Rookie pitcher Max Kranick perplexed the offense as Johan Oviedo and the bullpen failed again to keep the game close.
The Cardinals concluded a four-game series with Pittsburgh on Sunday, starting Johan Oviedo across from Max Kranick. Oviedo lacked control, missing spots badly as he walked four and gave up six hits that led to five runs. Jake Woodford, in addition to those five runs, gave up two more solo shots for seven total runs for Pittsburgh. Kranick was a total mystery for Cards’ hitters, pitching five perfect innings before being lifted after a lengthy rain delay. The Redbirds didn’t manage a single baserunner till the seventh, where they managed to scratch across the first of two Cardinals runs in the game, leading to a final score of 7-2.
Adam Frazier started the afternoon, drawing a five-pitch walk. Ke’Bryan Hayes singled to center and Frazier made it to third as he was running on the pitch. Bryan Reynolds singled to center, scoring Frazier and moving Hayes to third as the Pirates took a 1-0 lead.
Bryan Reynolds has a 12-game hitting streak.
Bryan Reynolds should be an All-Star. pic.twitter.com/v1K1LYFW0u
— Pirates (@Pirates) June 27, 2021
Yadier Molina tried to backhand a ball in the dirt to Colin Moran to try to throw Reynolds out as he stole second but missed the ball, allowing Hayes to score on the passed ball to make it 2-0.
Moran, now with a runner on second and still no outs, drew another walk from Oviedo. Jacob Stallings worked another 3-2 count, drawing yet another walk to load the bases. Gregory Polanco chased a ball in the dirt for the long-awaited first out. Kevin Newman popped out to shallow center for the second out, holding the runners in place. Rain started falling pretty heavily at this point, and Ben Gamel drew a walk with two easy takes on balls that were very high and very outside, stretching Pittsburgh’s lead to 3-0. Kranick then took his first MLB at-bat before throwing his first pitch and grounded out to short for an end to Oviedo’s 43-pitch inning in which he threw only 21 strikes.
Dylan Carlson led off for the Cards and flew out to left for out number one as the rain intensified. Paul Goldschmidt followed with another flyout to the warning track in left field. Nolan Arenado flew out to right as the Cards went down in order.
The rain let up at the beginning of the second as Frazier lined out right to Arenado. Hayes struck out chasing an elevated fastball. Reynolds struck out as well, swinging through a 2-2 fastball.
Tyler O’Neill struck out swinging at a 2-2 fastball to start the Cards’ half of the frame. Yadi grounded a ball to third and was thrown out on an absolutely phenomenal throw from Hayes. Edman went down swinging as well as the Cards were baffled by Kranick over his first two MLB innings.
THAT’S IT. THAT’S THE TWEET. pic.twitter.com/Bh3Mrir1i4
— Pirates (@Pirates) June 27, 2021
Moran grounded out to first for the first out of the inning. Stallings flew out to center for the second out. Polanco chased another ball in the dirt for strike three to retire the Pirates in order for the second frame in a row.
Lars Nootbaar flew out to right to lead off the bottom of the inning. Paul DeJong bounced back to the pitcher for the second out. Oviedo went down swinging, giving Kranick three perfect innings.
Newman grounded out to second to start the fourth inning. Gamel singled to right on a slider at the bottom of the zone. Kranick struck out on a failed bunt attempt, trying to move Gamel to second. Frazier singled to right, moving Gamel to third. Hayes chopped a ball to Edman who tried to flip the ball to second to get the out, but the toss was late, allowing Gamel to score from third for a 4-0 Pirates lead. Reynolds singled softly to center, scoring Frazier to put the Pirates up 5-0. Moran chopped out to second for the last out.
Carlson flew out to center for out number one. Goldschmidt flew out to center as well for the second out. Arenado popped out to right for out number three, as the Cards had yet to put a runner on base.
