Benches clear in Cards-Reds game, La Russa and Baker get the boot

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Things just got pretty heated between the Cardinals and Reds in the bottom of the first inning.

Brandon Phillips (who else?) exchanged words with Yadier Molina behind the plate as he was set to lead off the bottom of the first inning, clearing the benches. They were quickly separated from each other, but things didn’t really go bananas until Scott Rolen went after his former teammate Chris Carpenter. Really.

There was plenty of pushing and pulling going on and Tuesday’s starter Johnny Cueto unleashed a flurry of kicks with his back against the screen, as you’ll see in this image, provided by MLB’s Twitter feed.

Oddly, only Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and Reds manager Dusty Baker were tossed from the game, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

And if Reds fans didn’t hate Molina enough already, he slugged a solo home run in the top of the second inning to give the Cardinals an early 2-0 lead. Bad blood and pennant race baseball, folks. We’ve arrived. 

Cardinals tab Miles Mikolas for Opening Day start

Miles Mikolas
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The Cardinals have selected right-hander Miles Mikolas as their Opening Day starter, the club revealed Saturday. It’ll mark the first career Opening Day start for Mikolas, who is scheduled to go up against the Brewers when the team hits the road on March 28.

The 29-year-old righty was a strong contender for the 2018 NL Cy Young Award, earning All-Star distinctions and pitching to a career-best 18-4 record with a 2.83 ERA, 1.3 BB/9, 6.5 SO/9, and 4.3 fWAR over 200 2/3 innings. He’s positioned to lead the Cardinals rotation in 2019 as well, with former Opening Day starters Carlos Martínez and Adam Wainwright and some combination of right-handers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha, Alex Reyes, and John Gant behind him.

Manager Mike Shildt told reporters that Flaherty, Wacha, Wainwright, and Martínez had all been considered for the honor, but admitted that Opening Day honors were ultimately handed to Mikolas “in recognition of [his performance] last year.” The Cardinals are scheduled to play a four-game set against the Brewers to start the season and will stop over in Pittsburgh for another two games before returning to St. Louis for their opening homestand against the Padres on April 4. Additional pitching assignments have yet to be announced.