Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty, making his third minor league rehabilitation start after he recovered from a torn left oblique muscle, got to the 75 pitches he was targeted for Friday night at Class AA Springfield. But he lasted just four innings rather than the six the Cardinals had hoped for.
Flaherty, who is expected to travel with the Cardinals to Pittsburgh on Monday with an eye toward his pitching in that series, allowed three hits, including a two-run homer in the fourth to Tulsa’s Hunter Feducccia, and three runs.
On the plus side, he threw 50 strikes out of 75 pitches and walked nobody while striking out three.
Flaherty, who was hurt May 31 in Los Angeles while batting, made two starts for Class AAA Memphis before going to Springfield. In total, he pitched nine innings, allowing five runs, eight hits and one walk. He struck out 11.
Five Gold Gloves missing
One person missing from the Busch Stadium scene Friday was five-time Royals Gold Glove catcher Salvador Perez, who had played in all 107 Kansas City games. Perez was back at the hotel with flu-like symptoms that are not COVID-related. Yadier Molina, who has nine Gold Gloves, caught for the Cardinals and Mike Matheny, who had four Gold Gloves as a catcher — three with the Cardinals — managed the Royals.
Edman is up first vs. LH
Cardinals second baseman Tommy Edman, a .294 batter against lefthanded pitching — Mike Minor started for Kansas City — batted first and fellow switch hitter Dylan Carlson, a .318 hitter against lefthanders, hit second, with Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and Tyler O’Neill following. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said he would continue to hit Edman first against lefthanded pitching and Carlson first against righthanders, against whom Edman has struggled lately.
DeJong remains No. 8
Paul DeJong, nothing for 18 with nine strikeouts since July 27, continued to hit eighth and he responded with a run-scoring single in the second inning.
As recently as July 27, DeJong had shot his average to .209 from the .157 he was hitting on June 24 and he had had six of his 14 homers since then.
“He was on to something,” said Shildt. “Paulie’s just searched a little more this year. He’s found it. He’s been able to be who he wants to be, who he needs to be, who he’s been.”
Shildt has spotted Edmundo Sosa at shortstop several times and Sosa was hitting .249 to DeJong’s .195 before Friday. But Shildt noted that the league had been able to adjust to Sosa, forcing him to chase more. Sosa’s average has dropped 40 points in the past two months.
“Paulie is a guy who was hitting fourth for us at the beginning of the year and was being productive,” said Shildt. DeJong was hitting .189 after three weeks but he had five home runs and 10 runs batted in.
Righthander Giovanny Gallegos, who had been hit hard the previous two nights, likely wasn’t available Friday night, Shildt said. But Alex Reyes, who hit one batter and walked the next four in succession, was available.
Final third of season begins
There were 108 games down and 54 to go before Friday’s contest, meaning the final third of the season was upon us. The Cardinals’ issues remain the same.
“The things that have been the most frustrating,” said Shildt, “have been the lack of consistency with our offense and the walks with our pitching.
“We’ve had a below average walk rate the last two weeks. And the second I want to be able to champion that …”
Shildt didn’t finish his sentence. The Cardinals walked eight on Thursday.
How has this happened? “Eleven of our 14 pitches had above-average walk rates,” Shildt said. “You get 11 of your (pitchers) who walk guys and then you have a handful of young guys — more than you’re used to — your walk rate is only going to increase.”
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