A strong start from Flaherty and two homers from O’Neill highlighted a mostly solid win for the Redbirds on Sunday.
The Cardinals came into Sunday’s game against the Reds looking to convert the series sweep. Jack Flaherty started for the Cards against Luis Castillo for Cincy. Flaherty pitched a strong seven innings, striking out six, with his only mistakes being a hanging slider that went for a solo shot and a scary hit-by-pitch on a fastball that got away from him.
Castillo got nickel-and-dimed by the Cardinals for four earned runs over five innings, two of which came on two solo home runs by Tyler O’Neill.
Alex Blandino led off the game for the Reds and struck out, tipping a 3-2 fastball into Andrew Knizner’s glove for the first out. Jesse Winker saw a steady diet of breaking balls before grounding a 2-2 fastball to Tommy Edman at second for out number two. Nick Castellanos swung under a 2-2 slider, popping it to Justin Williams in right to retire the Reds’ side in order.
Edman started the bottom of the inning for St. Louis with a leadoff single to right field. Dylan Carlson knocked a ground ball straight back up the middle for a base hit and Edman advanced to third as no one on the Reds covered the base.
Paul Goldschmidt, with runners on first and third, grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Edman and giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. Nolan Arenado grounded to Eugenio Suarez, who stepped on second and threw to first for a 6-3 double play.
Joey Votto grounded a 1-2 sinker to Paul DeJong on the first-base side of second, who threw to first from his knees to get the first out. Suarez worked a full count and grounded a slider to Arenado for the second out. Nick Senzel then popped out to Goldschmidt, who ran back into foul territory to make the catch and end the top of the inning.
DeJong grounded a 1-1 changeup to Jonathan India for the first out of the inning. Williams followed with another groundout to the right side. Tyler O’Neill got a hold of a 1-1 sinker and belted it to the bleachers in right-center, doubling the Cardinals’ lead to 2-0. Knizner chopped a grounder to third for the final out of the inning.
Tucker Barnhart led off the third inning with a groundout to second. India hit another groundout to shortstop for the second out. Castillo struck out swinging on three pitches, giving Flaherty nine straight outs to start the game.
Flaherty struck out looking to start the bottom of the inning. Edman hit a swinging bunt back to Castillo, whose throw barely beat Edman to first for the second out. Carlson struck out swinging, putting the Cardinals down in order.
Blandino popped the first pitch of the inning up to Edman to lead off the fourth. Winker singled on a full count to center field for the first hit of the afternoon for the Reds. Castellanos hit a hard grounder to Arenado, who threw to second to initiate a 5-4-3 double play to end the top of the inning.
Goldschmidt struck out looking on what he thought was ball four for the first out. Arenado followed and popped out to Barnhart in front of the plate. DeJong walked on a 3-2 changeup, bringing in Williams with a runner on and two away. Williams hit a grounder to Votto, who stepped on first for the final out.
Votto started the fifth with a swinging strikeout on a 1-2 changeup in the dirt. Suarez followed suit, waving at a slider for the second out. Senzel jumped on the first pitch and lined out to Carlson, resulting in another clean inning for Flaherty.
O’Neill launched a hanging slider to the bleachers again for his second home run on the day, putting the Cards up 3-0.
Knizner followed with a base hit to right field. Flaherty got a bunt down to move Knizner to second while making the first out. Edman grounded out to second, moving Knizner again to third. Carlson then singled up the middle to score Knizner to bring the score to 4-0. Goldschmidt grounded out to third to finish the inning.
Barnhart led off the inning with a swinging strikeout, waving at a fastball on a full count. A fastball from Flaherty got away from him and caught India in the helmet, and India was able to stay in the game and take first base. The umpires issued warnings after the hit-by-pitch and tossed Reds manager David Bell, who appeared to be upset both about the play and each team getting warnings afterward.
Mark Payton pinch hit for Castillo after the stoppage in play and popped out to center field for the second out. Blandino ended the inning with a flyout to right.
