While the Cardinals’ playoff odds aren’t technically at zero (Fangraphs gave them a 6.5% chance to make the playoffs as of Tuesday), these games down the stretch in July have quickly become about two things:
1) Getting a better grasp on which of the Cardinals’ logjam of position players should be part of the long-term plan, and which ones will likely become add-ons in trades this month and in the off-season.
2) Trying to sweeten the value of their expiring contracts — aka getting strong performances from Jordan Montgomemry, Jack Flaherty, Jordan Hicks, Chris Stratton, and potentially Tyler O’Neill before they’re traded.
Neither of the Cardinals’ “rental” pitchers were on the bump tonight. Instead, it was Miles Mikolas, who threw three no-hit innings against the Nationals on Friday night before the game was rained out.
Here are the lineups for the Marlins and the Cardinals tonight:
- Luis Arraez, 2B
- Jorge Soler, DH
- Garrett Cooper, 1B
- Jesus Sanchez, RF
- Bryan De La Cruz, LF
- Jean Segura, 3B
- Joey Wendle, SS
- Nick Fortes, C
- Dane Myers, CF
Jesus Luzardo - SP
- Dylan Carlson, CF
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
- Nolan Arenado, 3B
- Willson Contreras, DH
- Jordan Walker, RF
- Paul DeJong, SS
- Ivan Herrera, C
- Lars Nootbaar, LF
- Jose Fermin, 2B
Miles Mikolas - SP
The Cardinals showed some grit and resolve in this one, falling behind multiple times but coming back each time to tie it and ultimately pull ahead. Ryan Tepera was not good in his first appearance as a Cardinal (we’ll see how many more he gets), but Giovanny Gallegos and Jordan Hicks both made clutch pitches to escape hairy situations. That’s a winner!
I made the drive from Ohio to St. Louis for the (very wet) Nationals series this weekend. I tried Imo’s, Sugarfire BBQ, and a few other things. Checked out Tower Grove Park Farmer’s Market as well and got to see the Zoo. Thanks for all the suggestions last week when I asked for them!
The 2022 AL batting champion Luis Arraez led off the game with an 11-pitch war with Mikolas. After fouling off six consecutive pitches in a 2-2 count, he eventually flew out to deep center field with Carlson making a nice catch on the run. Soler grounded out to second base and Cooper grounded out to third base to finish the 1-2-3 inning.
Luzardo also worked a 1-2-3 first inning, with Carlson grounding out to shortstop, Goldschmidt striking out looking, and Arenado being robbed of a double thanks to a diving play at third base by Jean Segura.
Mikolas struck out Sanchez to start the second, but he left a 3-1 slider over the middle of the plate against De La Cruz and he pummelled it 421 feet into the left-center field seats for his 11th home run of the season. De La Cruz’s homer got Miami on the board first, 1-0.
Segura grounded out to short for the second out, but Wendle extended the inning with a two-out single to right field. Fortes popped out to Goldschmidt in foul territory for the third and final out.
Willson Contreras swung at the first pitch he saw and popped out to short. Jordan Walker followed and was also swinging first pitch, except he took Luzardo’s 96 mph fastball into left field for a one-out base hit. DeJong walked on four pitches to put two runners on with one out, and none of the pitches he saw were particularly close to the zone.
St. Louis was unable to score that runner from scoring position, however. Ivan Herrera popped out in foul territory and Nootbaar grounded out to first base to end the second inning.
Mikolas worked a 1-2-3 inning on nine pitches in the third — Myers grounded out to third, Arraez grounded out to second, and Soler popped out to third.
Fermin grounded out to start the third, as he is still looking for his first major league hit. Carlson doubled down into the left field corner with one out. Goldschmidt popped out in foul territory for the second out of the inning, but Arenado came through with a two-out RBI single up the middle to tie the game up, 1-1.
After the Arenado single, Contreras drew a five-pitch walk to put two runners on with two outs. Jordan Walker struck out looking to end the third.
Another quick and easy inning for Mikolas in the fourth — Cooper and De La Cruz both grounded out, with a strikeout of Sanchez sandwiched in the middle.
DeJong grounded out and Herrera flew out to deep center field (375 feet, 109 mph exit velocity) for the first two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Nootbaar singled up the middle with two outs to extend the inning, which allowed St. Louis to clear Fermin’s spot in the order and start the next frame with the top of the order. Fermin grounded out to end the inning. (Pretty tough to have a guy at the bottom of the order who mentally I treat the same as if he was a pitcher).
The Marlins struck for some two-out magic in the fifth to jump ahead. Segura grounded out and Wendle struck out for the first two outs, followed by a two-out single from Fortes. Myers then hit a soft chopper to the left of the mound, with Nolan Arenado charging in. However, Mikolas tried to make a play on the ball and ended up stabbing at it and knocking it down, making it impossible for either he or Arenado to make a play. It was scored an infield single, which then brought up the NL’s leading hitter up with two outs.
Much to the frustration of Mikolas, Arraez came through with a base hit to left field, scoring Fortes and making it 2-1 Marlins in the fifth. Soler flew out to center field to end the inning, stranding both runners.
St. Louis waited out Luzardo and were able to get him out of the game in the fifth, while also taking the lead in the process. Carlson worked a leadoff walk, and Goldschmidt’s base hit up the middle moved him over to third base with nobody out.
Skip Schumaker made the walk out to the mound and took the ball from Luzardo, who was at 92 pitches in the fifth. He called on JT Chargois to get out of the jam.
Arenado was the first person to see him, and his fly ball to center field was more than deep enough for Carlson to tag up and tie the game.
