Before there was constantly ripping Mike Matheny, there was constantly ripping Tony LaRussa. And before that, ripping Joe Torre, or ripping Whitey Herzog, or (briefly) ripping Red Schoendienst or Mike Jorgensen. Yes, St. Louis Cardinals fans tended to rip Matheny more than the others, at least as far as I can remember or tell, but some level of ire for the manager is just part of the job. To a healthy degree, it’s flattering. So let’s get ready to get angry about Mike Shildt. Here were the lineups for this afternoon’s game against the Cincinnati Reds.
Oh my I like that lineup for the Cardinals! Tommy Pham is struggling and giving him days off, even if it’s right before an extended break, works for me. And something about Paul DeJong batting third that I can’t quite describe really speaks to me. Or maybe I’m just feeling the wave of optimism from the beginning of the Mike Shildt era. Hopefully I’ll find reason to yell at him later, just to maintain order in the universe.
- Miles Mikolas, whose start today will preclude him from pitching in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, opened up the game by hitting leadoff hitter Jose Peraza with a pitch. But he righted the ship soon thereafter, inducing consecutive fly outs and a fielder’s choice to leave the inning without any damage to the scoreboard.
- For the second consecutive game, Matt Carpenter led things off for the Cardinals offense with a home run. The Mike Shildt era is off to a rip-roaring start, with the Cardinals on pace to win every game infinity to nothing. Though (GALAXY BRAIN) if the team never gets outs, the games can never end and the Cardinals will never win the World Series. Fire Mike Shildt immediately. Okay, I’ve got this.
- Things were mostly nondescript until the Bottom of the Second inning, when Dexter Fowler joined the party with a solo home run of his own. HEY DID YOU GUYS KNOW THAT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN MIKE MATHENY AND DEXTER FOWLER WAS OFTEN CONTENTIOUS? WHAT A CRAZY THING THAT HAPPENED IN THE FIRST GAME AFTER MIKE MATHENY WAS FIRED! 2-0 Cardinals.
- The next batter, Harrison Bader, hit what will go down as a single, but it was a deep hit which would have been a double or perhaps even a triple had Bader not come up limping while rounding first base. It looked like an ugly injury at first, but while Bader was removed for Tommy Pham, he was able to walk off the field under his own power. So there’s that.
- Things were quiet again until the top of the fourth inning, when Joey Votto doubled, Eugenio Suarez walked, and a Jesse Winker single loaded the bases for the Reds with nobody out. A Tucker Barnhart strikeout was a minor relief, but the subequent Adam Duvall single, which scored two, tied the game. The next batter, pitcher Anthony DeSclafani, loaded the bases after reaching on a bunt, and while the second out was promptly made by Billy Hamilton, a Jose Peraza infield single back to Mikolas gave the Reds a 3-2 lead that they would carry into the bottom of the fourth.
- So you remember earlier when I said Tommy Pham has struggled? Well, he’s in the game now, and in his first plate appearance, he came up with nobody out and the bases loaded and hit a two-run single, on which he eventually advanced to second thanks to a Billy Hamilton throwing error.
- Next up is Miles Mikolas, who despite that home run he hit in Milwaukee in his debut isn’t a great hitter, so not much to see h…wait a second, is that Jose Martinez? Pinch hitting in a high leverage situations even though Mikolas hasn’t yet become eligible for The Almighty Win? Mike Shildt, you dog you. Anyway, Martinez grounded out, but he hit it deep enough to score Kolten Wong from third base and give the Cardinals a two-run lead. And following an intentional walk to Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina singled and the Cardinals seriously got to a 6-3 lead.
- With Mikolas out of the game, the Cardinals have at least five innings to survive with their bullpen, but with the All-Star Break coming up, they have more options than normal, despite the Cardinals using several of their best relievers in a relative blowout last night (what a lovely, sentimental note for Mike Matheny to go out on!). Today’s fifth inning option was John Gant, who has been a starter for the Cardinals this season but was available for relief given the unusual circumstsances of when today’s game is being played. Gant was also the team’s eighth inning. Oh, and the sixth and seventh inning options. In total, John Gant pitched four innings of relief for the Cardinals, totaling four strikeouts, two walks, and zero hits allowed. Pretty good.
- Jordan Hicks, who pitched yesterday, is coming in for the top of the ninth (oh, no runs have scored since the fourth–I’m not skipping over anything substantial here).
- And Hicks threw a bunch of balls really fast and set down the first two batters. Terrific! The next two batters, Jose Peraza and Scooter Gennett, singled. Peraza scored thanks to a fielder’s indifference in there, and anyway, Joey Votto is up now. And he…swung on the first pitch? And grounded out? Okay! Cardinals win 6-4 and are undefeated in the Mike Shildt era.