Thursday’s Game Report: Pirates 11, Cardinals 7
By Rob Rains, STLSportsPage.com
The Cardinals have suffered a large number of frustrating, demoralizing losses this season. What happened on Thursday night in Pittsburgh might not have been the worst, but it has to be near the top of the list.
A 7-1 lead in the third inning seemingly had the Cardinals headed for their 11th consecutive win at PNC Park, and it still looked that way when the lead was 7-3 in the seventh.
In an inning that could haunt the Cardinals if they fall short of climbing back into the race for the second wild-card spot, however, the Pirates had eight consecutive hitters reach base en route to scoring eight runs before the Cardinals could even record the first out of the inning.
It was the worst possible start to the Cardinals’ four-game series against the last-place Pirates and a critical 10-game trip.
After the inning opened with a double and a walk off Andrew Miller, Genesis Cabrera took over and he gave up four consecutive singles, a double and a home run that wiped out the Cardinals’ lead.
It was the first time the Cardinals allowed eight runs in an inning to the Pirates since the first inning on Sept. 23, 2017. It also was the first time the Cardinals scored seven or more runs in the first three innings in a game they eventually lost since Sept. 8, 2007 at Arizona.
The six-run lead was the biggest lead the Cardinals have blown this season in a game they eventually lost.
Here is how Thursday night’s game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first on a home run by Nolan Arenado. A three-run second increased the lead to 5-0 with Tommy Edman driving in two runs with a double, then scoring on a single by Paul Goldschmidt. A two-run homer from Edmundo Sosa made it a 7-1 lead, but the Cardinals managed to get only one more hit the rest of the game, a single by Edman in the seventh. Their only other baserunners after the third came on a walk to Dylan Carlson and when Sosa was hit by a pitch.
On the mound: The first three runs for the Pirates came off starter Miles Mikolas, who allowed eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. He left with two runners on base in the fifth, but T.J. McFarland got a double play to get out of the inning … The Cardinals had no such luck in the seventh, when the Pirates sent 13 hitters to the plate before Daniel Ponce de Leon finally was able to get the third out. The Pirates had eight hits in the inning plus two walks and a hit batter. The first two runs were charged to Miller, the last six to Cabrera. According to Baseball Reference, the only other pitcher in Cardinals history to give up six runs and not record an out was Bill Steele in 1912, also against the Pirates.
Key stat: This was the first time the Cardinals blew a six-run lead and lost to the Pirates since July 12, 2008 when they led 9-3 in the seventh inning and eventually lost 12-11 in 10 innings.
Worth noting: Tyler O’Neill was not in the starting lineup for the third consecutive game, although he did pinch hit in the ninth. He is expected to be in the lineup on Friday night … Wade LeBlanc, on the injured list after experiencing soreness in his left elbow, felt more pain after trying to throw a bullpen session, which has left his status about being to return before the end of the season in doubt … The Cardinals top pick in this year’s draft, righthander Michael McGreevy, was transferred from the Florida Complex League roster to low A Palm Beach on Thursday.
Looking ahead: J.A. Happ will get the start in the second game of the series on Friday night.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains