St. Louis Cardinals: Cardinals sweep with the Reds with ease

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 9: Miles Mikolas
ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 9: Miles Mikolas /

The St. Louis Cardinals won their eleventh straight contest against the Cincinnati Reds in a 9-2 rout on Sunday. 

The St. Louis Cardinals continued to beat up on the cellar dweller of major league baseball:  the Cincinnati Reds.  What was a close contest for much of the game became a blowout when Paul Dejong connected for a three-run bomb in the seventh inning off of Cincinnati reliever Kyle Quackenbush.

One of many highlights of this game was Miles Mikolas.  Mikolas again stifled Reds’ hitters, including Joey Votto on his way to lowering his ERA to 3.46.  Mikolas completed seven innings, giving up only five hits and two runs (only one of which were earned).  Even still, the two runs Mikolas surrendered did not tell the full story of his dominance.

Mikolas needed only 85 pitches to get through the seventh inning.  The two runs he surrendered were caused by an errant throw by Matt Carpenter, an odd route/play by Dexter Fowler in right (yet again), and a deflected ball by Mikolas that dribbled into left field.  The comedy of errors that was the St. Louis Cardinals defense undermines how great Mikolas was today.  At this point, the sample size is large enough to confirm that Mikolas is a horse and this is looking like a great move.

As an aside, Tyler Chatwood and Yu Darvish of the Chicago small bears have ERAs of 4.60 and 6.86 respectively to the 3.46 ERA of Miles Mikolas.  I like what John Mozeliak did with this signing, and so far it is paying dividends.

The St. Louis Cardinals Broke Out the Bats to Further Dominate Cincinnati.

The St. Louis Cardinals won the first two games of this three-game set against the Reds by scoring a total of eight runs.  While those were great wins for this team, the offense squandered several opportunities with runners in scoring position against terrible pitchers.  On Sunday, the Cardinals were trending in the same direction as the first two games of the series – winning the game, but missing key opportunities against bad pitching.  In other words, there was a lack of crooked numbers from the offense.

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That changed, however, with Paul Dejong’s three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning.  The St. Louis Cardinals ended up plating nine runs, putting an exclamation point on their seven-game sweep of the Reds so far this year.

While DeJong had the big blast, I want to highlight Yadier Molina.  Yadi had three more hits and a sacrifice fly and he hit the ball hard every time.  He raised his season average to .316 and his OPS to .925.  Mike Matheny‘s decision to bat Yadi in the two-spot in the lineup has paid dividends thus far.

We will see if this lineup construction continues in the future.  Molina batting second might invite more double-plays, but his ability to put the ball in play and hit the ball the other way makes him a good two-hole hitter – he just lacks the speed one would want.

St. Louis Cardinals
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 29: Yadier Molina /

Moreover, Harrison Bader continues his hot streak, reaching base for the eighth straight game and going 2-4 and hitting the ball hard each time.  Lastly, Jose Martinez, while only 1 for 5, hit the ball hard several times.  I said before the season that he would/should be a starter, and he has now transcended to the starting role.  While he still looks like a newborn baby giraffe at first base defensively (seriously, the guy cannot stretch his 6’7″ frame more?), he is the anchor for this offense and he should remain in the three-spot in the order.

Other highlights of this game include the first homer of the season by Kolten Wong, and a clutch pinch-hit RBI double by Greg Garcia.  His pinch-hit double scored two and that was the first run-scoring pinch-hit of the year for the St. Louis Cardinals.

The St. Louis Cardinals Bullpen

The biggest question about calling to the bullpen in a blowout was the fact Mikolas had only thrown 85 pitches.  That said, I understand if Matheny wanted to get his guys some work.  Thus, we saw Bud Norris in the eighth inning and Greg Holland in the ninth inning.  Norris breezed through his inning, striking out one and lowering his St. Louis Cardinals’ ERA to 2.38.

St. Louis Cardinals
ST. LOUIS, MO – APRIL 22: Greg Holland /

Greg Holland also pitched a scoreless inning and he also struck out one batter.  His strikeout, however, was a called third strike on a ball that was clearly out of the zone (but, the Cards were winning by a lot and it was raining in St. Louis).  Overall, it was good to get Holland an inning in a low-stakes situation.  We can only hope he will return to dominance and take on a more important late-inning role.

Next: A look at first baseman Martinez

The St. Louis Cardinals impressed by sweeping the Reds for the second time in the last ten days.  For those counting at home, that’s seven of the teams thirteen wins coming against the Reds.  That is impressive even if we were beating up on an intentional tanker.  The St. Louis Cardinals are 13-8 and in sole possession of first place in the NL Central.  The real test will come after Monday’s off-day when the Cards face the Mets at home and the Pirates on the road over the next six.