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ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Before going way away to reinvent himself as a pitcher in Japan, Miles Mikolas had a sense of the starter he could be because of the starter he was everywhere but the quaint and cozy ballpark in Arlington, the ballpark he had to call home.

He lost every start there in his final year with the Rangers. He allowed three times as many runs in Arlington as he did on the road, in half the innings. No matter what he did or what he tried, home worked him over, and he hadn’t been back since 2014.

He returned Friday a changed pitcher.

In a 7-3 interleague drubbing, Texas’ ballpark said otherwise.

“This stadium — it doesn’t like me, so I don’t like it a whole lot either,” said Mikolas (4-4). “I’m not going to be upset when they turn this place into a pile of rubble.”

The hosts thumped the former Ranger for seven runs in the second inning and ousted Mikolas before he could get a fifth out. The Rangers utilized an “opener” pitcher and everything went according to plan when they removed him by the second inning. The Cardinals had to remove opening-day starter Mikolas in the second inning because nothing was going as they planned. Texas lashed him for eight hits and two homers in one inning to send the Cardinals to their 12th loss in 15 games.

The Cardinals’ road back to .500 has been paved with irregular starts, the latest from Mikolas in what has to be his final visit to the soon-to-be-replaced ballpark in Arlington.

Sinking in the standings, the Cardinals are less than a week removed from four consecutive quality starts — their first such stretch of the season — and yet the starters continue to totter and wobble away from Busch Stadium.

The seven runs off Mikolas in the second inning were the latest, and most dramatic, example of the rotation’s road rash. Through 22 starts, the Cardinals’ rotation is averaging less than five innings and combined the five starters have an earned-run average of 6.17.

The Cardinals average fewer than five runs every road game, and are constantly playing uphill. Through 21 games a year ago, the rotation had a 3.30 ERA on the road.

The only pitching staff with a worse road ERA than the Cardinals in the National League this year is the worst team in the National League, the Marlins.

“That’s a good question,” manager Mike Shildt said when asked about the striking contrasts. “I should probably look at that more seriously. We look at the ballpark. There are certain ballparks that play differently. We get a fair information about it. We know our ballpark traditionally is more pitching friendly. Some ballparks just aren’t. So that’s a factor. The reality is you make quality pitches and you execute your pitches you’re going to get outs — and that’s irrespective of ballpark.”

These home-road questions confronted Mikolas when last he pitched in Texas. He had a 13.73 ERA in four games in Arlington and a 2.63 ERA in his six starts for the Rangers on the road.

The dimensions are unkind — but that unkind? The ball tends to fly, as the Cardinals noted when they last played in Arlington, during the 2011 World Series. But in the same inning? Joey Gallo opened the second against Mikolas with a ground-rule double. Mikolas hit the next batter. An RBI single followed, then Rougned Odor tattooed the first pitch he faced for a three-run homer. Three batters later, pitching coach Mike Maddux visited Mikolas on the mound.

The next batter, Shin-Soo Choo, homered.

Seven batters into the inning and the Cardinals trailed 6-0. The Rangers would go on to score a season-high for one inning and have eight hits, their most in an inning since April 2016. All eight came off Mikolas, whose fastball misbehaved and whose curveball hung high. With pitches like that, even the swings get bigger in Texas.

“Some mounds you feel right on top of the plate and you feel good,” Mikolas said about Globe Life. “Other mounds you feel not great. That’s not an excuse. It’s just one of those things you kind of deal with. It doesn’t make you make bad pitches. That was me.”

The Rangers used reliever Jose Leclerc to “open” the game and set up pitcher Adrian Sampson to get deeper into the contest without facing the top of the Cardinals’ lineup for a third time. Leclerc pitched a perfect first, and Sampson scored his first major-league win by holding the Cardinals to one earned run on seven hits through 5⅓ innings.

True to the script, Sampson left the game in the seventh — just as Matt Carpenter came up for the third time against him.

As the Cardinals’ bullpen took over for 6⅔ scoreless innings, including 2⅔ from lefty Tyler Webb, Carpenter singled and scored in the third inning.

In their past three games, all losses, they’ve scored five runs.

Three on solo homers, including Harrison Bader’s in the ninth Friday, and two others on an error and a groundout. That was their big brief comeback Friday. An RBI on a misplayed grounder, and Marcell Ozuna outrunning a double play for an RBI.

“We led Major League Baseball at one point with 10 come-from-behind wins in our first 30 games,” Shildt said. “That’s pretty impressive. We know what’s that this team is capable of. That’s not a recipe for sustained success.”

Changing the ingredients might be.

The Cardinals added an infusion of power to the bullpen Friday with the returns of Carlos Martinez and Ryan Helsley. The rotation clearly is under audit, and Shildt acknowledged there has been internal discussion about changing the top of the batting order. Access to the designated hitter this weekend invites some lineup shuffling. Change can be good. Mikolas proved that with a change of address that assures he’ll never have to go to this home again.

“Throw up a stinker like this is frustrating, but I’m not going to let it discourage me from all the good thing I had been doing,” Mikolas said. “Had a nice little run. Had a bad game. Didn’t have it.”

