Flaherty allows 3 more HRs as trend continues
ST. LOUIS -- Home run after home run continues to plague Jack Flaherty, who gave up multiple long balls in a game for the third time this month on Tuesday night.
The right-hander yielded three in 4 2/3 innings in the Cardinals’ 7-3 loss to the A’s at Busch Stadium.
Flaherty has allowed nine home runs in his last five starts -- compared to nine in April and May combined (11 starts). His June ERA is 7.01, having allowed 20 runs in 25 2/3 innings.
With 18 home runs on his ledger this season, Flaherty’s 4.75 ERA is a full run higher than it was last year, when he allowed 20 home runs in 28 starts.
“Not executing,” Flaherty said about his home run spike in June.
Flaherty (4-5) started off well, with a quick first inning, but inconsistent command hurt him in the A’s seven-run fifth inning.
“Looked like he got behind in counts and inconsistent with where he wanted to put the baseball,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “Balls in the middle of the plate, not executing in your location.”
On Tuesday, the home runs Flaherty allowed to Matt Olson, Chad Pinder and Marcus Semien all came on fastballs -- a pitch he’s allowed 10 home runs on this year compared to 11 in 2018.
Flaherty threw a fastball inside to Pinder in the top of the fifth inning and was rewarded with a called strike. Then he threw the same pitch in the same location.
Pinder hit it 391 feet to bring in two runs.
“The first pitch he threw me was a four-seamer in that had a little bit of cut,” Pinder said. “I was just trying to get my timing down a little bit there. He ended up throwing pretty much the same exact pitch the next pitch, and I was able to put a good swing on it.”
The home run to Semien in the next at-bat came on a fastball down the middle on 0-2 count.
“You look at some of the pitches, the one to Semien hurts,” Flaherty said. “You get 0-2 and make a mistake.”
The short start gave the majority of the game to the bullpen, which suffered a blow Tuesday when it was announced that closer Jordan Hicks would miss the rest of the season with Tommy John surgery to repair a torn UCL.
Shildt said Tuesday afternoon that the bullpen had the depth to withstand such a loss. And that showed Tuesday night, with two relievers who had been struggling recently holding the Cardinals deficit to four, although the offense couldn’t capitalize after scoring three in the second inning and left 12 runners on base.
John Brebbia -- who had a 7.71 ERA going into Tuesday -- pitched 1 1/3 innings and only gave up one hit.
Then Dominic Leone, who was recalled from Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday, pitched two perfect innings, striking out three. Leone was optioned to Memphis in May with an 8.02 ERA (21 1/3 innings) to work on his mechanics.
“[Hicks is] going to have a tough road back, and we’re all here for him,” Leone said. “This is a game where it’s got to be next man up, and we’ve got a strong group. Lot of guys getting a lot of work, but we’re going to battle through it. We’re going to go out and do our job and continue to battle like he was there with us.”