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Cardinals squander opportunities, fall to Milwaukee 4-0 in series opener

The currently last-place Cardinals early season losing streak now sits at four games.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves, the Cardinals flew to Milwaukee to face the division-leading Brewers in a three game set that could wind up being very important come September. With Tyler O’Neill back in the lineup after a “scheduled day off” and Jack Flaherty hoping to avoid walking a half-dozen, here’s how the St. Louis lineup shook out:

  1. Brendan Donovan, 2B
  2. Alec Burleson, LF
  3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
  4. Nolan Arenado, 3B
  5. Willson Contreras, C
  6. Tyler O’Neill, CF
  7. Nolan Gorman, DH
  8. Jordan Walker, RF
  9. Tommy Edman, SS

Jack Flaherty - SP

And Milwaukee’s lineup with a second Contreras suiting up tonight as well:

  1. Christian Yelich, LF
  2. Jesse Winker, DH
  3. Willy Adames, SS
  4. Rowdy Tellez, 1B
  5. William Contreras, C
  6. Garrett Mitchell, CF
  7. Brian Anderson, 3B
  8. Brice Turang, 2B
  9. Joey Weimer, RF

Brandon Woodruff, SP

After getting shut down by Dylan Dodd and Bryce Elder the last few games, Woodruff and the Milwaukee bullpen carried the torch Friday evening. The Milwaukee righty threw five-plus innings of shutout baseball, while the Cardinals left tons of runners on base and could just never break through.

1st Inning

Woodruff worked a scoreless top of the first on 12 pitches — Donovan struck out swinging, Burleson flew out to Wiemer in right, and Goldschmidt hit a weak popup to Tellez in foul territory, which he caught.

Flaherty was able to work around a two-out single from Adames to match Woodruff’s zero in the first. Jack struck out Yelich and Winker flew out to the warning track in right field for two outs before Adames singled to left. Tellez stepped up and flew out to Burleson in foul territory down the third base line to end the inning.

2nd Inning

Arenado led off and fell behind 0-2, fouled off three more, took two balls and finally popped out to William Contreras in foul territory for the first out. Willson Contreras flew out to Wiemer in deep-ish right field for out number two, and O’Neill struck out swinging after getting ahead 3-0 in the count early on.

Flaherty dealt with control issues in the second, but was able to put up another zero and keep the game scoreless going to the third. After getting ahead of William Contreras with a first-pitch foul ball, Jack proceeded to walk him on four straight balls. He struck out Mitchell and Anderson, but got lost feel for his fastball again and walked Turang on four pitches.

Wiemer stepped in with two outs and two runners on. He flailed at a curveball in the dirt to fall behind 0-1, and Flaherty chose to go to the slider with his second offering. Wiemer laced it up the middle for what — appeared — to be a base knock, but Donovan laid out to snag it behind the second base bag, popped up and made the throw to nail the rookie at first base to end the inning.

3rd Inning

The Cardinals got their first baserunner in the third against Woodruff, but it did not amount to anything as Edman was gunned down trying to steal second moments later. Gorman flew out to left field to kick off the inning, Walker struck out swinging in a seven-pitch battle, and then Edman drew a two-out walk. With Donovan hitting, Edman took off for second on a 1-1 count, and William Contreras gunned him without ever leaving his knees.

Woodruff faced the minimum through three innings on 49 pitches with three strikeouts.

Flaherty issued his third free pass of the game in the third inning by walking Yelich on six pitches (despite getting ahead of Yelich 0-2). With Arenado playing a bit off the line, Winker hit a routine ground ball to the normal third base position, but it rolled straight through due to the Cardinal third baseman playing a pseudo-shift. It went for a single, putting runners on first and second with no outs.

Adames followed with a weak ground ball to short that Edman flipped over to second for the first out of the inning — forcing Winker out there. Yelich moved to third on the play, and Adames was safe at first without a throw. Tellez got all of a 2-1 fastball from Flaherty and ripped it the other way, but it settled into Burleson’s glove on the warning track in right field for an RBI sac fly as Yelich jogged in from third. Brewers strike first, 1-0.

After getting ahead of William Contreras 0-2, Flaherty left a 96 mph fastball over the middle of the plate and he took it to right field for a two-out single, with Adames going first to third.

Mitchell followed and continued the absolute heater he’s been on lately with an RBI single to left field, scoring Adames and making it 2-0 Milwaukee in the third.

Flaherty walked Anderson on four pitches — his fourth walk of the game — to load them up again, but Turang grounded out to Arenado at third to end the inning and leave all three ducks on the pond.

4th Inning

The Cardinals put themselves in a spot to tie this game in the fourth, but Woodruff was able to get a timely ground ball and wiggle out of the jam. Donovan led the inning off with a line drive single to right, and Burleson rolled a lazy ground ball just to the edge of the infield, far to the right of the shifted third baseman Brian Anderson for a base hit. Goldschmidt struck out swinging at a 97 mph fastball at the letters for the first out, but Arenado blooped an 0-2 breaking ball into center field for a single to load the bases with one out.

However, Willson Contreras killed the rally by reaching for a slider down and out of the zone, rolling over on it and grounding into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.

Flaherty continued to struggle to locate any of his pitches — especially his fastball — and walked Wiemer on seven pitches to start the bottom of the fourth. Yelich followed by hitting a chopper back to Flaherty, who spun around and threw to Edman wide right of the second base bag. Luckily, Edman was able to stretch at the bag and make the catch while dragging his toe before firing over to first for a 1-6-3 double play (Wiemer was originally called safe at second, but the Cardinals challenged the play and it was overturned). Winker popped out to Donovan in foul territory to end the inning.

