I’m back from vacation, but it seems the Cardinals decided to start misbehaving again while I was gone. You’d think a 12-game stretch against the Reds, Guardians, Royals, and Pirates would be a golden opportunity for St. Louis to butter up its record before a big series against the Rangers, but this team loves making things hard on themselves.
Here are the starting lineups for the second game against the Rangers down at Globe Life Field:
- Brendan Donovan, LF
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
- Nolan Gorman, 2B
- Nolan Arenado, 3B
- Willson Contreras, C
- Alec Burleson, DH
- Paul DeJong, SS
- Jordan Walker, RF
- Tommy Edman, CF
Matthew Liberatore - SP
- Marcus Semien, 2B
- Corey Seager, DH
- Nathaniel Lowe, 1B
- Adolis Garcia, RF
- Josh Jung, 3B
- Robbie Grossman, LF
- Mitch Garver, C
- Ezequiel Duran, SS
- Leody Taveras, CF
Dane Dunning, SP
The Cardinals got on the board first thanks to a Nolan Arenado two-run bomb. Donovan led off the game with a line drive single to center on the very first pitch he saw. After a Goldschmidt groundout and a Gorman flyout, Arenado hammered an 0-1 slider 406 feet into the bullpen in left field for his 11th home run of the season.
After the Arenado homer, a first pitch fastball grazed Contreras’ helmet flap, putting him on first. Burleson stroked an 0-2 fastball into center field for a base hit to put two runners on with two outs, but both he and Contreras were left there when DeJong flew out to right.
Matthew Liberatore pitched a scoreless bottom of the first on 11 pitches, including a strikeout of Lowe on a fastball up and out of the zone.
Jordan Walker led off the top of the second and worked a seven-pitch at bat. He hit a 100 mph ground ball at Duran, who threw the ball away and allowed Walker to reach. He was erased moments later when Edman’s ground ball back to Dunning turned into a 1-6-3 double play. Donovan flew out to left field for the third out.
Texas was able to get to Liberatore in the second and get on the board. Garcia — the former Cardinal — singled to left field to start the inning. After a groundout by the rookie Jung and a Grossman flyout, Garver blistered a 113 mph line drive off the wall in left-center field, scoring a run and making it a 2-1 ballgame.
Liberatore walked Duran after a seven pitch battle with two outs, but got Taveras to ground out to end the inning with St. Louis still up, 2-1.
The Cardinals got their leadoff man on base in the third thanks to a Goldschmidt base hit into left field, but that was it. Gorman and Arenado both flew out, and Contreras grounded out to short.
Liberatore won battles with Semien (groundout) and Seager (strikeout) to start the inning, but Lowe struck again with two outs, hitting a solo homer to center field to tie things up, 2-2.
Garcia followed the homer with a jam shot single to right field with two outs, but Jung flew out to Walker in right to end the third tied, 2-2.
Dunning pitched a 1-2-3 shutdown inning in thetop of the fourth, on nine pitches.
The Rangers broke this game open in the fourth against Liberatore. Here’s the series of events that put the Rangers way out in front:
- Grossman flyout to left field
- Garver walks
- Duran infield single up the middle
- Taveras single to left field, loads bases
- Semien doubles to right-center field. Two runners score, with Taveras stopping at third.
- Taveras notices that the throw home bounced off Contreras and rolled up the line, and neither Contreras, Arenado, nor Liberatore were making an effort to get the ball. Taveras scores without a throw while the ball sits between home plate and the third base coaching box. 5-2 Rangers.
- Seager groundout
- Lowe groundout
St. Louis got a runner in scoring postion in the fifth inning, but was unable to capitalize (shocker!)
Edman flew out to start the top of the fifth. Donovan went the opposite way with a one-out single, and Goldschmidt drew a six-pitch walk to put runners on first and second. However, Gorman watched strike three at the knees and Arenado grounded out softly back to Dunning to end the top of the fifth, with St. Louis still trailing 5-2.
