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Painfully predictable Cardinals fall 4-3 to Giants in series opener

Seven of the Cardinals last 11 losses have been by one run.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

After traveling to Pittsburgh last weekend to witness the Buccos sweep the Cardinals in person, I’m back home watching the birds from the comfort of my couch.

Here’s the starting lineups for the Giants and Cardinals here in the series opener:


  1. Austin Slater, CF
  2. Thairo Estrada, 2B
  3. Wilmer Flores, 1B
  4. J.D. Davis, DH
  5. Mitch Haniger, LF
  6. Michael Conforto, RF
  7. Casey Schmitt, 3B
  8. Patrick Bailey, C
  9. Brandon Crawford, SS

Logan Webb, SP


  1. Brendan Donovan, 2B
  2. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
  3. Nolan Gorman, DH
  4. Nolan Arenado, 3B
  5. Willson Contreras, C
  6. Dylan Carlson, RF
  7. Jordan Walker, LF
  8. Paul DeJong, SS
  9. Tommy Edman, CF

Matthew Liberatore - SP

The positives to take from this game:

  • Liberatore looked solid. He needed a bounce-back outing after last week. I was a bit suprised he was pulled at 86 pitches.
  • Brendan Donovan has had some quality at-bats lately. There were high expectations coming into the season. He’s looked a bit better lately at the dish and in the field.
  • Goldschmidt hitting a homer, obviously good. But his other four at-bats weren’t great. He’s still not quite right.
  • That’s all I’ve got. But at least that’s three things!

Here’s how it went down:

1st Inning

There was some hard contact against Liberatore in the first inning, but his catcher played a big part in getting him out of it.

Austin Slater swung at the first pitch of the evening and stroked a line drive to center field for a base hit. Liberatore struck out Estrada looking with a big curveball for the first out of the game, and then Wilmer Flores stepped up. Slater took off for second base on Liberatore’s 1-0 fastball to Flores, but Contreras gunned him down at second base, with Donovan making a spectacular play diving to his left to catch the throw and dropping the tag on Slater as he fell to the ground.

Flores reached with a line drive base hit to center with two outs, and J.D. Davis flew out to deep right field to end the inning — that likely would have been a sacrifice fly if Slater wouldn’t have tried to steal.

The Cardinals went down in order in the bottom of the first inning. Donovan grounded out to first base, Goldschmidt struck out looking on three pitches, and Gorman was called out on strikes (although he did miss a homer by about four feet on the 1-1 pitch).

2nd Inning

Haniger grounded out soflty back to Liberatore for the first out of the second. Conforto drew a one-out walk, and Schmitt grounded into a fielder’s choice at second base, with Conforto out at the bag. Liberatore walked Patrick Bailey for his second free pass of the inning, but was able to escape the jam by getting Crawford to pop out on the infield and keep things scoreless.

The Cardinals were retired in order (again) in the second, with each batter seeing exactly two pitches. Arenado, Contreras, and Carlson all grounded out, and Webb made it through the first two innings on 17 pitches.

3rd Inning

The Giants got on the board in the third thanks to a big hit from Mitch Haniger. It started with an infield single from Slater, who was originally called out, but reached after a successful Giants challenge. Liberatore got ahead of Estrada 0-2, but then a curveball snapped off a bit too much and hit the Giants’ second baseman in the foot. Flores flew out to shallow left field for the first out, and neither runner was able to advance. However, a wild pitch to the next batter, Davis, allowed both runners to advance, and then a ground ball from Davis scored Slater and put the Giants on the board first, 1-0.

Haniger followed with a two-out double into the left field corner to score Estrada as well, making it 2-0 Giants. Conforto flew out to left field to finally end the Giants’ half of the third.

Jordan Walker led off the bottom of the third inning with a 110 mph ground ball single to left field, but after a Paul DeJong flyout, Walker was thrown out trying to swipe his third stolen base, meaning the Cardinals suddenly had no runners on and two outs.

With two outs, Edman hit a high chopper to Flores at first base that scooted by. It would’ve been a tough play, but Flores was charged with an E3 on it. Donovan struck out swinging to end the third.

4th Inning

Liberatore got a quick groundout from Schmitt and a flyout from Bailey to get two quick outs, but Crawford disrupted the inning with a two-out single to center field. Liberatore struck out Slater on three pitches to keep things where they were at.

Like the Giants, the Cardinals also got a two-out single in the fourth but did not score. After Goldschmidt grounded out and Gorman struck out for the 10th time in his last five games, Arenado reached with a single up the middle. It didn’t matter though, as Contreras grounded out behind him to end the fourth.

5th Inning

Estrada led off the fifth inning and flew out to center field. Flores followed and blistered a 1-1 sinker off the wall in left field, striking it at 108 mph and missing a home run by five feet. Liberatore held it there, however, by striking out both David and Haniger to get out of a little jam.

Carlson led off the bottom of the fifth and was called out on strikes looking at a changeup at the knees/ankles. Walker flew out for the second out. With two outs, Webb threw Paul DeJong one too many sliders in a row (he threw him two in a row), and he pummeled it, sending into the third row of seats in left field for his ninth homer of the season. It also got the Cardinals on the board, making it 2-1 Giants. Edman grounded out to end the inning right after.

