The joke went flying through Twitter yesterday afternoon.
Great story, a two-way player coming over from Japan and exploding on the scene.
Miles Mikolas, of course.
— Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) April 2, 2018
While Miles Mikolas really isn’t going to be Shohei Ohtani, he did a fair imitation on Monday afternoon. Going into the top of the fifth, Mikolas had allowed two runs on solo homers in the second and third. With the game tied, two outs, and a runner on first, this happened:
I can’t imagine what the odds are that Mikolas would homer there. Jon Doble might know, given that he predicted it before the game started and the odds might have been a bit less since there were a lot of balls flying out of the yard. No matter, it was a remarkable moment and it put the Cardinals in the lead, a lead they would not relinquish.
Of course, they also need more than Mikolas’s bat to make sure that lead stayed. I’d be giving the Cardinal hurler the Hero if it wasn’t for the fact that, in the next inning after being granted some more runs, he immediately gave up a two-run homer of his own. He did go deeper than any other starter has so far, but it would have been nice to get him through six innings with that kind of lead.
The Hero tag actually goes to Paul DeJong. It was his three-run homer that gave Mikolas most of that padding, but that was just one of his three hits on the day. I joked on Twitter that DeJong has already surpassed Aledmys Diaz‘s 2017, meaning that any fears of his regression might have been a bit misplaced. While obviously DeJong’s overall production hasn’t topped what Diaz did in basically half a season, the first four games show that the players got off to very different starts.
That’s not to say DeJong is definitely going to have a better season than he did last year, but it seems very unlikely that even if he does take a step back it will be the free-fall that Diaz (who still hasn’t really figured it out–he’s hitting .154 in his five games as a Blue Jay) had.
There was another Tweet that made a lot of waves yesterday as well.
I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit. I will get a hit.
And, true to his word, Dexter Fowler did get a hit, dropping an RBI flare into shallow center to put the Cards up 2-1 in the third. As that broke his season-opening 0-14 skid, Fowler’s relief was evident, jokingly asking for the ball to keep as a souvenir. That was Fowler’s only hit, though, which means that he stands at 1-19 for the season. Of course, he hit .143 over the first couple of weeks last year and things turned out OK. It’s just interesting that he’s had two of these season when, if you look at his career splits, he’s not been a particularly slow starter over the span of his time in the bigs.
The bullpen continued to show that it could be a real strength of this team. Mikolas gave up the two-run homer to Eric Thames in the bottom of the sixth with two outs, then Manny Pina singled and went to second on a wild pitch. Jonathan Villar then hit a grounder but Mikolas couldn’t receive the throw from Matt Carpenter (who was again playing second), putting runners on the corners.
Into this jam stepped Bud Norris, who struck out Orlando Arcia to end the threat. Norris then got the first two outs in the seventh before Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons came in to strike out Christian Yelich. Lyons got the first two outs of the eighth before allowing a double to Thames, who had a pretty solid day of his own.
Mike Matheny made the change with Pina coming up, going with Jordan Hicks. While this wasn’t a game-breaking situation, with the Cards up four and only one runner on, it is a little interesting to see Matheny already trusting the young gun to come into higher leverage situations. Of course, this is also the third game that Hicks has pitched in out of four, which makes you worry that Hicks is quickly becoming one of “Mike’s Guys” that he defaults to whenever he can. Hicks got Pina and then had an uneventful ninth, with only a walk marring it, so it worked. I just hope that somebody like Mike Maddux is able to temper Matheny’s enthusiasm for his new toy. Hicks is a starter just now learning the bullpen trade. It wouldn’t do for him to be overused.
We have to find a Goat for this one, so I guess that’ll be Jose Martinez, the only starter that didn’t get a hit. Martinez had a great first two games, then has had consecutive hitless ones. We’ll see how that affects his usage, if it does. I’m not saying he should be pulled after a short hitless streak, far from it, but with four starters here you have to play the hot hand and figuring out which one is hot and which one has cooled off can be a difficult thing. Of course, as someone pointed out, if you aren’t going to use Kolten Wong when there’s a righty on the mound and he’d be working behind a ground ball pitcher, when are you going to use him? I feel like this rotation bit is going to probably short not only Wong but Jedd Gyorko as well.
However, Gyorko left yesterday’s game with a hamstring issue, so this could be a moot point for a while. It looks like Gyorko might go on the disabled list with this strain, which while unfortunate would alleviate a bit of this logjam. Yairo Munoz can handle backing up the infield positions and Harrison Bader can come up to be the fourth outfielder. I hate to see Gyorko out but that feels more like what the roster should look like–three starters and some quality backups that can sit on the bench without it feeling like a total waste.
The Cardinals actually play a night game for the first time this season, with first pitch at 6:40 this evening. Jack Flaherty will go for the Cardinals against the Brewers’ staff ace Chase Anderson. The Brewers got a little taste of Flaherty last season and did all right against him, though the hope is now that he has his feet wet in the bigs, he’ll be able to really show the pitching chops that he has.
The Cards saw Anderson four times last year and hit just .212 against him as he made a big step up in his development. He was 2-0 with an ERA just over 3.00 against St. Louis and the Brewers made sure he lined up to face them again. Of course, they didn’t have Marcell Ozuna then.
A win tonight would put the Cards tied with the Brewers in second place very early on. It’d be very nice to be looking for the sweep on Wednesday!