Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt walked into Oracle Park on Monday for the first time as teammates, and as you might expect, they played roles in handing the Giants a loss, as they have done so many times.
It wasn't a Goldschmidt homer that broke this one open, though, and Arenado didn't go deep against the Giants for the 32nd time. The two combined for three hits but Kevin Gausman actually did a really nice job of keeping them at bay -- until Arenado found a way to foul off a deadly splitter for what might have been the most important play of the game.
With the help of his fielders, Gausman was sailing through the day and dominating to such an extent that both he and manager Gabe Kapler had started to think about chasing a no-hitter. But Arenado somehow fouled off a two-strike splitter with one down in the seventh and ended up scoring the go-ahead run, leading the Cardinals to an eventual 5-3 victory at Oracle Park.
Gausman threw 6 1/3 no-hit innings, the longest bid of his career, but he ended up taking the loss. He allowed two runs on Matt Carpenter's triple shortly after Arenado broke up the no-hit bid with a clean single to left. Both the foul tip and single came on two-strike splitters, a pitch Gausman has used for 90 strikeouts in 17 starts.
"That's what good players do, they make an adjustment," Gausman said. "I was amazed that he went and fouled off the previous pitch and it was a really good pitch that he happened to go get (on the foul tip). The split on the base hit was really a pretty good pitch, too, but he's just very good. You've just got to mix it up with him. I got away with some early stuff in the game with him so maybe he finally got his hit that he probably deserved."
Gausman had thrown 246 splitters to right-handers entering the day and allowed just three hits, and the pitch had its usual profile Monday. It finished off seven of Gausman's eight strikeouts.
Gausman didn't need much help, but he got strong defensive plays from Donovan Solano, Jaylin Davis and Wilmer Flores while taking a no-hitter into the seventh. He said all of that glove work did have him thinking about potentially making history.
"I thought maybe it was going to be something special," he said, "Unfortunately it didn't end that way."
The Giants have lost two straight Gausman starts and scored just four runs in the two games. They didn't get going until after he had sat down Monday, getting an eighth-inning homer from Alex Dickerson and then a short two-run rally in the ninth.
Kapler said he didn't think the quality was there in early at-bats, something that has been a bit of a theme as the All-Star break approaches. The manager had a succinct summary of the day.
"Gausman was excellent," he said. "I appreciate the effort that we put together in the ninth, and prior to that I don't think we had our best at-bats."