Monday’s Game Report: Cardinals 9, Royals 3

Monday’s Game Report: Cardinals 9, Royals 3

 By Rob Rains

It had been exactly one month since Jack Flaherty pitched at Busch Stadium before his start on Monday night against the Royals.

Obviously a lot has happened to the Cardinals in that time span, but one thing hasn’t changed – every time Flaherty takes the mound he has a chance to be dominant.

Still connected to a pitch count as he works his way back from the 17-day break caused by the team’s COVID-19 outbreak, Flaherty allowed just one hit over five innings in the Cardinals win over the Royals.

In his first start after the break, on the road against the Cubs, he threw 41 pitches and came out after 1 2/3 innings.

“The goal tonight was just to be efficient to go out and get quick outs,” Flaherty said. “It was all about executing. The guys put a run across in the first and it was important to go out and put up a zero after that.

“You go into every game and you want to be as efficient as possible and when you come out of the game be winning.”

Flaherty protected that 1-0 lead through the fifth, when the Cardinals offense blew the game open a five-run inning.

“He was the guy that was probably the most comprised by the pause,” manager Mike Shildt said about Flaherty. “He made it look easy today. He was in command the whole time. He didn’t have a lot of stress in his innings.”

Flaherty, who pitched seven innings in his start on opening day on July 24, allowing two runs, lowered his ERA for his three starts to 1.98.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: Paul Goldschmidt stayed hot with three hits, including his third homer of the season, and a walk. Goldschmidt has reached base at least twice in each of his last five games and now has his onbase percentage above .500 for the season to go with a .368 average. He has drawn at least one walk in nine consecutive games, tying the longest streak of his career … Paul DeJong also drove in three runs with a sacrifice fly in the first inning and hitting the first pitch from Greg Holland for a two-run double with the bases loaded in the fifth … Dexter Fowler drove in the final two runs of the inning with another bases-loaded double off Holland … Harrison Bader just missed homering in the third consecutive game, doubling off the top of the wall in left center in the seventh.

On the mound: Flaherty got through the fifth inning on just 64 pitches, 41 for strikes. He struck out three and did not walk a batter. The only two baserunners he allowed came on a two-out double to the ninth place hitter in the third and on an error by Miller in the fifth … Alex Reyes, pitching on consecutive days for the first time this season, could not pitch around an error and a walk in the sixth, giving up a three-run homer to Carlos Soler …Austin Gomber pitched 1 2/3 innings and Jake Woodford the final two innings to close out the win … In their last four games, the Cardinals pitchers combined have allowed only 13 hits in 36 innings. All of the runs they have allowed, nine, in those games have come on three home runs.

Key stat: The top three hitters in the Cardinals lineup – Tommy Edman, Brad Miller and Goldschmidt – reached base a combined 11 times, going 8-of-12 with three walks, scored six runs and had four RBIs, three from Goldschmidt and one from Edman.

Worth noting: It now appears the Cardinals will bring Carlos Martinez back in his desired role as a starter, even if it will take him longer to build up for that assignment. Shildt said Martinez threw live batting practice on Monday and the team is continuing to talk about Martinez’s role. “He wants to start,” Shildt said. “We hear what he is saying.” Because Martinez did have COVID-19 symptoms he was not able to throw during the quarantine like other pitchers. “It’s going to take longer for him to handle the load we expect our starters to handle,” Shildt said … Ryan Helsley, also coming back from COVID-19, threw a side session on Monday and will have another side, or a live batting practice session, likely on Thursday, as he prepares to rejoin the team.

Looking ahead: Adam Wainwright will get the start on Tuesday night in the second game of the series.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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For the latest news and features in St. Louis Sports check out STLSportsPage.com. Rob Rains, Editor.