5th Inning

O’Neill and Gorman each grounded out for the first two outs in the inning, but Walker prevented a three up, three down inning with a line drive single to center field. Edman hit a deep fly ball to center with two outs, but Mitchell made the catch with about 25 feet to spare in front of the warning track for the third out.

Adames swung at the first pitch from Flaherty in the bottom of the fifth and hit a soft ground ball back to him, which the Cardinals’ pitcher softly tossed to Goldschmidt at first for the first out of the inning. Jack then issued his sixth walk of the game, a six-pitch free pass to Tellez. Like his brother did a few innings earlier, William Contreras grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to cap off the fifth with Milwaukee still leading, 2-0.

Flaherty’s final line: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 6 BB’s, 3 K’s (94 pitches)

6th Inning

Donovan led off the sixth inning and grounded out to Turang at second, but Burleson followed him with a five-pitch walk to bring up Goldschmidt as the potential tying run. At 84 pitches, Milwaukee chose to pull Woodruff and bring in Dominican right-hander Joel Payamps. After falling behind Goldschmidt 3-0, Payamps battled back and struck out the slugging first baseman with a 96 mph fastball right down the pipe. Arenado battled into a 2-2 count and then chopped a swinging bunt down the third base line. Payamps mistakenly picked the ball up (that appeared destined to roll foul) and Arenado reached first. Burleson (who advanced to second base on a passed ball while Goldschmidt was batting) moved to third base.

The elder Contreras brother came to bat with the tying run on base for the second time this game, but this time he walked to load them up for Tyler O’Neill. “Bro” got ahead 3-1 on Payamps, and then swung at an inside fastball that was clearly ball four, fisting it softly to Turang at second base. The rookie threw O’Neill out at first, and for the second time today, the Cardinals stranded the bases load.

Woodruff’s final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB’s 4 K’s (84 pitches)

Right-hander Andre Pallante replaced Flaherty in the sixth, making his fourth appearance of the season. He struck out Mitchell for the first out, and induced a weak ground ball from Anderson right after. The problem with Anderon’s ball, however, was that it came of the bat at only 58 mph, and Arenado was unable to charge and field it cleanly with the barehand — it went as a single. Pallante got ahead of Turang 1-2, but the rookie was able to wait on a backdoor curveball and take it the other way into left for a base hit. Wiemer loaded the bases on another softly hit ball, this time it was a chopper about 10 feet to the right of Pallante that died on the grass.

With the bases loaded and one out, Yelich ripped a ground ball to Goldschmidt at first, whose only play was to first base for the out — 3-0 Brewers. Winker grounded out to shortstop to end the inning moments later.

7th Inning

Right-hander Gus Varland, a Rule 5 selection from the Angels, took the mound in the top of the seventh after Payamps successfully walked the tightrope in the sixth. Gorman led off and hit the ball on the ground to second, and Turang threw him out at first. Walker struck out swinging on a 90 mph changeup for out number two, but Edman drew a two-out walk (his second of the day) to extend the inning. Brendan Donovan stepped in and went ahead 3-1 in the count before taking ball four inside, tossing his bat and turning to go to first base.

However, home plate umpire Adam Hamari called it a strike, and it might go down as the worst ball/strike miss of the season thus far (in my opinion). You could fit two more baseballs between that pitch and where the zone begins. See pitch five, below:

Instead of two runners on and two outs for Burleson, Donovan faced a full count and wound up grounding out to first base to end the top of the seventh.

Jordan Hicks took the mound following the seventh inning stretch and his struggles resumed, serving up a solo home run to Adames right away to make it 4-0 Milwaukee.

He was able to induce a groundout from Tellez and strike out Contreras, but Mitchell barreled a two -out double into the left field corner to keep the inning going. Hicks wildly spiked a changeup in the dirt that allowed Mitchell to move to third base, and then walked Anderson anyway to put two runners on with two outs.

With Turang hitting, Milwaukee put Anderson in motion at first, hoping the Cardinals would get him in a rundown and allow Mitchell to score before the tag was applied Contreras threw down to Edman, who looked Mitchell back at third before throwing to Goldschmidt, who caught the ball and swept the tag on Anderson before Mitchell could score.

8th Inning

37-year old right hander and former first overall pick Matt Bush entered in the eighth inning. Burleson hit a soft line drive to Turang at second for the first out. Goldschmidt worked a one-out walk. Arenado hit a soft line drive to Anderson at third for out number two, and Contreras hit a lazy fly ball to center field to wrap up the top of the eigth.

Left-hander Packy Naughton was brought in to cover the final inning in a game the Cardinals were clearly destined to lose by this point. He caught Turang looking at strike three and got Wiemer to fly out to right field, but walked Yelich with two outs.

Naughton appeared to injure his hand/forearm on ball four, and was lifted immediately in favor of right-hander Chris Stratton, who was forced to warm up on the game mound in emergency duty. After warming up for a few moments, Stratton was able to get Winker to fly out to deep center field to end the eighth.

9th Inning

270-pound right-hander Bryse Wilson was tasked with making the 4-0 lead stand up in the ninth inning, and it started with a swinging strikeout of O’Neill. He caught Gorman looking at strike three for the second out, and Walker grounded out to Adames at short to end the game.

FINAL: Milwaukee 4, St. Louis 0

Up Next

The Cardinals (2-5) will look to even the series up tomorrow evening in Milwaukee (6-1). We’ll get a matchup of dueling southpaws, as Jordan Montgomery (1-0, 5.40 ERA) goes up against Eric Lauer (1-0, 3.38 ERA). First pitch is set for 6:10 p.m.

Around the Central

Cubs 2, Rangers 0

Phillies 5, Reds 2

Pirates 13, White Sox 9

Today’s Pickle

MLB Pickle #394 - 6/9 (ha)