Last night as I was finishing up my game recap, the Cardinals post-game show broke in with news that Matthew Liberatore would join the team and start tonight’s game against Milwaukee. The Cardinals plan on operating with a six-man rotation for the immediate future, which honestly isn’t the worst idea — none of the St. Louis starters’ stats make your eyes jump out of your skull.
Wednesday night’s game was a chance for St. Louis to win their third consecutive series, and continue to slowly climb up from the dark, damp basement of the NL Central.
Here are the starting lineups:
- Owen Miller, LF
- William Contreras, C
- Willy Adames, SS
- Darin Ruf, 1B
- Brian Anderson, 3B
- Tyrone Taylor, RF
- Victor Caratini, C
- Joey Wiemer, CF
- Brice Turang, 2B
Corbin Burnes - SP
- Lars Nootbaar CF
- Paul Goldschmidt, DH
- Nolan Gorman, 2B
- Nolan Arenado, 3B
- Willson Contreras, C
- Brendan Donovan, 1B
- Alec Burleson, LF
- Paul DeJong, SS
- Tommy Edman, RF
Matthew Liberatore - SP
While it wasn’t the most efficient outing, Matthew Liberatore gave the Cardinals five shutout innings in his season debut, and the St. Louis bullpen did the rest. Paul DeJong hit a big two-run homer off Burnes in the sixth, which pushes his season average to .288 and his OPS to .917. That tater gave the Cardinals a 3-0 lead, and with the duo of Gallegos/Helsley ready to go at the end of the game, seemed at the time like it would be enough to win the game. It was.
Here’s how this one went, with the Dodgers coming into town tomorrow:
Liberatore came out and tossed a clean first inning and racked up strikeouts of Miller and Adames to boot. In between those two strikeouts was a harmless groundout from little Contreras.
Lars Nootbaar led off and hacked at the first pitch he saw, flying out to center. Goldschmidt followed and fell behind 0-2, but took the next four pitches for balls to draw a one-out walk. Gorman singled to right field, moving Goldschmidt to third base. With runners on the corners and one down, Arenado chopped a ground ball down the third base line. Anderson fielded it behind the bag, but couldn’t make a clean exchange or any throw over. The official scorer ruled it an infield single for Arenado, and St. Lous lead 1-0 early.
Contreras struck out swinging for the second out, and Donovan grounded out to second.
Ruf flew out to right field for out number one, followed by a seven-pitch walk to Anderson. Taylor flew out to Burleson in left field, but Caratini wacked a two-out single to left field to give Milwaukee a chance at some two-out magic. Liberatore buckled down and struck out Wiemer with a big, sweeping curveball across the zone that tumbled to the ankles — no damage.
Burleson grounded out, DeJong popped out in foul territory, and Edman kept up his hot bat with a two-out single up the middle. Tommy-two bags stole second with Nootbaar hitting, but Noot grounded out to second base to end the third inning.
After Turang flew out to start the third frame, Miller put Liberatore on the defensive with a one-out double down into the left field corner. The Cardinals’ rookie left-hander was able to navigate out of the situation without letting Miller score, as he induced groundouts from Contreras and Adames to keep it a 1-0 game.
The Cardinals went down 1-2-3 against Burnes in the third. Goldschmidt struck out swinging at a cutter up and out of the zone, Gorman flew out to right field, and Arenado popped out in foul territory.
Milwaukee thought they had tied the game in the fourth, and the scoreboard even said they did! But replay giveth, and replay taketh away.
After a Darin Ruf flyout and Anderson strikeout (on the cuveball, again), Tyrone Taylor jumped all over a fat, center cut fastball from Liberatore to start his at-bat. It flew 403 feet and bounced off the very top of the wall in left center field, flying staight up into the air and coming back down onto the center field grass. The initial call was a home run, so Taylor rounded the bases and celebtrated tying the game, 1-1. But after a video review, it was ruled the ball never cleared the wall, and since it bounced back into play (not into the stands), it was a double.
After the homer was reversed and Taylor was sent back to second base, Liberatore struck out Caratini with the big bender to end the top of the fourth.
