When Whitney Houston sang that she “believe[d] that children are our future”, I’m sure she had a game like last night in mind.
The scoring started with Juan Yepez blasting his second career home run, giving him five extra base hits in his first seven career games. The next two scored on a double by Brendan Donovan, part of his two double, two walk, three run night. Later in the game, Jake Walsh made his major league debut and threw the last two innings, giving up no runs and striking out four. The large gap between the Cardinals’ score and the Orioles’ tally allowed for an emptying of the bench, meaning that Kramer Robertson also made his major league debut, getting an RBI groundout. (Robertson also made his first major league error on what could have been the last play of the game.)
A whole lot of production out of a combined 21 career games after last night.
Whether it’s for selfish reasons or because that truly is their baseball philosophy, the Cardinals have done an excellent job developing major league talent. It might not be star talent and it might not be talent that sticks around forever, but they definitely know how to have productive pieces come up from Memphis and be able to contribute immediately in whatever role they are placed in. Some are going to be more important to this team than others–it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Robertson optioned back down to Memphis when Edmundo Sosa is ready to join the team, probably today–but they are all going to leave a mark and contribute in some fashion.
As I say, some more than others and there aren’t many that are contributing more than Yepez these days. Whenever you can get into the same sentence as Stan Musial, you are doing something right. (If you haven’t seen, Yepez tied Musial for most hits in their first seven games, with only Enos Slaughter and the immortal Bo Hart doing better. Hopefully his career has the longevity of the first two guys.) It’s clear that Oli Marmol has no problems trusting Yepez, since he was moved into the cleanup spot yesterday with Tyler O’Neill having the day off. While the Cardinals are not an organization that makes any hasty judgements, if Yepez can keep this (or something similar) up, there’s going to be more of a groundswell to let Corey Dickerson go and let Yepez be your regular DH. While that’s not likely to happen soon, it’s something to keep an eye on. Dickerson did get a hit last night in two at bats before Albert Pujols took over for him.
If everybody’s searching for a Hero, though, I think they’d settle on Brendan Donovan last night. As noted above, he had two doubles, drove in two runs (which turned out to be the difference in the game, though the Cardinals piled on more), and drew his first two walks of his major league career. While the offense as a whole was pretty good stuff last night, Donovan really stood out and play like that will probably keep him more in focus in the middle infield picture. Donovan played a fine shortstop last night or could move to second if Tommy Edman shifted over. It’s likely that Sosa will get the first crack at it, but Donovan’s play from last night should get him rewarded with another outing this afternoon.
Of course, the old guys did a little bit as well. Paul Goldschmidt was the only non-rookie to have two hits (and he drew a walk as well) and he drove in three. Nolan Arenado drove in one with a double. Edman singled in two. It was the kind of game that you expect to see when you are playing a team like Baltimore.
It also helped that 2022 Miles Mikolas was on the mound. Mikolas gave up two runs in his first outing of the year and has allowed only five since then, with the one last night coming courtesy of a weird play as a ball dropped between Harrison Bader and Edman as they both tried to avoid hitting the other. If that ball was caught, it would have been Mikolas’s third scoreless outing out of seven this season. I was concerned before the year whether the Mikolas we’d seen the last couple of years (when we’d seen him) was the true one but it appears that, being healthy and fully conditioned, we’re seeing a Mikolas more in line with his first year in St. Louis. We came into this season thinking that Adam Wainwright might be the ace or Jack Flaherty could be the ace, but very few saw Mikolas emerging like this. If Flaherty can come back at his level and Jordan Hicks continues to develop, this team should have quite the pitching staff to cover any offensive woes.
Let’s see, we need a Goat. I guess it has to be Yadier Molina. 0-4, though he did score a run because he reached on a fielder’s choice. I had to go double-check how anything could be a fielder’s choice and not a double play with Yadi running because I missed the early part of the game, but I see that Dylan Carlson tried to go to third and was thrown out. That’ll do it.
Afternoon baseball as the Cardinals behind Hicks look to take the series!