Cardinals look for another strong pitching outing vs. Reds (Jul 25, 2018)

July 25, 2018

The last time the St. Louis Cardinals did this, the three pitchers involved were named Bob Gibson, Ernie Broglio and Marshall Bridges.

One became a Hall of Famer (Gibson) and another was traded for a Hall of Famer (Broglio for Lou Brock), but even those pitchers didn't do what Daniel Poncedeleon and Austin Gomber did in their first career starts for St. Louis the last two nights.

That's take a no-hitter into at least the seventh inning -- the first time two rookie pitchers for the same team have done that in successive games since Blue Moon Odom and Bob Meyer performed the feat for the Kansas City Athletics in 1964.

Think Jack Flaherty will have something to live up to when the rookie right-hander starts for the Cardinals against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on Wednesday?

Unlike Poncedeleon (seven no-hit innings) and Gomber (6 1/3 no-hit innings), Flaherty (4-4) has started in the majors before, but he's still a rookie. The last time the Cardinals started three rookie pitchers in a row so early into a season was Aug. 7-9, 1959, when Gibson, Broglio and Bridges started the final three games of a five-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Cardinals also started three rookies in the final series of 1997 (Mike Busby, Matt Morris and Manny Aybar, but it's common for rookies to start once the rosters expand from 25 to 40 and numerous players get called up from the minors in September.

Flaherty, who opposes Reds right-hander Sal Romano (5-8), is 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA in three career starts against Cincinnati. He didn't get the decision despite pitching five scoreless innings against them July 14 in what became an 8-2 Reds victory in St. Louis.

In Flaherty's last start, he gave up one run and two hits over five innings in the Cardinals' 18-5 rout of the Chicago Cubs on Friday, walking four but striking out nine while throwing 110 pitches.

"Jack -- for me, the way he goes about it -- is mature beyond his years," Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt said.

Shildt wanted to start the left-hander Gomber against the left-handed-heavy Reds lineup -- St. Louis hasn't started a left-hander all season -- but even he probably didn't expect this.

Gomber, who hadn't pitched longer than three innings in the majors, didn't give up a hit until Joey Votto singled with one out in the seventh -- after an untimely seven-minute delay caused when a shrill fire siren went off, resulting in strobe lights flashing in the center field batter's backdrop.

"Really, really exceptional performance," Shildt said. "It's hard to say (if the delay bothered him), but it wasn't a very favorable thing to happen at the time, or convenient. It breaks up the rhythm ... I'm sure that's something that nobody in the ballpark wanted to have happen, (but it came at) a pretty odd time."

The Cardinals led 2-0 at the time, but the right-handed hitting Eugenio Suarez tied it with a two-run homer after Shildt left Gomber in to face him. The night before, Suarez homered off Cardinals closer Bud Norris to start the Reds' game-winning, two-run rally in the ninth inning of a 2-1 win.

"I've never seen anything like that (delay) in my life, it's crazy, but we broke up the no-hitter and tied it," Suarez said. "It was a good game, exciting game, a tie game like last night and this time they won but we battled all the time."

The Reds comeback failed as Dexter Fowler -- who came in with a .177 average -- hit a two-run homer in the 11th off Amir Garrett, and Norris worked out of a two-on jam in the bottom of the inning to complete a 4-2 Cardinals victory. St. Louis is 11-4 against Cincinnati this season despite losing four of the previous five coming in.

The Reds lost their fifth in six games despite getting an effective outing from former ace Homer Bailey (6 2-3 innings, two runs) in his first start since being taken out of the rotation with a 1-7 record and 6.68 ERA on May 28.

Romano didn't get the decision in either of his two career starts against St. Louis, including a 13-4 Cardinals win on April 12 in which he gave up four runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings. He pitched 1 2/3 scoreless relief innings against them July 15.



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