SPRINGFIELD–Injuries are a part of sports, especially for pitchers. Unfortunately, the injury bug bit St. Louis Cardinals closer, Ryan Helsley, so bad, he hasn’t thrown a big league pitch since June 7. But in the two months since then, he made enough progress to earn a rehab stint tonight with the Springfield Cardinals.

And it was just in time for the finale of the baby birds 6-game homestand with the Naturals. Springfield could clinch the series with a victory but a loss would split this chapter 3-games a piece.

But before Helsley toed the rubber, Logan Gragg was bringing his own hot sauce to the ballpark. He sat down the first 6 batters he faced, including back-to-back strikeouts to end the top of the 2nd.

But in the third, Gragg allowed a pair of runs to score, both coming off infield singles, if you can believe that, giving Northwest Arkansas a 2-0 cushion.

Bottom 5, tied at 2 with the bases loaded, Arquimedes Gamboa delivers a shot down the right field line that rolls all the way to the corner. 2-runs come in to score on the clutch double. Cards would tack on 1 more thanks to an LJ Jones rbi groundout to lead 5-2.

So in the 7th, it’s now a 5-4 contest, when Helsley finally takes his place on the hill. He allowed a hit to the first batter he faced, then shutdown the next three hitters in order to preserve the 1-run lead. Oh by the way he hit 100 miles per hour on the gun, too. Looked just fine to me!

Unfortunately, Helsley only went 1 inning and the cards bullpen allowed 4 runs in the 8th to lose the series finale 9-8.