Drew VerHagen took over for Liberatore in the fifth after four sluggish innings. Adolis Garcia, once DFA’d by the Cardinals and now thriving in Texas, led off the bottom half of the frame with a 408-foot homer to left center field to expand the Rangers’ lead to 6-2. It was his third hit of the game after exactly three at bats.
VerHagen retired the next three Rangers in order after the homer — Jung flew out to right field, Grossman struck out swinging, and Garver grounded out to Arenado at third.
Contreras took two balls and then lifted a 2-0 fastball from Dunning deep into the Texas night and into the left field seats for his seventh homer of the season. Contreras’ bomb traveled 404 feet, and cut the deficit to 6-3.
Burleson grounded out and DeJong popped out for two quick outs. Walker worked another long at bat against Dunning, and on the seventh pitch — a 2-2 changeup — he whalloped it into the stratosphere. Walker pulled his hands in and smashed the 85 changeup into the second deck in left field for his third career home run, and the Cardinals’ second of the inning.
Dunning walked Edman with two outs, and that was it for the right-hander. Bruce Bochy brought in left-hander Cole Ragans to face Donovan, but the Cardinals’ gold glove utility man drew a six-pitch walk in the lefty-lefty matchup. With two runners on and representing the go-ahead run, Goldschmidt grounded out to shortstop.
After falling behind 0-2, Duran worked the count back to 2-2 against VerHagen and rapped a base hit to right field leading off the bottom half of the seventh. Oli Marmol went and removed VerHagen from the game and called on exiled starter Steven Matz to face Taveras, Semien, and Seager.
Matz set down all three hitters he saw in the inning, getting Taveras to pop out and both Semien and Seager to fly out, sending this game to the seventh.
Ragans final batter was Gorman, whom he was able to get to fly out to deep center field. Bochy went back to the bullpen for Arenado, bringing in right-hander Josh Sborz. Arenado swung at a slider way out of the zone and tapped it back to the pitcher for the second consecutive at bat. Sborz struck out Contreras to finish the top of the seventh with the Rangers still leading by a pair of runs.
Matz returned for the seventh and got Lowe to fly out before Marmol took the ball from him. the Cardinals brought in Chris Stratton to face Garcia, who was 3-for-3 on the day.
Garcia fell behind 0-2, but Stratton left a slider over the plate and it got slapped the other way into right field for a hit — his fourth of the night. Jung followed with a double off the wall, putting runners at second and third with only one out. Stratton walked Grossman on four pitches to load the bases with one out, but was able to walk the tightrope and escape unscathed when Garver grounded into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Sborz returned for the eighth inning and struck out Burleson, DeJong, and Walker in order to preserve Texas’ two-run lead.
Duran led off the bottom of the eighth with a base hit to right, but Stratton retired the next three Rangers to keep them off the board. Taveras struck out looking, Semien flew out, and Seager popped out in shallow left field.
Left-hander Will Smith entered the game to close it out and hand St. Louis its sixth loss in its last seven games. Edman led off the ninth and popped out on the infield. Donovan struck out swinging. Goldschmidt flew out to right field. Ballgame.
FINAL: Texas 6, St. Louis 4
The Cardinals (25-37) will try to avoid a second consecutive sweep tomorrow night against the AL West leading Rangers (40-20) at Glove Life Field. Jack Flaherty (3-4, 4.55 ERA) will throw for St. Louis. Since allowing 10 earned runs against the Angels back on May 4, Jack’s given up just eight earned runs over his last 29 innings (2.48 ERA). Jon Gray will throw for the Rangers. Gray is in the middle of one of the best stretches of his career, going 5-0 with a 0.79 ERA over his past five starts, stretching 34 innings.
First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.
Around the Central
Athletics 11, Pirates 2
Reds 9, Dodgers 8
Brewers 3, Orioles 3 - BOT 10
Cubs 4, Angels 1 - BOT 5
MLB Pickle #454 - 2/9