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Cardinals Look For Salvation Out West

Maybe the St. Louis Cardinals just needed to travel down the Southern California coast because Kyle Gibson pitched a quality start on Monday night while facing the San Diego Padres. It also helped that the Cardinals bats were delivering run support when it counted.

In making the trip to San Diego, the Cardinals are also facing former manager Mike Shildt. Shildt worked in the Cardinals organization as a scout, coach, and manager during 2004-2021. He would finish his time in 2021 when the club let him go. A number of fans are still upset that the Cardinals chose against extending his tenure after leading the team to three postseasons.

Gibson was making his first start for the Cardinals since leaving Baltimore and signing as a free agent in November. The St. Louis area native was one of three starting pitchers to sign with the team during the offseason, joining Sonny Gray and former Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn.  Gibson’s quality start saw him throw over 90 pitches late into the game, 57 of them strikes after seven innings pitched. As a result of the quality start, he becomes one of very few pitchers to make it this deep into a game to start the 2024 season. By the time he finished for the evening, he had limited the Padres offense to two runs with four hits, two walks, and two strikeouts.

Manager Oliver Marmol spoke about Gibson during a postgame interview: “That was a really good outing. Did exactly what we needed. Our pen needed a break and he did exactly that. Seven strong innings. Filled out the zone. He was in control the whole time out there so that was a really, really good outing.”

Marmol complimented the defense after noting that the offense took advantage of cashing in on opportunities at the plate.

“I feel like playing to the game is something that I’ve learned to do and maybe to a fault at times but I think in this instance, getting through seven is important,” Gibson said of his performance during the postgame.

JoJo Romero only needed nine pitches to pitch a 1-2-3 inning in the 8th. Last year’s numbers might not show it but Romero was one of the better performing relievers on an otherwise substandard Cardinals team in 2023. Ryan Helsley rebounded from the other night and closed things out in the ninth inning with six pitches. The need to conserve the bullpen was especially necessary after the taxing that it took against the Dodgers. The mere fact that Saturday’s game essentially became a bullpen game after the rain delay was all the more reason to need a quality start from Gibson.

Offensively, left fielder Brendan Donovan—a baseball card collector and real lover of the game—was the star behind the plate, going 3-4 with a double, home run, walk, three runs scored, and 2 RBI. He only needed a home run to complete the cycle. Monday’s performance now places Donovan as the team leader in RBI. Not to be outdone, catcher Willson Contreras also added to the home run game with a two-run blast of his own in the first inning.

During his postgame interview with Jim Hayes, Donovan complemented Gibson’s performance as “fantastic” and that the pitcher did a “great job.”

It’s still early in the year so batting averages are going to be a bit all over the place until players have a chance to settle into a groove. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt is more or less where he needs to be although his offensive numbers could be better. Nolan Arenado is not having a great start to the season with a sub-.200 batting average. He got a pair of hits on Monday night so one hopes that he can get those numbers to the level where he should be performing. Give Arenado some time and he’ll look like an All-Star caliber player behind the plate in no time.

Milestone alert: Matt Carpenter picked up a few more total bases to inch closer to 2,000 total bases in a Cardinals uniform.


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