Wednesday’s Game Report: Braves 5, Cardinals 2
By Rob Rains
After watching Miles Mikolas give up four more runs in the first two innings on Wednesday, Cardinals manager Oli Marmol was asked if he had any ideas about why the starters have had so much trouble in those two innings through the first six games of the season.
Marmol had a one-word answer: “No,” he said.
The four runs increased the total allowed by the Cardinals to 20 runs on 28 hits, including six home runs, in a combined 12 innings, and sent them to a third consecutive loss to the Braves at Busch Stadium.
Mikolas also allowed four runs in the first two innings of his first start on opening day, and he offered a little longer explanation about what he and his fellow starters have been going through in the first week of the season.
“Not terrible pitches,” Mikolas said. “I hate to blame it on bad luck, but I feel like I’m not catching a whole lot of breaks right now.
“I think we just need to keep doing what we’re doing. We’re being aggressive, we’re pounding the strike zone early. If we keep doing that over the course of 100-some odd games I think it’s going to shake out and we’re going to have a lot of good starts from all of our starters.
“You get into patterns sometimes where It feels like every mistake you make is a big hit or a home run.”
The only team in the National League that has allowed more than the nine runs given up in the first inning by the Cardinals is the Pirates, who have allowed 10.
Combined, the Cardinals were outscored 20-5 in the first two innings of the six home games against the Blue Jays and Braves. The Braves improved their record in St. Louis to 12-3 since the start of the 2018 season.
The only highlight for the Cardinals was Jordan Walker hitting his first career home run.
Here is how Wednesday’s game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals were held to just three hits through the first eight innings, one of which was Walker’s home run in the seventh. For the second game in a row they had a runner thrown out at the plate, Paul Goldschmidt, in the fourth … Back-to-back two-out doubles by Dylan Carlson and Walker in the ninth produced the Cardinals’ second run. Through his first six big-league games Walker has a .333 average with five RBIs, getting at least one hit in every game.
On the mound: Mikolas was able to keep the Braves from adding to their lead as he pitched through the sixth inning, being able to get around three more hits, recording six strikeouts … Packy Naughton worked a scoreless seventh, allowing a one-out double, before Chris Stratton retired all six hitters he faced in the eighth and ninth.
Key stat: Opponents have gone 15-of-32 in the first inning against the Cardinals starters and 13-of-29 in the second inning, a combined batting average of .459.
Worth noting: Walker became the youngest Cardinal to hit a home run since Rick Ankiel did it as a pitcher in 2000 and the youngest position player since Garry Templeton, also 20 years old, in 1976. He had the ball waiting for him in his locker after the game and said it was going directly to his father, who was at all six games on his first homestand … After questionable baserunning on Tuesday night, Tyler O’Neill did not start Wednesday but did pinch-hit in the eighth, flying out to center … This is the first time in franchise history, since 1901, that the Cardinals did not commit an error in the first six games of the season … Three of the minor-league affiliates, in Springfield, Peoria and Palm Beach, will begin their seasons on Thursday night.
Looking ahead: After a day off on Thursday, the Cardinals will begin their first road trip of the season on Friday night in Milwaukee. Jack Flaherty will get the start. They also will play three games in Colorado before returning home.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains