Mayers has rocky MLB debut as Cards lose to Dodgers 9-6
ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Mike Mayers had one of the worst major league debuts ever, and did it on national TV.
Mayers became the first pitcher to allow nine or more runs with less than two innings pitched in his first start since at least 1913, and St. Louis lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-6 on Sunday night.
Mayers allowed nine runs on eight hits, including two homers, over 1 1/3 innings in the prime-time game. He threw 62 pitches, including 45 during a six-run first. His ERA is 60.75.
After a rainout earlier in the week forced a doubleheader, the Cardinals decided not to start Carlos Martinez on short rest and called up Mayers, 24, from Triple-A Memphis for a spot start. St. Louis was the last team in the majors to use a pitcher not in their starting five this season.
The outing was derailed by Adrian Gonzalez’s first-inning grand slam and Howie Kendrick’s two-run homer in the second. Mayers had about 35 family members and friends on hand.
"It’s the same game — 60 feet, 6 inches," Mayers said. "I felt like I told myself that over and over, but as far as when you get out there it’s a totally different ballgame. I felt like I kind of started to let my emotions get to me. The game kind of sped up after those first two hits. I felt like I had to be better, and that’s the situation I have to get a lot better with."
Mayers loaded the bases on two singles and a walk in the first. Gonzalez crushed a fastball 427 feet to center for his fifth career grand slam. After a double by Kendrick, Mayers struck out Yasmani Grandal and got a nice ovation from the crowd. With two outs, Joc Pederson walked and stole second. Pitcher Scott Kazmir singled up the middle for the final two runs and his first RBIs of the year.
Los Angeles chased Mayers in the second with three more runs.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said Mayers should not be too discouraged.
"He’s had a great season and that was a tough assignment he just walked into," Matheny said. "It could have looked a little different, but hopefully he looks at it as a learning experience and he builds off it."
The Dodgers had little sympathy for Mayers.
"Just pile on," Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said. "This league, no one feels sorry for us. It’s a big-boy league. I hope he throws well his next turn."
Kazmir (9-3) pitched five innings to earn the victory. He allowed three runs on six hits.
"I felt for him, yeah," Kazmir said of Mayers. "It’s your debut, it’s hot and it’s on ESPN. It was a tough draw for him."
Matt Holliday doubled home a run in the first. It was the first run scored in the first inning by St. Louis since July 3.
Tommy Pham cut the Dodgers’ advantage to 9-3 with a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning.
Four St. Louis relievers combined for 7 2/3 scoreless innings.
"We were in survival mode at that point just trying to figure out if we were going to get through it," Matheny said. "Fortunately, we figured out how to get through it and now we just keep moving forward."
HOT HOT HOT
The temperature at the start of the game was 96 degrees.
Cardinals: To make room on the 25-man roster for Mayers, St. Louis optioned RHP Miguel Socolovich to Memphis following Saturday’s game. Socolovich made two relief appearances while in St. Louis.
Cardinals: INF Matt Carpenter is expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment this week. Carpenter, sidelined since July 6 with a strained right oblique, took swings in the outdoor batting cage and ran the bases Sunday.
Cardinals: Martinez (9-6, 2.83) faces the New York Mets’ Noah Syndergaard (9-4, 2.43). Martinez logged seven innings in a 4-2 win over San Diego in his last start despite suffering a bloody nose.