Carson Fulmer replaced Castillo to pitch the seventh, and Kyle Farmer replaced India at second so that the Reds’ medical team could examine India more closely. Arenado grounded out to third to start the inning. DeJong hit the first pitch he saw to left field for a single. Williams followed and flew a 3-2 fastball to left. O’Neill struck out swinging over the top of a breaking ball to bring the inning to a close.
Winker led off the seventh with a solo shot into the left field bullpen, cutting the Cards’ lead to 4-1.
Castellanos followed with a line drive base hit to left. Votto grounded into the shift for a strange 6-5-3 double play. Suarez struck out looking, checking his swing on a fastball that caught the outside corner of the plate for the third out.
Knizner hit a first-pitch popout to Votto to start the Cardinals’ half of the seventh. Matt Carpenter pinch hit Flaherty and struck out swinging at a fastball away. Edman ended the inning, grounding a 2-2 curveball to short for the final out.
Jordan Hicks got the call to pitch the eighth. Scott Hurst came in to play center field, moving Carlson to right to replace Williams. Hicks walked Senzel on four pitches to start the inning. Barnhart went down looking at a 90 mph changeup from Hicks for the first out. Farmer grounded a ball to Arenado, who threw to second to get Senzel and start a double play, but Edman’s throw to first was wide and Farmer was able to advance to second on the throwing error. Tyler Naquin pinch hit for the Reds in the pitcher spot and singled to right to score Farmer, who had advanced to third on a wild pitch, and the cut the lead again to 4-2. Blandino ended the inning with a groundout back to Hicks to send the game to the bottom of the eighth.
Sean Doolittle was brought in to pitch the bottom of the eighth. Carlson worked a full count before dropping a high flyball on the first base line in right field for a double. Goldschmidt singled to left on a 2-1 fastball, scoring Carlson for an insurance run and a 5-2 lead.
Goldschmidt then stole second on the 1-1 pitch to Arenado. Arenado popped out to second for the first out and DeJong followed suit, also popping out to third. Hurst then flew out to left to close the inning.
Alex Reyes replaced Hicks to close out the game for the Cardinals. Winker worked an eight-pitch at bat before striking out looking at a borderline fastball on the outside corner. Castellanos ripped a ball down the first base line that bounced fair and into the seats for a ground-rule-double. Votto walked on four pitches, bringing the tying run to the plate in Suarez. Suarez flew a ball to deep left, and O’Neill made the catch for the second out as he and Hurst nearly collided. Senzel walked on four straight pitches, loading the bases with the tying run on first. Barnhart then grounded out to Goldschmidt, ending the Reds’ threat and securing the sweep.
The Cardinals’ win brings them to 11-10 on the season, while the loss puts the Reds at 9-12. The Cardinals begin another series with the Phillies on Monday with the first pitch scheduled for 6:45 PM CT. Adam Wainwright is slated for the start against the Phillies’ Zack Wheeler.
On the Injury front, Yadier Molina underwent a final slew of imaging and Mike Shildt is confident that he will be able to return without a trip to the IL. Derrick Goold has also reported via Twitter that Yadi could be back in the lineup as early as Monday.
— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) April 25, 2021
Shildt was also optimistic that Harrison Bader would be able to join the team within the next seven to ten days (Credit to Savannah McCann at Cardinals.com for the injury updates).
The Cardinals will be moving to a six-man rotation this week, with Johan Oviedo being the favorite to snag the extra spot.
Final Pitching Lines
Flaherty (W, 4-0): 7 IP / 3 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 0 BB / 6 K / 1 HR
Hicks (H, 2): 1 IP / 1 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 1 BB / 1 K / 0 HR
Reyes (S, 5): 1 IP / 1 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 2 BB / 1 K / 0 HR
Castillo (L, 1-2): 5 IP / 6 H / 4 R / 4 ER / 1 BB / 3 K / 2 HR
Fulmer: 2 IP / 1 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB / 2 K / 0 HR
Doolittle: 1 IP / 2 H / 1 R / 1 ER / 0 BB / 0 K / 0 HR