Monday’s Game Report: Cardinals 7, Pirates 0
By Rob Rains
Some of the early speculation about moves the Cardinals could make between now and the July 31 trading deadline have suggested the team should acquire a starting pitcher or perhaps a bat.
The way the current starters have been pitching of late – and the way Tyler O’Neill has been hitting – might change those opinions.
The latest pitching performance came from Miles Mikolas on Monday night, who threw his second career shutout as the Cardinals won their third consecutive game in the series opener against the Pirates at Busch Stadium.
Mikolas scattered eight hits and threw 100 pitches to become the first Cardinal to complete a shutout with 100 or fewer pitches since a 98-pitch shutout by Chris Carpenter on Sept. 7, 2011.
It also was the first complete game of the season for the Cardinals and only the 14th overall this year in the National League.
The offensive star was O’Neill, who drove in four runs with his first two-homer game in the majors. Over his last three games, O’Neill – playing because of an injury to Marcell Ozuna – has three homers and has driven in nine runs.
Mikolas also benefitted from some strong defensive plays behind him, including a running catch by Dexter Fowler that turned into one of the Cardinals three double plays.
The win moved the Cardinals into second place in the NL Central for the first time since May 7.
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: O’Neill played a role in six of the Cardinals’ seven runs. In the first, his fly ball to left was ruled an error, but still brought Paul Goldschmidt in from first base. In the third, his infield single moved Goldschmidt to third, and then he scored on Fowler’s sacrifice fly. O’Neill then hit his first two-run homer in the fifth and repeated that with another blast, estimated at 433 feet, in the seventh … Over the last three games O’Neill is 6-of-12 with the three homers and nine RBIs … Goldschmidt drove in the other run with a double, just missing a home run, in the third … Carpenter came out of the game after fouling a ball off the top of his right foot in the seventh. Tommy Edman replaced him, and struck out, and by rule the strikeout was charged to Carpenter … The team expects to know more about Carpenter’s status on Tuesday but his status will be day-to-day. Initial X-rays were negative.
On the mound: Mikolas had won only one of his previous 10 starts, going 1-7 with two no-decisions. In his last five starts at home, however, including Monday night, Mikolas has allowed only four runs in 34 innings … Mikolas did not walk a batter for the third consecutive game and has allowed only two walks in his last five starts, covering 30 innings … He stranded four runners on third bases and recorded 17 outs on ground balls … Of his 100 pitches he threw 73 for strikes … He threw a first-pitch strike to 24 of the 32 hitters he faced … Mikolas’ other shutout came on May 21 last year against Kansas City.
Key stat: Over their last five games, including the final game before the All-Star break, the Cardinals’ starters have allowed a total of four earned runs in 35 2/3 innings, an ERA of 1.01. In the four games since the break the four starters – Daniel Ponce de Leon, Dakota Hudson, Adam Wainwright and Mikolas – combined have allowed three earned runs in 28 2/3 innings, an ERA of 0.94. The starters have not allowed a run in their last 17 innings.
Worth noting: The Cardinals have now gone a month – since June 15 – without an infielder committing an error. That streak is now at 23 games. Overall the Cardinals 42 errors, including one by O’Neill on Monday night, are the second fewest in the NL, one more than Arizona … The run in the first inning gave the Cardinals a streak of three consecutive games in which they scored in the first inning, the first time they have done that this season … The Cardinals now have five 2-homer games this season. O’Neill, who turned 24 a month ago, is the youngest Cardinal to hit two homers in game since 23-year-old Randal Grichuk did it twice in 2015.
Looking ahead: Jack Flaherty will get the start on Tuesday night in the second game of the series.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains
Post-Game Audio– Mike Shildt