Saturday’s Game Report: Cardinals sweep doubleheader over Cubs
By Rob Rains
The Cardinals have had to battle through a lot of challenges already this season, so why would anybody expect that the rest of the season will be anything different?
“It’s been a crazy year, hasn’t it?” said Tyler O’Neill.
Just days after finding out that Dexter Fowler would miss at least a couple of weeks with a stomach ailment, the Cardinals learned Saturday that they will be without starter Kwang Hyun Kim for a while too.
“Guys got to step up,” said Adam Wainwright.
The first one to step up Saturday was Wainwright, who came within two outs of pitching his second consecutive complete game, albeit in a seven-inning game, in a 4-2 win in game one of the doubleheader.
Then in the second game, five pitchers combined to limit the Cubs to three hits and O’Neill hit a two-run homer in a 5-1 victory.
Kim was placed on the injured list on Saturday because of an issue with his kidney, one day before he was supposed to start against the Cubs. Wainwright knows the loss of both Fowler and Kim is simply the team’s latest hurdle.
“We’re going to miss them,” Wainwright said. “They are two great players. Dex was playing the best baseball I’ve seen him play in St. Louis. Both he and KK are quality big league players but we’ve got some young guys that are now going to get a chance. They’ve got to step up and take advantage.”
Manager Mike Shildt knows that needs to happen as well.
“We do recognize that there have been challenges, unprecedented is probably the best word,” he said. “We figure out a way to get in done. This group has that warrior solution get it done mentality.”
Here is how the games broke down:
At the plate: Paul DeJong drove in two runs in the first game on a fielder’s choice grounder and a single, then hit his third homer of the season in the second game … Lane Thomas doubled and scored in the first game, then drew a walk and scored in front of O’Neill on his home run in the second game … It was O’Neill’s first homer in 18 games, a span of 54 at-bats … O’Neill also doubled in the fourth inning of game two and scored on a sacrifice fly by Harrison Bader.
On the mound: Wainwright is off to the first 4-0 start in his career, giving up both of Chicago’s runs on home runs to ian Happ. He gave up only four other hits, striking out six. He had to get out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the second … A one-out single by Nico Hoerner in the seventh knocked Wainwright out of the game, with Giovanny Gallegos coming on to retire Happ on a fly ball, and following an error, striking out Anthony Rizzo for the final out … Austin Gomber made his first start in the bullpen game in the second game and allowed only one hit, but walked three in 2 2/3 innings. Ryan Helsley, Genesis Cabrera, John Gant and Andrew Miller followed Gomber to the mound, combining to give up only two hits.
Key start: Happ’s four home runs off Wainwright are the most that Wainwright has allowed to any hitter in his career. They have come in his last games, on Sept. 28 last year and on Saturday. In those two games Happ has five hits, including the four home runs … The only other hitters who have had two-homer games against Wainwright are Lance Berkman, Ryan Braun, Vernon Wells and Ryan Zimmerman.
Worth noting: Kim spent Friday night in a Chicago hospital after being taken to the emergency room because of abdominal pain which turned out to be from a kidney ailment, the Cardinals said on Saturday. Kim was placed on the injured list and will return to St Louis on Sunday. “The good news is that he is feeling much better and the optimism for him to pitch at some point this year is a real possibility,” said John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations. Kim was placed on a blood thinner, and Mozeliak said medication hopefully will be able to control the issue, which he described as a kidney blockage. Earlier this week the Cardinals had to place Fowler on the injured list because of a stomach ailment that will likely sideline him for at least a couple of weeks. “It feels like one thing after another,” Mozeliak said … Andrew Miller was activated from the injured list to replace Kim, and Nabil Crismatt was added to the roster as the 29th man for the doubleheader.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals moved Dakota Hudson, who had been scheduled to start the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, to start Sunday night’s game.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains