The matchup of Jack Flaherty vs Chi Chi Gonzalez looked pretty lopsided on paper, and the results were pretty lopsided even if neither Flaherty nor Gonzalez were able to get many outs. In his second start back from the IL, Flaherty walked five batters over three innings and was pulled from a 2-2 tie after three innings.
Gonzalez, who was claimed off waivers from the Twins just a week ago, started in place of injured lefty Aaron Ashby, who hit the IL yesterday afternoon. He was victimized by Gorman a few times, who had his best game as a big leaguer thus far.
With the win, the Cardinals and Brewers settled back into first-place tie with two games to go in this series. Here’s how Tuesday night’s contest unfolded:
St. Louis jumped on Chi Chi Gonzalez early, as he looked every bit the pitcher with a negative career WAR that his stats say he is. After leadoff man Tommy Edman flew out to left field for the first out of the game, Brendan Donovan singled to center field. Nolan Arenado then stung his 15th double of the season into left field, moving Donovan to third. Juan Yepez’ RBI groundout to third made it 1-0 Redbirds in the first inning.
Nolan Gorman then singled to right field with two outs, driving in Arenado and making it 2-0 in the first inning. Andrew McCutchen slid and almost robbed him, but he trapped it in his glove, and it was a hit. This is not the last we would hear of Gorman Tuesday night. Dylan Carlson then hit a 97 mph line drive at second baseman Luis Urias, which he caught, to end the inning.
Milwaukee struck back in the bottom of the first against Flaherty, who did not look good for the second straight start off the IL. He walked Christian Yelich leading off the game, and then Willy Adames drove a 2-1, center-cut fastball 383 feet to right field for a game-tying, two-run homer.
Rowdy Tellez drew a four pitch walk. McCutchen then grounded into a force out, with Edman going the short way and erasing Tellez at second for the first out of the inning. Hunter Renfroe walked on five pitches, moving McCutchen to second and prompting a mound visit for Flaherty.
Immediately following the mound visit, Victor Caratini grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning with the game tied, 2-2.
The Cardinals went three up, three down against Chi Chi in the second. Harrison Bader grounded out to Jace Peterson at third base and both Lars Nootbaar and Andrew Knizner flew out to Yelich in left field.
Flaherty dealt with more traffic in the second inning. Luis, leading off the second, singled to left. Peterson then flew out to Nootbaar for the first out, and Tyrone Taylor flew out to Bader in center for out number two. But Yelich singled up the middle, moving Urias to second with two outs. Adames tried to follow up his opposite field homer with another in the second inning, but his fly ball to Carlson in right field was of the soft, lazy variety to end the inning.
Edman struck out looking for the first out of the third inning. After falling behind 0-2, Donovan worked a seven pitch at-bat and walked. Nolan Arenado got a pretty hittable pitch down 0-2, but grounded into an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play.
Flaherty walked Tellez and McCutchen back-to-back to start the third inning, which were his fourth and fifth walks of the game already. Renfroe flew out sharply enough to Bader in center that neither runner was able to tag. Flaherty struck out Caratini and got Urias to fly out to Bader in center field to end the inning, stranding both runners.
Flaherty’s final line: 3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 1 K (71 pitches)
(Jack was on pitch count limit of roughly 75)
Yepez struck out swinging at a slider in the dirt for the first out of the fourth. Gorman then hammered a flat 92 mph Gonzalez fastball 428 feet to dead center for his fifth homer of the season, giving St. Louis a 3-2 lead.
Both Carlson and Bader flew out to Yelich in left field for the second and third outs of the inning, respectively.
Gonzalez’ final line: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K’s (73 pitches)
Rookie left-hander Zack Thompson took the mound in relief of Flaherty in the fourth inning. He was able to induce ground ball outs from Peterson, Taylor, and Yelich for an easy three up, three down inning. St. Louis led 3-2 after four innings.
Left-hander Brent Suter was the first relief pitcher of the evening following Gonzalez’ four innings. He was able to get fly ball outs from Nootbaar, Knizner, and Edman on 10 pitches to put up a scoreless frame.
Thompson struck out Adames and Tellez for the first and second outs of the inning before walking McCutchen on five pitches — his second walk he’d drawn so far. Oli Marmol called the bullpen and brought in Drew VerHagen to face Renfroe. VerHagen has struggled quite a bit lately (scored upon in four of his last five appearances), but he was able to get Renfroe to pop out to Edman at shortstop to end the fifth inning.