6th Inning

Liberatore got the benefit of the doubt facing Conforto to start the sixth, striking him out looking with a fastball that looked juuuuuust a bit outside. Schmitt grounded out to short for the second out, but Bailey shook things up with a two-out single. Libby got a groundout from Crawford to end the sixth inning, as well as his night on the mound.

Donovan led off the bottom of the sixth with a base hit to left field. Goldschmidt drove both himself and Donovan home with a two-run homer into the bullpen in left field, which was his 11th homer of the season and his first since May 28 vs Cleveland. The bom traveled 385 feet and was 106 mph off the bat.

Gorman struck out for the third time in three at-bats (hat trick!) followed by a one-out single by Arenado into left field. Contreras then grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. The Cardinals took a 3-2 lead into the seventh inning.

Liberatore’s final line: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K’s (86 pitches)

7th Inning

Andre Pallante took over in the seventh inning, despite Liberatore only having thrown 86 pitches and looking pretty strong towards the end of his outing. Pallante got two quick outs — a strikeout of Slater and a flyout from Estrada — before running into trouble. Pallante got ahead of Wilmer Flores 1-2, but eventually issued a two-out walk. Davis followed with a single to right field, moving Flores into scoring position. Then Haniger struck again, knocking a base hit up the first base line into right field, scoring Flores from second to tie things up, 3-3. Conforto grounded out to second base to end the inning, but the damage was done.

After groundouts from both Carlson and Walker, DeJong hit a clean single to left — his second hit of the game and his first multi-hit game in a week. Edman put a good swing on a first-pitch sinker from Webb, but flew out to Haniger in left to end the inning.

Webb’s final line: 7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 6 K’s (88 pitches)

8th Inning

Chris Stratton took over in the top of the eighth inning, looking to keep this game tied. That.....did not happen.

After Schmitt flew out lazily to center field to start the inning, Patrick Bailey capped off an impressive 11-pitch at-bat with a double into the left-center field gap Crawford followed with a base hit the other way, driving in Bailey and giving the Giants a 4-3 lead.

Slater singled to center as well, putting two runners on with one out. But a groundout from Estrada and a Wilmer Flores popout ended the top of the frame.

After seven strong innings, Logan Webb was relieved of his duties, with submarining right-hander Tyler Rogers taking over on the mound. Donovan greeted him with a base hit to left field, his second time going the opposite way on the evening. Goldschmidt grounded into a force out at second base, with Donovan erased at the bag and Goldschmidt reaching at first. Gorman avoided the coveted golden sombrero with a base hit into the right-center field gap, setting up Arenado with runners on the corners and only one out.

However, Arenado’s at-bat with the tying run at third ended as most have lately for the Cardinals with runners in scoring position — a weak popout on the infield. This, at the time, felt like the pivotal at bat of the game.

Gabe Kapler went to the bullpen once again, bringing in the National League Reliever of the Month during May, Camilo Doval. Doval walked Contreras on four pitches to load the bases, setting up a battle with Dylan Carlson. After falling behind 0-2, Carlson wacked a 102 mph fastball about 360 feet into center field, where Slater settled under it to end the inning — stranding the bases loaded.

9th Inning

Steven Matz jogged in from the bullpen for the ninth inning, hoping to become the first Cardinals relief pitcher to not give up a run after both Pallante and Stratton stumbled. Matz did just that, pitching a scoreless ninth on 15 pitches.

Doval returned for the ninth to finish the game, and his first pitch of the inning was a 98 mph fastball that buzzed Walker and nearly hit him. Doval got back into the at bat and worked it to a 3-2 count, when Walker hit a routine ground ball to short....

Except it wasn’t.

At the edge where the infield dirt meets the infield grass, the ball bounced and took the wackiest hop I have ever seen. Maybe it was a hidden sprinkler, or the gopher from Caddyshack, I’m not sure. But the ball bounced about 12 feet in the air, over Crawford’s head and into left field for a hit.

DeJong immediately erased all of that fun by grounding into a 6-4-3 double play that did not take an unholy bounce over Crawford’s head.

Edman drew a two-out walk and stole second to get into scoring position as the potential tying run. Doval got ahead of Donovan 0-2, but the Cardinals’ second baseman worked it back to a 2-2 count and then was hit by the 2-2 slider to reach base and bring up the reigning NL MVP with a chance to tie or win the game.

Goldschmidt grounded out back to Doval. Game over.

FINAL: Giants 4, Cardinals 3

Up Next

The Cardinals (27-40) will try to climb out of the doldrums of despair tomorrow night against the Giants (34-32) at Busch Stadium. Jack Flaherty (3-4, 4.15 ERA) will throw for St. Louis. He has not been credited with a win for nearly a month despite pitching to a 1.96 ERA over his last four starts. Alex Cobb (5-2, 3.01 ERA) will pitch for the Giants. He threw a complete game shutout against the Cardinals back on April 24.

First pitch is set for 6:45 p.m. once again.

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