St. Louis Cardinals: Pirates rookie sweeps Cardinals out of Pittsburgh
By Brian Swope
The St. Louis Cardinals came into Pittsburgh leading the Pirates atop the Central Division. Unfortunately, they would leave town with the knowledge that they squandered an opportunity to cement themselves atop the division.
The story of the day was Pittsburgh Pirates rookie pitcher Nick Kingham. Making his big league debut against the St. Louis Cardinals, Kingham made it look easy. The rookie had his slider working and the Cardinals’ offense just couldn’t hit it.
Kingham retired every batter he faced through 6 2/3 before Paul DeJong finally broke up the perfect game with a sharp single down the third base line. That was all the offense the Cardinals would muster against the rookie. Kingham’s final line was 7.0 IP, 9 Ks and just one hit en route to his first big league win.
On the other side Luke Weaver pitched well, but it wasn’t enough on a day when the opposing starter was nearly perfect. Weaver put a runner on in every inning except the first and fifth. He got out of a jam in the second by striking out Jordy Mercer to leave two runners on.
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The game broke open in the sixth inning. Starling Marte singled with one out. Josh Bell fought off an inside pitch for a single sending Marte to third. Weaver then loaded the bases with a walk. Elias Diaz made him pay for it with a two run single. That ended Weaver’s day as Jordan Hicks came on in relief.
Hicks gave up a run scoring single to Colin Moran, leaving men at first and third. After Jedd Gyorko made a strong play with a throw home to get the lead runner on the next hitter, Hicks walked the pitcher to load the bases. He then hit lead off man Adam Frazier to score Moran before Gregory Polanco grounded out.
Hicks looked tired and did not have his best stuff. His fastball rested around 96mph as opposed to his normal triple digits. It only topped out at 99mph.
Greg Holland gave up another run in the eighth inning to run the score up to 5-0. It would end there as the Cardinals’ offense only recorded two more hits the rest of the game.
Rather than cementing their place atop the division, the Cardinals fell to third place at the hand of the Bucs. They now sit 1 1/2 games out of first behind the Pirates and Cubs. The Cardinals get an off day on Monday to collect themselves. They start a two game set at home against the White Sox on Tuesday. Michael Wacha is set to face James Shields in the opener.