The Cardinals returned home Tuesday night after an eight-game road trip that saw them travel all the way across the pond last week. They now enter a tough three-series stretch that could potentially determine if St. Louis sells off pieces at the deadline or makes moves to improve the club in an attempt to chase down the rest of the division. After this three-game set against the Astros, the Cardinals welcome the New York Yankees to St. Louis and then will travel to Miami.
Here are the lineups for the Astros and Cardinals Tuesday night:
- Mauricio Dubon, 2B
- Alex Bregman, 3B
- Kyle Tucker, RF
- Jose Abreu, 1B
- Yainer Diaz, DH
- Corey Julks, LF
- Jeremy Pena, SS
- Chas McCormick, CF
- Martin Maldonado, C
Framber Valdez - SP
- Tommy Edman, CF
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
- Nolan Arenado, 3B
- Willson Contreras, DH
- Jordan Walker, LF
- Dylan Carlson, RF
- Brendan Donovan, 2B
- Paul DeJong, SS
- Andrew Knizner, C
Jordan Montgomery, SP
Behind another strong start from Montgomery and a few key swings from Paul DeJong, St. Louis took the series opener from Houston to start this crucial homestand. Nolan Arenado also had a fine day at the plate, reaching base thrice and driving in the go-ahead run with a double to right-center. My desire for Paul DeJong to be benched and Edman to go back to shortstop full time has been put on halt, for now.
The Cardinals will now have two shots to win this series against the Astros, and it would behoove them to do so, as the calendar will flip to July later this week.
Here’s how Tuesday’s big win went down:
St. Louis began Tuesday night’s contest the same way they did Sunday’s game in London — with a costly first inning error. Dubon swung at Montgomery’s first pitch and hit a ground ball to Donovan at second that had a ton of english on it. The ball went right off Donovan’s glove and rolled towards the second base bag, and he was charged with an error to start the game.
Bregman ripped a 1-0 sinker into right field for a base hit, with Dubon advancing to third base with no outs. Tucker stepped in and swung at the first pitch he saw, hitting a ground ball to Goldschmidt. He went to second for the force out and conceded the run, making it 1-0 Houston in the first after just four pitches from Montgomery. Abreu grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Despite allowing multiple baserunners in the first, Montgomery was able to get out of the inning after throwing just nine pitches.
Tommy Edman led off and flew out to center field, followed by a three-pitch strikeout from Goldschmidt. Nolan Arenado went to right field for a two-out single, and Contreras was called out on strikes to end the inning.
Yainer Diaz led off the top of the second with a single to left field, but Montgomery bounced back to strike out Julks, Pena, and McCormick in order to keep Houston off the board in the second.
Walker flew out to right, Carlson flew out to left, and Donovan grounded out to first base. After two innings, Montgomery had thrown 26 pitches and Valdez had thrown just 17.
Jordan Montgomery left a 1-0 sinker over the middle of the plate to Martin Maldonado to kick off the third, and the light-hitting catcher hammered it a whopping 438 feet into left field — over the bullpen — for a solo homer, his fifth of the season. His homer made it 2-0 Astros in the third.
Montgomery did not have an issue the rest of the inning, striking out Dubon, getting Bregman to ground out, and getting Tucker to fly out.
Framber Valdez got ahead of DeJong 1-2 in the bottom of the third, but the 1-2 curveball hung over the plate and Pauly D smashed it. He sent it 405 feet into left field, missing Big Mac land by a few feet. DeJong’s 12th homer of the year got the Cardinals on the board and cut the Houston lead in half, 2-1.
Knizner hit next and rapped a base hit into right field with nobody out, but he didn’t end up moving from that spot. Valdez struck out Edman and Goldschmidt, followed by a 104 mph groundout by Arenado that was hit directly at Dubon over at second.
Jose Abreu led off the fourth inning and ripped a line drive single into the left-center field gap. Diaz grounded into a force out, with DeJong going to second base to get Abreu, while Diaz reached safely at first. It didn’t matter, though, as Corey Julks grounded into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play on the second pitch he saw.
Like the Astros, St. Louis got their leadoff man on in the fourth inning. Contreras blistered a first-pitch sinker from Valdez down into the left field corner for a double, with the ball jumping off his bat at 109 mph.
The next series of events was odd, and ultimately falls on the shoulders of Contreras. Jordan Walker stepped in with a runner on second and nobody out and ripped a ground ball into the hole between short and third. Pena made the throw over to first and Walker was safe, but Abreu noticed that Contreras took off for third, and threw him out across the diamond.
Replay shows that Contreras may have been safe, but the Cardinals did not challenge. Contreras originally held at second with the ball hit in front of him, but once Pena made the throw, Contreras took off (unsuccessfully).
