Cardinals Salvage One Game of Three
The Cardinals were able to salvage one game on Thursday, avoiding being swept by the Miami Marlins. The Marlins took game one by a final score of 7-4 on Tuesday. Wednesday night was a flat out embarrassment for the Cardinals when they dropped the game 11-3. Thursday though, the Redbirds took game three 4-1 behind a strong performance from Miles Mikolas.
Miami came into Busch Stadium on Tuesday night to start a series that appeared to favor the Cardinals. The Marlins had other plans though, as they showed up ready to play.
Carlos Martinez made his come back from the DL in game one. He only allowed two earned runs, but he also only went three innings. Then, when he turned the game over to the bullpen, Miami helped them raise their season ERA.
Preston Guilmet allowed three runs in his season debut over just one inning. Austin Gomber came in for the sixth after a strong outing in his debut. Unfortunately, Gomber didn’t fare so well this time. He allowed two more runs in his one inning of work. When he left the game the scored was 7-4.
The Cardinals offense couldn’t score any runs off of the league’s worst bullpen. They got four runs off of Jose Urena in five innings, but it wasn’t enough. St. Louis fell 7-4.
It came out after the game that Carlos Martinez didn’t throw 100 percent the entire game. He said himself that he was holding back in fear of re-injuring himself. Of course, this was the big storyline from the game, but, what was more concerning was the Cardinals came up short against one of the worst teams in baseball.
The second game of the series was the worst for the Cards, by far. It was so bad by the ninth inning that Jedd Gyorko made his major league pitching debut. He fit right in with the bullpen too, allowing a home run on his second pitch of the inning.
Jack Flaherty got the start for St. Louis against Wei-Yin Chen for the Marlins. Flaherty went five innings, but he allowed six runs. Only four of the runs were earned though, thanks to three errors on the night by Yairo Munoz.
The Marlins scored three in the third, three in the fifth, two in the sixth and seventh and one in the ninth for a total of 11 runs on the night. The Cardinals only got two runs off of Chen, one in the third and one in the fourth and only scored one more run over 4.2 innings by the Marlins bullpen.
The eight-run defeat exposed a lot of holes in the Cardinals’ roster. Starting pitching will most likely turn into an issue down the stretch now that Waino didn’t pan out and Reyes is out for the year. Flaherty and Weaver will have to eat more innings than what was expected initially, which is something they may not be ready to do yet.
Relief pitching is also a clear need after this series. Coming into the season the bullpen didn’t look necessarily strong, but now it is obviously mediocre at best.
Finally, the offense struggled to push three runs across the plate off of a bad Marlins pitching staff. Marcell Ozuna has yet to turn into the power hitter the Cards thought they were getting, Dexter Fowler continues to struggle at the plate and Matt Carpenter, though it looked like he was turning things around, has slowed down again.
Miles Mikolas, who has arguably been the Cardinals’ ace with Martinez out for two weeks, helped the Redbirds salvage one game in the series and keep Cardinal Nation from going completely crazy.
In the series finale, Mikolas was shut down good. He went for seven innings without allowing an earned run on three hits and five strikeouts. The lone Marlins run came after a dropped fly ball in right by Fowler. After Mikolas exited, Jordan Hicks came on for a scoreless eighth. Finally, the Cardinal closer Bud Norris came in for the ninth and shut the door.
Jose Martinez provided all the offense St. Louis needed in the bottom of the first inning when he hit a two-run home run to put the Cards up 2-0. Marcell Ozuna drove in Tommy Pham in the sixth for their third run and then in the seventh, Luke Voit hit a solo shot for the final run of the game.
The Cardinals were able to avoid the sweep, but the lackluster series has raised some concern about the team’s ability to win. The offense has been hit or miss all year, the bullpen has struggled and they’ve combined to waste a number of good starts from the rotation.
St. Louis will look to take momentum from the series finale into their next series with the last-place Cincinnati Reds. This is another three-game set in which the Cards should be able to win at least two of three. However, they are 7-0 against the Reds this season and they just showed they can be beaten by anyone, so the odds might be against them.
The Cardinals will start the series at Great American Ballpark Friday at 6:10 pm CT, behind Luke Weaver. Matt Harvey will be on the mound for the Reds.
Featured Image from Michael Thomas – Getty Images
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