Before the Cardinals can even begin concerning themselves with catching anyone in the NL Central, they need to win a baseball game. After losing two straight one-run games to the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis matched up with Alex Faedo this afternoon, who was making his first major league start of the season after being recalled from Triple-A Toledo.
Here are the starting lineups for both squads.
- Matt Vierling, RF
- Javier Baez, SS
- Riley Greene, CF
- Spencer Torkelson, 1B
- Andy Ibanez, 3B
- Eric Haase, LF
- Miguel Cabrera, DH
- Jonathan Schoop, 2B
- Jake Rogers, C
Alex Faedo - SP
- Lars Nootbaar, RF
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
- Nolan Gorman, 2B
- Nolan Arenado, 3B
- Willson Contreras, DH
- Brendan Donovan, LF
- Dylan Carlson, CF
- Tommy Edman, SS
- Andrew Knizner, C
Steven Matz - P
This one had all the makings of yet another gut-wrenching loss when Jake Rogers popped a sixth-inning grand slam into the Tigers’ bullpen, but St. Louis hit Detroit with a haymaker in the bottom half of the most wild and wacky inning of the season. After the Tigers went ahead 6-3 in the top of the sixth, the Cardinals scored a touchdown and added the extra point to pull ahead, 10-6 in the bottom half.
The sixth inning on its own took well over 30 minutes, while Paul Goldschmidt also hit three homers. There was a lot to take in, a lot to type, and a lot of highlights to include after the Cardinals snapped their eight-game losing streak.
Here we go:
Matz was able to work around a one-out single from Baez to put up a scoreless first inning. Vierling popped out to Goldschmidt in foul territory, Baez singled to center, Greene struck out swinging at a 1-2 curveball, and Torkelson grounded out.
Each of the first three Cardinals drove the ball to deep center field against Faedo, with Goldschmidt’s carrying onto Freese’s lawn in center to put St. Louis up 1-0 right away.
Nootbaar worked a six-pitch at bat but eventually flew out to Greene in center. Goldschmidt fell behind 0-2, but Faedo hung a slider over the middle and Goldy hammered it 433 feet into Freese’s lawn for a solo homer — his fifth of the season.
Gorman flew out to center field as well, and Arenado popped out to Schoop in shallow right.
The 30-year old Ibanez led off the top of the second with a double to left, but that’s where he would stay. Haase grounded out to third base, and Ibanez was unable to advance. Cabrera flew out to right field, and Ibanez did not try to test Nootbaar in right field. With two outs, Schoop swung over the top of a 2-2 sinker and spun it about six feet in front of home plate. Knizner hopped up, jumped on it, and got the out at first.
New everyday DH Willson Contreras led off the bottom of the second and hit a ground ball to shortstop. Baez did not field it cleanly, but would’ve been able to throw out Contreras at first if he hadn’t also bobbled the ball on the transition from glove to hand.
Donovan followed with a base hit to right field, putting two on with nobody out. With two runners on, Carlson hit a ground ball to short, but the Tigers were only able to get an out at second, with Carlson beating the throw back to first.
Edman drove in Contreras from third with a sacrifice fly to left field, as the Cardinals’ DH/sometimes catcher was huffing and puffing down the line while Haase threw a weak five-hopper in from left field. Knizner flew out to Haase a moment later to end the second inning, with St. Louis up 2-0.
Matz worked a 1-2-3 third inning on 12 pitches. Rogers struck out swinging, and then both Vierling and Baez flew out to Nootbaar in right field.
Nootbaar made the last two defensive plays in the top of the third, and he led off the bottom half at the dish, grounding out to first base. Goldschmidt followed with his second two-strike homer of the game — he fell behind 1-2 before taking two balls and then crushing a full count fastball into the center field seats. His second homer of the day only traveled 407 feet, which is about 20 feet shorter than his bomb two innings earlier.
Gorman flew out to center field for out number two, and Arenado’s 101 mph line drive found Haase’s glove in left field for the final out of the third inning.