Jake Woodford replaced Oviedo in the fifth and retired Stallings with a flyout to center. Polanco ripped a fastball into the Pirates’ bullpen as the Pirates continued to pile on with a 6-0 lead. Newman grounded out to short for the second out. Gamel launched a curveball for the second Pirates home run in the inning to make it 7-0. Kranick went down swinging to send the game to the bottom of the frame.
O’Neill popped out to second for the first out. Yadi grounded out to short. Edman grounded out to second for Kranick’s fifth perfect inning. Heavy rain moved in after the end of the fifth, causing a lengthy delay that would end Kranick’s outing.
Play resumed in the sixth after the delay as Woodford returned and gave up a single to Frazier. Hayes followed and rolled into a double play and Reynolds lined out to Arenado for the last out.
Duane Underwood got the call to preserve the Pirates’ perfect game. The Cards went down in order again as Noots flew out, DeJong struck out, and pinch-hitter Jose Rondon flew out to right to end the inning.
Junior Fernandez replaced Woodford and gave up a single to Moran. Stallings lined out and Polanco walked to put two on with one out. Newman lined out to center and Moran got thrown out trying to score on a Gamel single to retire the Pirates’ side.
Carlson finally broke up the perfect game and no-hit bid with a leadoff double down the left field line. Goldschmidt flew out to the warning track in right, allowing Carlson to advance to third. Arenado ended the shutout with a sac fly to make it 7-1. O’Neill followed with another flyout to the warning track for the last out.
RBI number 5⃣0⃣ for Nolan! pic.twitter.com/1HAxLHR86a
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) June 27, 2021
Underwood hit for himself and was called out on strikes for the first out. Frazier followed with a single to right. Hayes struck out swinging over an 0-2 slider. Reynolds grounded out to first to send the game to the bottom of the inning.
Yadi opened the bottom of the frame with a double into left field. Edman rolled out to first, moving Molina to third with one out. Noots drew a walk on five pitches and DeJong singled into left to score Molina as the Cards closed the gap to 7-2. Matt Carpenter pinch-hit for Fernandez and chased a changeup out of the zone for strike three. Carlson worked a full count but struck out to strand both runners.
Seth Elledge relieved Fernandez in the ninth. Moran struck out to start the inning, tipping a sinker into Yadi’s glove. Stallings went down swinging as well, missing a 1-2 sinker. Polanco froze on a 3-2 pitch on an inside corner as Elledge struck out the side.
David Bednar pitched the ninth for the Pirates and retired Goldy as he chopped out to third. Arenado followed with a flyout to center field. O’Neill drew a two-out walk to extend the game to Molina, who chopped out to short to seal the 7-2 win for the Bucs.
Oof. I think this ties my record for the fewest Cardinals highlights in a recap. The Cards continue their freefall in the standings as they drop three of four to the Pirates for a season record of 37-41. The Pirates improve to 29-47. The Cards host a three-game set with the Diamondbacks starting Monday, with recent rotation addition Wade LeBlanc pitching across from Jake Faria at 7:15 PM CT.
As stated above, this was Max Kranick’s MLB debut. For those curious, he made seven starts split between AA and AAA this season, posting a 4.37 ERA and 3.67 FIP. In his latest start for the AAA Indianapolis Indians, he was roughed up by the Memphis Redbirds for five runs over five innings, yielding eight hits and two walks. I don’t want to take anything away from him in what was a fantastic outing, but he’s a guy that’s definitely hittable which makes the latest flop from this Cardinals offense all the more frustrating.
Final Pitching Lines
Oviedo (L, 0-4): 4 IP / 6 H / 5 R / 5 ER / 4 BB / 5 K / 0 HR
Woodford: 2 IP / 3 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 0 BB / 1 K / 2 HR
Fernandez: 2 IP / 3 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 2 K / 0 HR
Elledge: 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 3 K / 0 HR
Kranick (W, 1-0): 5 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 3 K / 0 HR
Underwood: 3 IP / 3 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 1 BB / 3 K / 0 HR
Bednar: 1 IP / 0 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 1 BB / 0 K / 0 HR