Tuesday’s Game Report: Nationals 3, Cardinals 2
By Rob Rains
The Cardinals have relied heavily on their bullpen so far this season, only getting two six-inning starts, both from Jack Flaherty, in their first 16 games.
They finally had a starter pitch seven innings on Tuesday night, Adam Wainwright, and he turned a 2-1 lead over to the bullpen, asking for six outs to secure the victory.
It was the way they drew it up going into the season, the way they expect games to go often this season.
On this night, however, it didn’t work out the way they planned.
Giovanny Gallegos could not protect the lead as the Nationals used a leadoff walk, a hit batter and a double to tie the game in the span of three batters. A groundout and an intentional walk loaded the bases, at which point the Cardinals used a five-man infield, with just two outfielders, to try to get out of the inning with a double play.
Starlin Castro struck out for the second out, but no defensive strategy could prevent the go-ahead run from scoring when Gallegos walked Yan Gomes on four pitches.
“Gio’s been one of our best guys for three years,” said manager Mike Shildt. “He’s got the stuff to get out of it. He pretty much was a pitch away. He earned the opportunity.
“How many times have we talked about him coming in with the bases loaded and getting guys out? He throws strikes, got plus pitches.
“It was the first one we’ve had that got away late, that’s going to happen occasionally. They don’t taste real good.”
Here is how Tuesday night’s game broke down:
At the plate: A night after hitting five home runs and scoring 12 runs, the Cardinals were shut out for six innings by Patrick Corbin with just four hits before he was taken out of the game. Yadier Molina immediately drew a 10-pitch walk to open the seventh and tied the game when he scored on a triple by Dylan Carlson. A sacrifice fly from Austin Dean brought Carlson home with the go-ahead run … Two of the hits off Corbin came in the first inning but the runners were stranded at second and third when Carlson grounded out … Molina’s double with one out in the ninth put the tying run in scoring position, but Carlson flied to the warning track in center and Paul DeJong flew out to end the game.
On the mound: Wainwright made only one mistake in his seven innings, allowing a home run to Josh Bell with one out in the sixth that broke up the scoreless game. That was the only hit Wainwright allowed after the third inning as he retired 13 of the last 14 hitters he faced, striking out the side in his final inning of work in the seventh. He struck out 10 for the first time since 2019, allowing just five hits.
Key stat: This was the first one-run game of the season for the Cardinals. Every other team in the majors had played at least two one-run games before Tuesday night.
Worth noting: There had been only three previous games by a 39-year-old pitcher for the Cardinals with 10 or more strikeouts. The last two were by Chuck Finley in 2002. The other was by Bob Gibson in 1975 … This was the third time in his career that Wainwright has gone seven or more innings, allowed one run and struck out at least 10 and didn’t get the win. The other two times were in 2009 and 2010.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals get to face St. Louis native Max Scherzer in the final game of the series and the road trip on Wednesday, a 3:05 p.m. start St. Louis time. Carlos Martinez will start for the Cardinals.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains