There’s not been much to root for if you’re a St. Louis Cardinals fan lately. The birds have won two series this year and are 10 games back in the NL Central for the first time since..... I’m not even sure. However, Wednesday night’s game was bound to be a good time — not because of the Cardinals, but because Shohei Ohtani was on the mound for the Angels.
Here are the starting lineups for the Angels and Cardinals, with the aforementioned Ohtani on the mound and also batting third.
- Zach Neto, SS
- Mike Trout, CF
- Shohei Ohtani, P
- Anthony Rendon, 3B
- Hunter Renfroe, RF
- Brandon Drury, 2B
- Taylor Ward, LF
- Giovanny Urshela, 1B
- Chad Wallach, C
And for the Cardinals:
- Lars Nootbaar, RF
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
- Nolan Gorman, DH
- Nolan Arenado, 3B
- Willson Contreras, C
- Alec Burleson, LF
- Dylan Carlson, CF
- Brendan Donovan, 2B
- Tommy Edman, SS
Miles Mikolas - SP
The Cardinals, to their credit, continue to find new ways to lose each and every night. To my surprise, they scored four runs off Ohtani while also striking out 13 times against him. Then, after Ryan Helsley was able to finish the seventh inning and pitch the entire eighth inning by throwing just 10 pitches, Oli Marmol made the decision to give the ball to Giovanny Gallegos in the ninth.
During the postgame press conference, Marmol said about Helsley “You definitely consider it, but after the seventh and eighth, that’s three up’s and down’s. At that point, he’s done his job.”
Gio has been great this season, but with Helsley only throwing 10 pitches, it was a interesting decision to not let him finish it off. As you’ve now seen, the decision to go with Gallegos did not work out as Marmol had hoped.
The Cardinals are now 10-21.
Mikolas worked around a two-out single from Ohtani to put up a zero in the first inning. Neto flew out, Trout struck out swinging, Ohtani singled to right field, and Rendon flew out to shallow center field.
Ohtani struck out both Nootbaar and Goldschmidt to start the game, but Gorman — who sat the final game of the Dodgers series — swung at Ohtani’s first pitch and sent it for a ride. Gorman clobbered the center-cut sinker 418 feet into right-center field for his seventh homer of the season, getting St. Louis on the board first, 1-0.
Ohtani was erratic pitching to Arenado next, walking him on four pitches. He struck out Contreras swinging for the final out of the inning, giving him three punchouts in the first.
Renfroe led off the top of the second and was called out on strikes on a 2-2 fastball that appeared to be just a bit outside, but home plate umpire Marvin Hudson rung him up regardless.
Drury hit next and somehow uppercut a fastball from Mikolas that was up and out of the zone 382 feet, right into the Angels’ bullpen in left field for a solo home run. His sixth homer of the year tied the game 1-1.
Mikolas struck out Ward and got Urshela to fly out to Carlson in center field for the second and third outs, respectively.
Burleson led off the bottom of the second and hit a routine ground ball to second base that Drury booted, allowing the Cardinals to start the inning with a man on first. Carlson’s nine-pitch at bat included two wild pitches from Ohtani, which let Burleson scoot up to second base, and then third. However, Carlson eventually struck out — as did both Donovan and Tommy Edman behind him.
Burleson stood on third base with no outs in the bottom of the second, and that’s also where he was standing when the third out was made.
Wallach and Neto greeted Mikolas with back-to-back singles to right field to begin the third inning. Then, Trout hit a ground ball to Edman at short, who went to second for the force but the Cardinals were unable to nail Trout at first for the double play.
Ohtani carbon copied his first at bat in his second, ripping a sharp (109 mph) ground ball single into right field. This time it scored a run, making it 2-1 Angels.
Rendon struck out and Mikolas got Renfroe into a two-strike count with a chance to hold things at 2-1, but the Angels’ right fielder pulled a ground ball down the third base line behind the bag for an infield hit. Arenado fielded it moving towards the line, but his throw across his body back to first was not in time, and Renfroe reached with an RBI base hit. Drury flew out to left field to end the top half of the third, with the Angels now up, 3-1.
Ohtani struck out his WBC teammate Nootbaar on four pitches to start the bottom half of the frame, but then plunked Goldschmidt in the elbow with a splitter that just buzzed a bit too far inside. Gorman stepped in looking to possibly tie the game up, but Ohtani’s 0-2 curveball bounced in the dirt, and Goldschmidt was gunned down at second trying to advance. This was the first out of the game recorded by the Cardinals that was not via strikeout.
Gorman got the “strike out every single at bat” plan back on the tracks, however, when he struck out looking seconds later. Ohtani punched out eight Cardinals through three innings, but it did take him 62 pitches to get through those three innings.
After a Taylor Ward leadoff single, Urshela hit a soft ground ball to Edman at short that immediately turned into a 6-4-3 double play. Wallach lined out to Edman for out number three.
After taking a called strike one at the knees that he didn’t love, Arenado ripped the 0-1 curve from Ohtani down the third base line for a ground rule double after taking one hop into the stands. Contreras followed and got a first pitch breaking ball — he ALSO jumped on it, driving it into the right field corner for a double. It scored Arenado, making it just 3-2 Angels.
