The St. Louis Cardinals, coming off a win Wednesday and an off day on Thursday, headed back to Busch Stadium to play the second series of the year against the Kansas City Royals. The last time these two I-70 teams faced off, the Royals took two games out of three (one of them being called due to rain).
But on Friday night, in front of a sellout crowd full of both Cardinals and Royals fans, St. Louis emerged the first game victorious.
For Friday’s game, the pitching match up featured Jaime Garcia (1-3, 2.67) for the St. Louis Cardinals, and Yordano Ventura (3-5, 4.62) for the Kansas City Royals.
After a scoreless first inning by both teams, the Cardinals got on the board first in the bottom half of the second inning. With two outs, Randal Grichuk hit a single that almost became a great play in the infield by the Royals. Jon Jay followed the single with an RBI triple down the right field line, scoring Grichuk and making it 1-0 Cardinals.
Garcia stepped up to bat, and with the first pitch from Ventura, smacked a single down the left field line, scoring Jay, as Garcia got his first hit of the year, and made it 2-0 Cardinals. He continued to keep the Royals in check while on the mound, only throwing 38 pitches through the first three innings of the game.
By the end of the fourth inning, his pitch count was at just 52 pitches, and was at 11 straight scoreless innings during games against American League teams.
Ventura, however, was taken out of the game after a mere three innings of work, which was what happened during his previous start as well.
Joe Blanton entered the game to relieve Ventura and face Jason Heyward, Grichuk, and Jay. Blanton wound up pitching a 1-2-3 inning as the game headed to the fifth with St. Louis ahead by a score of 2-0. In the top of the fifth, Garcia got Alex Gordon to pop out, Alex Rios to ground out, and Omar Infante to ground out with another 1-2-3 inning by the veteran Garcia, who has pitched well since his return to the Cardinals, but has had no run support in his three losses (all three losses were shutouts).
One of the biggest threats Garcia faced came in the top of the sixth inning. After two out singles by both Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer stepped up to the plate with the potential to give the Royals the lead.
And with the crowd at Busch Stadium on their feet, Garcia struck Hosmer out, and got out of the jam with the Cardinals still holding onto their 2-0 lead. It wasn’t until after the eighth inning where Garcia was removed from the game, and heading to the dugout, got a rousing ovation from the crowd.
His final line of the evening: 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals offense tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Luke Hochevar entered the game to relieve Ryan Madison, and started the inning by striking out Yadier Molina. Heyward then walked, and a Grichuk triple scored Heyward, making it 3-0 St. Louis. Up next was Jay, whose sacrifice fly to left scored Grichuk in a close play at the plate.
Kevin Siegrist pitched the top of the ninth for St. Louis, who had themselves a 4-0 lead. And with the final out, Siegrist got Salvador Perez to pop out to Matt Carpenter, giving St. Louis the win.
Garcia improves to 2-3, and Ventura drops to 3-6. Also, the Cardinals continue to remain atop all of baseball, winning their 40th game, as they now have a 40-21 record. The Royals drop to 34-24 with the loss.
Also, in regards to the Cardinals: with pitcher Lance Lynn now on the 15-day disabled list due to an injury, Tyler Lyons will get the start for the Cardinals on Saturday.
(Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)