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Game Recap: Mikolas blanks Bucs, Cardinals rout Pirates 7-0

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MLB: Spring Training-Minnesota Twins at Pittsburgh Pirates Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It was all St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night to start the three-game series at Busch Stadium, as the Pittsburgh Pirates dropped a fourth game in a row to the tune of 7-0. Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas was excellent, throwing a complete game shutout, and the Pirates struggled to put anything together all night on offense, defense, and on the mound.

The Pirates’ night started ominously when left fielder Corey Dickerson lost a two-out line drive in the stadium lights, allowing Paul Goldschmidt to score from first, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Right-hander Joe Musgrove was able to limit the damage in the first inning and work around a two-out walk in the second, but not before uncorking an uncharacteristic 49 pitches through two frames.

Unfortunately, the defensive ineptitude wouldn’t stop there. After a sloppy play on a groundball by Josh Bell allowed Matt Carpenter to reach on an infield single in the bottom of the third, Dickerson misplayed another ball, this time letting a Goldschmidt fly ball clank off his glove at the wall in left center field. Carpenter scored from first to extend the Cardinals’ lead to two. After another infield single, this time a hot shot by Tyler O’Neil off Musgrove’s glove, Dexter Fowler hit a sacrifice to left field, making it 3-0 Cardinals after three innings.

The Pirates seemed to have something brewing after a one out double by Bryan Reynolds in the top of the fourth inning, but Dexter Fowler made an incredible leaping catch on a Starling Marte missile to the right field alley. He turned around, enjoyed a cup of coffee, and casually tossed out Bryan Reynolds, who was halfway between third and home, to end the Pirates half of the inning. At that point, if it hadn’t already, the ominous feeling turned into one of frustration and despair. The lack of production with a man in scoring position would be a sign of things to come for the Bucs.

The Cardinals momentum continued in the bottom of the fifth inning. Carpenter was hit by a Musgrove breaking ball, but was quickly picked off first on a great throw and tag by Jacob Stallings and Bell respectively. However, Paul DeJong singled and O’Neil hit a moon shot over the center field fence to tack on a couple more runs, making it 5-0 Cards. Following a walk to Fowler, Musgrove’s night was finished after 5.2 painful innings.

O’Neil struck again in the seventh inning as Kyle Crick’s struggles in the bullpen continued. After a full count walk to Paul Goldschmidt, Crick served up a second center field homer to the Cardinal’s clean-up man to make it 7-0. Dexter Fowler once again followed with a single, and Crick made yet another miserable trek back to the dugout.

Mikolas finished off the complete game shutout on 99 pitches despite allowing eight hits on the evening and striking out just three batters. The Pirates had runners in scoring position every inning from the fourth through the eighth, but they failed to land the big RBI hit all night long. Marte was a large part of the issue, hitting into three double plays (although one was attributed to the baserunning of Reynolds).

The series continues on Tuesday night at 8:15 pm Eastern when RHP Dario Agrazal takes the mound against right-hander Jack Flaherty. The Pirates will look to avoid a 5-game losing streak and keep their dimming playoff hopes alive.