Burleson had a chance to move Contreras over with no outs, but he struck out swinging on four pitches. Carlson stepped in and spit on a low fastball for a ball, and then clobbered a 1-0 curveball deep into center field. It looked like a warning track fly ball that Trout was going to catch, but the future Hall of Famer kept drifting back until eventually he ran out of room — two-run shot for Carlson. His towering homer was his first of the season, traveled 409 feet, and put St. Louis back in front, 4-3.
After the Carlson homer, Ohtani struck out Donovan and got Edman to ground out to end the inning.
The former first-round pick Neto led off the inning and was hit straight in the finger while trying to bunt for a hit. After a long delay while the trainers fiddled with Neto’s (probably) shattered pointer finger, he picked the bat back up and play resumed, with Neto eventually grounding out to short. Mikolas hit Trout with a pitch to put a runner on with one out, but was able to get Ohtani to pop out and Rendon to ground out.
Nootbaar became Ohtani’s 11th strikeout victim of the evening leading off the fifth, with Lars earning his second hat trick of the season just halfway through the game. Goldschmidt struck out as well to become victim #12, but Gorman’s two-out single kept the inning going — and probably ensured that the fifth inning was Ohtani’s last.
Ohtani struck out Arenado to end the inning, which tied his career-high of 13 and also marked his 500th career strikeout. But with all those K’s comes lots of pitches, and Ohtani’s pitch count sat at 97 after five frames.
Ohtani’s final line: 5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 13 K’s (97 pitches)
Mikolas returned for the sixth and retired Renfroe via flyout and struck out Drury, but Ward stung him with a two-out single up the middle on pitch 103. Oli Marmol went to the bullpen and called on Jordan Hicks to get Urshela and end the inning.
Hicks did not get Urshela, and instead walked him on six pitches. But he did strike out Wallach to end the top half of the inning and escape the jam.
22 year-old right hander Chase Silseth entered the game in the sixth for his third appearance of the season and induced ground ball outs from Contreras, Burleson, and Carlson.
Mikolas’ final line: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K’s (103 pitches)
Hicks returned for the seventh and Luis Rengifo (who took over in the field for Neto after his finger got smashed) took a 1-1, 100 mph sinker the other way into left field for a leadoff base hit as the potential tying run.
He got both Trout and Ohtani to ground into back-to-back groundouts at second base, before walking Rendon following a seven-pitch battle. With two runners on and two outs, Marmol went to the bullpen again, this time opting for closer Ryan Helsley.
Helsley, who has pitched just three times over the last 18 days, got ahead of Renfroe 0-2 and then was called for a balk. Home plate umpire Marvin Hudson decided Helsley did not come to a complete stop, and the runners on first and second base both moved into scoring position with two outs.
….Helsley struck out Renfroe anyway. Nothing hurt.
Just like the bottom of the sixth, Silseth sat the Cardinals down in order, with all three coming via groundout. In the seventh it was Donovan, Edman, and Nootbaar.
Helsley got three outs with just five pitches in the eighth, giving himself a shot at a 2+ inning save. Drury struck out on three pitches, Ward flew out on the first pitch he saw, and Urshela did the same.
Ryan Tepera was the third Angels pitcher of the night, in the bottom of the eighth. He struck out Goldschmidt and Gorman, but Arenado and Contreras each reached with two-out base hits. O’Neill stepped in with two on and two outs, and in a 3-1 count he took ball four outside — that was called for strike two.
He then popped out to shortstop to end the inning, stranding the insurance runs out there. O’Neill should have done damage on that final pitch, but I mean, yikes!
Despite Helsley only throwing 10 pitches and seemingly ready to go out and finish the game, Oli Marmol went and called on Giovanny Gallegos to lock it down.... he did not.
Jake Lamb pinch-hit for Wallach leading off the ninth inning and pummeled a 2-2 slider from Gallegos over the Cardinals bullpen for a game-tying solo home run. It was Lamb’s second homer of the season, and traveled 434 feet.
Regifo flew out for the first out of the ninth, but Trout stepped in and punished a hanging slider from Gallegos, sending it into the fifth row of seats in left field to put the Angels up, 5-4. It was Trout’s eighth home run of the year.
An Ohtani double and a Rendon RBI single made it 6-4 Angels, before Renfroe grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The Angels brought in Carlos Estevez in the bottom half of the ninth, looking for his seventh save of the season. He struck out Carlson and Donovan, and got Edman to fly out to left field to end the game.
FINAL: Los Angeles 6, St. Louis 4
The Cardinals (10-21) will continue their search for improved play tomorrow afternoon against the Angels (17-14), who are looking for a sweep. Jack Flaherty (2-3, 3.94 ERA) will take the mound for St. Louis. 26 year-old right hander Griffin Canning (1-0, 4.11 ERA) will oppose Jack, with his broom at the ready.
First pitch is set for 12:15 p.m.
Around the Central
Padres 7, Reds 1
Rays 8, Pirates 1
Nationals 2, Cubs 1
Rockies 6, Brewers 0 - BOT 7
MLB Pickle #420 - 6/9