Starter deals seven scoreless innings, and Gorman comes up clutch with go-ahead RBI double Cardinals News 

May 25th, 2023

CINCINNATI — With the Cardinals using what he called their “A” lineup instead of the “A-plus” lineup to try and rest players during their most exhausting stretch of the schedule, Miles Mikolas said he took the mound on Thursday knowing the Cardinals needed him to come through more than ever.

With stars Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and Willson Contreras unavailable and the bullpen thin from short starts in the previous three games, Mikolas took it upon himself to deliver a strong outing against the division-rival Reds.

Mikolas responded by throwing seven scoreless innings, and he got some help when reigning NL Player of the Week Nolan Gorman doubled in the go-ahead run and scored what proved to be the winner on a wild pitch. Add it all up, and the Cardinals escaped with a 2-1 victory that allowed them to split the four-game series against the Reds.

Mikolas limited the Reds to just five hits and struck out five hitters while not walking a batter. His third straight victory came after Jordan Montgomery, Adam Wainwright and Steven Matz were unable to go deep into games earlier in the week in Cincinnati, greatly taxing the bullpen.

“I look at that as my job every time out — being at the top of the rotation and being an older guy, something I pride myself on is having big games when we’re struggling, a big game when our bullpen is running thin or we’re resting guys,” Mikolas said. “That’s my job, and I don’t look at it as me doing [anything extra].

“With the starting staff, our job every time we go out there is to put the team on our backs. Eat up as many innings as you can, put as many zeroes as you can and give your team the chance to win. Whether it’s 8-6 or 2-1, your job is to put the team on your back.”

In a stretch of the schedule in which they will play 19 games in 19 days, the Cardinals rested Goldschmidt, Arenado and Contreras on Thursday to allow them to prepare for the weekend series ahead in Cleveland. After hosting the Royals for two games on Monday and Tuesday, the Cardinals will get a rare two-day break in their schedule. Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said the days off were scheduled in advance because the team likes to be proactive with rest to try to avoid injuries.

“They needed a day [off]. They’ve been going really hard,” Marmol said. “There’s a reason we’ve gained ground [in the standings] and won some games of late and gone on a little run. It’s because those guys have gone every day, haven’t had a day off and have posted. They’re deserving of this day game [off] in order to reset and be ready for Cleveland and Kansas City.”

Your browser does not support HTML5 video tag. Click here to view original asset

Gorman picked up the slack by doubling down the right-field line in the top of the eighth inning to plate teammate Lars Nootbaar. Then, after stealing third without a throw, the 23-year-old hustled home on a wild pitch to provide an insurance run.

Gorman came into the eighth inning at 0-for-2 with a walk. His double off Cincinnati’s Lucas Sims extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games — the longest by any Cardinal this season. During that hitting streak, Gorman, who was promoted to the No. 2 spot normally occupied by Goldschmidt on Thursday, is hitting .377 with six home runs and 17 RBIs.

“Sims throws a lot of off-speed pitches, especially with guys in scoring position, but I was just looking for something I could put a barrel on and get that run in,” said Gorman, who notched his NL-best 19th RBI in the eighth inning or later this season.

Your browser does not support HTML5 video tag. Click here to view original asset

Mikolas missed a large chunk of Spring Training while playing with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. He only pitched sporadically, and that might have had something to do with a three-game start to the season that saw him go 0-1 with a 10.05 ERA.

Since then, however, Mikolas is 3-0 over his last eight starts while holding foes to a .235 batting average. Better location of his fastball and dabbling with a new changeup has helped turn around his season, he said. On Thursday, he helped to turn around the Cardinals’ fortunes with his best outing of the season.

“Better fastball command, making sure my work in between is more focused, doing extra work with scouting, having a more rigid game plan and executing better,” Mikolas said of his mid-season turnaround. “I’ve always prided myself on being able to make adjustments from pitch to pitch and start to start.”