Mercifully, the Cardinals’ first half has come to an end. One final matinee stood between the Cardinals (minus Nolan Arenado) and a four-day vacation today. A win would bring the Cardinals back to just 14 games under .500, while a loss would drop them to 16-under. Steven Matz made his first start since late May, after pitching to a sub-3.00 ERA over his last eight appearances out of the bullpen.
Today’s lineups for the Cardinals and White Sox:
- Lars Nootbaar, CF
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
- Nolan Arenado, DH
- Willson Contreras, C
- Alec Burleson, LF
- Jordan Walker, RF
- Nolan Gorman, 3B
- Paul DeJong, SS
- Jose Fermin, 2B
Steven Matz - SP
- Zach Remillard, LF
- Tim Anderson, SS
- Luis Robert, CF
- Eloy Jimenez, DH
- Andrew Caughn, 1B
- Jake Burger, 3B
- Oscar Colas, RF
- Seby Zavala, C
- Elvis Andrus, 2B
Lucas Giolito - SP
Somehow, some way, St. Louis got it done on the south side Sunday afternoon. Thanks to three errors and two passed balls, all three Chicago runs were unearned, so the Cardinals won this one despite some very sloppy, not-at-all fundamental play.
Steven Matz had one of his best starts as a Cardinal after his two-month long banishment to the bullpen, and was only pulled because he’d been pitching semi-regularly out of the pen lately and was held to 75 pitches.
The Cardinals scored the freebie run in the 10th with a leadoff double, and then stranded the runner there with no outs to go into the bottom of the inning with just a one-run lead. Then, Tim Anderson — one of the prime faces of the White Sox for the past 4-5 years — had a chance to send the fans home happy.
Pretty much every chance the Cardinals had to goof this thing up, they somehow pulled through. How often does that happen?
Giolito struck out Nootbaar with the Bugs Bunny changeup, Goldschmidt with a 1-2 slider, and Arenado lined out to Burger at third base.
Matz got Remillard chasing a high fastball for strike three, Tim Anderson grounded out to third, and also got Luis Robert so strike out hacking at a high fastball.
Willson Contreras returned to the lineup and drew a leadoff walk to start the second inning. He moved to second base on Burleson’s groundout to first, tagged up to third on Walker’s deep flyout to right, but did not score because Gorman struck out for the seventh time in the last three games.
Matz struck out Eloy Jimenez to start the bottom of the second, with Jimenez literally walking away from the box as the third pitch was thrown. He tried to call for time, and instead of waiting to see if it was granted, just decided he was walking away regardless. Matz finished the pitch and struck out Jimenez on three pitches.
Vaughn struck out swinging at a changeup in the dirt, and Burger lined out to shortstop to end the inning.
Giolito struck out DeJong looking on three pitches to start the third, although the slider called for strike three looked to (perhaps) be a bit inside. Jose Fermin grounded out to shortstop, and Nootbaar grounded out to first base.
The Cardinals’ defense fell apart in the third inning, and because of it St. Louis graciously handed Chicago the first run of the game. Colas led off the third and hit a ground ball to Goldschmidt, but the ball took a funny hop on him and popped right over his shoulder into right field. Paul was credited with an error (E3) on the play.
Zavala struck out swinging, but with one out and Andrus hitting, Contreras was charged with a passed ball when he couldn’t hold on to Matz’s first-pitcher slider. The ball bounced a few feet away and Colas took off for second base. Contreras picked it up, spun around, and threw a dart over the head of Fermin into center field, allowing Colas to move up to third base. Contreras was charged with the second Cardinal error of the inning.
Andrus came through with an RBI single to left field, getting Chicago on the board first, 1-0.
Matz struck out Remillard for the second time for the second out and got Anderson to ground out to end the inning.
