Saw some silly tweets during this game pinning this one on Oli Marmol and — this may be news to folks — but every single pitcher he called on failed to do his job against the Nationals Thursday afternoon. I guess Stratton was fine, but by that point it didn’t matter much.
Yadier Molina turned back the clock and smacked two homers and Brendan Donovan was on base five times to name a few bright spots, but the last-place Nationals’ offense was relentless and vicious. The visitors scored 11 runs — the most the Cardinals have given up at home this season.
On to Pittsburgh!
Adam Wainwright had no issue with the Nationals in the top of the first, retiring all three batters on 13 total pitches. Lane Thomas popped out to Nolan Arenado at third base, Luis Garcia grounded out to Brendan Donovan at second, and Joey Meneses struck out swinging at the patented Wainwright curve.
Donovan drew a seven-pitch walk from Josiah Gray to lead off the game. After Tommy Edman grounded out, Paul Goldschmidt laced a single to right field to score Donovan (who moved into scoring position on a wild pitch). Nats’ right fielder Meneses kicked the ball in right field around a little bit, so Goldschmidt advanced to second himself.
Arenado grounded out to shortstop and Corey Dickerson popped out on the infield to end the first inning.
The Nationals flexed their muscles a little bit in the second inning and were able to tie the game up. Luke Voit continued to have a good series against his former club, hitting a double into left-center field. Keibert Ruiz and Nelson Cruz both flew out to center field for the first and second outs of the inning, with Voit tagging to third base on Cruz’s fly out. Cesar Hernandez then turned on a tight, inside fastball from Wainwright and yanked in down the first base line for an RBI double, scoring Voit and tying things at one run apiece. CJ Abrams flew out to left field for the third out.
Albert Pujols led off the bottom of the second and grounded out to Hernandez at third. In his first career plate appearance Alec Burleson drew a four-pitch walk.
Yadier Molina, on his special day, turned on a 2-1 fastball from Gray and hammered it into Big Mac Land for his third homer of the season, giving St. Louis a 3-1 lead.
Ben DeLuzio, who was also searching for his first MLB hit, reached on a throwing error by Abrams. Donovan dropped down a beauty of a bunt down the third base line for a hit, as the Nationals did not have a play on it. Gray struck out Edman and Goldschmidt back-to-back to end the second inning.
Alex Call and Lane Thomas hit back-to-back singles off Wainwright to start the third inning. Garcia grounded out to Goldschmidt at first base for the first out, with both runners moving up. Meneses kept the production line moving, hitting a sac fly to left field to drive in Call and get the Nationals back within one run. Voit lined out to Goldschmidt to end the top of the third.
The Cardinals were retired 1-2-3 in the bottom of the third inning on 11 pitches from Josiah Gray. Arenado flew out to Call in left field, Dickerson struck out swinging, and Pujols flew out to Call.
Th Nationals’ offense — and spotty defense from the Cardinals — worked together and handed the lead back to Washington in the fourth. Keibert Ruiz grounded out softly back to Wainwright, but Cruz and Hernandez both reached on clean singles to the outfield. With one out, Abrams hit a ground ball to Arenado at third, who sprinted and dove to tag third base ahead of Cruz for the force out.
With two down, Call hit a fly ball to left field that should have ended the inning, but Corey Dickerson took a bad route (first step is always back, Corey!) and he got burnt. It was ruled an RBI double with both runners scoring, and the Nats were back ahead 4-3. Lane Thomas popped out on the infield to end the top half of the inning.
Burleson nearly got both his first big league hit and homerun leading off the fourth, but the ball died on the warning track in right field for the first out. Molina followed and hit his second home run of the game — a wall scraper that juuuuuust snuck over the wall into the flowers at the base of the foul pole. It was Yadi’s first multi-homer game since April 17, 2021, and it tied the game up at four.
DeLuzio followed with a clean single to center field, the first of his big league career after seven seasons in the minors.
Down 0-2, Donovan somehow golfed a slider off home plate into right field for a double, setting up Tommy Edman. Edman walked to load the bases with one out, but Goldschmidt and Arenado both popped out to strand the runners and leave the game tied.
Garcia grounded out to Arenado at third base for the first out of the fifth. Meneses struck out swinging for the second time. With two outs, Voit hit a sharp ground ball up the third base line. Arenado gathered, took a few steps, and then attempted a jump throw from six feet into foul territory. His throw sailed into the dugout, and Voit was awarded second base. It was ruled a base hit for Voit plus E5 on Nolan. Ruiz singled to center after him, moving Voit to third. Cruz hit a soft chopper up the middle that Donovan was able to make the play on to keep things tied going into the bottom of the fifth.
