We knew going into this series with the Brewers that pitching would probably dominate and runs would likely be at a premium. After one game, those assumptions are holding up.
The Cardinals got the short end of the 2-0 score last night. The loss hurt because of what it meant for the playoff race–dropping back to 11 games behind the Brewers, though the Reds, Padres, Phillies, and Mets all lost so the wild-card race didn’t change much–but it, how do I say this, wasn’t a bad loss. It wasn’t that the Cardinals got completely outclassed by the division leaders. They didn’t have a bullpen meltdown. The offense was quiet, which you’d expect against Corbin Burnes, but they had a chance here and there. They just lost, which happens in baseball, especially to a team that’s 10 games better than you are.
It also doesn’t help that Kolten Wong is probably always going to bring his best game when he comes up against the Cardinals from now until the end of his career, reminding the franchise that they did him dirty. Look, I can understand in theory moving on from Wong, even though that wasn’t anything more than a payroll move. But to not even call him and talk? See if he’s willing to rework things? Explain the situation and see if he’ll take a deal that pays him less in 2021 and more in 2022? That was wrong and they deserve Kolten to hit .400 against them the rest of his career.
It was clear pretty quickly that Adam Wainwright didn’t have his best stuff (and it didn’t seem like he got the same calls that Burnes did) but the veteran figured out how to make the pitches he needed to when he needed to. It’s obviously not 2019 anymore since he was able to strike out Christian Yelich twice with runners on base (Yelich went 2-5 and did score a run, but left seven men on. That long-term contract made plenty of sense for Milwaukee when he signed it, but it sure hasn’t panned out yet.) Wainwright gave up solo tallies in the second and third but was able to limit the damage to just that and get out of a bases loaded situation in the fourth by striking out Yelich and getting a ground ball from Eduardo Escobar.
Still, with a guy like Burnes on the mound, giving up one run is like giving up 10. It’s not surprising that the offense looked quieter last night, though Hero Paul Goldschmidt was able to go 2-3 with a walk. Burnes, again, got a number of pitches called strikes that looked like balls on the screen, but he was able to get those calls in part because of how good he was around the zone. Tyler O’Neill, who will get the Goat, went 0-4 with three strikeouts while his fellow brofielder Harrison Bader went 0-4 with two strikeouts. Perhaps the biggest issue, given that Goldschmidt got on base regularly, was that Nolan Arenado went 0-3 right behind him. Of course, Burnes carried a no-hitter into the sixth, so there were a lot of 0-fers last night.
You hate to see the Cardinals come up on the short end of the score but for the fact that they were taking a significant step up in class from the Royals and Pirates, they held their own well. Even with Wainwright going, you wouldn’t have necessarily expected them to win this game–they’ll actually probably be a bit of an underdog in every game this series–but they had a few opportunities and they kept it close. Not much else to say.
Before the game, Dylan Carlson was placed on the injured list as his wrist still wasn’t healed up and the Cardinals didn’t want a short bench for this series, calling up Austin Dean who recently was reactivated in the minors from an injury that took up most of his season. Then Mike Shildt sends him in to pinch-hit in the ninth against Josh Hader. Good luck with that one, buddy. While Dean had the handedness advantage, I don’t know that he was going to do any better than Lars Nootbaar, whom he pinch hit for, since Nootbaar had at least seen major league pitching recently. Dean struck out on three pitches.
Miles Mikolas will rejoin the team on Friday and start against the Pirates. Again, it will be interesting to see what the roster moves are around his return. They will need to clear both a 40-man and a 26-man spot for him.