ST. LOUIS — Cardinals starting pitcher Miles Mikolas played the role of stopper and made sure his club headed into back-to-back off days with a winning feeling as opposed to a losing streak.
Mikolas matched a career high with 10 strikeouts and paved the way as the Cardinals edged their cross-state rivals the Kansas City Royals, 2-1, to earn a split in the two-game I-70 series in front of an announced crowd of 38,406 at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night. The Cardinals have now won 14 of their last 18 games against the Royals.
The victory also gave the Cardinals a record of 15-13 for May, the 16th time they’ve recorded a winning May since 2000.
The Cardinals (25-32) will now have back-to-back scheduled days off for the first time this season (they’ll also have consecutive days off prior to their London trip). They finished their stretch of 19 consecutive days with a game having gone 12-7.
Mikolas (4-1) turned in his best outing of the season and held the Royals scoreless for eight innings. He walked just one and gave up three hits in his first 10-strikeout outing since Aug. 27, 2019. He now has a scoreless streak of 16 innings, the longest on the team this season.
By hitting the leadoff hitter to start the game, Royals outfielder/first baseman Nick Pratto, Mikolas joined Cardinals legend and Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson as the only hurlers in club history with four hit batters to begin a game dating back to at least 1914.
The Royals (17-39) scored their only run in the ninth inning against relief pitcher Giovanny Gallegos, who gave up a double, a single and an RBI groundout to start the final frame. The Cardinals attempted to turn two on the grounder, but Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., one of the fastest players in the majors per Statcast sprint speed data, beat out the throw.
Witt stole second to put the tying run in scoring position when Gallegos recorded the final out, a strikeout.
Cardinals make headway against Royals’ bullpen
Both Cardinals runs came against Royals relief pitchers.
In the sixth inning, they broke through thanks to an infield single by Paul Goldschmidt that Royals first baseman Pasquantino got a glove on and knocked down, but Pasquantino couldn’t gather the ball and get to first in time to beat Goldschmidt.
Two batters later, Nolan Arenado belted a two-out RBI double into the left-center field gap that drove in Goldschmidt for the game’s first run.
The Cardinals added a run in the eighth against extremely hard-throwing left-hander Aroldis Chapman, who had been a nemesis of Cardinals hitters for more than a decade.
Tommy Edman’s leadoff walk and stolen base set up the eighth inning run. Edman advanced to third on Brendan Donovan’s single, and Nolan Gorman hit a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Edman.
The Cardinals hadn’t scored a run against Chapman, a former Chicago Cubs All-Star closer, at Busch Stadium since Sept. 2, 2011.
Greinke limits the Cardinals offense
Royals starter Zack Greinke held the Cardinals scoreless through five innings. He allowed two hits, one walk and struck out six.
Greinke is one of three pitchers in MLB history to have six All-Star selections and six Gold Gloves. The other two are Greg Maddux and Cardinals legend Bob Gibson.
One day after they were held without a baserunner through the first seven innings, the Cardinals put a pair of men on base against the potential future Hall of Famer Greinke.
A leadoff single by Brendan Donovan gave them a baserunner right out of the gate, and Nolan Arenado drew a two-out walk to give them a second runner. The Cardinals didn’t draw a single walk on Monday.
Greinke entered the day having walked just eight batters in 57 1/3 innings this season.
The Cardinals put a runner on third with no outs in the fifth inning, but Greinke slipped out of the jam and kept the score 0-0.
Alec Burleson roped a leadoff double to the left field wall, and he advanced to third on a wild pitch. However, Paul DeJong struck out looking, Juan Yepez struck out swinging and Tommy Edman, who had batted .350 with runners in scoring position and two outs this season, hit an inning-ending fly ball to right field.
Donnie defends in right field
Donovan, who made his sixth start of the season in right field, earned his first outfield assist from that position when he threw a bullet from right field to end the top of the fourth inning and keep the game a 0-0 tie.
The National League utility player Gold Glove winner last season, Donovan already had an outfield assist from the left field position.
The Royals put the leadoff man on in the fourth thanks to a Salvador Perez single swatted up the middle. With one out, MJ Melendez grounded to first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and Goldschmidt threw to second base to get the lead runner.
However, Melendez advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch with Michael Massey at the plate. Massey then lined a one-hop single to Donovan in right field. Melendez attempted to score from second on the play, but Donovan’s throw to the plate easily beat Melendez by a couple steps. Catcher Willson Contreras applied the tag for the final out of the frame.