With the Cardinals’ pitching staff plucked for parts at the trade deadline, things are only going to get worse from here on out as St. Louis finishes out a suprisingly putrid 2023. However, the offense went essentially unchanged, so there will still be games down the stretch where we see a glimpse of what could’ve been this year, had the proper pitching reinforcements been added. Tonight was one of those nights.
Here are the starting lineups for the Twins and Cardinals:
- Carlos Correa, SS
- Edouard Julien, DH
- Jorge Polanco, 2B
- Max Kepler, RF
- Kyle Farmer, 3B
- Matt Wallner, LF
- Christian Vazquez, C
- Joey Gallo, 1B
- Michael A. Taylor, CF
Joe Ryan - SP
- Lars Nootbaar, CF
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
- Nolan Gorman, 2B
- Nolan Arenado, 3B
- Willson Contreras, C
- Tyler O’Neill, LF
- Alec Burleson, DH
- Jordan Walker, RF
- Tommy Edman, SS
Dakota Hudson - SP
Joe Ryan has been a pretty solid starter for the Twins since he was called up two seasons ago, but the seven earned runs he allowed today were the second-most he’s given up in his career to this point. St. Louis bashed four homers off of him during his four innings on the mound, and Dakota Hudson took a no-hitter into the sixth inning on the other side of the coin.
It’s been a long road for Hudson to get back on the mound at Busch Stadium after spending a good chunk of the last year in the minors. This type of outing was certainly an outlier for him, but there’s no denying he went out there and shoved against Minnesota on Wednesday night. Hudson only allowed six baserunners over seven innings, and struck out seven, which are the most strikeouts he’s had in one outing since August 31, 2020.
Hudson came out looking sharp, striking out Correa and Julien to start the game. Polanco flew out to center field for the third out. 15-pitch first inning for Hudson.
Nootbaar led off the bottom of the first with a base hit to right. After Goldschmidt popped out to first base, Nolan Gorman worked one of his best at-bats of the season. The St. Louis second baseman found himself in a 2-2 count after five pitches. He took ball three, fouled off the next three pitches from Joe Ryan, and then took ball four on a splitter that drifted outside of the zone on the tenth pitch of the at-bat. That was not something last season’s version of Nolan Gorman was doing.
After Gorman walked to put two on and just one out, both Arenado and Willson Contreras popped out on the infield to end the inning.
A second consecutive 1-2-3 inning for Hudson on 11 pitches. Kepler grounded out to second, Farmer flew out to center field, and Wallner struck out swinging at a slider in the dirt.
The Cardinals absolutely abused Joe Ryan in the second inning. I don’t even remember the last time St. Louis butchered an opposing pitcher the way they did to Ryan, who to this point has been very effective thus far in his career.
After homering the opposite way last night, O’Neill went yard in his first at-bat tonight as well, but this time it was 431 feet to left field. Bro’s fourth homer of the season cleared the Minnesota bullpen completely and came off the bat at 104 mph.
Alec Burleson flew out to left field for the first out, but the relief was short lived for Ryan. The next hitter, Jordan Walker, yanked a 2-2 fastball 397 feet into the Twins bullpen in left for his 10th home run of the season, making it 2-0 St. Louis.
Tommy Edman stepped in next and snuck a ground ball up the middle into center field for a hit, and Lars Nootbaar continued to crush Ryan by hammering an 0-1 splitter 411 feet into right field for a two-run shot, making it 4-0 St. Louis. Noot’s 11th homer of the season had an exit velocity of 106 mph and completely cleared the St. Louis bullpen.
After the trio of homers, Goldschmidt popped out on the infield and Gorman struck out swinging to end the inning.
Dakota Hudson was uber-efficient in the third, retiring all three batters he faced on just seven pitches. Vazquez flew out to center field, Gallo grounded out to short, and Michael A. Taylor grounded out to second (Gorman’s throw appeared to pull Goldschmidt off the base, and Taylor was originally called safe, but the Cardinals challenged and it was overturned).
St. Louis picked up right where they left off in the third inning, making mince meat of everything Ryan threw.
Nolan Arenado led off the inning and doubled down the third base line — his 21st double of the season. Contreras followed with a 110 missile up the middle into center field that almost hit Arenado, so he had to hold up at third base. Contreras moved up to second on the back end of the play, as Taylor’s throw went all the way home instead of hitting the cutoff man. Minnesota pulled the infield in, and O’Neill hit a ground ball directly to Correa at shortstop — Arenado and Contreras both held and that was the first out.
The infield stayed in for ground ball machine Alec Burleson, but he was able to hit it over the infield.....and the outfield too. Burleson jumped on a 1-0 high fastball from Ryan and took it deep to right field for a three-run homer, making it 7-0 Cardinals. Burleson’s seventh homer of the season had an exit velocity of 104 mph.
