Game Report: Cardinals 6, Pirates 5 (11 innings)
It almost sounds like an April Fool’s joke – did you hear about the game the Cardinals won in which they struck out 17 times, did not have a lead at any point in the first 10 innings and finished the game with Yadier Molina playing third base for the first time in his 1,875-game career?
It wasn’t a joke. All of that really happened on a long, cold Monday afternoon in Pittsburgh.
Trailing 4-0 going to the seventh inning, the Cardinals got one hit out of the infield, a two-run homer by Kolten Wong, en route to scoring three times to cut the Pirates lead to 4-3. A pinch-hit RBI double by Tyler O’Neill tied the game in the eighth, and after the Pirates regained the lead in the bottom of the eighth, a pinch-hit double by Jose Martinez drove in the run that tied the game again in the ninth.
The Cardinals had two outs and nobody on base in the 11th when Paul DeJong singled. He advanced to second when Matt Wieters was hit by a pitch, took third when Molina walked and scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball to complete the improbable victory.
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: The 17 strikeouts, following 15 strikeouts on Sunday in Milwaukee, marked the first time in franchise history the Cardinals struck out 15 or more times in consecutive games … They have now struck out a major-league record 64 times in the first five games of the season … The Cardinals were shut out on just two hits through the first six innings before Wong hit his third homer of the season to start the comeback .,. Trailing 4-2 after Wong’s homer, the Cardinals got an infield hit, had a batter reach on an error and drew another walk before a bases-loaded walk to Paul Goldschmidt cut the deficit to 4-3. There still were no outs in the inning with DeJong, Marcell Ozuna and Molina coming up – their third, fourth and fifth place hitters – but all failed to bring in the tying run.
On the mound: Adam Wainwright allowed the first three Pirates runs in the first despite giving up only one hit, a two-run double by Colin Moran. He walked three and needed 33 pitches to get through the inning. Wainwright allowed another run in the third before coming out of the game after four innings … The Cardinals used six relievers following Wainwright. Mike Mayers allowed the lone run over the final seven innings, the game-tying homer by Moran in the eighth … Andrew Miller’s slow start continued as he walked and hit the only two batters he faced. Miller has not retired the first batter he has faced in any of his three appearances, allowing a home run and issuing two walks.
Key stat: The Cardinals were 0-15 last season in games in which they trailed by four or more runs in the seventh inning or later.
Worth noting: Molina ended up playing third base in the 11th after Matt Carpenter was ejected for disagreeing with a checked swing call, his fourth strikeout of the game. Molina did not have any fielding chances in his half inning at third … The Cardinals were out of position players in part because Dexter Fowler and Ozuna already had come out of the game. Fowler was hit by a pitch on his left foot in the seventh and ran the bases but was then removed from the game. Initial X-rays were negative but he is scheduled to be re-examined … Ozuna came out as part of a double switch in the eighth … Home plate umpire Jerry Layne had to leave the game after he was hit by a foul ball on his facemask in the seventh. The rest of the game was played with three umpires … Jedd Gyorko joined the team and took batting practice before the game. He is expected to be activated in time for Thursday’s home opener … Monday’s game began with the temperature at 37 degrees.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals have the day off on Tuesday and then will complete the season-opening road trip on Wednesday night. Miles Mikolas will make his second start of the season.