Before going way away to reinvent himself as a pitcher in Japan, Miles Mikolas had a sense of the starter he could be because of the starter he was everywhere but the quaint and cozy ballpark in Arlington, the ballpark he had to call home.

He lost every start there in his final year with the Rangers. He allowed three times as many runs in Arlington as he did on the road in half the innings. No matter what he did or what he tried, home worked him over, and he hadn’t been back since 2014.

He returned Friday a changed pitcher.

In a 7-3 interleague drubbing, Texas’ ballpark said otherwise.

“This stadium – it doesn’t like me, so I don’t like it a whole lot either,” said Mikolas (4-4). “I’m not going to be upset when they turn this place into a pile of rubble.”

The hosts thumped the former Ranger for seven runs in the second inning and ousted Mikolas before he could get a fifth out. The Rangers utilized an “opener” and everything went according to plan when they removed him by the second inning. The Cardinals had to remove opening day starter Mikolas in the second inning because nothing was going as they planned. Texas lashed him for eight hits and two homers in one inning to send the Cardinals to their 12{sup}th{/sup} loss in 15 games.

The Cardinals’ road back to .500 has been paved with irregular starts, the latest from Mikolas in what has to be his final visit to the condemned ballpark in Arlington.

Sinking in the standings, the Cardinals are less than a week removed from four consecutive quality starts – their first such stretch of the season – and yet the starters continue to totter and wobble away from Busch Stadium. The seven runs off Mikolas in the second inning were the most latest, and most dramatic, of the rotation’s road rash. Through 22 starts, The Cardinals’ rotation is averaging less than five innings a start and combined the five starters have a 6.17 ERA. The Cardinals average fewer than five runs every road game, and are constantly playing uphill. Through 21 games a year ago, the rotation had a 3.30 ERA on the road.

The only pitching staff with a worse road ERA than the Cardinals in the National League is the worst team in the National League, the Marlins.

“That’s a good question,” manager Mike Shildt said, when asked about the striking splits. “I should probably look at that more seriously. We look at the ballpark. There are certain ballparks that play differently. We get a fair information about it. We know our ballpark traditionally is more pitching friendly. Some ballparks just aren’t. So that’s a factor. The reality is you make quality pitches and you execute your pitches you’re going to get outs – and that’s irrespective of ballpark.”

These home-road questions confronted Mikolas when last he pitched in Texas and had a 13.73 ERA in four games in Arlington and a 2.63 ERA in his six starts for the Rangers on the road. The dimensions are unkind – but that unkind? The ball tends to fly, as the Cardinals noted when they last played in Arlington, during the 2011 World Series – but in the same inning? Joey Gallo opened the second against Mikolas with a ground-rule double. Mikolas hit the next batter. An RBI single followed, and then Rougned Odor tattooed the first pitch he saw for a three-run homer. Three batters later, pitching coach Mike Maddux visited Mikolas on the mound.

The next batter, Shin-Soo Choo, homered.

Seven batters into the inning and the Cardinals trailed 6-0. The Rangers would go on to score a season-high for one inning and have eight hits, their most in a single inning since April 2016. All eight came off Mikolas, whose fastball misbehaved and whose curveball hung high. With pitches like that, even the swings get bigger in Texas.

“Some mounds you feel right on top of the plate and you feel good,” Mikolas said about Globe Life. “Other mounds you feel not great. That’s not an excuse. It’s just one of those things you kind of deal with. It doesn’t make you make bad pitches. That was me.”

The Rangers used reliever Jose Leclerc to “open” the game and set up pitcher Adrian Sampson to get deeper into the game without facing the top of the Cardinals’ lineup for a third time. Leclerc pitched a perfect first, and Sampson scored his first major-league win by holding the Cardinals to one earned run on seven hits through 5 1/3 inning. True to the script, Sampson left the game in the seventh – just as Matt Carpenter came up for the third time against him.

As the Cardinals’ bullpen took over for 6 2/3 scoreless innings, including 2 2/3 from lefty Tyler Webb, Carpenter singled and scored in the third inning.

In their past three games, all losses, they’ve scored five runs.

Three on solo homers – including Harrison Bader’s in the ninth Friday – and two others on an error and a groundout. That was their big brief comeback Friday. An RBI on a misplayed grounder, and Marcell Ozuna outrunning a double play for an RBI.

“We led Major League Baseball at one point with 10 come-from-behind wins in our first 30 games,” Shildt said. “That’s pretty impressive. We know what’s that this team is capable of. That’s not a recipe for sustained success.”

Changing the ingredients might be.

The Cardinals added an infusion of power to the bullpen Friday with the returns of Carlos Martinez and Ryan Helsley. The rotation is clearly under audit, and Shildt acknowledged there has been internal discussion about changing the top of the order. Access to the designated hitter this weekend invites some lineup shuffling. Change can be good. Mikolas proved that with a change of address that assures he’ll never have to go to this home again.

“Throw up a stinker like this is frustrating, but I’m not going to let it discourage me from all the good thing I had been doing,” Mikolas said. “Had a nice little run. Had a bad game. Didn’t have it.”

Derrick Goold is the lead Cardinals beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and past president of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.