After Suter got Donovan to ground out for the first out of the inning, Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell went with right-hander Miguel Sanchez to face Arenado. The move worked, with Arenado popping out to Caratini in foul territory and Yepez striking out to end the top of the sixth inning.
Marmol did not leave VerHagen in to start the sixth inning, instead going with righty Giovanny Gallegos. Caratini, Urias, and Peterson all his fairly deep fly balls to Carlson in right field — which was slightly concerning — but Carlson caught all three for a three up, three down inning.
Gorman got ahead 2-1 in the count, and then he got a mistake pitch from Sanchez. It was an 90 mph fastball right down the middle, and he hit it 396 feet into the Cardinals’ bullpen beyond the right field wall to make it 4-2 St. Louis in the seventh. It was his sixth homer of the season, and his first career multi-homer game.
Following the Gorman dinger, Carlson drew a a 6-pitch walk, which makes it seven straight games that the 23-year old has worked a walk. Bader popped out to Tellez for the first out of the inning, and Knizner grounded into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play to end the inning with St. Louis leading 4-2.
Gallegos stayed out for the seventh, and worked another three up, three down inning. Taylor struck out swinging on a sharp, 88 mph slider. Yelich grounded out to a shifted Edman at shortstop. Adames flew out to Nootbaar in left field.
Gallegos’ six up, six down outing lowered his season ERA to 2.70 and his WHIP to 1.05. He had a few shaky appearances early this season, but he’s really gotten it together over the past few weeks it seems.
Counsell brought in right-hander Peter Strzelecki, whose name I cannot pronounce, in the 8th inning to make his fourth appearance of the season. Tommy Edman singled to center to kick off the inning. With Edman in motion, Donovan singled to right field to set up Arenado with two ducks on the pound and nobody out. Arenado hit the first pitch he saw — a flat, meatball slider — into left field for a single, scoring Edman to make it 5-2 St. Louis. Donovan advanced to second.
Yepez then hit a booming fly ball to Taylor in center field for the first out of the inning, but Donovan did not test his arm at second base. But Gorman continued his torrid day at the plate, hitting a line drive single the opposite way into left field to score Donovan and make it 6-2 Cardinals in the eighth. It was his second four-hit game of the season, with both coming against Milwaukee (the other was on May 28).
Dylan Carlson grounded into a force out at second for the second out of the inning, with Urias taking it and allowing Arenado to advance to third. Carlson then stole second base, his second theft of the season. With two runners in scoring position, Bader was called out on strikes on a fastball that looked several inches outside. You be the judge!
Ryan Helsley hadn’t pitched since June 14, so Marmol went with the gas-throwing righty in the 8th inning with a four-run lead. Tellez grounded out to second, McCutchen flew out to right field, Renfroe grounded out to second, and Helsley had a 12-pitch scoreless frame.
Lars Nootbaar flew out sharply (108 mph line drive) to Taylor in center field for the first out of the ninth. Andrew Knizner singled to left field with one out — a base knock he desperately needed. Edman and Donovan both struck out swinging against Strzelecki for the final outs of the ninth.
Helsley returned to the mound to protect a four-run lead and finish the game in the ninth. Caratini hit a sharp ground ball back up the middle that Helsley knocked down, picked up, and then tagged Caratini as he ran up the line. Urias hit a one-out double into the left-center field gap, which was just the seventh hit Helsley had given up this season over 27 innings. He then struck out Peterson and Taylor to end the game and restore the tie atop the NL Central.
FINAL: Cardinals 6, Brewers 2
St. Louis (39-31) will try to secure at least a split of this four-game set tomorrow night at American Family Field. Adam Wainwright (5-5, 3.06 ERA) will take the mound after allowing four earned runs and pitching into the seventh inning in last weekend’s 6-5 loss to Boston. Eric Lauer (6-2, 3.57) will go for Milwaukee (39-31). He has given up 12 earned runs over his last 11.1 innings. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m.
Around the Central
Dodgers 8, Reds 2 – Tony Gonsolin is now 9-0 with a 1.58, and he may not be a fluke?
Pirates 7, Cubs 1 – Rookie outfielder Bligh Madris knocked his first career homer for the Buccos.
Pickle #104 – X/9
Shame on me for not thinking of a former Redbird.