Right-hander Mason Thompson put out the fire at the end of the fourth and also put up a scoreless frame in the fifth. Dickerson grounded out to first, Pujols popped out to the catcher, and Burleson grounded out to second base.
Andre Pallante jogged in from the bullpen after five innings from Wainwright. Hernandez flew out to DeLuzio in center for the first out of the sixth. Abrams singled up the middle with one out. Call followed with another base hit — his third of the game — to advance Abrams to third base. Oli Marmol went with the quick hook and pulled Pallante in favor of Jordan Hicks.
Searching for a strikeout or inning-ending double play, Hicks went with a slider in a 2-2 count and got Lane Thomas swinging for the second out of the inning. Garcia then reached on an infield single after slapping a grounder up the third base line that Arenado was able to get to, but could not make the throw across the diamond in time. It drove in Abrams and gave Washington a 5-4 lead. Meneses grounded out to shortstop to end that half of the inning.
Right-hander Andres Machado took over on the mound for the Nationals and got the red-hot Yadier Molina to fly out to left field. Lars Nootbaar pinch-hit for DeLuzio and struck out swinging. Donovan drew a walk — his fourth time getting on base in four appearances. Edman followed with a base hit to center field, moving Donovan to third. Goldschmidt swung at the first pitch he saw and flew out to right field, stranding both runners.
Hicks walked Voit to start the seventh inning. A soft ground out from defensive sub Riley Adams moved him to second, and a base hit from Cruz moved him to third base. Hernandez hit a deep fly ball to right field for a sac fly, with Voit tagging up and making it 6-4 Nationals in the seventh.
Marmol went to the pen again, bringing in right-hander Chris Stratton to face the left-handed hitting Abrams with two outs. Abrams kept up his impressive series with a double into the left field corner, scoring Cruz from first and putting Washington ahead 7-4. Alex Call grounded out to end the inning with the Nats up a field goal.
Arenado lined out sharply to third base for the first out, followed by a Dickerson single to center field. Pujols grounded into an inning-ending, 5-4-3 double play,
1-2-3 top of the eighth for Stratton. Lane Thomas flew out to center, Garcia grounded out to second base, and Meneses struck out swinging.
Kyle Finnegan, who the author of last night’s blown save, entered the game in the eighth today with a three-run lead. He worked a clean inning, getting Burleson to fly out, Molina to line out to first, and Nootbaar to ground out to second base directly into the shift.
James Naile pitched the top of the ninth and got pounded. He walked Voit leading off the inning and then got Adams to ground out to second. Cruz and Hernandez hit back-to-back singles, the second of which drove in Washington’s eighth run. Abrams lined out to second base for the second out of the ninth. Alex Call — the No. 9 hitter — hit a three-run homer into the Nationals bullpen to give his team an 11-4 lead in the ninth.
After the homer, Lane Thomas knocked a single to right field as Naile searched and pleaded for one final out. He was able to strike out Garcia to get out of the inning, but only after giving up four runs.
Left-hander Jake McGee took over in the bottom of the ninth, tasked with protecting a measly seven-run lead. The Cardinals didn’t exactly roll over, however. Donovan led off with a base hit to left field — his third hit of the day and his fifth time reaching base. Edman singled through the 6.5 hole on the left side to move Donovan into scoring position.
Marmol, punting down seven, pinch-hit Paul DeJong for the Paul of the Goldschmidt variety. He grounded into a fielder’s choice out, with Hernandez going to second base for the out. Andrew Knizner pinch-hit for Arenado and drew a eight-pitch walk to load the bases.
After blowing the game yesterday, Davey Martinez was taking no chances and went to the bullpen for right-hander Carl Edwards Jr. — likely to avoid the potential matchup of Pujols vs the lefty. Dickerson greeted him with an RBI base hit to left field on the seventh pitch of the at-bat, cutting the lead to five runs.
Pujols popped out to Meneses in foul territory for out number two. Burleson flew out to left field for out number three. Ballgame.
FINAL: Nationals 11, Cardinals 6
The Cardinals (81-57) travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates (50-86) at PNC Park on Friday evening. Miles Mikolas (11-10, 3.32 ERA) is on the bump for St. Louis. Rookie right-hander Roansy Contreras (4-4, 3.41 ERA) will throw for the Pirates. First pitch is at 5:35 p.m.
Around the Central
Cubs 3, Reds 2 - TOP 9
Giants - Brewers - 3:10 p.m.
Giants - Brewers - 6:40 p.m.