Saturday’s Game Report: Cardinals 6, Reds 3

Saturday’s Game Report: Cardinals 6, Reds 3

By Rob Rains

One of the keys for the Cardinals in the second half of the season will be the performance of Tyler O’Neill.

Two games in, so far so good.

Moved into the second spot in the batting order, O’Neill delivered a two-run single on Friday night and followed that up with an even better night on Saturday.

O’Neill singled in a run in the second inning, then in the third hit his first home run since June 18, a two-run shot, that helped the Cardinals defeat the Reds in Cincinnati.

After his second-inning single, O’Neill stole second and scored on a single by Paul Goldschmidt, the 1,000th RBI of Goldschmidt’s career.

Starting pitcher Steven Matz had to come out of the game in the sixth inning after suffering a left knee strain while trying to field a slow roller hit by Joey Votto near the first-base line. Matz is scheduled to undergo an MRI on his knee on Sunday, at which point the team will know more about his status.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: O’Neill’s homer, his fifth of the year, was the first half of back-to-back home runs as Goldschmidt followed by launching his 22nd of the season. Counting the All-Star game, Goldschmidt has homered in his last four games … Eight of the Cardinals’ 13 hits went for extra-bases with six doubles in addition to the two home runs … Dylan Carlson moved into the leadoff spot and reached base three times with a double and two hit by pitches, one from each side of the plate. He has an extra-base hit in his last five games … Tommy Edman had the Cardinals’ other RBI with a double in the sixth that drove in Nolan Arenado, who led off the inning with a double, one of his three hits in the game … Edmundo Sosa struck out four times.

On the mound: Matz allowed two runs and only three hits in 5 1/3 innings before he had to come out of the game. He struck out seven, including five in a row between the fourth and sixth innings … Junior Fernandez gave up a home run in the seventh before Giovanny Gallegos worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings … Ryan Helsley got the final four outs, striking out the side in the ninth, to earn the save. Helsley has struck out 60 of the 145 batters he has faced this season.

Key stat: in his final 11 games before the All-Star break, which included his second stint on the injured list, O’Neill posted a .308 average (12-of-39) but drove in only two runs.

Worth noting: Harrison Bader had to be scratched from his scheduled rehab start in center field on Saturday night in Memphis after reporting soreness in his foot after serving as the DH on Friday night. The team had hoped Bader would be able to come off the injured list on Tuesday night in Toronto, but that appears unlikely now … The Cardinals are expected to add players from Memphis for the two-game series against the Blue Jays to replace players who won’t be allowed into Canada because of their Covid vaccination status … The Cardinals signed several more of their draft picks on Saturday, including third-rounder Pete Hansen and fourth-rounder Jimmy Crooks.

Looking ahead: Miles Mikolas will get the start on Sunday in the final game against the Reds.

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.