Tonight, at Busch Stadium, the St. Louis Cardinals, led by Miles Mikolas, faced the Pittsburgh Pirates, led by Not Miles Mikolas. Would the Cardinals follow last night’s thriller by following The Best Pitcher In Baseball to victory, or would the Pirates get lucky? Anyway, I’m tired so this game better not go to extra innings. Here are the lineups.
First inning: Things were shaky early for King Miles, as a Starling Marte two-out single followed by a Josh Bell walk created trouble, but a Corey Dickerson ground out quietly ended the inning. In the bottom half, following a leadoff Matt Carpenter groundout, Harrison Bader walked, and at first, it appeared Jose Martinez grounded into a fielder’s choice. But upon further review, Harrison Bader’s slide was reviewed illegal, as hit hand reached up just above the fielder’s knee. I think the call was probably fine but I’m still triyng to fathom a universe where that slide is illegal and Anthony Rizzo’s hunting the catcher slide is fine. Still not sure I understand but I guess that’s the mystery of baseball.
Second inning: In the top of the second, Miles Mikolas has a very Miles Mikolas-y inning, striking out none, walking none, and allowing no hits. Just robotically effective. But this was almost not the case, as Gregory Polanco had what looked like a double, hitting the ball deep into left-center, before Harrison Bader flew to retrieve the deep fly. Harrison Bader is really fast and awesome. In the bottom of the second, the Cardinals grounded out three times–but all to different fields. Diversity!
Third inning: The Cardinals’ shakiness continued. Following a Jameson Taillon groundout, Adam Frazier doubled and Francisco Cervelli, who apparently is made of magnets, was hit by a pitch. Starling Marte grounded into what could have been an inning-ending double play, but a Yairo Munoz error at shortstop loaded the bases with one out. The next batter, Josh Bell, hit a deep-ish fly to left field, and Adam Frazier ran home before the Marcell Ozuna throw could beat him. The next batter, Corey Dickerson, grounded out to second, so the damage wasn’t terrible, but allowing a run is still not fun. Unfortunately, the bottom third of the Cardinals lineup could very much not answer Pittsburgh’s run, and the game stood 1-0 in favor of the Pirates.
Fourth inning: Six up, six down. More things happened in the fifth so I’m going to move to that.
Fifth inning: At some point as a young child, I internalized this idea that triples were luck. Not total luck–obviously a fast guy with enough power to hit balls out of the infield had a major aodvantage–but that a Major League defense should be able to hold pretty much any hit to a double at worst if fielded properly. I don’t think this is true but when a team hits back-to-back triples, it seems something could be going better. Adam Frazier hit a triple which went under the glove of first baseman Jose Martinez and then Francisco Cervelli hit a “Nelson Cruz unable to reach for David Freese’s fly ball in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series”-esque triple to left field, just out of the reach of Marcell Ozuna. Frazier scored. Mercifully, both Starling Marte and Josh Bell made routine-ish outs (Dan McLaughlin was pretty excited about Matt Carpenter’s play at third base in the Marte out, but it looked relatively routine to me), but one run scored. In the bottom half, the leadoff hitter, Marcell Ozuna got a hit! We got a hit, in the words of one of the more enjoyable songs off the pretty terrible, comatose-era Who album I reviewed for an English paper my senior year of high school.
This was followed up by…another hit, this time courtesy Dexter Fowler, and with Yairo Munoz approaching the plate, I remember that giving up on the Cardinals is generally a foolish move. And then back-to-back strikeouts from Munoz and Kolten Wong, followed by a weak Francisco Pena groundout, remind me that even good baseball teams lose 50-70 games a year and caring about every game is a fruitless endeavor. Oh, and there’s no NBA or NHL on tonight, so whatever. It’s fine!
Sixth inning: Miles Mikolas came back out, and I doubt he keeps pitching after this inning. After all, his spot leads off the bottom half of the inning. I stand by this assumption and will not change it later to make me look smart because, well, I write enough on this here web site that you know I am not smart. Anyway, after back to back singles, I’m starting wonder if Miles Mikolas even makes it through this half-inning. He took the next batter, Gregory Polanco, to a full count before he fouled out to Matt Carpenter. At this point, Mikolas sat at 87 pitches, which would look better if he hadn’t been allowing his fair share of base runners. But then something glorious happened–Matt Carpenter caught a line out (a fairly routine one) and then he immediately snapped a throw to second (a more difficult play) to pick off Corey Dickerson. Through 5 1/2, the score stood at 2-0 Pirates. True to form, Mikolas was pinch-hit for by Greg Garcia aaaaand nothing came of it, as Garcia flied out to left. And then Matt Carpenter struck out. And then Harrison Bader grounded out to the pitcher. And uggggggh.
Seventh inning: Sam Tuivailala entered for the Cardinals, and as has been the case recently, Tui has been quite effective in relief. He struck out Jameson Taillon (okay, not the biggest challenge, I’ll admit) before inducing a nondescript Adam Frazier grounder and then struck out Francisco Cervelli looking. That was rather impressive. Less impressive was the offense for the Cardinals–while Marcell Ozuna did manage a (fairly fluky infield) single, this was the extent of the offense.
Eighth inning: Sam Tuivailala is back to pitch this inning and I am officially out of opinions. While he struck out the first batter, he walked Josh Bell, and the next batter, Corey Dickerson, doubled to left, and Bell scored on the…okay, Marcell Ozuna isn’t a very good thrower right now. And I tend to think throwing arms are kind of overrated and it’s more of a “it looks worse than it actually is” thing but, like, you could look at Jon Jay and know he wasn’t gonna throw that hard. He just wasn’t a big guy. Marcell Ozuna looks like he should have a gun and, whether it’s due to injury or Bizarro Cardinals Devil Magic, he just doesn’t. Dickerson advanced to third on the throw, and when Colin Moran flied out to right as the first batter faced by Mike Mayers, Dickerson managed to score the game’s fourth run. And then Gregory Polanco doubled and, honestly, at this point I’m just bored. The Cardinals haven’t overcome a four-run deficit since, well, yesterday, but two games in a row seems difficult. A Jordy Mercer strikeout did end the half-frame, but not before putting the Cardinals suddenly at a four-run deficit. In the bottom half, one which included two pinch-hitters in Tommy Pham and Jedd Gyorko, the offense went down in order. 4-0 Pirates.
Ninth inning: So I know people keep saying the NBA Finals are boring because it’s Warriors/Cavs again, but honestly I love it. Granted, it helps that I’m not a passionate NBA partisan, and the team to which I do pledge allegiance, the Chicago Bulls, are not a threat to win anything, but there’s something refreshing about a final round that includes three of the five best NBA players of the last decade in LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry. I hope that series goes seven. And when I don’t have other sports to distract me, expecting the 2018 Cardinals to go all 2004 Cardinals wouldn’t be asking too much, would it?
Pirates win 4-0.