Cardinals show resilience in series win over Padres, look to stay on track

The Cardinals get to celebrate home opener with 3-4 record from their west coast road trip.

St. Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres
St. Louis Cardinals v San Diego Padres / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages

The St. Louis Cardinals looked more like the team fans had hoped to see during their three-game set against the San Diego Padres. The Cardinals won the series. They won Monday evening 6-2 and Tuesday evening 5-2, but lost on Wednesday 3-2.

Kyle Gibson looked great in his debut with the Cardinals, going seven innings for a quality start. He gave up four hits and two home runs, striking out four batters while inducing eight swings and misses. Gibson used his cutter and sweeper pitches while mixing in a changeup effectively.

Nolan Arenado started the scoring with a double to left field, scoring Brendan Donovan. Arenado scored on a two-run homer off the bat of Willson Contreras. He launched the homer to centerfield 419 feet with an exit velocity of 107.2.

Donovan appeared to be back to himself, going three for four on Monday. He had a two-run home run in the sixth inning. The homer traveled 375 feet to right field with an exit velocity of 104.6 mph.

The Cardinals also had terrific relief appearances from Jojo Romero and Ryan Helsley. Each pitched a scoreless inning. Romero struck out one batter while Helsley gave up a hit.

Miles Mikolas improved over his last outing with six innings of work. He gave up two runs over seven hits, walking one batter while striking out four. Giovanny Gallegos and Andrew Kittredge held the game, going one inning of work each. Gallegos gave up a hit and walked one batter. Helsley got his first save of the season, pitching a one-hit inning in which he struck out two batters.

Contreras knocked his second home run of the season in Tuesday's sixth inning. The home run traveled 420 feet to right-center field, scoring Donovan.

"Small ball" also played a massive role in Tuesday's game. Masyn Winn hit a sacrifice fly in the third inning, scoring Victor Scott II to get things going for the Cardinals. Arenado hit into a fielder's choice to score Brendan Donovan in the eighth inning. Paul Goldschmidt and Willson Contreras moved up the base path on the play. Ivan Herrera then hit a sac fly to score Goldschmidt.

It was good to see them play this style of baseball, which shows off their speed in Scott, Donovan, and Winn.

Wednesday's game could have been better. Zack Thompson pitched five innings, giving up five hits, four walks, and three runs, including a home run to Kyle Higashioka. Thompson also struggled in his first start against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Thompson is being given the opportunity to start because Sonny Gray is beginning the season on the injured list. If Gray's debut with the Cardinals is put on hold and Thompson must make another start, it wouldn't be surprising to see another pitcher start in his place.

Matthew Liberatore pitched an inning of relief, giving up one hit and striking out one batter. Andre Pallante pitched an inning, striking out one batter. Ryan Fernandez pitched an inning, giving up one hit and one walk, but struck out three.

Small ball led to the Cardinals scoring once again, with Arenado getting things started in the fourth inning with a single to right field, scoring Contreras. Goldschmidt hit into a force out in the eighth to score Scott.

It's been great to see the emergence of a small ball in the Cardinal's arsenal. It shows resilience in that they will battle to score runs in any way they can. That was something dramatically missing from the team in 2023.

The Cardinals are 3-4 as they head back to St. Louis for Thursday's home opener. The festivities and fanfare should serve as an extra jolt of energy that the team is competing in a brand-new season with loads of opportunities.