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Twins sweep Cardinals in 2-game series

Five Minnesota pitchers combined to shut out the Cardinals on just three hits, all singles, on Wednesday night hand the Cardinals their third loss in a row
Credit: AP
Minnesota Twins' Luis Arraez, left, scores on a two-run double by Nelson Cruz off St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon in the xxx inning of a baseball game Wednesday, July 29, 2020, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

MINNEAPOLIS — The Cardinals had heard all about how good the Twins offense was coming into this two-game series in Minnesota, but it turned out they should have also been worried about their pitching staff.

Five Minnesota pitchers combined to shut out the Cardinals on just three hits, all singles, on Wednesday night to sweep the two-game series and hand the Cardinals their third loss in a row.

The Cardinals did not have an at-bat with a runner on either second or third base, and it was the first time since June 2 of last year that they did not record at least one extra-base hit, a string of 108 consecutive games.

“Just couldn’t put anything together,” said manager Mike Shildt. “Off-balance is probably the best way to describe it. We had some good at-bats but not as many as we would have liked.”

For the second night in a row the Cardinals starter failed to get through the fourth inning even though Daniel Ponce de Leon gave up only two hits.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: The Cardinals only hits were singles by Paul Goldschmidt with two outs in the first, by Yadier Molina in the second and a leadoff hit by Dexter Fowler in the eighth, but he was later doubled off first as he tried to steal second on an 0-2 pitch … Their only other baserunner came on a walk to Goldschmidt leading off the fourth … Rangel Ravelo made his first start as the DH and was 0-of-2.

On the mound: Of the 11 outs recorded by Ponce de Leon, eight came on strikeouts … He issued a leadoff walk in the first inning and that runner later scored on a double by Nelson Cruz. The other hit off Ponce de Leon was a home run by Eddie Rosario in the fourth … He left with two runners on base, including a walk to his last batter, Marwin Gonzalez, when the Cardinals thought he had struck out on a 3-2 pitch … Tyler Webb allowed one of those inherited runners to score, but the bullpen did not allow another run over the final 4 1/3 innings … Kodi Whitley and Ryan Helsley each retired all five hitters that they faced.

Key stat: Harrison Bader got the start in center and was 0-of-2. Through the Cardinals first five games, he is 1-of-11 in four games and Lane Thomas was 0-of-2 in his one start, making the center fielders a combined 1-of-13.

Worth noting: The Cardinals are working on a plan to have cardboard cutouts, as have shown up at some stadiums, at Busch Stadium but might not have time to get them in place before their next homestand begins on Aug. 5. Fans will apparently be allowed to purchase the cutouts through a charitable donation … Jake Woodford, activated from the taxi squad on Tuesday to replace the injured Miles Mikolas, said he threw four innings in a simulated game late last week at the Cardinals’ satellite camp in Springfield … Shildt said both Alex Reyes and Genesis Cabrera threw live batting practice sessions on Wednesday as they work to get in position to possibly join the major-league team at some point.

Looking ahead: After their second day off in four days on Thursday, the Cardinals will open a three-game series on Friday in Milwaukee. Jack Flaherty is scheduled to make his second start.