Monday’s Game Report: Cardinals 12, Nationals 5
By Rob Rains
In trying to figure out which Cardinals offense is going to show up on any given night so far this season, one fact has emerged.
On the night Jack Flaherty is pitching, count on the offense to produce in a big way.
It has happened in all four of Flaherty’s starts, including Monday night in Washington, when the Cardinals hit five home runs to power their way to the win over the Nationals.
In Flaherty’s starts this year, the Cardinals have scored a combined 44 runs – 11, 7, 14 and 12. In the 12 games started by a different pitcher, they have scored a combined total of 39 runs.
Paul DeJong hit two of the homers on Monday night, including a grand slam, while the other homers came from Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt (going back to back) and Justin Williams.
The outburst came a day after the Cardinals were shut out on two hits in Philadelphia. It came five days after Washington starter Joe Ross shut out the Cardinals over six innings in St. Louis. He gave up 10 runs in 4 1/3 innings on Monday night.
Manager Mike Shildt said the secret to the offensive success isn’t really due to Flaherty being on the mound, but as he has tried to explain repeatedly over the last two weeks, it’s just that some nights the results are better than others.
“There’s a plan every night for the opposing pitcher that sometimes is adjusted during the game, but there is a real clarity of let’s take good at-bats,” Shildt said. “Guys were able to execute and we put good swings on him and did a nice job.
“We’ve taken good at-bats some nights when we don’t score. Tonight Ross was in the middle of the plate a little more. When you don’t score as many runs there’s usually a couple of factors – you miss a few pitches, you may hit some balls hard at people, have people on base and line out or a one-hop double play, or the guy may be really good, making good pitches, hitting his spots and not giving you a lot to hit.
“It’s a lot of factors. We look to do our best every night to put good swings on the baseball. I feel like we’ve done that pretty much all year.”
Here is how Monday night’s game broke down:
At the plate: DeJong started the offensive show with a home run in the second before Edman hit a two-run homer, followed by Goldschmidt’s blast in the third. In the fifth the Nationals intentionally walked Dylan Carlson to load the bases before DeJong delivered the grand slam. Williams hit the final homer two batters later … The five homers tied the most the Cardinals have ever hit in a game in Washington (Sept. 4, 2018) while the 12 runs were the most they have scored in 52 games since the franchise moved there in 2005 … DeJong also walked, struck out and popped out. For the season he has five homers (out of his 10 hits), nine walks and 21 strikeouts – meaning 55 percent of his plate appearances have been either a homer, walk or strikeout … The Cardinals had three more extra-base hits, doubles by Edman and Nolan Arenado and a triple by Carlson, giving them eight extra-base hits and just four singles in the game … The Cardinals scored in four consecutive inning and in five overall. Coming into the game they had scored in just three of their previous 39 innings.
On the mound: Flaherty allowed just one hit, by the opposing pitcher, through the first three innings then gave up two runs in the fourth before the Nationals added three unearned runs in the sixth. It was the second time in his four starts Flaherty has pitched six innings, the only Cardinals pitcher to do that this season … Genesis Cabrera worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in the seventh and Daniel Ponce de Leon worked the final two innings, allowing his only baserunner on a hit batter.
Key stat: Including the two games when the Cardinals were swept out of the 2019 NLCS by the Nationals, they had hit a total of five homers in their previous seven games at Nationals Park dating back to 2018, in a span of 235 at-bats. The five homers on Monday night came in a span of 21 plate appearances and increased the total for the season to 25, tied with the Braves for the most in the majors.
Worth noting: The Cardinals are optimistic that Tyler O’Neill will be able to rejoin the team from the injured list on Friday. He has been working out at the alternate site camp and is progressing to full-speed running, according to Shildt … In other rehab updates, Harrison Bader was cleared to begin live batting practice on Monday and Miles Mikolas threw a live BP session on Sunday. Mikolas is still likely at least three weeks away, with the club hoping he can move into the rotation by the middle of May … This was the Cardinals first game in Washington since game four of the 2019 NLCS. Only eight of the 16 position players who started that game were in the lineups for both teams on Monday night, and only five were playing rhe same position. Starting both games were Edman, Goldschmidt, Molina and DeJong for the Cardinals and Trea Turner, Juan Soto, Victor Robles and Yan Gomes for the Nationals.
Up next: Adam Wainwright will get the start on Tuesday night in the second game of the series.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains