Sunday’s Game Report: Cardinals 7, Royals 2
By Rob Rains
The Cardinals’ win over the Royals on Sunday completed a perfect 6-0 road trip – only the second time in team history they have won every game on a trip of at least six games.
“That’s a heck of an accomplishment,” said manager Mike Shildt. “This team’s played a long time with some amazing baseball teams, among the best in the history of our game. It speaks well to this team. I’ve been saying how this team competes and they got after it and had a great series.”
The three wins in Pittsburgh, followed by three more in Kansas City, matched a 6-0 trip to Atlanta and Miami in 2017.
The win on Sunday followed the formula that worked for most of those six games, getting a good performance from the starting pitcher and another game with more than four runs from the offense.
All of the Cardinals seven runs came in the first two innings, completing their scoring before recording their fourth out of the day.
Over the six games, the Cardinals total of 37 runs was an average of 6.2 runs a game, extending their current streak to 11 consecutive games scoring four or more runs, their longest streak since another 11-game streak in 2017,
Nolan Arenado homered for the third consecutive game and drove in three runs as every Cardinal except Andrew Knizner had at least one hit.
“There’s a big old field out there and we used the whole field,” Shildt said. “Our two-strike hitting has been phenomenal. Our runners in scoring position average is really good. Our slug is good, our on-base percentage is good. We’re in the top five to eight (in the league) depending on what category. We were at the bottom of the league in all those categories.
“We just became tougher at-bats. Recognize what we were doing, realize not one guy had to carry it, let the next guy do what he does.”
The beneficiary of the early run support was J.A. Happ, who pitched into the sixth without allowing a run. Including the injury-shortened start by Wade LeBlanc, the Cardinals starters on the six-game trip allowed five runs in a combined 34 1/3 innings, a 1.31 ERA.
The win also allowed the Cardinals to equal their longest winning streak of the season.
Here is how Sunday’s game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals began the game with consecutive singles by Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt and Arenado. Lars Nootbaar worked a two-out walk before Jose Rondon doubled in two runs to cap the three-run inning … In the second, Arenado’s 25th homer of the season followed Edman’s single and a double by Goldschmidt. Tyler O’Neill then went back-to-back with his 20th homer of the year … The Cardinals had only three singles after the second inning … The Cardinals’ record when scoring four or more runs is now 46-24.
On the mound: Happ allowed five hits over 5 2/3 innings, leaving with runners on first and second before Luis Garcia got out of the inning. Happ also had to work out of a bases-loaded jam in the second and also stranded a runner at third base in the fifth … In his three starts since being acquired from Minnesota, Happ has allowed just three runs in 16 2/3 innings … The Royals scored their only runs off Justin Miller in the eighth on a home run by Salvador Perez … When the Cardinals starting pitcher gets at least four runs of support the team is now 30-3 this season.
Key stat: Arenado became only the third Cardinal in history to homer in each game of a three-game series in Kansas City. The others to do it were Khalil Greene in 2009 and Albert Pujols in 2006. Arenado’s nine RBIs in the series were the second most in a three-game series by a Cardinal at Kansas City, one less than Pujols’ 10 RBIs in a series in 2009.
Worth noting: Edmundo Sosa lost a hit on Sunday because of a scoring change, leaving him with just three hits in Saturday night’s game. Royals shortstop Nicky Lopez was charged with an error on what had originally been scored as an infield single for Sosa in the fifth inning … The Cardinals are hopeful that both Dylan Carlson and Paul DeJong will be able to play on Tuesday. Shildt said both are scheduled to work out during Monday’s day off and he will know about their status then. Carlson missed the three games in Kansas City because of a sprained wrist while DeJong sat out Saturday and Sunday because of lower back tightness … Lane Thomas, traded to the Nationals for Jon Lester, was recalled from Triple A on Sunday and went 2-of-4 in his Washington debut.
Looking ahead: After Monday’s day off the Cardinals will host the division-leading Brewers in a three-game series that starts Tuesday night at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals have not played the Brewers since May 13. Tuesday night’s pitching matchup will be Adam Wainwright against Corbin Burnes, the first of 13 games between the two teams over the final 47 days of the season.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains