The Cardinals wrapped up a brutal stretch of nineteen games in nineteen days on Tuesday, playing the second of a two-game set against the Royals in St. Louis. Zack Greinke pitched for the Royals and made it through five shutout innings striking out six while giving up two hits and a walk. The Cardinals’ lineup was ice cold again but managed to scrape across two runs on a Nolan Arenado double and Nolan Gorman sac fly against the Kansas City ‘pen. Miles Mikolas started for St. Louis and flat-out overmatched the Royals, throwing eight shutout innings while striking out ten batters in a brilliant performance. Giovanny Gallegos did yield a run in the ninth but recovered nicely to wrap up a 2-1 Cardinals win, earning a earning a series split.
Nick Pratto began play Tuesday by getting hit by an 0-2 slider on the back knee. Vinny Pasquantino followed with a single into right field, applying pressure early. Salvador Perez flew out to right, allowing Pratto to tag to third. Bobby Witt, Jr. went down swinging out in front of a curveball low and away. MJ Melendez got a sinker inside and flew it into left, where Alec Burleson caught it to strand the Royals’ runners.
Brendan Donovan led off in the bottom of the inning and dipped a changeup into left for a hit. Paul Goldschmidt followed, flying a sinker to the warning track in left for a loud flyout. Nolan Gorman tapped a swinging bunt out in front of the plate, moving Donovan to second as Perez threw to first for the sure out. Nolan Arenado gutted out a six-pitch walk to put two on for Willson Contreras, who struck out on an off-balance swing at a fastball low and away.
Michael Massey flew out to . . . Tommy Edman at the warning track in center field (because apparently Edman playing center is a hopefully temporary thing now). Maikel Garcia tipped a sinker into Crontreras’ mitt for a strikeout. Nicky Lopez chopped a first-pitch slider to Goldschmidt, ending a quick top of the second for Mikolas.
Burleson chopped out to third to open the Cards’ half of the frame. Paul DeJong followed and skied a slider to right for out number two and Juan Yepez went down looking at a slider to put the Cardinals down in order.
Drew Waters struck out looking at a sinker that tailed back over the inside corner of the plate, and Pratto went down on an identical pitch. Pasquantino then grounded a first-pitch sinker to second, closing another efficient inning for Mikolas.
Edman led off the bottom of the inning with a flyout to his counterpart in center field. Donovan grounded out to Lopez, who made a sliding stop to get the out. Goldschmidt did the same as the game cruised quickly into the fourth.
Perez smoked a sinker back up the middle for a single to open the fourth. Witt followed with a hard lineout right at Donovan in right. Melendez grounded into a fielder’s choice at second. The first pitch to Massey went wild, allowing Melendez to advance to second as the ball skipped to the backstop. Massey then singled to right and the Royals sent Melendez home. He avoided an initial flailing tag from Contreras, who recovered and landed the second tag to end the top of the frame at the plate.
Gorman struck out swinging under a fastball high and tight for the first out in the bottom of the frame. Arenado got just under a meatball of a sinker and flew out to center. Contreras struck out chasing a non-competitive breaking ball that just about dove into the lefty batter’s box.
Mikolas continued to cruise in the fifth, getting Garcia with a groundout to short, Lopez on a lineout to Donovan, and Waters with a swinging strikeout on a great curveball down and out.
Burleson sat back on a slow four-seamer and hit it to the left field wall for a leadoff double. Perez then lost track of a breaking ball to DeJong that hopped straight up off his mitt, allowing Burleson to take third. DeJong failed to capitalize on the opportunity and struck out looking at an 88-mph fastball well in the zone. Yepez also went down on strikes, swinging at a changeup in the dirt. Edman then flew out to right, leaving Burleson standing on third.
Pratto led off the sixth with a five-pitch walk, after which Pasquantino flew out to left. Perez struck out swinging at a 1-2 curveball below the zone. Witt sat down on strikes as well, chasing an elevated fastball for the last out.
Carlos Hernandez relieved Greinke and struck out Donovan on a triple-digit fastball. Goldschmidt shattered his bat on another hard fastball and chopped it to Pasquantino, who couldn’t get a handle on it as Goldy legged out an infield single. Gorman followed the single with a routine flyout to left. Arenado finally came through and put an 0-1 slider into the left-center gap, scoring Goldschmidt with an RBI double to put St. Louis up 1-0. Contreras went down swinging, trying to hold back on a slider after seeing two triple-digit fastballs.
Melendez struck out looking at a fastball down and away for Mikolas’ eighth K. Massey followed with a groundout to Gorman. Garcia struck out on another elevated fastball as Mikolas closed out the seventh on 87 pitches.
Jose Cuas took the mound for the Royals in the seventh. Burleson hit a hard grounder that went straight at Lopez for the first out and DeJong rolled a sinker to third for the second one. Yepez rolled another grounder to short, putting the Redbirds down in order.
Mikolas returned to the mound in the eighth while Burleson exited the game, Donovan moved to left, Oscar Mercado entered the game in center, and Edman moved to right field. Lopez led off and became Mikolas’ latest strikeout victim, going down on four pitches. Waters followed with a weak popout to Arenado. Pratto flew out to Mercado in center, who lost his footing but managed an awkward catch to retire the Royals.
Aroldis Chapman came in to pitch the eighth for Kansas City and issued a leadoff walk to Edman. Edman got caught out on a pickoff move from Chapman, but broke for second and beat the tag there for a stolen base. Donovan followed the steal with a single, placing Cardinals on the corners for Goldschmidt who struck out swinging way out in front of a back-foot slider. Gorman undercut a hanging slider, but hit it deep enough to right for the sac fly, giving the Cards an essential insurance run at 2-0 while Donovan took second on the throw home. Familiar face Nick Wittgren then entered the game for Kansas City to face Arenado, who grounded out to third for the final out.
Giovanny Gallegos got the call for the save attempt and was welcomed with a leadoff double by Pasquantino. Perez then singled, bringing up Witt with runners on first and third. After Edward Olivares replaced Perez as a pinch-runner, Witt grounded into a fielder’s choice at second that scored Pasquantino to half the Cards’ lead to 2-1. Melendez then flew out to left for the second out. Witt swiped second on the first pitch to Massey, who eventually struck out waving at a fastball down and away to seal the 2-1 win for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals improve to 25-32 with the victory and will enjoy a couple of well-deserved days off. They’ll resume play on Friday in Pittsburgh at 6:05 PM CT with the pitchers yet to be determined for the series opener.