Lonnie Chisenhall golfed a 3-2 fastball just over the right field fence, putting the Indians up 2-0 in the second inning. His long-ball was the second straight surrendered by Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty, and was enough to propel the Indians to a 5-1 victory Wednesday night.
Flaherty, who has dominated thus far in his rookie year, only lasted four innings, giving up four runs, six hits a pair of walks. His demise was due to falling behind in counts, allowing baserunners on early and missing his spots.
“Missed location,” Flaherty said. “One was down the middle. Those two home runs were missed spots, and I just wasn’t able to execute.”
The Indians’ back-to-back home runs came from the second inning’s first two batters, and a two-run third inning started with a leadoff walk to Cleveland’s leadoff hitter, Francisco Lindor. Four hitters with averages of close to or above .300 follow Lindor in the lineup. Walking the dynamic Cleveland shortstop with a 3-2 count isn’t the recommended move.
Flaherty’s struggles come as a bit of a surprise following a seven inning, one-hit performance in his previous start an impressive top of the first Wednesday.
He forced one of the league’s best contact hitters in Michael Brantley (.312, 44 RBI) to ground-out on a curveball that had him out on his front foot. The very next batter, Jose Ramirez (23 HR, 52 RBI), was well out in front of a slider, clearly fooling him for an inning-ending strikeout.
Although Flaherty wasn’t electric Wednesday night, a 4-1 deficit isn’t out of reach in the slightest — especially for an offense that put up 11 runs a night ago.
It turns out the Cardinals used up all its offense in Tuesday night’s win, as the bats couldn’t put anything together. Aside from a Kolten Wong hit-by-pitch in the sixth, the offense didn’t produce a single baserunner past the fifth inning.
Jose Martínez drove in the lone run on a line-drive single to right field, plating Matt Carpenter.
Carpenter’s leadoff double in the fifth was squandered, as it ended up as St. Louis’ final chance to put more runs on the scoreboard.
The Cardinals begin a three-game series against the first-place Atlanta Braves Friday. Miles Mikolas (8-2, 2.69 ERA) will toe-up the rubber against Julio Teheran (5-5, 4.52 ERA) at 7:15 p.m. at Busch Stadium in the series opener.