ST. LOUIS — Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas missed a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates when Cal Mitchell doubled with two out in the ninth inning on Tuesday night.
Mitchell threw a 2-2 curveball just over the head of Gold Glove center fielder Harrison Bader. The ball bounced down the warning lane 383 feet from home plate and over the wall in the center right away for a ground double.
“Curveball was pretty good all day, and maybe I tried to knock it down a bit,” Mikolas said of the hit during his postgame on-field interview. “I left it in place for a bit. The guy had a really good swing on it. That one just kept going.”
The hit came on Mikolas’ career-high 129th pitch. He was lifted just after for Packy Naughton, who wrapped up a 9-1 win over the Pirates in the second game of a doubleheader.
“I’m in the best shape of my life, so it’s not a problem for me. That’s what rookies practice all year round,” Mikolas said of breaking 100 shots. “Going the distance is always the goal.
After Mitchell’s brace, Mikolas stood at the back of the mound and looked up at the sky as St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol came out of the dugout to replace him. Mikolas received a standing ovation as he exited. He left with his head bowed, but looked up at the crowd as he approached the steps of the dugout, eventually tipping his cap.
“Everybody in that dugout really wanted it for themselves,” Marmol said of Mikolas, who struggled with injuries throughout his career. “There’s a lot of perseverance in that story. To see him do what he’s been doing this year, it says a lot about his character.”
Mikolas struck out six and walked one. Pittsburgh recorded an unearned run in the fourth to make it 7-1 when Bryan Reynolds scored on a Daniel Vogelbach groundout.
Reynolds started the inning and reached second base when left fielder Juan Yepez misplayed a fly ball for an error. Reynolds placed third on a groundout.
Cardinals second baseman Nolan Gorman made a diving save in the fourth and an lopsided throw from the middle of the diamond in the sixth to avoid potential hits.
Mikolas worked a 1-2-3 seventh with the help of a nice catch from Bader at the center field fence on Jack Suwinski’s drive. Pittsburgh also dropped down the order in eighth.
“It stinks a bit not to finish this. I mean, I don’t have one yet, and I have friends who do. It would have been nice to join this conversation,” Mikolas told about a non-hitter. “But I can’t say enough about our defence. We were everywhere we needed to be and we made some fantastic plays throughout the game. I kind of feel like I let them down after all that defending that I had.”
The most recent no-hitter for the Cardinals was thrown by rookie Bud Smith in a 4-0 win over San Diego on Sept. 3, 2001. Nearly 21 years later, Mikolas was in the spotlight for a similar reason, although he did not. I didn’t appreciate the quiet treatment he was getting.
“I don’t like it at all,” he said. “I always try to talk to people during the game. And it kinda stinks when nobody wants to talk to me.”
Mikolas was going for the third no-hitter in the majors this season. Tylor Megill and four New York Mets relievers combined for one on April 29 against Philadelphia. Los Angeles Angels rookie Reid Detmers threw one against Tampa Bay on May 10.
St. Louis won Game 1 of the day-night doubleheader 3-1. The Cardinals have now won three straight, are 10 games over .500 (37-27) and are 2.5 games up in the field in National League Central.
“It’s winning in baseball. These guys are all over the place, playing really good baseball,” Marmol said. “There are so many little things happening that are impressive.”
Pittsburgh has lost nine straight.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.