Dylan Carlson singled to left field and Brendan Donovan reached on a six-pitch walk to load the bases for DeJong, who homered off Valdez in the prior inning. He hit the ball hard again, sending a 1-0 sinker from Valdez 386 feet into center field, where Tucker made the play on the warning track. Walker tagged up and scored, tying the game 2-2. Knizner grounded out to second base to end the inning with the game tied at two runs apiece.
Montgomery came out in the fifth and retired all three batters he saw, shutting the Astros down right after St. Louis had tied it up. Pena grounded out to second, McCormick struck out swinging, and Maldonado flew out to right field.
The Cardinals made Valdez work in the fifth, forcing him to throw 29 pitches while he also gave up the lead. Edman grounded out to short for the first out, and then Goldschmidt worked a six-pitch walk. Arenado followed and went opposite field for the second time in the game, blasting an RBI double 382 feet into the right-center field gap, scoring Goldschmidt and making it 3-2 St. Louis. Dubon’s throw home in an attempt to get Goldschmidt got away from Maldonado, and Arenado was able to move up to third base with one out.
Contreras hit a grounder to a drawn-in Bregman for the second out, with Arenado retreating back to third base. Walker drew a two out walk(er) to put two runners on for Carlson. Valdez’s 1-0 changeup to Carlson was spiked in the dirt and got away from Maldonado, and Arenado broke for home. Maldonado retrieved it and tossed to Valdez, who tried to tag Arenado but missed as he slid his hand over the plate. Arenado was called out, but was adamant he made it. The Cardinals challenged, and the call was overturned. Arenado was ruled safe, Walker advanced to second, and St.Louis had a 4-2 lead.
Carlson pulled a ground ball down the third base line with two outs, despite ranging to his right and making a nice play, Bregman couldn’t make a strong enough throw across the diamond. Carlson reached with an infield hit — his second hit of the game. Donovan fought an eight-pitch war against Valdez, but eventually grounded out to third on Valdez’s 84th pitch of the game.
((Look how happy Nolan looks)))
Dubon grounded out to DeJong at short, Bregman lined out to DeJong, and Tucker was called out looking at strike three.
St. Louis also went three up, three down in the bottom of the sixth. Strikeouts by DeJong and Edman were sandwiched around a Knizner groundout during a 10-pitch inning for Valdez.
Abreu and Diaz each grounded out to start the seventh, but Julks broke up Montgomery’s stretch of 10 straight outs with a double down the left field line. Pena ripped a base hit to right field, but Julks did not test Carlson’s arm and held up at third base. Montgomery walked McCormick to load the bases with two outs, and Oli Marmol went to the bullpen. Giovanny Gallegos entered the game, tasked with getting Maldonado and keeping the game right where it was at.
Houston pinch-hit the left-handed hitting Bligh Madris for Maldonado, with the intention of sliding Diaz over to catcher and giving up the DH. The light-hitting outfielder flew out to left field, stranding the bases loaded and leaving St. Louis ahead, 4-2.
Right-handed flamethrower Ryne Stanek replaced Valdez after six servicable innings from the left-hander and pitched a scoreless seventh. Goldschmidt struck out swinging, followed by a walk to Arenado — his third time reaching base. But after that both Contreras and Walker flew out to center field to end the seventh inning, leaving Arenado at first.
Montgomery’s final line: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 6 K’s (91 pitches)
Valdez’s final line: 6 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 K’s (94 pitches)
Gallegos returned for the eighth inning and Lars Nootbaar took over for Walker in left field. Gallegos was able to retire Dubon and Bregman via groundouts, but Tucker shook things up with a base hit to left. Abreu also hit the ball hard to left field (110 mph), but Nootbaar drifted to his right and made the catch for the third out.
Phil Maton became the third Houston pitcher in the eighth, replacing Stanek. He breezed through the bottom of the St. Louis order on 14 pitches. Carlson struck out, Donovan grounded out, and DeJong struck out.
Jordan Hicks replaced Gallegos to start the ninth inning, looking for his fifth save of the season. Diaz grounded out to third, Julks flew out to center, and Pena looked at strike three on the outside corner. Hicks threw 11 pitches. Five of them were 97 mph or faster, and just one — the last one — hit triple digits. Ballgame.
FINAL: Cardinals 4, Astros 2
The Cardinals (33-45) go for the series win against the defending World Series champion Astros (42-37) tomorrow night. Miles Mikolas (4-5, 4.23 ERA) will take the mound for the Cardinals. Mikolas has lost each of his last four starts but was a hard luck loser last week against the Nationals, yielding two earned runs over seven innings in a 3-0 loss. Right-hander Cristian Javier (7-1, 3.25 ERA) will throw for the Astros. First pitch is set for 6:45 p.m.
Around the Central
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