Thursday’s Game Report: Cardinals 3, Cubs 2
By Rob Rains
Kwang Hyun Kim came into his start for the Cardinals on Thursday night having not allowed a run in his last 21 innings. While that streak came to an end, two longer streaks continued.
Kim was pitching on his 33rd birthday, and his win over the Cubs at Busch Stadium was the fourth in a row by a Cardinals starter on his birthday, following wins by Adam Wainwright last year and Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha in 2017.
Even though the starter might have had a no-decision in the game, the Cardinals have now won the last 12 games when a starter was pitching on his birthday, dating back to 2005 when they lost a start by Jeff Weaver.
That was the only Cardinals loss in the last 17 games on the starting pitcher’s birthday, a streak that extends back to 1993.
The secret to Kim’s success on Thursday night had nothing to do with his birthday. It was the same as it has been during each of his last five starts, all wins, as he threw strikes and allowed just two hits over six innings. Both of Chicago’s runs came on a double by Jake Marisnick in the fourth that ended Kim’s scoreless streak at 24 innings.
The win allowed the Cardinals to take three of the four games in the series against the Cubs and five of the seven games on the homestand against the Giants and Cubs.
Kim got all the offensive support he needed on a leadoff homer by Dylan Carlson in the first and a two-run homer by Nolan Arenado in the third.
Here is how Thursday night’s game broke down:
At the plate: Carlson’s homer was his ninth of the season and he followed that up with doubles in the third and fifth, scoring ahead of Arenado on his 19th homer. In the four-game series Carlson was 7-of-17, with five of the hits going for extra bases, and drove in seven runs … Arenado was just 4-of-25 on the homestand but two of the hits were home runs … The Cardinals had only one other hit in the game, an infield single by Tommy Edman in the eighth … Paul Goldschmidt walked twice but saw his 16-game hitting streak snapped.
On the mound: Kim allowed only one baserunner, on an error, before walking Patrick Wisdom with two outs in the fourth. Javier Baez followed with a single in front of Marisnick’s double. He finished with seven strikeouts … Ryan Helsley protected the 1-run lead in the seventh and T.J. McFarland did the same in the eighth, getting a double play after a leadoff walk … Alex Reyes worked the ninth inning and issued a two-out walk but struck out Marisnick to end the game and earn his 23rd save, bouncing back from the ninth-inning collapse on Tuesday night.
Key stat: Carlson became only the second leadoff hitter in Cardinals history to drive in at least one run in each game of a four-game series against the Cubs. The only other player to do that was Taylor Douthit in 1929.
Worth noting: Goldschmidt reached 10 years of service time in the major leagues on Thursday … Daniel Ponce de Leon began his rehab assignment for Triple A Memphis with one scoreless inning, pitching around a leadoff walk … The Cardinals moved one game above .500 for the season, the first time they have been above .500 since June 20 … The Cardinals will not play the Cubs again until Sept. 24, the start of the final week of the season.
Looking ahead: Wade LeBlanc will get the start on Friday night as the Cardinals open a three-game series against the Reds in Cincinnati. They also will play two games at Cleveland before returning home on July 30.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains