Game Report: Cardinals 4, Blue Jays 1
By Rob Rains
There have been games in the past, Jack Flaherty admitted, when he would not have earned a victory pitching the way he did on Saturday.
Despite issuing a career-high seven walks – through the third inning – Flaherty was able to keep his composure, battle through his control issues and help the Cardinals pick up their first win of the season.
Part of the reason for that was that he did not allow a hit or a run over his five innings.
“It’s not ideal; it’s not the way you draw things up or the way you expect it to go,” Flaherty said. “Getting frustrated isn’t going to do anything, it’s not going to help anybody. It’s not going to help me or the team … That’s something that I’ve had to learn and figure out. I’m not going to pitch well when I’m frustrated. I’m not going to pitch well the more I let my emotions take over.
“I’ve definitely had some starts in my career where you get frustrated and things just continue to spiral and you’re not able to get out of it.”
After retiring the first two batters, Flaherty walked the bases loaded in the first inning, issued a lead off walk in the second, walked the first two batters in the third and issued his final walk in the fourth.
“Seven walks is not pitching,” Flaherty said. “That’s something that’s not going to work over the long run of games. I was able to get away with it today. It’s one of the weirder lines I’ve ever seen.
“It helps when you don’t give up a hit,” Flaherty said. “Every ball they hit went at guys … I probably shouldn’t have been rewarded today for the way I was throwing but that’s the way the game goes.”
Said manager Oli Marmol, “It’s one of those games where is it pretty? No. Is it ideal? Absolutely not … The other side of it, as a competitor, to be able to do some of the things he did when it’s not pretty, that’s impressive.”
Here is how Saturday’s game broke down:
At the plate: A two-run single by Nolan Gorman capped a three-run third inning after the Cardinals scored a run on a throwing error … An infield single by Jordan Walker produced the fourth tun in the eighth, Walker’s second hit of the game … Gorman reahed base three times, walking twice, and has reached base six times in nine plate appearances through the first two games of the season.
On the mound: Flaherty needed 95 pitches to get through the fifth, throwing only 49 strikes. He did retire nine of the last 10 hitters he faced … His previous career high in walks had been five, three times, in 98 career starts … The Cardinals issued a combined 10 walks, with the other three from Jordan Hicks. The only run for Toronto scored on a wild pitch from Hicks … It’s the first time the Cardinals have won a home game when they issued 10 or more walks since Sept. 30, 2005 … The first Toronto hit came off Andre Pallante with one out the seventh, a single past second baseman Brendan Donovan … Ryan Helsley earned a five-out save, stranding two runners in the eighth after relieving Hicks and then pitching around two singles in the ninth.
Key stat: Flaherty is the first pitcher in Cardinas’ history to work at least five innings and not allow a hit or run while walking seven or more batters. The last pitcher to work exactly five innings and not allow a hit or run was Tim Conroy, in relief, against the Mets on April 26, 1986, issuing two walks.
Worth noting: Willson Contreras was able to move around “better” than the Cardinals anticipated after taking a 102-mph fastball off his right knee in Thursday’s game. A decision on whether he will be able to play on Sunday will be determined by how Contreras feels after working out on Saturday. With Andrew Knizner getting Saturday’s start, this marked the first time since 2002 the Cardinals started different catchers in the first two games of the season … Marmol said either Donovan or Taylor Motter would have been the Cardinals emergency catcher on Saturday … Also out of the lineup was Lars Nootbaar, who jammed his left thumb on a slide into third base on Thursday. Marmol said he was considered day-to-day … Reliever Giovanny Gallegos was unavailable again Saturday because of inflammation in his lower back. If he is not able to pitch on Sunday the Cardinals might consider making a roster move.
Looking ahead: The series against the Blue Jays will conclude on Sunday with Jordan Montgomery getting the start.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains