The Cardinals’ Miles Mikolas was part pitcher and part groundskeeper in Sunday’s first game of the doubleheader.
An inning after allowing a two-run homer to Cincinnati’s Eugenio Suarez, Mikolas retired Freddy Galvis on a fly to center field and, upon Galvis’ return to the dugout, the Cincinnati batsman ran across the pitching mound. Some pitchers frown upon this. Mikolas decided he would say something about it. Galvis, not surprisingly, took exception.
“I asked him politely to use the grass,” said Mikolas, tongue firmly in cheek. “We do a tremendous job of taking care of that mound — your landing spot, the rubber, kind of keep it nice for the guys coming out of the bullpen. No one wants to come out of the bullpen with the mound all chewed.
“I just want to keep it nice for my teammates and I asked him nicely (there was one word not so nice) to not use that avenue again,” said Mikolas.
After Galvis responded, the benches emptied, as did the overflowing bullpens — it was Sept. 1, after all — but little came of it, except rhetoric and invective.
DOUBLING UP ON CATCHERS
The Cardinals, who had two catchers active for each of their first 134 games, had four active for the doubleheader.
Andre Knizner was coming up anyway from Class AAA Memphis. But when veteran backup Matt Wieters experienced tightness in his left calf while running the bases in the seventh inning Saturday, the call went out to Memphis and the Redbirds’ backup, Joe Hudson, was purchased from Memphis to join the team Sunday.
Wieters, who underwent an MRI on Sunday, doesn’t appear seriously hurt. “It actually is good under the realm of how it could be,” said manager Mike Shildt.
“Nothing showed up too much on the imaging. He’s got a mild calf strain, which is going to require some time. He’ll be back. We’re just making sure. We’re bringing Joe Hudson up, too, because we can — to cover our bets.”
To make room for Hudson on the 40-man roster, outfielder Lane Thomas, who has a fractured right wrist, has been moved from the 10-day injured list to the 60-day IL. Shildt, however, did not think surgery would be required for Thomas.
The 28-year-old Hudson, who was two for 12 with the Los Angeles Angels last year, hit .223 with 10 homers in 60 games at Memphis this season. He threw out 15 of 38 would-be base stealers and committed only one error and one passed ball.
MAYERS GETS ANOTHER CHANCE
Another interesting call-up was righthanded reliever Mike Mayers from Memphis. Mayers, who started the season with the Cardinals, was out more than two months with a right shoulder strain suffered in mid-April. After returning to the active roster for four unimpressive outings that ballooned Mayers’ earned run average to 7.20, he then was outrighted to Memphis. But his pitching there encouraged the Cardinals again to find a spot on the 40-man roster for him.
“It’s definitely a piece of humble pie to be outrighted and that nobody thought you could help their team,” said Mayers. “It was extremely humbling to not be claimed by anybody. I just kind of put my head down and went to work, trying to prove to myself that I was much better than I’d showed this year.
“It’s all part of the business. The first time I was so amped up and ready to go, coming back from the injury, I forgot to take a step back and enjoy it. I probably put a little too much pressure on myself to make up for the three months I lost.
“It’s an honor to be back and help in any capacity.”
GANT HEADS FOR CARDS’ RECORD
When John Gant escaped the ninth inning Saturday night by throwing a double-play ball and then his teammates rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth, he found himself the winning pitcher for the 10th time in 10 decisions. The only pitcher in Cardinals’ history to finish 10-0 was Howie Krist in 1941.
“You pitch in competitive games and you pitch well, you get a chance to record wins,” said Shildt. “He did a great job, got a huge double play ball and the offense rewarded it.”
But Gant said, “That’s more being in the right place at the right time. With this team, I know we’ve got a chance if the score’s close.”
If Gant hadn’t ended the inning when he did, the Reds may have added on, to the point that what the Cardinals did in the bottom half wouldn’t have been as relevant. “That’s pretty hypothetical,” said Gant. “We will never know what that outcome could have been. But I think it happened exactly as it was supposed to.”
Gant was 7-0 with a 1.58 ERA on June 19 but on Aug. 26, he had an ERA of 3.09, coming off a stretch in which he was scored on six times in nine games. “Long season,” he said. “Things are going to happen. Some bad luck, some-not-as-good command. It’s not always going to be great.”
EDMAN THREE FOR THREE
In Game 1 Sunday, Tommy Edman started at this third different position, second base, in three games. In the first two, he had been in right field and at third base.
Between games, Edman was asked at what position he would appear for the nightcap. “Maybe I’m catching. Or starting pitcher,” he joked.
As it turned out, Edman didn’t start Sunday night’s game. Nor did Paul Goldschmidt or Marcell Ozuna as Shildt gave every regular one game off among the four played here in two days.
AN AUGUST AUGUST
The Cardinals, 12-1 at home in August this year, are 40-15 overall in Shildt’s two Augusts as manager.
“It’s definitely the players doing the work, that’s for sure,” he said. “I was able to stay out of the way.”
ROUGH RETURN TO OUTFIELD
Jose Martinez contributed mightily on offense in his first game back with the Cardinals in three weeks. He singled, was hit by a pitch, stole a base and scored and then walked in a 4-3 win over Cincinnati in the first game of the doubleheader.
Two deep fly balls did sail over the head of right fielder Martinez and hit off the wall as Martinez, who had hurt his shoulder banging into the wall, pulled up.
Shildt said he hoped that Martinez hadn’t been wall-shy.
“We like to see them caught,” said Shildt. “But are they catchable? It depends on the jump. We’ll look at them.”