Contreras led off the top of the fourth with a line drive single to right field. Donovan followed with an infield single, and Burleson’s attempted sacrifice bunt to the right side was pushed so hard it actually turned into a bunt single.
But the Cardinals despise hitting with runners in scoring position — especially with no outs. Hate it more than cats hate the bathtub. Hate it more than I hate the University of Michigan. So naturally, DeJong and Edman both struck out against Burnes, and Nootbaar grounded out. After three straight singles, the Cardinals did not score.
Liberatore struck out Wiemer for the second time, this time with a 95 mph fastball instead of the big breaking ball. Turang battled for 10 pitches and ran Liberatore’s pitch count up, but eventually grounded out. Miller drew a two-out walk, but he stayed there, as the younger Contreras grounded out for the third out of the inning.
Burnes cruised through the fifth, striking out Goldschmidt (again) and Gorman, followed by a lazy flyout from Arenado.
Liberatore returned for the sixth inning, sitting at 87 pitches. The first batter he faced was Adames, who drew an eight-pitch walk to lead off the frame. Now at 95 pitches, Oli Marmol went out to grab his rookie southpaw after a very solid season debut. Marmol went with the reverse splitty right-hander Andre Pallante, who immediately came in and rolled up a 6-3 double play, courtest of Rowdy Tellez (who was pinch-hitting for Ruf). Pallante gave up a two-out walk to Anderson and a single to Taylor, but struck out Caratini with a 97 mph fastball to get out of it.
Burnes struck out Contreras with a curveball in the dirt to start the sixth inning. Donovan was able to golf a knee-high changeup into center field for a one-out base knock, and Burleson moved him into scoring position with a slow groundout to first base. With two outs, Burnes 1-1 cutter did not quite cut as much as he wanted, and Paul DeJong politely deposited it into Freese’s lawn in center field for a two-run homer. PDJ’s fifth homer of the season traveled 419 feet and made it 3-0 St. Louis in the sixth. Edman grounded out to Turang right after to end the sixth.
After Pallante danced around danger in the sixth, it was Giovanny Gallegos in the seventh. Singles from Winker and Miller brought the potential tying-run to the plate for Milwaukee with one out, but the smaller Contreras popped out in foul territory and Adames struck out swinging.
Right-hander Trevor Megill was the first Milwaukee pitcher to enter the game in the bottom of the seventh, after six acceptable innings from Burnes. He worked a 1-2-3 inning on 12 pitches, including strikeouts of Goldschmidt (hat trick!) and Gorman.
Gallegos struck out Tellez and Anderson to start the eighth inning, but handed a two-out walk to Taylor, who reached base three times in this game (I also feel like he has good career numbers against St. Louis, for some reason).
Oli Marmol went and grabbed Gallegos and put up the finger to call in Helsley from the bullpen with two outs. He faced Caratini first, and got Milwaukee’s catcher to line out softly to Gorman at second base.
Right-hander Jake Cousins replaced Megill in the bottom of the eighth. He got groundouts from both Arenado and Contreras, and Donovan flew out to left field. This marked the end of Nolan Arenado’s five-game home run streak.
Helsley got into some trouble in the ninth, but (spoiler) was able to lock it down and secure the series win despite allowing a few baserunners in the final frame.
After a seven-pitch battle, he walked the leadoff man, Winker. Turang grounded into a force out at second base, and Miller’s third hit of the day rolled into left field to bring the tying run to the plate again for Milwaukee.
But as I said, Helsley did not break. He struck out baby Contreras with an 89 mph slider that snapped in right on his hands, and got Adames to pop out to DeJong at short to end the game.
FINAL: St. Louis 3, Milwaukee 0
The Cardinals (18-26) begin a series with the Los Angeles Dodgers (28-16) Thursday night at Busch Stadium. Adam Wainwright (0-0, 7.20 ERA) will make his third start of the season for St. Louis. Julio Urias (5-3, 3.61 ERA) will throw for the Dodgers, who swept St. Louis in LA last month.
The game’s first pitch is set for 6:45 p.m.
Around the Central
Pirates 8, Tigers 0
Rockies 11, Reds 6
MLB Pickle #434 - 6/9