Cards muted by LA ace after Mikolas falters

Cards muted by LA ace after Mikolas falters

St. Louis offense ties season high with 14 strikeouts against Dodgers


ST. LOUIS — Washing away the heartbreak ofSundays walk-off losswas already a tough task for the Cardinals. But they had less than 24 hours to turn around and face the titan Dodgers and their ace Max Scherzer.

Even from the get-go, there was another hill to surmount.

Little went St. Louis way in a 5-1 defeat to Los Angeles at Busch Stadium on Monday afternoon. In front of 43,575 — their biggest crowd of the year, with Albert Pujols back in town on Labor Day — the Cardinals were diced up by Scherzer, striking out 13 times and scoring just once, on a passed ball in the sixth inning, after Miles Mikolas first-inning stumble staked the three-time Cy Young winner to a 4-0 lead.

We had a tough game in Milwaukee, and the team needed a big one from me today, Mikolas said, and I kind of let them down by coming out a little sloppy.

But Mikolas didnt find much help. The offenses 13 strikeouts against Scherzer represented its most against any starting pitcher this season. The 14th collected by Joe Kelly in the ninth inning tied the clubs single-game high.

Dave Roberts just touched Max Scherzer, so hes done for the day. Blake Treinen is warming.

Scherzer carved up the Cardinals for 13 strikeouts in eight frames — their most against any starting pitcher this season and just one off their single-game team high.

Tommy Edman and Paul Goldschmidt combined to go 5-for-8 off Scherzer, who was pitching back in his hometown; the rest of the Cardinals starting lineup was 1-for-22.

Guys tough, hes going to the Hall of Fame, said manager Mike Shildt. Weve had some good battles with him and today he got the better of it and was able to take down eight innings and did a nice job. Guy was on point with what he was doing and was able to execute it and he pitched the rest of the lineup [around Edman and Goldschmidt] clearly pretty tough.

It was inauspicious from the start, with Mikolas allowing the first three batters to reach and staking the Cardinals to a 4-0 deficit heading into the bottom of the first inning. A gargantuan assignment against Scherzer was made all the tougher.

Mikolas bounced back, needing just 59 pitches for his final four frames after throwing 31 in the first. He and three Cardinals relievers kept the Dodgers at bay over the final six frames, including retiring 19 straight from the third inning on. But even out-hitting Scherzer and the Dodgers potent lineup 6-5 was not enough to start the homestand off with a win and brush away the heartbreak of the day prior.

Were still very hopeful Miles is going to put it together, Shildt said. Were seeing signs of it, the stuff is good, but he hasnt pitched competitively in close to two years and now hes certainly getting the rhythm of that. I think every time out hes been a little better.

In the macro, it was a cautiously positive step forward for Mikolas, who threw the most pitches he had since 2019 and was able to grin and bear his way through five frames, still settling back into his role since shoulder and forearm injuries derailed his season.

Its encouraging to be able to turn that [first inning] around and come back and be efficient through the next four innings, Mikolas said. If I can eliminate that one bad inning, whether they score all those runs or not, if I can let them do it in less runs, then I can go six, seven innings, if Im efficient.

It was even more positive that the three relievers who followed Mikolas — Andrew Miller, Kodi Whitley and Daniel Ponce de Leon threw four perfect frames. Whitley, for his part, has looked much sharper since he returned from Triple-A Memphis, seeming to settle back in from a 2020 season that saw him throw just 4 2/3 innings.

Ive been throwing a lot of strikes and getting ahead of guys, and thats something I feel like I wasnt really doing a lot of before, Whitley said. Trying to just get ahead of guys and let the defense work behind me.

But it couldnt make up for Mondays end result. In truth, the Cardinals have played winning baseball in 16 of their last 18 innings. But both of those innings that sunk them came a day apart, just one frame removed from one another, pushing St. Louis to a three-game losing streak.