Mikolas just short of no-hitter for Cardinals

The right-hander didn’t give up a hit until Cal Mitchell doubled with two outs in the ninth inning Tuesday night.

PITTSBURGH — It’s been 21 years since the St. Louis Cardinals fielded a no-hitter.

Miles Mikolas needed another strike.

The right-hander didn’t give up a hit until Tuesday night’s Cal Mitchell doubled in the ninth inning with two outs and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-1 to sweep a doubleheader.

“I’m a bit over it. I mean, it stinks to be that close and then kind of come back empty-handed,” Mikolas said. “It’s a great trip. I’ll be really proud that I gave the bullpen another night off. I know we need it with the doubleheader. I’m happy – but deep down it stinks.”

Mitchell drove a 2-2 curveball over the head of Gold Glove center fielder Harrison Bader and just past his outstretched glove as the speedy Bader attempted a running catch with his back to home plate.

“If he doesn’t get it, no one can – except maybe one of these guys in the stands, if they have a 3-foot glove like that, maybe that guy,” Mikolas said. “We play superficially so they don’t throw one in somehow. I think that’s what you always want to protect yourself from if you don’t want to lose it cheaply. The guy hit a ball on the track, I give it to him. And it was a good pitch. I’m more okay with that than if the guy has a busted bat bleeder in there somewhere.

The ball rebounded 383 feet off the plate on the warning lane and over the wall in the center for a ground rule double.

“It went to the left of my glove, sort of rolled back,” Bader said. “I worked really hard to gain some ground. So yeah, just shit. But it is what it is.”

The hit came in Mikolas’ 129th place — most this season at the majors and 14 more than his previous career high on May 29 against Milwaukee. He was lifted for Packy Naughton, who clinched the final to give the Pirates their ninth straight loss.

Mikolas (5-4), 33, bent at the waist for a moment as Mitchell’s drive waned. He struck six, walked one, and walked away to a standing ovation.

Mitchell stepped up to play right field in the seventh and scored Pittsburgh’s only hit in his only at-bat of the game.

The most recent no-hitter for the Cardinals was thrown by rookie Bud Smith on September 3, 2001 in a 4-0 win in San Diego. The last home came from Bob Forsch in 1983.

“I usually talk to the guys in the dugout and ask them about pitches, where they were, what they thought and I didn’t even bother to ask them because nobody turns to look at me,” Mikolas said . “Well, that’s one of those things that kind of stinks about me sitting there all by myself the whole game and watching Mad Dog (pitching coach Mike Maddux) go back and forth. I know he wants to say something but can’t. It’s one of those superstitions.”

Pittsburgh got an unearned run in the fourth to make it 7-1 when Bryan Reynolds scored on Daniel Vogelbach’s groundout.

Reynolds led from the inning and reached second base when left fielder Juan Yepez misplayed a fly ball for an error. Reynolds advanced to third with a groundout.

Cardinals second baseman Nolan Gorman made a jump stop in the fourth and a throw from the center of the diamond in the sixth to prevent potential hits.

“The stars lined up for 8 2/3 today and then, you know, they weren’t,” Mikolas said.

Mikolas scored a 1-2-3 seventh on Jack Suwinski’s drive with the help of a nice catch from Bader at the midfield fence. Pittsburgh was also okay in eighth.

“He mixed and matched,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said of Mikolas. “You even saw it in the batting against Mitchell, he went back and got 95 (mph) going 2-0. The breaking stuff was really effective.”

Mikolas, who reinvented himself in Japan before becoming a major league All-Star in 2018, has struggled with injuries in recent seasons. He had never gone more than four innings in a major league start without conceding a hit.

“There’s a lot of persistence in this story,” said Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol. “He’s doing an incredible job, he’s doing it really well and this is a healthy Miles and fun to watch.”

Paul Goldschmidt was 4 for 4 with two homers and five RBIs for the Cardinals, who won five of six. Tommy Edman also went deep and Brendan Donovan had his first four-hit game of his career.

Bryse Wilson (0-4) gave up seven runs in five innings for the Pirates.

Goldschmidt met JT Brubaker (0-7) and drove in three runs as St. Louis won 3-1 in the opener of the day-night doubleheader.

Yadier Molina had 11 putouts from 10 strikeouts and one foul popup, and with 14,870 he passed Iván Rodríguez (14,864) for most catchers in major league history. The 39-year-old, a 10-time All-Star, received a standing ovation with the record-holder when he caught Ke’Bryan Hayes’ sixth-inning pop-up.

Pittsburgh committed four errors, three from shortstop Diego Castillo – including poor throws at Grounders on consecutive pitches. He only had two errors coming in.

Matthew Liberatore (2-1) allowed three hits in five scoreless innings and batted five in his fourth big league starts. The 22-year-old left-hander, who was drafted after 79 pitches, has thrown a shutout ball in his two wins, the first against Milwaukee on May 28.

Giovanny Gallegos worked with a one-hit ninth for his ninth save in 12 chances, finishing a seven-hitter.

Yu Chang targeted Pittsburgh in the seventh ahead of Génesis Cabrera.

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https://www.fox43.com/article/sports/mikolas-just-short-of-no-hitter-for-cardinals/521-a64d9c03-0ec3-4b58-b37d-51e13475f281 Mikolas just short of no-hitter for Cardinals

Emma Bowman

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