Saturday’s Game Report: Cardinals 2, Reds 0

Saturday’s Game Report: Cardinals 2, Reds 0

By Rob Rains

Now that he is finally getting a chance to be a starting pitcher, John Gant is making the most of the opportunity.

Gant moved into the rotation to begin the season because of spring training injuries to Kwang Hyun Kim and Miles Mikolas, something he had been quite vocal about wanting to do.

He made his fourth start for the Cardinals on Saturday and had arguably the best start of his career, allowing only three hits over six shutout innings against the Reds at Busch Stadium.

Having been in the bullpen since the start of the 2019 season, it was only the second time in 32 career starts that Gant has thrown six or more innings without allowing a run.

He worked seven scoreless innings against the Indians on June 25, 2018, allowing just one hit, but he issued five walks in that game. He walked only two on Saturday.

“I love being out there and competing,” said Gant. “I kind of lose myself in the contest every time I am out there. A lot of balls put into play today and almost all of them were gloved down.”

Gant remained in the rotation when Kim returned from the injured list, and Mikolas is still working his way back to St. Louis, expected to be back in middle to late May.

That should give Gant at least three more starts to prove he should stay even after Mikolas returns.

“I love it, I love making starts and getting a chance to go out there and pitch for a couple of hours instead of a couple minutes,” Gant said. “Just really digging it.”

Manager Mike Shildt is enjoying watching Gant make those starts as well.

“He declared about wanting the opportunity multiple times,” Shildt said. “He wanted a real sincere chance to compete so he had his head around it. He was intentional about his spring training, and that’s a good healthy thing.

“He’s continued to take his focus into the season and his stuff with it. Both of those things are very high quality for John … He’s done a nice job.”

Here is how Saturday’s game broke down:

At the plate: Hitting second for the second day in a row, Dylan Carlson had his second three-hit game of the season and was robbed of a fourth hit by Jonathan India. He followed a single by Tommy Edman in the first with another single, and a good baserunning play prevented a double play before Nolan Arenado put the Cardinals in front with an RBI single … Carlson’s single in the third was the only hit for the Cardinals after the first before Andrew Knizner doubled off the wall in left center in the sixth, driving in Tyler O’Neill, who had reached on a walk … Carlson’s third single, followed by a Paul Goldschmidt single, gave the Cardinals a chance to add to their lead in the seventh but Arenado grounded into an inning-ending double play … The Cardinals struck out only twice in the game, once by Goldschmidt and once by Gant.

On the mound: Gant lowered his ERA for the season to 2.25. He retired the leadoff hitter in all six innings and gave up only one hit before allowing back-to-back singles with one out in the sixth. Protecting a 1-0 lead, he stranded the tying run at third after Joey Votto flew out to center and Eugenio Suarez grounded out … Genesis Cabrera worked a perfect seventh before Giovanny Gallegos pitched the last two innings, working around a hit batter, to earn his first save … This was the first time the Cardinals shut out the Reds on three hits or less at Busch since Oct. 3, 2012.

Key stat: This was the first time the Cardinals won a game this season without hitting a home run. They had been 9-4 when hitting at least one homer, 0-6 in games when they did not homer.

Worth noting: Yadier Molina underwent additional medical exams on Saturday to determine the severity of a foot injury which forced him to leave the game early on Friday night. Shildt said he was “optimistic” that the results will not show any serious injury. Molina was in uniform on the bench on Saturday and was said to be available in an emergency situation. The Cardinals expect the results of the latest tests on Sunday … With Molina out, Shildt said infielder Edmundo Sosa likely would serve as the team’s emergency catcher if Knizner were to get injured and have to leave the game.

Looking ahead: The Cardinals will send Jack Flaherty to the mound on Sunday to try to complete a sweep of the three-game 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.