The St. Louis Cardinals have not been a ton of fun lately. Losers of six of their last seven and and the owners of a 5.96 ERA from their starting pitchers, the Cardinals went into Tuesday night’s game in Denver knowing they can’t afford to keep sinking deeper into the NL Central. Before you know it, it’ll be June.
With Brendan Donovan leading off against a lefty and playing left field to spice things up, here’s how the Cardinals’ lineup looked:
- Brendan Donovan, LF
- Tommy Edman, SS
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
- Nolan Arenado, 3B
- Willson Contreras, C
- Tyler O’Neill, CF
- Jordan Walker, RF
- Juan Yepez, DH
- Taylor Motter, 2B
Miles Mikolas - SP
And for the Rockies:
- Jurickson Profar, LF
- Kris Bryant, RF
- Ryan McMahon, 2B
- C.J. Cron, 1B
- Mike Moustakas, DH
- Elias Diaz, C
- Harold Castro, 3B
- Yonathan Daza, CF
- Ezequiel Tovar, SS
Kyle Freeland, SP
Folks, this one was looking dire after the Rockies put up a crooked number in the fifth inning to put the Cardinals squarely behind the 8-ball. But the Cardinals did something they haven’t done a whole lately — hit with runners in scoring position.
The Cardinals scored four in the seventh, three more in the ninth, and were able to shock the Rockies with a 9-6 win. Starting pitching continued a worrisome trend, but there was enough offense to overcome it tonight in Denver.
Kyle Freeland had not given up an earned run through his first two starts of the season, but Tommy Edman had something to say about that in the first inning of tonight’s game. After Donovan led off and struck out on a slider in the dirt, Tommy four-bags hit his first homer of the year, a fly ball that just landed in the front row of seats above the tall wall in right field.
Goldschmidt stepped in next and popped out to the catcher, and Arenado struck out hacking at a curveball in the dirt.
Profar led off for Colorado and flew out to left field. Bryant hit a routine ground ball to Arenado at third, but it bounced off the heel of his glove and up into the air, allowing Bryant to reach on the E5. McMahon singled up the middle to put two on with one out, but Cron hit a ground ball to Nolan and he made up for the error, starting an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play to keep the Rockies off the board.
Contreras worked a leadoff walk on six pitches, and the speedy O’Neill followed by hitting a sharp (109 mph) ground ball to Tovar at second, who threw to second as the Rockies turned the 6-4-3 double play. Walker hit a fly ball into the right field corner with two outs that Bryant was able to run down after sprinting about 30 yards from where he was positioned.
Like the Cardinals, the Rockies were also handed a leadoff walk as Moustakas walked on five pitches. Diaz was called out on strikes for the first out right after that, and Hittin’ Harold Castro singled to right field to put two on with one out.
But also like the Cardinals, the Rockies grounded into an inning-killing double play. Daza hit the ball sharply to Motter, who got a glove on it to knock it down and then was able to flip to Edman to start the inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Juan Yepez loves the lefties, and he took Freeland deep to left field leading off the third inning to put St. Louis up 2-0. His homer traveled 398 feet and jumped off the bat at 106.1 mph.
Motter flew out to left field for the first out of the third, followed by a groundout from Donovan. Edman singled up the middle for his second hit of the day, but Goldy didn’t quite get all of a center-cut, elevated sinker from Freeland, flying out to left field.
The Rockies put more traffic on the bases in the third, but did not score. A single for Tovar and a catcher’s interference call with Profar batting put Colorado’s first two runners on base. Bryant hit a ground ball to Arenado at third, who stepped on the bag for the first out of the inning via the easy force out. McMahon struck out swinging for the second out, and Cron grounded out to Edman at short to end the inning.
Arenado drew a four-pitch walk leading off the fourth. He never moved off that bag, however, as Contreras popped out, O’Neill struck out, and Walker grounded out to third base to end the inning.
Moustakas struck out to start the bottom of the fourth, but Diaz took Mikolas 432 feet deep to center field for his second homer of the season. The bomb got Colorado on the board and cut the Cardinals lead in half, 2-1.
The Rockies didn’t add on to that run, although Daza did add another base hit after the homer. The Cardinals led 2-1 heading into the fifth inning.
Yepez led off the fifth inning and crushed flat, center-cut sinker from Freeland off the left field wall for a single — the ball bounced off the wall so hard that he would have certainly been thrown out at second base. Yepez’s hit off the ball came off the bat at 107.8 mph. Both Motter and Donovan struck out swinging for outs one and two, but Tommy two-bags (true to form) hammered a double off the right field wall — his third hit of the night. Yepez was held at third base, and the Cardinals did not score as Goldschmidt hit a line drive right into the glove of Castro at third base, ending the top of the frame.
Everything went to sh*t in the bottom of the fifth inning for Mikolas. Rather than giving a deep rundown, I will just bullet point the events with some video thrown in as well. All in all, the Rockies scored five runs to pull ahead 6-2.
