Cardinals Snap Tribe’s Winning Streak at Seven; Cardinals 4, Indians 0
Bob Toth | On 25, Jun 2018
Spot starter John Gant threw seven innings of one-hit shutout baseball and three bullpen teammates completed the job as the St. Louis Cardinals blanked the Cleveland Indians on Monday, 4-0.
While interleague play has been favorable to the Indians this season, that was not the case in the series opener from Busch Stadium on Monday. Despite good records all-time against the Cardinals, the Indians first trip to the banks of the Mississippi since 2012 got off to a rough start as the offense could do little against Red Bird pitching.
Monday’s victory also marked a milestone occasion for the Cardinals (41-36), who won the 10,000th game in franchise history, the sixth team to reach that plateau.
Mike Clevinger had the starting nod for the Tribe, but had to work around some first inning trouble. Matt Carpenter doubled to start the game, but on a head’s up play by Yan Gomes, he was thrown out at third on a sacrifice bunt attempt by Greg Garcia. After a strikeout by Jose Martinez, Marcell Ozuna singled to center, putting runners on the corners for Yadier Molina. He would strike out looking, leaving some big early runners on base. Clevinger worked around a one-out single by Harrison Bader in the second with a double play ball on a nice snag by Edwin Encarnacion at first.
The Indians had their chances against Gant, who may not have allowed hits, but he did surrender base runners. Cleveland got a two-out walk from Jose Ramirez in the first, an infield two-out single off of the third base bag by Gomes in the second, and a two-out walk by Michael Brantley in the third, but none of the runners was able to advance.
In the bottom of the third, the missed opportunities came back to haunt the Tribe as the Cardinals took the lead. With one down, Carpenter got his second hit of the game with a single to center. He moved to second on a walk by Garcia. Martinez flied out for the second out, but a key two-run double by Ozuna to center plated both base runners, putting the Cardinals up, 2-0.
The Indians got two on in the fourth, but once again could do nothing with the runners. Encarnacion started the inning with a free pass. Lonnie Chisenhall fouled out and Jason Kipnis grounded into a fielder’s choice force at second. Gomes walked to move the first Tribe runner into scoring position, but Tyler Naquin was cut down swinging.
Clevinger continued to put runners on the bases in the middle innings, walking Kolten Wong with two outs and giving up a single to Martinez in the same spot in the fifth in his final inning, but the Tribe bats could not touch Gant.
The Cardinals tallied another run in the bottom of the sixth against Zach McAllister. Dexter Fowler singled with one out and moved to second on a wild pitch. Bader struck out, but Wong doubled to left, scoring the fleet-footed Fowler with ease from second to make it a 3-0 game.
Gant retired seven straight before walking Kipnis to start the top of the seventh. He was promptly forced at second on the front half of a 5-4-3 double play. Gant retired the final batter that he faced in his career-longest seventh inning, getting Naquin to line out sharply to Carpenter at third.
McAllister returned for a second inning after the stretch, giving up Carpenter’s third hit of the game to lead off the inning before a nice diving double play started by Francisco Lindor at short.
The Indians put two on for the second time in the eighth against the first Cardinals reliever of the game, Jordan Hicks. He got two outs before walking Brantley and giving up a single to Ramirez, just the second Tribe hit of the day, but Encarnacion grounded to short.
St. Louis added the ever-important insurance run in the bottom of the frame against George Kontos. Molina doubled with one out, moved to third on a groundout by Fowler, and scored on an infield single to second by Bader. The latter would be stranded after a steal of second on a groundout by Wong.
Cleveland threatened in the ninth and forced St. Louis to call upon their closer. Austin Gomber allowed back-to-back singles by Rajai Davis and Kipnis before getting the hook by manager Mike Matheny for closer Bud Norris. He struck out Gomes and got Naquin to line out up the middle into a double play to close out his 15th save of the campaign.
With the loss, the Indians (43-34) saw their seven-game winning streak come to an end. Their lead in the AL Central shrank to 7.5 games over the idle Minnesota Twins. They remained eight games in front of the Detroit Tigers, who dropped their sixth straight to move into third place.
Clevinger took his third loss of the season, allowing two runs on six hits in five innings of work. He threw 60 of 98 pitches for strikes, striking out four and walking a pair. Gant improved to 2-2 with one of the best starts of his three-year career, firing seven shutout innings. He allowed just one hit, but did walk five while striking out four.
The Cardinals tallied eleven hits on the game, including three from the leadoff man Carpenter. Ozuna and Bader each had a pair, with Ozuna driving in two with his double.
Game two from St. Louis is scheduled for an 8:15 PM ET start on Tuesday night. In a battle of All-Star pitchers, right-handers Carlos Martinez (3-4, 3.24 ERA) and Corey Kluber (11-3, 2.10) will take center stage in the contest.
Photo: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images