With Contreras hitting, Chargois spun over and tried to pick Goldschmidt off of first. His throw was wide of the bag and went to the wall, putting Goldy in scoring position with one out. Contreras then struck out looking at a slider that started inside and danced back into the zone, (apparently) putting the rookie in a two-out, clutch spot.
Walker came through, blooping a 3-1 slider into shallow left field for a hit, scoring Goldschmidt to put the Cardinals ahead, 3-2. DeJong grounded out to short to end the inning.
Luzardo’s final line: 4 IP, 5 H 3 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 2 K’s (92 pitches)
Mikolas returned for the sixth inning, sitting at 79 pitches. Cooper swung at the very first offering from him and flew out to the warning track in right field, where Walker was waiting for it. But the seesaw tiled the opposite way when Sanchez — who’s a big man at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds — muscled a 2-0 sinker from Mikolas 398 feet into the Marlins’ bullpen in left field for a game-tying solo homer.
De La Cruz followed with a bullet off the left field wall for a one-out double — it jumped off the bat at 107 mph, making that back-to-back hits at over 100 mph for the Marlins.
Segura grounded out to shortstop for the second out, with De La Cruz moving to third. Wendle went up with two outs and fisted a first pitch slider off his hands towards second base, where both Fermin and Goldschmidt attempted to make a play. Fermins slid and fielded it on the short hop, but Goldschmidt had vacated the bag trying to make the play as well.
Fortunately, Mikolas took nothing for granted and took off for first on contact. He beat Wendle to the bag by a step, where a perfect throw from Fermin was waiting. Had Mikolas not made it to first in time, De La Cruz would’ve scored and given Miami the lead.
Right-hander Dylan Floro replaced Chargois in the bottom of the sixth, and everything was going smoothly for him until there were two outs. Herrero once again blistered a ball into the outfield, this time at 102 mph, but Sanchez made the play in right field. Nootbaar flew out to left field for the second out, and then the trouble began for Floro.
Gorman wacked a 3-2 sinker into left-center field for a two-out double. It came off the bat at 108 mph and rolled all the way to the wall. Carlson then laced an RBI single up the middle, scoring Gorman from second to put St. Louis back ahead, 4-3.
For the second time tonight, Goldschmidt singled to center, with Carlson going first to third on his hit. After a mound visit, Floro served up a center-cut sinker to Arenado in a 1-1 count, which he drove the opposite way into the right-center alley for a two-run double to make it 6-3 Cardinals.
After the Arenado double, Floro hit Contreras in the hand with a fastball and he was rewarded first base. However, video review showed that the ball actually went off the knob of the bat. The Marlins challenged, and the call was overturned. Contreras came back to hit and struck out on the next pitch.
Mikolas’ final line: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K’s (92 pitches)
Ryan Tepera, a former Cub/White Sock/Angel/Blue Jay, took over in the seventh with a three-run lead. The right-hander last pitched in MLB for the Angels in May, when he was released by the Halos with a 7.27 ERA after 10 appearances.
Not suprisingly, the guy who the Cardinals picked up off the recycling pile ran into some trouble.
Nick Fortes grounded out, followed by a single to center by Myers. Arraez flew out to right field, but Tepera hit Soler with a first pitch sinker to put two runners on with two outs. Cooper then singled up the middle to score Fortes, making the score 6-4 with the tying run now on base. After Tepera walked Sanchez to load the bases, Oli Marmol went and pulled him.
Giovanny Gallegos jogged in from the pen and got De La Cruz to ground out to short to end the inning and keep St. Louis up two.
Right-hander Bryan Hoeing replaced Floro after the seventh inning stretch. Walker flew out to right field, DeJong singled to center, and the Cardinals ran themselves into an inning-ending, strike em’ out, throw em’ out double play when Herrera went down swinging and DeJong was thrown out at second base.
Gallegos came back out for the eighth inning and worked a 1-2-3 inning on 11 pitches. Segura struck out swinging, Wendle grounded out, and Fortes flew out to right field.
Marlins’ closer A.J. Puk entered the game in the bottom half of the inning, not because it was a save situation, but because he had not thrown in eight days with his team losing all three games since the All-Star break. He struck out Nootbaar, but walked Gorman with one out. Carlson flew out to deep left field, and Goldschmidt grounded out to third base to end the inning Segura’s throw was high, but Cooper jumped up, caught it, and slapped the tag on him).
Jordan Hicks took over in the ninth, trying to secure the Cardinals’ third consecutive win. Myers led off the inning and reached on a swinging bunt between third base and the pitcher’s mound — hit third hit of the day out of the nine-hole. Luis Arraez grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to erase Myers and bring Miami down to its final out of the game, still down two.
And then things got interesting.
Soler pulled his hands in and yanked a two-out double down the third base line and off the wall indent. Nootbaar’s throw to second was just in time to tag Soler, but Miami’s DH just got his foot in there before the tag. Cooper followed and got sawed off by a 101 mph sinker on the hands, but his broken bat hit died behdind the mound for another infield hit.
That brought in Sanchez — who had already homered this game — as the potential go-ahead run. He also broke his bat swinging at a 2-0 sinker that was clocked at 100 mph, but Gorman fielded the ground ball and threw over to first to end the ballgame.
FINAL: Cardinals 6, Miami 4
The Cardinals (41-53) go for their third consecutive series win Tuesday night against the Marlins (53-43). Jordan Montgomery (6-7, 3.23 ERA) will start for the Cardinals as his time in St. Louis begins to dwindle. The Marlins had yet to announce a starter for Ttuesday’s game as of Monday evening.
First pitch is set for 6:45 p.m. once again.
Around the Central
Giants 2, Reds 2 - DELAYED
Nationals 7, Cubs 5 - BOT 9
Guardians 11, Pirates 0
MLB Pickle #495 - 4/9