Saturday’s Game Report: Cardinals 2, Cubs 1
By Rob Rains
There were a lot of reasons for the Cardinals to feel good about their win over the Cubs on Saturday night at Busch Stadium.
All of them, however – Yadier Molina’s go-ahead homer and curtain call in the seventh, a shutdown performance from the bullpen, and more excitement from Edmundo Sosa – weren’t as importance as the status of pitcher Miles Mikolas.
Mikolas, making his first start since the 2019 NLCS, had to come out of the game after throwing just 59 pitches when he felt tightness in his right forearm while warming up before the start of the fifth inning.
Manager Mike Shildt said he really did not have much of an update on Mikolas’s status after the game other than the fact that Mikolas was undergoing an MRI and that he was “hoping for the best.”
Mikolas missed all of last season after undergoing surgery for a torn flexor tendon in his right arm. He then suffered shoulder inflammation in spring training which delayed his return to the mound.
He had made three starts on a rehab assignment for Memphis after prepping at the alternate site camp during April. On Friday, he talked about good he felt and how much he was looking forward to rejoining the Cardinals rotation.
For the first four innings, Mikolas appeared to be in control, allowing just one hit and two baserunners from the second through the fourth inning.
While warming up to begin the fifth, however, he stopped and called Molina out. They were soon joined by pitching coach Mike Maddux, Shildt and the trainer and after a brief conversation Mikolas was on his way to the dugout.
“He just said on his slider he was feeling something that didn’t feel quite right,” Shildt said. “In the moment I think he was just trying to relay what had happened but there was some clear frustration. I’m sure there will be more when the reality hits that there has been a setback.”
Here is how Saturday night’s game broke down:
At the plate: After getting just one hit in the first four innings, a double by Paul Goldschmidt in the fourth, the Cardinals tied the game in the fifth. With two outs, Sosa lined a ball into the right field corner for a triple and scored on a single by Lane Thomas, a late replacement in the lineup for Dylan Carlson … Molina’s homer, his seventh of the season, came leading off the seventh. It was his 18th career homer against the Cubs but only the second since 2017 … Sosa added another hit later in the seventh and has eight hits in the four games this week.
On the mound: Mikolas hit the leadoff batter to begin the game, Joc Pederson, and he later scored on a two-out single by Javier Baez … One night after their bullpen imploded, four relievers kept the Cubs from scoring in covering the last five innings after Mikolas had to come out of the game. Daniel Ponce de Leon got five outs before turning the game over to Genesis Cabrera, who retired all four of the hitters he faced, three on strikeouts. Giovanny Gallegos pitched around a single and walk in the eighth and Alex Reyes remained perfect in converting his 14th save, allowing only an infield hit on a slow roller which was called fair even though it appeared to be a foul ball.
Key stat: Reyes became the first reliever in Cardinals history with 14 or more saves through the team’s first 45 games, converting all of his save opportunities.
Worth noting: Carlson was scratched about 90 minutes before the game began because of what was described as stiffness in his back. His status was said to be day-to-day … To make room for Mikolas on the roster, Seth Elledge was optioned to Memphis … Andrew Miller, on the injured list because of a blister on his right toe, played catch on Saturday after throwing a “heavy” bullpen on Friday. Based on how he recovers, it’s likely he will begin a rehab assignment next Tuesday with Memphis … The Cardinals are expected to keep 14 pitchers and just 12 position players on the roster during this current stretch of 17 games in 17 days.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals will be the featured game on Sunday night baseball on ESPN for the second week in a row, with Adam Wainwright getting the start. Game time is 6:08 p.m.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains