Jack Flaherty and a new and improved version of Sonny Gray battled it out this afternoon in chilly downtown St. Louis, cooling down the bats to go along with the weather.
Flaherty battled thru his most troublesome inning to begin the game, as he ran his pitch count to 24. I don’t want to say he didn’t get help from his defense, because he definitely did, but not so much on the first batter of the game, Joey Votto.
Votto would reach base on a grounder to Wong at 2B, who looked to find himself in between on the play for the error. Flaherty bounced back with two outs, getting Suárez to fly out to Folwer in CF, and strikeout Winker on a good fastball. Puig worked a walk next, putting runners on for Barnhart.
KoWo would make up for the error, making a ridiculous play to take away a base hit and rbi, diving on the outfield grass to his left to snag the liner from Barnhart for the final out, escaping the Reds 1st inning threat
Jack would get thru his 2nd inning of work on 14 pitches, striking out Iglesias on that filthy slider he possesses for the first out. Schebler would fly out to Swags for out number two, and Sonny Gray would pick up his first base hit of the season (of course, baseball), lacing a hanging curve into CF to bring up Peraza. Peraza would fly out to Swags, stranding Gray.
The Cards would turn three double plays, getting the first in the 3rd inning. After a Votto leadoff single into RF, Jack would roll up a 3-6-1 twin killing, erasing the leadoff hit immediately.
Gray was in beast mode on the mound this afternoon, too. Gray would keep the Cards hitless thru the first three innngs, adding a couple of strikeouts with it.
In fact, the only Cards base runner thru the first 3 innings was Dex, who worked a walk after being down 0-2 in the count.
Flaherty turned in a 1-2-3, 11 pitch inning in the 4th, picking up a strikeout on Barnhart with a slider. Barnhart didn’t stand a chance.
The bats would pick up a couple of runs for their starter in the bottom of the inning, as Pauly Deez Dubs stroked a two bagger into the LF corner with one out. Swags then drew a four pitch walk, bringing in the hitting machine, Cafecíto. José did what he does, placing a single the opposite way to drive in Deez to make it a 1-0 game. Ozuna would go 1st to 3rd on the play to Puig here, it was beautiful.
Yadi added another run to the board next, sending a sac fly to Puig in deep RF. Swags would test Puig’s arm again (and it was a lengthy toss) and would slide in safely past Barnhart to make it 2-0.
The Reds weren’t able to cash in on a leadoff error for the second time in the 5th inning. Schebler would pop a ball up in the infield to DeJong and Gyorko would step in his way, as neither of them would come up with the catch.
Sonny Gray then bunt popped out Goldy in foul territory and Flaherty then picked up double play ball number two.
Peraza would ground into a 6-4-3 double play, as Flaherty threw only 6 pitches somehow.
And guess what? He did it again to end the top of the 6th. This time needing only 10 pitches. He would strikeout Votto on a fastball to begin the inning and Suárez would single into CF, bringing up Winker.
Winker ripped a ball on the ground to Goldy at 1B, who would step on the bag, leaving Suárez caught between the bases in a rundown. Suárez would be tagged out by Deez on the play.
Flaherty’s final inning would come in the 7th, needing only 8 pitches. He was so efficient with his pitch count this afternoon, something we need to see more of moving forward.
Flaherty final line: (7IP, 4 hits, 0 runs, 1 bb, 4 k’s, 89 pitches)
Stephenson and Peralta would hold the Cards bats quiet thru the 6th and 7th. The only hit coming off Stephenson, a Cafecíto double in the 6th. Peralta picked up two k’s during the 7th, flashing a good little changeup, getting the pinch-hitter O’Neill on a change in the dirt.
The 8th inning, things got kinda weird. Three different relievers would each record an out, and the Reds were still held off the scoreboard.
Brebbs picked up the first out, striking out the pinch-hitter, Dietrich, looking at that excellent slide piece. Peraza would single off Brebbs to bring up Votto, forcing Shildt to go with his lefty, Miller. Miller would complete his task, getting Votto to fly out to Ozuna.
With Suárez coming to bat, Shildt went back to his pen, bringing in his closer, Jordan Hicks, for the (what looked to be) four-out save opportunity.
Suárez never stood a chance, whiffing at, what has become my favorite pitch in all of baseball, the Jordan Hicks slider.
The Cards added on very needed insurance runs in the 8th, picking up 3 more.
KoWo “doubled” into shallow CF, as Schebler had a little battle with the sun go south, almost having the ball plunk him in the coconut. Hernandez then recorded two quick outs to bring up Ozuna, who they wanted no part of, intentionally walking him to bring up Cafecíto. Café would work a free pass to load the bases for Yadi, and we all knew Yadi was about to come thru clutch, as always.
Yadi broke things open, sending a two run single up the middle to make it a 4-0 game. Dex then made it a 5-0 game, ripping a double down the 1B line, but apparently got tagged out by an invisible tag from Peraza. Besides, he was on the base, no clue how this call was upheld after the review, what a joke.
Anyways, with the 5 run lead, Dom Leone would get the chance to lower that ERA after his rough outing Friday night. And it didn’t get better for him, giving up a leadoff double to Winker. Puig and Barnhart would be retired quickly, bringing up Iglesias. Iglesias singled to RF, putting runners at the corners for Schebler.
Schebler kept the Reds chances alive, sending a two run double to RF to cut the lead to 5-2.
With it being a save situation again, Shildt went with G-Spot for the games final out.
Gant would get Dietrich to line out to Goldy for the 5-2 WINNER!!!
The Cardinals (17-10) head out to Washington on a #HappyFlight to take on the Nationals (12-14) in a four-game series.
Michael Wacha (1-0, 4.64) is set to be activated off the IL tomorrow, as he will get the ball in game-one, facing off against Patrick Corbin* (2-0, 2.48).
First pitch 6:05pm c/t.