Tuesday’s Game Report: Tigers 4, Cardinals 3

Tuesday’s Game Report: Tigers 4, Cardinals 3

By Rob Rains, STLSportsPage.com

The Cardinals might have lost more than a game on Tuesday night.

Jack Flaherty, making just his third start since returning from an absence of more than two months because of a torn oblique, had to leave the game at Busch Stadium after allowing back-to-back homers to begin the third inning.

Flaherty was said to be suffering from “tightness” in his right shoulder.

An obviously frustrated Flaherty said in a postgame zoom that he would not comment on specifics about his shoulder until undergoing more evaluation on Wednesday and learning the results.

“It was tight … not normal,” Flaherty said. “It got less comfortable as the game went on … I tried to give everything I had until it was determined that it was not the best-case scenario.

“We’ll get it looked at and figure out what we’ve got. I’m just pissed, mentally I’m just pissed. Physically it’s more of a throwing thing than anything, but I’m just pissed.”

Manager Mike Shildt said seeing Flaherty unable to command his pitches in the second inning was the first sign that something wasn’t right.

Flaherty worked a 1-2-3 first inning, then allowed two runs in the second, when five consecutive batters reached base. One scored on a four-pitch, bases-loaded walk to opposing pitcher Casey Mize.

He got out of the inning with a pair of groundouts, but then gave up the homers in the third that turned out to be the difference in the Tigers win.

“Velo was a little down and his command was not where Jack is typically so we went out and checked on him and once he said he was sore we took the ball from him,” Shildt said. “Clearly there’s concern; he had to come out of a game.

“I could just tell the whole time he was kind of feeling for it a little bit.”

Flaherty had allowed just two runs in a combined 12 innings in his first two starts since coming off the injured list.

Here is how Tuesday night’s game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals put the leadoff hitter on base five times in the first eight innings but could not score until the eighth, when Harrison Bader hit a leadoff triple and scored on a ground out by Tommy Edman, following a walk to Edmundo Sodsa … With two outs, Dylan Carlson was hit by a pitch and Nolan Arenado doubled to drive in both runners and make it a one-run game Arenado had been just 3-of-29 in the homestand prior to that hit. He was stranded at second when Yadier Molina struck out.

On the mound: After Flaherty’s early exit, the bullpen combined to shut out the Tigers on just three hits over the final seven innings. Daniel Ponce de Leon worked 2 1/3 innings and Kwang Hyun Kim made his first relief appearance of the season, allowing just two walks over 2 2/3 innings.

Key stat: The Cardinals were hitless in seven at-bats with a runner in scoring position before Arenado’s double. In the last four games, three of them losses, they had a combined total of just five hits in 34 at-bats with a runner on second or third.

Worth noting: In the team’s official press release announcing the one-year extension with Molina on Tuesday, president of baseball operations John Mozeliak referred to 2022 as Molina’s “final season” but the 39-year-old Molina has not officially said he will be retiring after next year, his 19th with the Cardinals … With Carlson activated from the injured list before the game, Austin Dean was returned to Memphis … Tyler O’Neill was  scratched from the original lineup because of mid-back tightness.

Looking ahead: Jon Lester will get the start in the 12:15 p.m. game on Wednesday against the Tigers that will conclude the homestand. The Cardinals then head out on a 10-game trip to Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Milwaukee.

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.