Pitching has the upper hand in Cardinals intrasquad game

John Gant started for the home team and threw a scoreless first inning in the Cardinals' intrasquad game Sunday.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

ST. LOUIS — Strong pitching and shaky defense were the themes of the day as the Cardinals held their third intrasquad game of the summer at Busch Stadium on Sunday.

Miles Mikolas started for the road team and John Gant led a parade of relievers for the home squad as the two teams played to a 2-2 tie over five innings. Mikolas allowed two unearned runs on one hit, a hit batter and no walks while striking out two over 2 2/3 innings. Gant, meanwhile, had arguably the most impressive stat line of the day, throwing a scoreless, hitless first inning while recording one walk and one strikeout.

Prospects Andrew Knizner and Max Schrock were the offensive stars for the road team, picking up the only two extra-base hits of the afternoon — both doubles off reliever Ryan Helsley in the second inning. Knizner drew positive reviews for his offensive performance:

Schrock, who also had a walk, drove in a run with his two-base hit and was one of only three players in the game to reach base twice, joining road teammate Tommy Edman (0 for 1 with two walks) and outfielder Austin Dean, who had two singles for the home team. Harrison Bader contributed a two-out RBI single for the road squad, while Matt Carpenter grounded into a fielder’s choice for the home team’s lone RBI. A second run scored on that play due to a throwing error.

Errors turned out to be a running theme on Sunday, with the road team committing four of them: two each — one throwing, one fielding — from Schrock, who was playing third base, and first baseman Rangel Ravelo. With the errors prolonging innings and potentially causing pitchers to be overworked, the Cardinals twice utilized a rule that they’ve instituted in order to keep things moving. Innings were “rolled” in order to limit pitch counts, even though the team in the field hadn’t yet gotten three outs.

While Schrock obviously struggled at times at the hot corner, he also made a standout play in the fourth inning to rob Paul DeJong of a base hit:

After Mikolas and Gant exited, both sides received primarily strong results from their bullpens. The road team received two scoreless innings of relief — one each from veteran lefties Brett Cecil and Andrew Miller.

Miller had a particularly strong day, striking out two in the final frame of the day:

On the home side, Ryan Helsley allowed a run and two hits but struck out two in the second inning. Junior Fernandez gave up a hit and a walk over a scoreless third, then Jake Woodford allowed a run, a hit and two walks with a strikeout over 1 2/3 innings.

Following the intrasquad game, Mikolas and outfielder Tyler O’Neill both talked about the difficulties of facing their teammates while preparing for the shortened 2020 season:

Following the intrasquad game, manager Mike Shildt provided updates on the three Cardinals players who have been confirmed as testing positive for COVID-19. Per Shildt, third baseman Elehuris Montero and left-handers Génesis Cabrera and Ricardo Sánchez have not yet tested negative:

In order to begin participating in team activities, both players must test negative twice in tests at least 24 hours apart while also remaining fever-free for 72 hours as part of MLB’s new safety protocols.