It's all hands on deck as Cards finish sweep

'Team effort' leads to win over Pirates after LeBlanc, Carlson exit with injuries

August 12th, 2021

PITTSBURGH -- Injuries and plays that required a citation from MLB’s rule book rounded out the Cardinals’ three-game sweep of the Pirates at PNC Park. From the top of the third inning, it started to become clear that things were not going to go smoothly in St. Louis’ 7-6 win.

The Cardinals were looking to make up ground after starting pitcher allowed a three-run homer in the first. With the top of St. Louis’ order due up, the third inning seemed like a good opportunity.

On just the third pitch of the inning, was called out on batter’s interference -- a rule that states the batter may not interfere with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by stepping out of the box (Rule 6.03 (a) (3)). The ruling was followed by two quick outs, leading to the bottom of the frame.

However, LeBlanc did not take the mound. The southpaw exited the game after tossing just 30 pitches due to left elbow pain.

“It wasn’t necessarily an event,” said manager Mike Shildt about LeBlanc’s injury. “[He] just started to feel tightness, a little something in his elbow. I think he's dealt with [it] a little bit in the past. And he felt it and communicated it and we got on top of it, and we got completely on top of it. He's a little dejected about it, and so are we for him.”

The lefty will head to St. Louis for imaging rather than travel to Kansas City for the remainder of the road trip. Shildt is hopeful that the MRI will reveal good news by the end of the week.

Luckily, the bullpen had the night off during Adam Wainwright’s complete game in Wednesday’s 4-0 win, and it was able to pick up the final seven innings.

“Man, huge,” said Shildt. “What a team effort today. Gosh darn, pretty much everybody participated in this one and touched this one and should feel good about getting to the last one here on a tough turnaround. [It was a ] smokin’ hot day, and the guys really answered the bell, and the bullpen was outstanding.”

Since Shildt had to turn to the ‘pen so early, he needed pinch-hitters. This led to smacking his first career home run -- just three batters after knocked a game-tying shot to left field.

As the rookie Nootbaar rounded the bases, Carlson stepped into the batter’s box. After striking out on three pitches, the left fielder walked into the dugout and down the tunnel. Carlson was replaced by José Rondón, citing right wrist soreness.

The outfielder felt some soreness on Wednesday, but he spoke with the training staff and determined he could play in the series finale. After his final at-bat, he felt something in his wrist flare up and decided to get it checked out. Carlson will undergo imaging in Kansas City as the team tries to extend its three-game winning streak.

The win was much-needed, as the Cardinals must sweep opponents if they are going to compete for a chance to play October baseball.

Entering play on Thursday, St. Louis sat 7 1/2 games out of the National League Wild Card spot, with plenty of chances to make up ground. They play 29 of their final 49 games against teams that are fighting for a postseason berth.

“We've been fighting, scratching and clawing,” said Shildt when asked about the team moving two games over .500 for the first time since June. “We've won series and we've [kept] playing good solid baseball, and it's nice to be rewarded for it. Get on that plus side of the ledger. Now it's time to not look back and move forward still.”