OAKLAND, CA. – In a game that was supposed to match up two pitchers both having solid seasons, Cardinals’ starter Shelby Miller threw 51 pitches in the second inning and failed to finish the frame. St. Louis went on to lose the game 6-1 and dropped out of first place.
“I wasn’t throwing strikes,” Miller said. “And when I was, it was right down the middle of the plate. I watched some video and the ones where I did give up some hard hits, they were right up the middle.”
Miller left the game after allowing an RBI single to Jed Lowrie. The 51 pitches were 10 short of the MLB record for most pitches in an inning, 61. That record belongs to Miller’s counterpart on the mound, Oakland ace Bartolo Colon. Colon (11-2) set the record in 1997 during the first inning of a game for Cleveland.
“It was really disappointing,” Miller said. “I struggled in the second inning and I threw a lot of pitches and fell behind in the count. I just didn’t have it today.”
Miller entered the game with an ERA of 2.35, the highest the A’s will see among Cardinals’ starting pitchers this series. But by the time he was removed, the ERA had jumped to 2.79.
“(Miller) had trouble getting in the zone and when he did (the A’s) were all over it,” Cardinals’ skipper Mike Matheny said. “That team is swinging the bat very well right now. His good strikes they put good passes on and fought off the tough pitches.”
Joe Kelly relieved Miller on the mound and made it through the seventh inning. Kelly threw 79 pitches and allowed just one run, a homer. He walked three and struck out four.
“(Kelly) did a great job, again,” Matheny said. “He did exactly what we needed him to do giving up the one run. He has been doing a terrific job in a tough spot.”
In the second inning, Oakland sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five times. The A’s had four hits and received two free passes.
“(Miller) just couldn’t get out of (the second),” Matheny said.
The A’s extended their lead over the Cardinals to 6-0 in the fourth when Stephen Vogt recorded his first MLB hit, a solo home run to right field.
While Miller (8-6) had a poor night on the mound, the Cardinals’ bats didn’t help matters as the Redbirds were held hitless through the first 4.1 innings.
It wasn’t until the fifth inning when the Cardinals finally got their first base runner, a walk to Matt Holliday. Matt Adams broke up the no-hit bid with a single to center that the A’s centerfielder, second baseman and shortstop were unable to come up with. David Freese then put the Cardinals on the board with a RBI single to plate Holliday.
The trip back to Oakland was a first for Holliday who was traded by the A’s to the Cardinals back in 2009.
“It was just another game,” Holliday said. “I think (Jerry) Blevins is the only guy that was still on the team from when I played. … It was a different team, but it was nice to see (third base coach) Mikey (Gallego) and some of the training staff that are still here from when I was here.”
The Cardinals totaled seven hits on the night, all of them coming in the fifth inning or later.
Holliday, who was greeted by a loud chorus of boos in each at bat, was one of three Cardinals to reach base multiple times. Aside from his walk and run scored in the fifth, Holliday had a pair of singles and finished the night 2-for-3.
The boos from the fans didn’t faze Holliday.
“That is not something I care about,” Holliday said. “I have been doing this for a long time. My job is to go out and play and play the game the right way and do the best that I can to help our team win. That really is all there is to it.
“I didn’t swing at balls,” Holliday continued. “I got some decent at bats and no crazy scheme or anything. I just tried to get a good pitch to hit. One time I walked and the other times I got a good pitch and hit it hard.”
Freese and Carpenter also had multiple hits. Freese was 2-for-3 with an RBI while Carpenter was 2-for-4.
With the loss, the Cardinals drop to 48-31 on the season and one game behind Pittsburgh. Game two of the three-game series will take place this afternoon with a 3:05 p.m. start. Adam Wainwright will be on the hill for the Redbirds.