A Good Night For Cardinals Pitching

Look! Joe Kelly! Pitching! For an entire third of an inning! Three pitches, one out (thanks to Jon Jay)!

At least we learned that Mike Matheny does, in fact, remember this guy exists and can pitch.

And pitching was definitely the story for the St. Louis Cardinals in their 3-2 win over the Washington Nationals. Not just Joe Kelly, but Shelby Miller — plus a one-two-three ninth inning from Edward Mujica. For an actual save! It’s hard not to get carried away.

MillerShelby Miller was once again terrific. He struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings, including Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche, plus kept Bryce Harper hitless. Three of the four hits he allowed were in the fourth inning, with both Nationals runs scoring then.

In the seventh, he allowed a single to Danny Espinosa with two outs followed by a walk to Kurt Suzuki. With 98 pitches, that was it for him — and in came Joe Kelly to face pinch-hitter Chad Tracy. As mentioned, he only threw three pitches. And the last one resulted in this fly ball to shallow center — and, again, thank you to Jon Jay. It was definitely a cool sliding catch.

The catch also was a bit of redemption for Jay, who — to put it nicely — is not doing so well at the plate and hasn’t had a hit since April 15 in Pittsburgh. He was up in the sixth inning with the bases loaded, none out and the Cardinals having just taken a 3-2 lead on a Yadier Molina single. Jay grounded into a double play.

He was not alone, though, as both Matt Holliday and Yadi grounded into double plays also. (It was just like 2011 all over again!) But Allen Craig, who also has been struggling on offense and batted second, did drive in the Cards first two runs with a double in the third that scored Pete Kozma and Matt Carpenter.

Ah, Pete Kozma — the enemy in Washington for single-handedly destroying their pennant hopes and dreams last October in Game Five of the National League Division Series, subject of a feature story in the Washington Post yesterday and booed in his first at-bat even before he singled. At last Davey Johnson did what perhaps he should have done last October: intentionally walked Pete, although it didn’t come until after Jay’s GIDP in the sixth.

Given the slight 3-2 lead, Cardinals fans were understandably nervous as the game was turned over to the bullpen. Trevor Rosenthal pitched the eighth and didn’t exactly ease our spirits at first by allowing a lead-off single to Denard Span and then walking Bryce Harper after a Jayson Werth strikeout. Yet he got Adam LaRoche to ground out and struck out Ian Desmond with the tying run at third base, so we breathed a little easier.

And Edward Mujica did something that no Cardinals pitcher has done this season: earned a save with a one-two-three ninth with this final out. Edward, you are all right — and you can keep doing whatever that thing is you and Yadi were doing as long as you keep getting saves.

Game two of the four-game series is tonight, with another great pitching match-up: Adam Wainwright, who of course has yet to allow a walk this season through 29 innings, against Ross Detwiler and his 0.90 ERA. Once again it starts at 6:05 p.m. Central Time.

Christine Coleman is the lead St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email aaronmilesfastball@gmail.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.

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