Goldschmidt drew a four-pitch walk off Giolito to lead off the inning. With Arenado batting next, Goldschmidt took a massive lead in a 1-1 count and took off for second while Giolito was still holding the ball. Giolito stepped off and made a high throw to second, but the tagged was applied and Goldschmidt was thrown out stealing for the second time this season (out of 10 total tries).
After the chaos of Goldschmidt on the bases, Arenado worked a six-pitch walk with one out. Goldschmidt’s baserunning snafu proved costly moments later, when Contreras hammered Giolito’s 3-2 changeup 363 feet into left field, just sneaking it over the wall in the corner for a two-run homer. Willson’s 10th homer of the season gave St Louis a 2-1 lead in the fourth. It had an exit velocity of 107 mph.
Giolito struck out Burleson with the changeup for the second out of the inning, and Walker grounded out to Anderson at shortstop for the third.
A 1-2-3 inning for Matz on just eight pitches in the bottom of the fourth. Robert struck out once again — this time flailing at a changeup down and out of the zone. Jimenez grounded out to shortstop, and Vaughn flew out to left field to end the inning.
Gorman and DeJong both flew out to center field for the first two outs of the fifth, followed by a weak popout on the infield for Fermin in search of his first MLB hit.
Matz continued to throw a sterling game in the fifth. He got Burger and Colas each to ground out, and then struck out Zavala on the ninth pitch of the at-bat to post another 1-2-3 inning.
Giolito returned for the sixth and kept things close. He got groundouts from Nootbaar and Goldschmidt, and then Arenado popped out weakly on the infield.
Matz returned for the sixth, but at 67 pitches he was quickly approaching the “rough” pitch limit of 75 the Cardinals wanted him to stick to, since he did throw 32 pitches four days ago against the Marlins.
He gave up a leadoff single to Andrus, but struck out Remillard for the third time today (hat trick!) before Marmol made the walk out to the mound to get him. Matz was at exactly 75 pitches, and it was Dakota Hudson coming in to try and hold on to the one-run lead. He faced Tim Anderson first, and got the White Sox shortstop to swing over a sinker and ground into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
This is, thus far, Steven Matz's third outing as a Cardinal with at least five innings pitched and no earned runs allowed.— Jeff Jones (@jmjones) July 9, 2023
Matz’s final line: 5.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R (0 ER), 9 K’s (75 pitches)
Contreras led off the seventh with a base hit to left field. However, he ran into a double play moments later that could’ve been avoided. With Contreras running on the pitch, Burleson flipped a lazy fly ball to right. Contreras slowed down for a moment, and then determined that Colas was not going to make the catch, so he rounded second base and went for third.
....except Colas made the catch easily, and then threw back over to first for the double play. Walker grounded out for the third out, sending this game to the seventh inning stretch.
Dakota Hudson returned for the eighth inning, and Luis Robert greeted him with an absolute laser that was hit so hard it stuck in between two panels of the padded wall in left field. Since it got stuck in the wall, it was immediately ruled a ground-rule double (he would’ve had two either way). The exit velocity on the double was 106 mph.
Hudson struck out Jimenez and Vaughn — both on sliders — but Missouri-native Jake Burger reached on a little swinging bunt single down the third base line. Arenado probably wouldn’t have made a play on it if he was in the game, but Gorman definitely was not going to make the play.
With runners on the corners, two outs, and the left-handed hitting Colas due up, Marmol went to the pen once more and brought in Genesis Cabrera. Chicago responded by pinch-hitting the switch-hitting Yasmani Grandal, who walked on five pitches against Cabrera. With the bases loaded, the White Sox went to the bench again, pinch-hitting right-handed hitting catcher Carlos Perez for Zavala. He hit a chopper to third base that Gorman booted, allowing the tying run to score. It was an in-between hop, but Gorman was charged with the Cardinals’ third error of the game, E5.
The bases remained loded for Andrus, who flew out to center field to end the seventh, with everything tied up 2-2.
