The Los Angeles Dodgers came into St. Louis with an offensive swagger. I don’t mean that people were offended by them, though I don’t know your personal opinion about those boys in blue. No, they were a powerhouse of offense, hitting .307 as a team, slugging homers left and right, and basically pounding some opponents into submission.
So of course the Cardinals, who had been struggling a bit on the pitching side, kept them under control.
Our Hero of the night is going to be Marcell Ozuna. After Miles Mikolas gave up two runs in the top of the first, the team could have easily faced an uphill battle all night long. Instead, Paul Goldschmidt walked with one out, then after a Jose Martinez fielder’s choice Ozuna smashed his second homer in three days. It was the hardest home run hit this season in the major leagues and adds to the pile of information that says maybe there’s hope for Ozuna yet. Then again, we thought that about the week last May which saw him win Player of the Week awards after hitting about .500 with power. That didn’t materialize so we’ll wait and see if this is starting to be “the real Ozuna”.
Also, big tip of the cap to Harrison Bader. In the sixth, with the Dodgers on top by a run and with runners on second and third, Russell Martin hit a flare over the infield. Maybe a normal centerfielder doesn’t catch it, but Bader isn’t a normal centerfielder.
Goldschmidt was alert and redirected that ball to second to finish the double play, but Enrique Hernandez was so far away from second that even a little hesitation wouldn’t have been enough for him to get back. That kept the Dodgers from piling on and, as so often happens, the bottom of that frame is when the Cards took the lead.
You also have to give a nod to the FOX Sports Midwest announcing crew. One game recently, Dan McLaughlin and Jim Edmonds were talking about the possibility of a wild pitch and, moments later, one got away letting the run score. Last night, a similar situation happened with Danny Mac and Tim McCarver. With Goldschmidt on third, McCarver made mention of a pitch getting away, only to have it happen seemingly before he finished the sentence. Goldschmidt scampered home with the tie-breaking (and winning) run. Now you know pretty much anytime a guy gets to third, the broadcast team is going to talk about wild pitches!
Paul DeJong was the only Cardinal with multiple hits, including a double in the first after Ozuna’s smash. Goldschmidt walked twice, though his 0-2 did drop his season average to .189.
On the Goat side, I guess we’ll go with Yadier Molina, who went 0-3 and left two runners on. Kolten Wong also went 0-3 with a strikeout but he didn’t leave anyone on the basepaths, so that’ll be our tiebreaker.
It was good to see Mikolas settle in after the first inning. After his first couple of starts, people needed to see the Mikolas that was in the Cy Young race last year. Being able to keep the Dodgers offense fairly in check will help any faint hearts out there. Not a lot of strikeouts, but that’s not usually Mikolas’s game. He only walked one, which is. John Gant followed with two scoreless innings and, even though he threw a decent number of pitches Saturday, Mike Shildt tapped Jordan Hicks for the save. This was a game the team really needed to win and I don’t question that choice at all. Hicks proved it was the right one with a scoreless frame locking up the game.
With the win, the Cards are back at .500, but they face Ross Stripling tonight. It’s not Clayton Kershaw (who will be facing the AA Springfield Cardinals tonight as part of his rehab) but Stripling’s been a solid pitcher over his short career and is off to a fine start to 2019. The focus may be more on how Dakota Hudson can keep LA in check, honestly. Hudson allowed three homers to the Brewers in his start in Milwaukee. The Dodgers would love to put their power back on display. If he can keep them in the park, the Cards have a chance to be plus .500 for the first time this season.