- Profar walk
- Bryant single to left
- McMahon three-run homer to center field (Rockies up 4-2)
- C.J. Cron 479-foot solo homer to left field (Rockies up 5-2)
- Mound visit
- Moustakas double to left
- Diaz single to right
- Castro ground out (1 out)
- Daza sacrifice fly (Rockies up 6-2)
- Tovar fly out to right field (Inning over)
Mikolas’ final line: 5 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K’s (88 pitches)
Arenado reached base for the second time, grounding a ball between shortstop and third base for a leadoff single. Contreras immediately racked up two outs, however, by swinging over top of a sinker and grounding into a 6-4-3 double play. O’Neill grounded out to second base for the third out.
Left-hander Genesis Cabrera took the mound in the bottom of the sixth and worked a scoreless inning including a strikeout of McMahon.
Freeland’s final line: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K’s (83 pitches)
Right-hander Jake Bird was the first arm out of the Colorado pen, and Jordan Walker greeted him with a leadoff single into left field. It extended Walker’s hitting-streak to 11 games, which (I believe) is still the second longest ever to begin a career? Maybe he’ll just always get a hit?
Yepez popped out to McMahon in shallow right field for the first out, and Nolan Gorman (pinch-hitting for Motter) hit the ball just a bit deeper than Yepez into right field for a flyout as well. But then the Cardinals loaded the bases with two outs — a situation they’ve been remarkably bad at this season. Donovan drew a walk, McMahon straight up booted a ground ball hit by Edman, and suddenly Paul Goldschmidt was batting as the tying run, down four.
Bud Black brought in Dinelson Lamet to face Goldschmidt, and the right-hander walked him on five pitches to force in a run and make it 6-3. Then Arenado stepped in and promptly unloaded the bases with a sharp double off the left field wall, scoring Donovan, Edman, and Goldschmidt to tie it all up at six runs apiece. Contreras struck out to end the inning, stranding Arenado in scoring position.
Cabrera remained in the game for the bottom of the seventh and posted another zero, striking out Cron and Moustakas before being lifted for Giovanny Gallegos. All in all, Cabrera faced five batters, striking out three of them. Gallegos faced only Diaz in the seventh, getting the Rockies’ catcher to fly out to left field to send this tie game to the eighth.
Lamet returned for the eighth inning after getting rocked around in the bottom of the seventh, but was much better in his second inning of work. He pitched a scoreless frame on 17 pitches, including strikeouts of O’Neill and Walker.
After getting the final out of the seventh, Gallegos returned and put up a zero in the eighth, with a little help. Castro struck out swinging for the first out. Daza put a drive into a 94 mph fastball that caught way too much of the plate, sending it into the left-center field gap. Donovan wound up leaping to make the catch a few feet in front of the warning track for out number two — saving what would’ve been at least a double. It was a remarkable catch for a guy who rarely plays the outfield, but is always willing to do so if need be.
Tovar looked at strike three to end the inning, although it looked like Gallegos got the benefit of the call with the 2-2 outside fastball.
Rockies’ closer Pierce Johnson jogged in from the bullpen in a tie game, and Gorman — who entered the game in the seventh as a pinch hitter — pummeled the first pitch he saw into the bullpen in right field for a go-ahead solo homer. Johnson hung the curveball a little too much, and Gorman went ahead and deposited it 414 feet away. 7-6 Cardinals.
The Cardinals manufactured a run the old fashioned way after the Gorman homer, with Donovan drawing a walk, Edman bunting him over to second, and Goldschmidt going the other way for an RBI single into right to make it an 8-6 ballgame.
Arenado flew out to center field for the second out of the inning, Contreras walked to put two runners on, and O’Neill laced a single into right field to score another run and make it 9-6. Bud Black had seen enough from Johnson — the Rockies manager pulled him and inserted Connor Seabold, who got Jordan Walker to fly out to center field to finally send the game to the bottom of the ninth.
Helsley was called on to close the game and earn his second save of the season. He did that, but not with a little bit of drama. Profar — Helsley’s first challenge — singled to center field. Bryant followed with a base hit into right field to bring the tying run to the plate in Ryan McMahon.
Helsley froze McMahon with a slider at the top of the zone for the first out. Cron stepped in, having already homered during the game, and flew out to O’Neill in center field. Moustakas was Colorado’s final hope, and he struck out on three pitches. Ballgame.
FINAL: St. Louis 9, Colorado 6
The Cardinals go for a series win tomorrow afternoon in Denver — hoping to take their first series since the Toronto series.
Jose Urena (0-2, 14.40 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for Colorado (5-7). Urena failed to get out of the third inning in either of his first two starts this season. Jack Flaherty (1-1, 1.80 ERA) will throw for St. Louis (4-7). Flaherty has avoided damage in both outings, but has walked an unsightly 13 over 10 innings. First pitch is set for 2:10 p.m.
Around the Central
Pirates 7, Astros 4
Braves 7, Reds 6
Cubs 14, Mariners 9
Brewers 6, Diamondbacks 0 — TOP 8 (When this game ended)
MLB Pickle #398 - 4/9