Giolito’s final line: 7 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K’s (90 pitches)
Right-hander Gregory Santos was the first White Sox reliever to make an appearance after seven solid innings from Giolito. Gorman struck out swinging on a slider in the dirt, followed by a DeJong base hit to right field with one out. However, DeJong was thrown out trying to steal second base and Fermin flew out to right field to end the top of the eighth.
Chris Stratton had the eighth, and Remillard greeted him with a base hit to center field. Anderson grounded out to first base, moving Remillard to second. Stratton’s 0-2 changeup bounced in the dirt and got away from Contreras, allowing Remillard to tag up and move to third base with one out (it was originally scored a wild pitch, but Contreras needed to block that one and was later changed to a passed ball). Robert’s fly ball to left-field was deep enough to score the run from third, making it 3-2 Chicago in the bottom of the eighth. Stratton struck out Jimenez to send this game to the ninth, with the Cardinals now down a run.
Right-hander Kendall Graveman jogged in from the bullpen to close the game in the top of the ninth. The Cardinals threw the top of the order at him, and Lars Nootbaar ripped the first pitch he saw — a center-cut sinker at 96 — into the left-center alley for a leadoff double. Goldschmidt made Graveman throw eight pitches, but eventually struck out swinging at a 97 mph fastball that was probably two feet inside.
He walked Arenado on four pitches as the potential go-ahead run, and Contreras stepped in with a chance to tie things up. Graveman’s 1-0 sinker didn’t sink at all — it actually ran up and hit Contreras in the arm to load the bases with one out.
Next was Alec Burleson, who hit a chopper back up the middle that probably should’ve been a game-ending double play. But Graveman threw his glove at it and deflected it to the right a little bit, causing Tim Anderson to move back and grab the ball. Anderson’s only play was to tag Contreras running to second — which didn’t happen because Contreras went out of the baseline to avoid him. Contreras was called out, but Nootbaar scored from third base to tie the game 3-3.
Walker stepped in with a chance to create some more ninth-inning magic, and Graveman went up and in on Walker with a fastball and hit him in the right hand with a 96 mph fastball. Walker stayed in the game and took his base to load them up with two outs, handing the baton to Nolan Gorman.
Gorman struck out once again — his ninth strikeout in this three-game series.
JoJo Romero came on to pitch the bottom of the ninth in a tie game, to face Vaughn, Burger, and Gavin Sheets — who entered the game in place of Colas.
Vaughn lined out to Fermin at second base, and both Burger and Sheets struck out swinging to send this game to extra innings.
Nolan Gorman ran on second base as the Manfred Man to start the tenth, with Keynan Middleton in to pitch for the White Sox. He hung a first-pitch slider to Paul DeJong, he pulled it into left field for a double, scoring Gorman and putting St. Louis ahead 4-3.
Fermin followed with a sacrifice bunt up the first base line, moving DeJong to third base with one out. Chicago pulled their infield in, and Nootbaar hit a ground ball right to Andrus at second. DeJong had to stay put, and Goldschmidt struck out afterwards to end the inning, stranding DeJong over at third base.
JoJo Romero remained in the game to finish it out in the 10th, with Gavin Sheets running at second as the Manfred man. Carlos Perez hit a ground ball to first base for the first out of the inning, moving Sheets over to third base. Romero walked Andrus to put the potential winning run on base, but also setting up the game-ending double play potentially.
Remillard tried to put down the safety squeeze to tie the game, but Goldschmidt pounced on it quickly running up the first base line. He tagged out Remillard, and Sheets had to retreat to third base. Andrus moved to second as the possible winning run with two outs, and Tim Anderson was Chicago’s last hope with two on and two outs.
Against all odds, Romero struck out Anderson with 97mph cheese at the top of the zone to end the game, stranding both the tying and winning runs in scoring position.
FINAL: Cardinals 4, White Sox 3
The Cardinals (38-52) are off until Friday for the All-Star Break. You can tune in to watch Nolan Arenado represent St. Louis at the ASG Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. on FOX.
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