Mike Shildt Era Kicks Off With a 6-4 Win Over the Reds, Closing the Book on an Eventful 1st Half
If you haven’t heard by now, you’re probably living under a rock. The Cardinals announced after last night’s 8-2 loss to the Reds that they would part ways with manager, Mike Matheny and his hitting coaches, John Mabry and Bill Mueller. Mike Shildt was named the interim manager for the remainder of the season, and Mark Budaska and George Greer have filled the roles of Mabry and Mueller.
With that, there was a baseball game played this afternoon, the first Cardinals game in six and a half years not managed by Mike Matheny.
Miles Mikolas, getting selected to his first All-Star game, would get the final start before heading into the break. After hitting the Reds leadoff man, Peraza, who seemed to never get out during this series, the Lizard King set down the next three in order, ending his inning on 24 pitches.
Matt Carpenter, leadoff guy, got things started with an exclamation point, drilling a solo HR over the Cardinals bullpen on the first pitch he saw, making it 1-0 Cards.
Mikolas would give up a two out walk to Duvall in the top of the 2nd, recording the final out of the inning getting DeSclafani to fly out to Bader.
Dexter Fowler made his presence known in the bottom of the 2nd inning with two outs, sending a 3-2 fastball into the Cardinals bullpen for a solo HR, making it 2-0 Cardinals. Harrison Bader extended the inning when he lined a ball into the RCF gap for a long single. Long single because when he was rounding the first base bag he fell over himself about 5 times, eventually hyperextending his knee somewhere along the journey. Pham would replace Bader and play a vital role of the outcome of today’s contest.
The Reds would connect for their first hit in the top of the 3rd, a single from Peraza, who else? Peraza was retired as quick as he reached base, as Mikolas induced an inning ending double-play ball on Gennett, forcing him to ground it back to him for a 1-6-3 scoring.
Cincinnati would rattle off three runs in the top of the 4th to take the lead 3-2, forcing Mikolas to throw 40 pitches. Votto doubled to RF, Suárez walked, Winker singled to CF. Mikolas picked up his second strikeout next, picking up a big one with Barnhart at the plate, getting him to whiff at a curveball. Adam Duvall tied the game next, hitting a two-run single to LF to make it 2-2. DeSclafani then laid a bunt down in no man’s land, reaching base for a bunt single.
With the bases loaded and two away, Peraza kept being a pest, grounding a ball back to Mikolas who would misplay it allowing the leading run to cross the plate.
The first three Cardinals reached base to start the bottom of the 4th, doing the same as the Reds did the half inning before. Swags would single down the LF line, Trap House would walk, and Wong would be HBP, bringing in Dex. Just like Barnhart did in the inning prior, Dex would strikeout for the first out.
But no need to worry, Tommy Pham is here. After taking over for the injured Bader, Pham would rip a two-run single back up the middle, scoring Swags and Trap House to make it 4-3 Cardinals. With the lead and Mikolas at 85 pitches, Shildt would elect to pinch-hit for Mikolas, sending Cafecíto to the plate. Before Cafecíto would dig in, the Reds would make a pitching change to bring in a starter, Sal Romano. Cafecíto would hit an RBI ground out to Peraza, as Wong crossed the plate. With a base open and two away, Riggleman elected to put Carp on base for Yadi. Yadi would come through per the usual, hitting an RBI single to LF, bringing in Pham with ease.
Battle of the Bullpens:
Gant tossed the 5th-8th innings for the Cardinals bullpen this afternoon, not allowing a hit or run on 61 pitches. Gant has his changeup dialed in tonight, picking up 3/4 of his strikeouts on the beauty. Gant would toss two, 1-2-3 innings, in the 5th and 8th innings. The only two Reds base runners on Gant this afternoon were walks, one to Barnhart and the other to Votto (don’t blame him.)
All in all, Gant was beyond exceptional this afternoon. He’s been playing his role to perfection this year and is proving to be a reliable option for the Cardinals moving forward.
The Cardinals would muster only one more hit the rest of the afternoon, an infield single, tapped off the bat of Tommy Pham.
Jordan Hicks would get the 9th today in a save situation, throwing for a second consecutive day. Norris was apparently unavailable for some reason.
Hicks, who is coming off some recent tough appearances, recorded two quick ground ball outs, getting Blandino to ground it back to him and Hamilton getting robbed of a hit from Trap House over at third. With the Reds down to their final strike, Peraza, of all people extended the game with a single to CF. With Gennett batting, Peraza would take second base on fielder’s indifference. Gennett then laced an RBI single into LF, scoring Peraza to make it 6-4 Cardinals. Votto came to the plate representing the tying run, but Hicks would win the battle, getting the crafty-veteran to ground out to Wong on the first offering.
What a relief, a win heading into a much needed All-Star break with a record of (48-46) in the first half. A perfect time for a reset. Today was so needed.
The Cardinals (48-46) pick things back up on Thursday, opening with a five-game set against the first place Cubs (55-38) at Wrigley Field. They sit 7.5 games behind the Cubs and 4 games out of the second wildcard spot, if anybody is paying attention to that right now.
Thanks for reading the entire first half, I’m looking forward to a much more exciting second half, cheers!
Game 94 is in the books