After a Greene groundout to start the inning, Tigers’ first baseman Spencer Torkelson pummeled a 2-1 mistake a pitch — a center cut, 85 mph changeup — 418 feet into right-center field for a solo home run to get Detroit on the board. It was Torkelson’s third homer of the season and his first since April 19.
Ibanez flew out to center fielder Dylan Carlson for the second out, but back-to-back singles by Haase and Cabrera put Matz in a sticky spot. However, Schoop swung and popped up the first pitch he saw into shallow right field, with Nootbaar settling under it to make the catch.
Faedo worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth. Contreras popped out in foul territory, Donovan flew out to center field, and Carlson flew out to deep left field, with Haase making the catch as he backed up into the bullpen wall.
Matz set down all three Tigers in the fifth inning on six total pitches. Rogers grounded out to short, Vierling’s line drive down the third base line was snagged by a diving Nolan Arenado at third, and Baez grounded out to second base.
The Cardinals were retired in order for the second consecutive inning. After Faedo got Edman to ground out and struck out Knizner, left-hander Tyler Alexander entered the game to face Lars Nootbaar. Nootbaar fell behind 1-2 before swinging over top of a sinker and hitting a lazy ground ball to second to end the fifth inning.
Faedo’s final line: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R (2 ER), 0 BB, 1 K (72 pitches)
Matz got Greene to roll over and ground out to second base leading off the sixth inning. But rather than let Matz face Torkelson — who homered off of him last time — a third time, Oli Marmol went to the bullpen and brought in recently recalled James Naile.
They kept Torkelson in the yard, but the plan didn’t exactly work, as Torkelson scorched a 108 mph line drive single into right-center field with one out. Nick Maton pinch-hit for Ibanez with one out and hit a sinking line drive into right field that looked destined to be a base hit, but Nootbaar dove and made the do-or-die play to rob Maton of a hit and keep Torkelson at first (had he not caught it on the dive, it likely would’ve been an inside the park home run to tie the game).
With two outs, Haase reached on an error by Edman at shortstop, extending the inning. A future hall of famer made them pay seconds later, as Cabrera laced an RBI single into center field off Naile, scoring Torkelson, to make it 3-2. Haase advanced to third on the play, as the potential game-tying run.
The Tigers pinch-hit Zach McKinstry for Schoop in this spot, so Marmol went back out to the mound and gave the signal for left-hander JoJo Romero to get the lefty-lefty matchup. Romero walked him on four pitches, and none of them were particularly close. This loaded the bases for Tigers’ catcher Jake Rogers, who found himself in a full count before depositing Romero’s sixth pitch into the bullpen in left field for a two-out grand slam to put the Tigers ahead, 6-3. It was Rogers’ third home run of the season, and traveled 413 feet.
Vierling grounded out to shortstop to finally end the Tigers’ five-run top of the sixth.
Matz’s final line: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K’s (84 pitches)
Tyler Alexander returned for the seventh after finishing the sixth, and Goldschmidt lifted a shallow fly ball into center field that dropped in for his third hit of the afternoon. Alexander’s sinker buzzed a little too close inside, and it nicked Gorman. This put runners on first and second for Arenado, and AJ Hinch went to the bullpen again.
23-year old right-hander Mason Englert entered, making his 10th appearance of the season. On his first pitch, the Cardinals boldly sent both runners, and both Goldschmidt and Gorman slid in safely for a successful double steal.
After falling behind 0-2, Arenado hit a ground ball to Baez at shortstop, who was playing in but not all the way to the grass. Baez booted it and the ball skipped into left field, allowing Goldschmidt to score to make it 6-4, with Gorman advancing to third as well (Goldschmidt might have scored regardless, even if Baez had tried to make a play at home).
A 12-pitch battle between Englert and Contreras ensued, with the pitcher eventually claiming victory when the man with the big wooden stick swung and missed at a 3-2 slider at the knees.
