After missing much of the season due to persistent shoulder problems, St. Louis Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty is trying to earn a place in the team’s postseason pitching plans.
That process will continue Friday when the Cardinals host the Cincinnati Reds in the second game of a five-game set at Busch Stadium.
The Reds (57-86) won the opener 3-2 to snap their six-game losing streak. The National League Central-leading Cardinals (84-60) lost for the fourth time in seven games as their lead over the idle Milwaukee Brewers shrank to 7 1/2 games.
“It’s always important to finish strong,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “We’ll put it together. It’s a stretch where there’s no offense certain days and we give up a couple, can’t finish the game, like tonight, just came up short, ran out of time. We’re not overly concerned.”
Flaherty (0-1, 4.50 ERA) will make his third start since coming back from his latest shoulder injury. He allowed four runs in 10 innings on 12 hits and five walks in his first two outings this month.
In his last start, Flaherty allowed three runs on six hits, including two homers, in five innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cardinals won that game 7-5.
“It was not a great game command-wise,” Flaherty told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “It was just a real team win. I didn’t pitch great. But I was able to strand some runners out there. You try to go as deep in the game as possible.”
He failed to strike out a batter for just the second time in 95 major-league starts. “The bigger deal is to hold them to three runs, no matter how it happens,” Flaherty said. “It does not matter.”
This will be his first start against the Reds this season. Flaherty is 3-2 with a 3.27 ERA in nine career starts against them.
Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols hit another milestone Wednesday with his 123rd career sacrifice fly, tying him with Robin Yount for third on the all-time list. But he remained stuck at 697 homers.
Justin Dunn was originally slated to get Friday’s starting pitching assignment for Cincinnati, but he landed back on the injured list Thursday with another bout of shoulder tightness. That issue has limited him to seven starts this season.
“It was a little bit of a different couple days post start,” Reds manager David Bell said. “I think he’ll only come back and pitch this year — and I think that’s important, to come back and pitch this year — but only if … the doctors think that’s really to his best interest, and Justin agrees with them.”
The Reds also designated pitcher Luke Farrell for assignment Thursday and recalled pitchers Raynel Espinal and Dauri Moreta from Triple-A Louisville.
Dunn’s return to the injured list left Bell undecided about his starting pitcher for Friday’s game.
–Field Level Media