Tuesday’s Game Report: Mikolas loses no-hit bid with two outs in ninth

Tuesday’s Game Report: Mikolas loses no-hit bid with two outs in ninth

By Rob Rains

Miles Mikolas was one pitch, and maybe one foot, away from history on Tuesday night.

Mikolas did not allow a hit to the Pirates through 8 2/3 innings and 128 pitches in the second game of a doubleheader at Busch Stadium, but his bid to throw the first no-hitter in St. Louis since 1983 wasn’t to be.

On his 129th and what turned out to be final pitch of the night, Cal Mitchell hit a 2-2 pitch from Mikolas to center field that just got over the outstretched glove of Harrison Bader, bouncing over the wall for a ground rule double.

It was the closest a Cardinals pitcher had come to throwing a no-hitter since Michael Wacha also lost his bid with two outs in the ninth on Sept. 24, 2013 on an infield single by Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals. The team’s last no-hitter was thrown by Bud Smith at San Diego in 2001.

Mikolas had never thrown more than 115 pitches in a game in his major-league career, a total he matched when he recorded the final out in the eighth.

He went back out to start the ninth with nobody warming up in the bullpen, and retired the first two hitters on a grounder to third and a fly to right before Mitchell, a rookie with only 11 hits in his career, ruined Mikolas’s bid to throw the 11th no-hitter in Cardinals history.

The bid had been kept alive earlier in the game by two outstanding defensive plays by second baseman Nolan Gorman, first a diving stop in the fourth and then a backhanded catch behind second base in the sixth.

Mikolas did not have to worry about run support as the Cardinals erupted for seven runs in the first two innings, with Paul Goldschmidt hitting a home run in each inning, in what turned out to be a 9-1 win.

It followed a 3-1 win in game one of the split doubleheader, which also featured a Goldschmidt homer.

The doubleheader sweep moved the Cardinals to a season-high 10 games above .500 at 37-27 and increased their division lead over the second-place Brewers to 2 ½ games.

Here is how the games broke down:

At the plate: If not for Mikolas, the player of the day would have been Goldschmidt, who followed up his home run in game one with a two-run homer in the first inning and a three-run homer in the second inning in game two. He now has 16 homers for the season. Goldschmidt finished the second game 4-of-4, adding a pair of singles, and also reached on a walk as he raised his league-leading average to .349 … Combined with his three RBIs in game one, it was an eight-RBI day for Goldschmidt … The top three hitters in the lineup in game two – Tommy Edman, Brendan Donovan and Goldschmidt – were a combined 11-of-14 with eight runs scored and seven RBIs … Donovan went 4-of-4, all singles, and is now hitting .328 … One of Edman’s three hits was a home run leading off the first inning … Gorman also had two hit, driving in the final two runs with a sixth-inning double.

On the mound: Mikolas walked one and hit a batter, and two runners also reached base on errors. A missed fly ball by Juan Yepez in left field led to the only Pirates run, which was unearned. Mikolas lowered his ERA for the season to 2.62. He finished with six strikeouts … Matthew Liberatore, called up as the 27th man for the doubleheader, started game one and worked five scoreless innings.

Key stat: Goldschmidt became the first Cardinal to hit a home run in both the first and second inning of a game since Matt Carpenter on July 20, 2018 and the first Cardinal to hit three home runs in a doubleheader since Jedd Gyorko on July 20, 2016.

Worth noting: Mikolas’s 129 pitches were the most thrown in a game by a Cardinals pitcher since Chris Carpenter threw 132 on June 29, 2011 … The Cardinals streak of errorless games ended at six in game two, when Yepez and Donovan each made an error … Steven Matz, on the injured list with a sore shoulder, received a second cortison injection on Monday and is still throwing off flat ground, with no timetable yet for his return.

Looking ahead: The Cardinals have decided to start Jack Flaherty on Wednesday night, instead of having him make one more rehab start at Memphis. He will be limited to about 60 pitches.

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.