But that’s okay, because Brendan Donovan followed with a go-ahead, three-run home run seven rows into the right field seats to give St. Louis a 7-6 lead. Donovan’s third home run of the season traveled 407 feet and curved towards — but not to the right of — the foul pole, to the delight of Cardinals fans in attendance.
After the homer, Carlson singled to right field, Edman reached on an error by third baseman Nick Maton (who replaced Ibanez), and Knizner drove in another run with a double off the right field wall to make it 8-6 St. Louis.
Englert, bitten by his defense a bit but also having given up a few missiles, was lifted in favor of left-hander Tyler Holton, who also pitched on Saturday. He faced Lars Nootbaar, who is hitting .462 with RISP this season, first. Nootbar fell behind 0-2, and then laced a ground ball single into right field beyond the drawn in infield, scoring both Edman and Knizner to make it 10-6.
A red-hot Paul Goldschmidt hit next, and hit a ground ball that should have been an inning-ending double play. Instead, Maton took his eye off of it and the ground ball ate him up (again), and his throw to second was not in time to get Nootbaar. It was Maton’s second error of the inning, Detroit’s third of the inning, and their fourth of the game overall.
Like in his last at bat, Arenado stepped in with runners on first and second but it quickly became second and third when a Holton changeup bounced in the dirt and skipped to the backstop for a wild pitch. However, the runners stayed there, as Arenado grounded out to second to finally end the long sixth, with the Cardinals leading 10-6.
After a disastrous sixth inning from both Naile and Romero, right-hander Drew VerHagen jogged out to the mound in the top of the seventh. He got Baez to ground out to short, and struck out Greene and Torkelson each on three pitches.
Holton was back for the seventh, and aside from hitting Donovan with a pitch (whatever it takes to keep him in the yard), he was able to get through the inning without a hiccup. Contreras struck out swinging, Donovan got plunked, Carlson lined out to third base, and Edman flew out to center field.
VerHagen was back for the eighth and pitched another shutdown inning, getting Maton to fly out, Haase to ground out, and struck out Miguel Cabrera. That’s two perfect innings on 21 pitches for VerHagen when the Cardinals desperately needed someone to step in and stop the Tigers from getting back into the game.
Holton returned for another inning of work with the Tigers down four, and Knizner drove his 2-2 cutter off the right field wall for a double (again). The two doubles were the first two of the season for the Cardinals’ now-starting catcher.
Nootbaar flew out to shallow left field, and then Goldschmidt — once again — did damage after falling into a two-strike count. After falling behind 3-1 to Goldschmidt, Holton dotted a changeup at the knees that looked like ball four, but was called strike two. He tried to double down on it to finish Goldschmidt, but the changeup drifted even more inside. That pitch certainly should have been ball four, but Goldschmidt pulled the hands in, took a hack, and deposited the ball into Big Mac land for his third homer of the afternoon. It was his second time hitting three home runs in a game while wearing a Cardinal uniform. His third homer of the game put the Cardinals ahead, 12-6.
Gorman finished off a seven-pitch at bat with a walk, but was left on first when Arenado flew out to shallow right field once again to send this game to the ninth.
While it was not a save situation, Ryan Helsley took the mound in the ninth inning, having only pitched twice so far in the month of May. He shut down the Tigers without any stress, striking out McKinstry on a 102 mph fastball, getting Rogers to fly out to right field, and getting Vierling to ground out to second base.
FINAL: St. Louis 12, Detroit 6
The Cardinals (11-24) have some serious work to do as they head to Wrigley field tomorrow night to face the Cubs (17-16). Miles Mikolas (1-1, 5.79 ERA) will throw for St. Louis. Over his last two starts, Miles has allowed three earned runs over 12 innings. Marcus Stroman (2-2, 2.18 ERA) will go for Chicago. Stroman has allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his seven starts this season.
First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m.
Around the Central
Marlins 3, Cubs 3 - TOP 11
Blue Jays 5, Pirates 0 - BOT 7
Brewers 3, Giants 2 - TOP 4
White Sox 12, Reds 1 - BOT 3
MLB Pickle #424 - 4/9