Reuters/Kansas City, US
Jack Flaherty continued his recent hot streak with seven shutout innings, and the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Kansas City Royals 2-0 Tuesday in Kansas City. Flaherty has the longest current scoreless-innings streak in the majors at 23 innings.
The Cardinals improved to 37-20 all-time at Kauffman Stadium. Flaherty (6-6) is just 2-1 in his last seven starts, but it’s not because of his efforts. He’s allowed just four earned runs over 45 1/3 innings (0.79 ERA), beginning with a loss in San Francisco July 6, when he allowed one run on two hits in seven innings. He allowed just three hits Tuesday while striking out seven with one walk. Carlos Martinez got the final two outs for his 13th save in 16 chances.
The Royals didn’t mount much of a threat against Flaherty. They had two runners on base in the first and the sixth innings, but couldn’t come through with the big hit.
Flaherty said he’s better executing, locating and trusting his pitches depending on the situation at hand. “You don’t have to nibble all the time,” he said. “Sometimes you’re going to fall behind and get into not-so-great counts. But you’re going to have to challenge hitters depending on the situation, playing the game within the game and not just playing to the corners every time. Then you can get in a situation, first and second nobody out, it’s time to bear down, work the corners and really execute. As long as at the end of the day we’ve got more runs than they do, that’s all that matters,” Flaherty said. “It’s just continuing to go out and execute.”
Glenn Sparkman (3-8) was the hard-luck loser for Kansas City. He gave up just two runs (one earned) over six innings. It was a nice turnaround for Sparkman, who had given up 22 earned runs over 19 2/3 innings in his four starts since throwing a shutout against the White Sox on July 16.
The Royals were fresh off a 10-game road trip in which they set a club record with 22 home runs. But the offense was in short supply on Tuesday. The Cardinals got a gift run in the top of the first.
Dexter Fowler reached on an error by third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert. He moved to second on a balk by Sparkman, who slipped off the mound on his delivery. He moved to third on a groundout and scored on Paul Goldschmidt’s sacrifice fly.
St. Louis grabbed another run in the third. Lane Thomas scored from second on Tommy Edman’s two-out RBI single. Sparkman appeared to work out of a jam, allowing the first two runners to reach. Kolten Wong was thrown out at third trying to advance to third on a pitch in the dirt. But Thomas’ single gave the Cardinals a cushion.
Yankees roll over Orioles with a series sweep in sight
The Yankees have proven they can subdue the Orioles with or without hitting home runs and with or without a strong start on the mound. They’ll get only one more chance to do so in Wednesday’s series finale, having improved to 16-2 against Baltimore with Tuesday’s 8-3 win at Yankee Stadium.
On the horizon is a four-game set with AL Central frontrunner Cleveland – which will cap a stretch of 19 games in 17 days – followed by a nine-game West Coast swing with stops at wild-card hopeful Oakland and two-time NL champ Los Angeles.
Just one ball hit by a Yankee left the park on Tuesday, and it was the first one that Orioles starter John Means threw to DJ LeMahieu. After that, a parade of base hits provided the run support for Domingo German (16-2) and fuelled New York’s 80th victory of the season.
German gave the Yanks seven innings of five-hit, two-run ball, striking out seven. While he continued to look like a potential Game 1 postseason series starter, he also got closer to a career-high total of pro innings in a single season (120).
In other words, the right-hander’s usage down the stretch could become a delicate balancing act.
“The bottom line is, we obviously have a very good pitcher for us this year that continues to get better at his craft, and it’s somebody that we’ll obviously watch closely,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before the game. “But you could see his role potentially evolve in different ways as the final month-and-a-half plays out.” German threw 123.1 innings in the minors in 2014 and 123.2 (109.1 in the majors) two years ago.
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