Walker didn’t let the hit parade stop, he followed Burleson’s homer with a 100 mph single to left — the Cardinals’ ninth hit off Ryan. Edman and Nootbaar each flew out to left field to end the third inning.
Correa led off the fourth and put a drive into Hudson’s first pitch of the inning, a sinker that was low enough but pretty much dead center down the plate. He golfed it to deep center field, but Lars Nootbaar was able to range back, adjust his poor route that he took, and then leap at the wall and make the catch with his back against the padding.
Julien grounded out to second base for the second out, and then Polanco worked a six-pitch walk for the Twins’ first baserunner of the game. Kepler struck out swinging at a slider in the dirt for the third out.
Joe Ryan looked totally different in the fourth, striking out Goldschmidt, Arenado, and Contreras. He also hit Nolan Gorman in the foot with a slider, but it didn’t end up mattering much with nobody else putting the ball in play.
Ryan’s final line: 4 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 4 K’s (103 pitches)
Former Reds infielder Kyle Farmer led off the fifth and flew out to right field. Hudson walked Wallner on five pitches, but Vazquez grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play to end the top of the fifth.
Right-hander Josh Winder entered the game in the fifth inning after Ryan threw 103 (!!) pitches over four innings. He retired all three batters he saw in the fifth — O’Neill grounded out, Burleson flew out to deep right field, and Walker struck out swinging.
Hudson returned for the sixth with the no-hitter still intact, and struck out Gallo (as many have done before, and will continue to do until Gallo retires). Michael A. Taylor busted up the no-hitter with a clean base hit up the middle, but the Twins grounded into an inning-ending double play for the second consecutive inning with Willi Castro’s weak grounder up the middle to Edman. The Cardinals’ shortstop stepped on second himself, and threw over to first to complete the 6-3 double play. Hudson threw 66 pitches through six innings.
Winder pitched a scoreless sixth inning on nine pitches. Edman grounded out to second, Nootbaar’s 109 mph line drive was hit directly at Taylor for the second out, and Goldschmidt grounded out to third.
Hudson returned for the seventh inning, looking to complete seven for the first time this year. He struck out Julien and Polanco for his sixth and seventh strikeouts, but followed that with a walk to Kepler and then plunked Farmer in the arm to put him aboard as well. The inning continued to spiral on Hudson when his 1-0 slider to Wallner got blasted 431 feet to center field onto Freese’s lawn for a three-run homer, making it 7-3 in the seventh.
Vazquez hit the ball hard (106 mph) at Edman on the ground with two outs, but he was thrown out at first for the third out. Hudson finished seven innings for the first time this season, throwing 94 pitches and striking out seven.
Winder struck out Gorman and Arenado to start the bottom of the seventh, and then Contreras ripped a 104 mph line drive into center field for a base hit — his second hit of the day that was over 100 mph. With O’Neill hitting, Contreras stole second base, and advanced to third when Vazquez’s throw to second wound up in center field. However, O’Neill struck out, so Contreras stayed put there at third.
Hudson’s final line: 7 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K’s (94 pitches)
Andre Pallante took over on the mound in the eighth inning after Hudson went seven strong. Gallo greeted him with a 106 mph single to center field. Taylor followed with a slow ground ball to short, and the Cardinals were able to get Gallo at second with the force out — no double play. Pallante hit Castro in the leg with a 96 mph fastball, and after he rolled around on the ground awhile in pain, he was able to take his base. But for the third time in four innings, the Twins grounded into an inning-ending double play. Julien swung over the top of a knee-high slider and hit it to second, where Gorman started the 4-6-3 double play.
36-year old left-hander Caleb Thielbar was the last of three Twins pitchers this game, after Winder did a great job covering three frames out of the pen after Ryan got shelled. Thielbar struck out Motter (who was pinch-hitting for Burleson), got Dylan Carlson to fly out, and struck out Carlson as well.
JoJo Romero pitched a scoreless ninth inning to close this one out for the Cardinals’ 48th win of the season. Donovan Solano pinch-hit for Max Kepler with one out and singled to center, but Romero struck out both Farmer and Wallner to end the game.
FINAL: Cardinals 7, Twins 3
St. Louis (48-61) will look to rip off a second win in a row tomorrow night against the Twins (55-54) at Busch. To do it, they’ll have to knock off All-Star righty Sonny Gray (4-4, 3.22 ERA), who has not won a game since April 30 despite maintaining an ERA well below 3.00 for much of the season. Matthew Liberatore (1-3, 6.75) will start for St. Louis, as he will get an extended look down the stretch run with things looking the way they are. First pitch is set for 6:45 p.m.
Around the Central
Tigers 6, Pirates 3
Nationals 3, Brewers 2
Cubs 10, Reds 6 - BOT 7