Cardinals shut down Phillies lineup like no other team has in Sonny Gray's debut

The Cardinals shut out the Phillies lineup at full strength in Sonny Gray's debut, something no team in baseball has done since last summer.
Apr 9, 2024; St. Louis, Missouri, USA;  St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) pitches
Apr 9, 2024; St. Louis, Missouri, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) pitches / Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

It's not often that you see the Philadelphia Phillies lineup completely shut down on any given night. In fact, the St. Louis Cardinals are the first team to shut out the Phillies with their best bats all in the lineup since July 2023.

You read that right. Brandon Kiley of 101 ESPN put out that stat on Twitter this evening, as the Phillies have not been shut out with Kyle Schwarber, Trea Turner, Bryce Harper, and J.T. Realmuto all in the lineup since July 22nd, 2023.

It was a really impressive performance by both Gray and the Cardinals' bullpen on Tuesday. With Phillies's ace Zack Wheeler staring them down on the other side, Gray, who had not made a single rehab start, came in and allowed just five hits over five innings while striking out five batters. Things started to look dicey in the fifth inning as Matthew Liberatore walked the first two batters of the inning but was able to induce a double play ball and Andrew Kittredge came in to shut down the 6th and stand a runner on third.

Kittredge got into a bit of trouble himself in the 7th but teamed up with JoJo Romero to strand the bases loaded for the Phillies, and Helsley was able to get a clean save in the 9th inning, striking out two batters.

Sure, you want to continue to see more from the offense, but putting up three runs on Wheeler is a win any day of the week, and the way that both Gray and the bullpen rose to the occasion against one of the best lineups in baseball was a sight to behold.

Gray's first start should remind Cardinals fans of just how important he is to this club in 2024. The Cardinals are 6-6 on the year, with three of their four series so far coming against contenders in the National League, and they did so while only getting one start (who was on a pitch limit) from their ace. It's still so early in the season, but the defense has taken massive steps forward, the bullpen is able to maintain leads and get outs in big spots, and the rotation has put the Cardinals in a position to win the game almost every game. The rotation isn't pretty, but it has certainly gotten the job done so far.

The lineup is the thing that continues to lag behind, but hopefully, tonight was a step in the right direction against arguably the best pitcher in baseball.