out to shallow center field for the first out, with Cronenworth ranging out to make the catch. Burleson grounded out to second base for out number two, and Knizner struck out swinging. He had 1 hit over his last 23 at bats at this point.
Flaherty worked a perfect fourth inning on 11 pitches. Bell grounded out to first base, Kim struck out swinging on a slider, and Grisham struck out looking at a 96 mph fastball.
Nootbaar led off the fifth inning with a solo home run to right field off Musgrove, scoring the Cardinals first run of the day, their first run in 31 innings, and their first earned run in 47 innings. Had the Cardinals not scored in this inning, they would have tied the MLB record for consecutive innings without scoring an earned run (their run in the 11th inning against the Reds on Saturday was unearned).
The homer was Nootbaar’s 13th of the season, traveling 386 feet. Edman grounded out to second base after the homer, and Donovan drew a one-out walk. Goldschmidt grounded into a 6-4-3 double play for the second and third outs, with the Cardinals still trailing 2-1.
Musgrove’s final line = 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K (72 pitches)
Campusano kicked off the bottom of the fifth inning with a hard ground ball in the 5.5 hole. Arenado ranged to his left, spun and caught it on a hop, but it popped out of his glove momentarily. Arenado plucked it back out of the air and threw to first base, but the throw was late and it was ruled an error.
Profar followed with a double into the right-center field alley, scoring Campusano to give San Deigo a 3-1 lead. It took the Padres two hitters to get the run back that the Cardinals scored in the top of the fifth.
Soto stepped in and grounded out to first base, with Profar moving to third base. Flaherty intentionally/unintentionally walked Machado — they didn’t point to first base, but none of his four pitches were anywhere close to the plate. With runners on the corners and two outs, Flaherty struck out Drury and Cronenworth to escape the jam.
Left-hander Adrian Morejon jogged in from the bullpen to start the sixth inning after five innings of one-run ball from Musgrove, who was only at 72 pitches (not sure what’s going on there).
Arenado hit first and popped out to Cronenworth in shallow center field. Juan Yepez pinch hit for Dickerson, who was 4 for his last 35, and flew out to right field. With two outs, Pujols hammered a 1-2 fastball from Morejon deep into left field, but the ball came down and settled into Profar’s glove on the warning track right in front of the wall.
Flaherty returned for the sixth inning sitting at 84 pitches, and worked another 1-2-3 frame. Bell flew out to Yepez in left field, Kim struck out swinging at a 97 mph fastball up the zone, and Grisham struck out swinging on quite literally the same pitch.
Flaherty’s velocity increased as the game went on, with his fastball sitting around 92-93 early but clocking in at 97 by the sixth inning.
Flaherty’s final line: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R (2 ER), 4 BB, 9 K (99 pitches)
Dylan Carlson pinch-hit for Burleson against the lefty Morejon and singled to right field. Knizner popped out to the catcher Campusano in foul territory for the first out, and Carlson alertly tagged to second base when the Padres’ backstop went crashing into the netting behind home plate after making the catch. Nootbaar worked the count full and then walked — his third time reaching base in three tries.
San Diego went to the bullpen and called on right-hander Nick Martinez, who has also started 10 games this year for the Dads. He walked Edman to load the bases with one out, and then Brendan Donovan took all the air out of the stadium with a go-ahead grand slam to right field to give the Cardinals a 5-3 lead. It traveled 418 feet, and it was his first career grand slam. It was also his fifth homer of the season.
Goldschmidt followed with a base hit to left field, but Arenado and Yepez both grounded out to end the top of the seventh with St. Louis leading, 5-3.
Left-hander Steven Matz took over after the seven inning stretch, his first pitching appearance since July 23. Campusano led off against Matz and flew out to Ben DeLuzio in center field, who entered the game two seconds earlier as a defensive replacement for Yepez (Carlson shifted to left field and Nootbaar to right). Profar flew out to DeLuzio as well, and Soto grounded out to second base to end the seventh inning.
Albert Pujols hit first in the eighth against right-hander Pierce Johnson, who entered the game in place of Martinez, who gave up the grand slam. Pujols fell behind 0-2 before whacking a fly ball deep into the right-center field gap, where it was ran down by Grisham at the warning track. Carlson struck out swinging and Knizner grounded out to shortstop for outs two and three.
With heart of the Padres’ order coming up, Oli Marmol brought Ryan Helsley into the game. In a 1-1 count, Manny Machado caught a flat slider from Helsley and slammed it 411 feet to center field for his 30th homer of the season, bringing the Padres back within a run.
Helsley struck out Drury on three pitches and got Cronenworth to fly out to left field for two quick outs, before walking Josh Bell on seven pitches — the seventh of which was clocked at 104 mph. Ha-Seong Kim got jammed on a two-strike slider and popped it right back to Helsley, which he caught himself. St. Louis led 5-4 after eight innings.
Left-hander Tim Hill, who pitched in game on of this series, was tasked with holding things right where they were. Nootbaar faced him first and flew out to the warning track in left field — the only time he was put away on Thursday. Edman grounded out to second base, and Donovan hit a fly ball to foul territory in left field that Profar made a spectacular diving catch on.
After Helsley threw 21 pitches in the eighth, Giovanny Gallegos jogged in to close things out in the ninth inning. Grsiham flew out to Nootbaar in shallow left field. Campusano struck out swinging. Profar hit a screaming line drive up the first base line, but Goldy dove out and snagged it for the final out of the game.
FINAL: Cardinals 5, Padres 4
The Cardinals (88-63) head about 100 miles north to take on the Dodgers (103-46) at Dodger Stadium in LA. Jose Quintana (5-6, 3.16 ERA) will throw for the Redbirds after tossing eight shutout innings in his last start. The Dodgers, who clinched the NL West over a week ago, have not announced starting pitchers for the series as of Thursday evening.
First pitch for game one is set for 9:10 p.m.
Around the Central
Brewers 2, Reds 0 - TOP 3
Cubs 0, Pirates 0 - TOP 2
MLB Pickle #197 - 5/9