by Scott Bierman / BaseballStL
(BaseballStL) -- John Gast didn’t go deep in his second major league outing, but for five-plus innings he squeaked around the Milwaukee Brewers for another win in as many starts on Sunday.
Gast called it a “pretty good” outing despite pitching into danger a couple of times.
“It’s always the starting pitcher’s role to keep the team in the game,” Gast said. “I feel like I’ve been able to successfully do that and put us in a position to win.”
In his first career start, Gast was efficient with his pitch count early after needing only 50 through the first five innings against the New York Mets on May 14. He would need 21 pitches to get bailed out of the first inning on Sunday.
Gast issued a full-count walk to the first batter faced, Norichika Aoki, followed by a single hit by Jean Segura to start the game ahead of the two most-feared hitters in the Milwaukee lineup, Ryan Braun and Carlos Gomez.
Braun flew out to center field and Gomez would strike out and Yuniesky Betancourt would then have a chance to give his team an early lead. With runners on the corners and two outs, Segura took off for second in an attempt to steal, but Yadier Molina double-clutched on the throw as Aoki busted home to score. As Aoki came off far enough from third base, Molina tossed the ball to David Freese, who chased the Brewers leadoff man down the third base line with a diving tag at home plate to end the threat in the opening inning.
Gast would need only 51 pitches to get through the next four innings before encountering more trouble with a 4-0 lead in the sixth inning.
“We’re learning a little more about him and trying to get there ahead of time,” manager Mike Matheny said. “Hot day, probably the hottest we’ve had so far -- not that it’s going to be worse than this because it is, but it takes a little while to get acclimated and get used to throwing with the sweaty hand. Everything was pointing in the direction we needed to be ready (in the sixth inning).”
Aoki and Segura both reached base to start the inning before Gast got Braun to ground into a fielder’s choice. It would spell the end of the game for Gast as Maness was called upon to get the next two outs, but not before allowing the two inherited runners to score. It was the first time Maness allowed inherited runners to score after not allowing any of the previous five.
“I made a few mistakes there in the sixth and it may be a little bit of fatigue today just because it was so hot,” Gast said. “That’s something to keep an eye on, but I don’t think two starts is a big enough sample size to make any conclusions on that.”
Gast, who threw 70 total pitches in his first start, hurled 88, which was also the gametime temperature, in the 4-2 win. He allowed only two earned runs on four hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 5.1 innings pitched.
With the possibility of Jaime Garcia being out an extended period of time with a shoulder strain, Gast has given the Cardinals a little bit of a sigh of relief with two solid outings.
“They are two important wins, every one of them is. It’s great for John, it’s great for us. You never know what you’re going to get when you bring up a guy into this situation.”
The Cardinals head to San Diego to start a nine-day eight-game road trip with other stops including Los Angeles to face the Dodgers and Kansas City.