Thursday’s Game Report: Mets 4, Cardinals 1
By Rob Rains
It’s a phrase which has come to be used more in baseball in this era when metrics and analytics have taken over the game – non-competitive pitches.
There might not be a technical definition of what the phrase means, but Cardinals manager Mike Shildt knows them when he sees them – and he saw way too many of them on Thursday.
The Cardinals issued 11 walks, the most they have issued in a 9-inning home game in almost 12 years, and three of them came with the bases loaded, the biggest reason for the loss to the Mets.
“Eleven walks, gosh darn,” Shildt said. “Just not a place for that. Nonetheless, we did it.
“There’s actually a metric now, an analysis of non-competitive pitches that I think has some value to it. They are going to happen if you throw enough of them (pitches), they are just going to happen. Let’s don’t minimize the difficulty of what that looks like. Also understand it’s the primary part of the pitcher’s job to throw the ball and repeat what they are doing.”
Andrew Knizner called 192 pitches on Thursday and knew there were some which were competitive – and could have been called strikes – but were called balls. He understood why.
“Maybe we were trying to be a little too perfect with some of our pitches and they don’t chase a lot,” Knizner said of the Mets. “It’s just the game of baseball, that’s how it is. We’d like to be in the zone more.”
Here is how Thursday’s game broke down:
At the plate: On offense, the Cardinals did not draw a single walk from the Mets and had only one hit through the eighth inning. Nolan Arenado led off the second with a single, reached third on an error and scored on a sacrifice fly by Harrison Bader … The Cardinals did not get another hit until 21 batters later, when Tommy Edman singled with one out in the ninth. Dylan Carlson followed with another single to bring the tying run to the plate, but Paul Goldschmidt flied out to center and Arenado grounded into a force out to end the game … It was the third time this season the Cardinals struck out 10 times and did not draw a walk.
On the mound: Six of the walks were issued by starter John Gant, including the first of the three with the bases loaded that ended his day in the fifth. Kodi Whitley followed and walked in another run before Jake Woodford later issued the third bases loaded walk when he came into the game in the eighth … The Cardinals actually walked four batters in a row in the fifth, following an error, which gave the Mets two runs. The only New York run which was driven in by a hit was the final run, on a single by Dominic Smith off Woodford.
Key stats: The last time the Cardinals issued three bases-loaded walks in a game was on Sept. 22, 1996, all coming by Danny Jackson in the first inning. The last time they issued 11 walks in a 9-inning game at Busch Stadium was on May 17, 2009.
Worth noting: The Cardinals recalled outfielder Lane Thomas from Memphis on Thursday, where he had a double and triple in the Redbirds first game of the season on Tuesday night. Thomas likely will be used primarily as a pinch-hitter for the time being … Wednesday night’s starter, Johan Oviedo, was sent back to Memphis as was reliever Bernardo Flores Jr., who had been brought up to serve as the 27th man in Wednesday’s doubleheader. He failed to retire any of the three hitters he faced in game two … Also heading to Memphis on Thursday was first baseman John Nogowski, to begin a rehab assignment as he recovers from an injury to his hand when he was hit by a pitch several weeks ago.
Looking ahead: Arenado will get to play against his former club, the Colorado Rockies, for the first time as they come to Busch Stadium for the weekend series. Jack Flaherty gets the start in the Friday night opener and will be opposed by former Cardinal Austin Gomber, one of the players traded for Arenado.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains
Mike Shildt post-game interview