photo: Giovanny Gallegos (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)
The St. Louis Cardinals continued their post-break surge, winning series against division rivals Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. Giovanny Gallegos has been strong out of the bullpen. Our weekly history feature looks back at major Cardinals events during the week of July 15-21.
The Cardinals blanked the Pirates in the first game of a three game series at Busch Stadium on Monday. Starter Miles Mikolas was brilliant, pitching a complete game shutout. The right hander scattered eight hits and struck out three.
The offense started in the first inning when Paul Goldschmidt drew a walk and Tyler O’Neill reached on a fielding error by the Pirates left fielder. Goldschmidt scored on the error. The Cardinal first baseman drove a run in the third inning on a double that plated Matt Carpenter. After an O’Neill single, Goldschmidt scored on a sac fly by Dexter Fowler.
In the fifth, O’Neill increased St. Louis’ lead with a two run home run to center field. O’Neill again hit a two run long ball in the seventh to bring the score to the final 7-0. He was 3-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored.
Carpenter was picked off first base. O’Neill made a fielding error and Fowler had an outfield assist.
The Cardinals were the losers in the second game of the series, the result of a lack of offense, a consistent theme of the 2019 Cardinals.
Starter Jack Flaherty shouldered the burden, in more ways than one. In addition to good pitching, the right hander drove in his team’s only run. In the fifth inning, Harrison Bader doubled, then stole third base. Flaherty doubled to left to score Bader.
Tyler O’Neill had two of the team’s five hits.
Flaherty pitched seven strong innings, giving up only one run on three hits. The right hander fanned eight and walked three. Giovanny Gallegos pitched a scoreless eighth. Carlos Martinez surrendered two runs in the ninth and took the loss.
The Cardinals edged the Pirates in the rubber game of the series on Wednesday. Starter Daniel Ponce De Leon pitched only 3 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits. The right hander struck out three and walked two. Dominic Leone got the last out of the fourth. Chasen Shreve, John Brebbia, and Andrew Miller combined to toss the next four scoreless innings. Carlos Martinez surrendered one run in the ninth.
The Pirates struck the first blow on a solo home run by Starling Marte in the first inning. The Cardinals answered with the tying run in the bottom of the first on Tyler O’Neill’s RBI single. The Redbirds took the 2-1 lead in the second on a sac fly by Jose Martinez.
The Pirates regained the lead with three runs in the fourth. O’Neill hit a solo home run in the fifth to cut the lead to 4-3. Then in the seventh, the Cardinals took the lead back in the seventh on a three run bomb by Paul Goldschmidt.
The Pirates added a run in the ninth, but the win belonged to the Cardinals.
O’Neill and Tommy Edman each had two hits.
The Cardinals began a four game series in Cincinnati on Thursday and put this first game in the victory column. The Cardinals fell behind early 3-0 but launched a comeback in innings five and six. It began with a two run home run by Paul DeJong in the fifth to reduce the lead to 3-2. In the sixth, DeJong drove in a run on a single. Two batters later, Tommy Edman blasted a grand slam to give the Cardinals the 7-3 lead. The Pirates added a run in the bottom of the sixth, but the Redbirds held the lead.
Starter Dakota Hudson pitched five innings and gave up three runs on six hits. The right hander struck out three and walked two. John Gant surrendered a run in the sixth while recording only one out. Giovanny Gallegos finished the sixth and returned to pitch a scoreless seventh. John Brebbia pitched a scoreless eighth followed by a scoreless ninth for Andrew Miller. Hudson earned his ninth win, Miller his second save.
It was a wild ride in the second game of series at Great American Ballpark on Friday. It started out badly for the Redbirds, as they fell into a 7-0 deficit through the first four innings. Adam Wainwright did not pitch well, lasting only 3 1/3 innings and giving up seven runs on nine hits. The right hander struck out four. Michael Wacha, back in the bullpen, pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Chasen Shreve threw 2/3 of a scoreless inning following Wacha. John Gant tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Dominic Leone surrendered two runs in the eighth while not recording an out and was replaced by Andrew Miller who got the three outs without further damage. Carlos Martinez allowed two runs in the ninth, but got the shaky save, his seventh. Wacha got the win.
The Cardinals entered the top of the sixth behind 7-0. Harrison Bader singled to center to get the ball rolling. Tommy Edman and Jose Martinez singled. Paul Goldschmidt’s sac fly scored Bader. Tyler O’Neill singled, Yairo Munoz singled, and Kolten Wong’s sac fly plated Martinez. Paul DeJong doubled, and O’Neill and Munoz scored. Andrew Knizner singled and DeJong scored. The lineup came back around, and Bader drew a walk. Edman reached on an error and Knizner scored. Then Martinez hit a three run home run to center field to give the Cardinals their first lead. It ended when Goldschmidt struck out, but by then the Cardinals had scored 10 runs.
The Cardinals increased the lead to 12-7 on DeJong’s two run home run in the seventh. The Reds mounted a comeback of their own, scoring two runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth to make it close – but not close enough.
The Cardinals were edged by the Reds in Game 3 of the series on Saturday. It was a pitcher’s duel up to the sixth inning, when the Cardinals struck first on Matt Wieters’ solo home run. The Reds answered in the seventh to take the 3-1 lead.
In the eighth, Jose Martinez plated a run on a single to decrease the lead to 3-2, but the Redbirds were unable to score further. Tommy Edman had three hits, though none resulted in run.
Miles Mikolas did not repeat his nine-inning previous start, but pitched six innings and gave up three runs on six hits. The right hander struck out four and walked two. Ryan Helsley pitched the final two scoreless innings. Mikolas took the loss.
The Cardinals took the series from the Reds with a win on Sunday. Starter Jack Flaherty pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing six hits while striking out seven and walking two. Flaherty got into a bases loaded jam with one out in the fifth and was replaced by Giovanny Gallegos. Gallegos struck out the next two hitters in the fifth to escape the jam. Gallegos returned to pitch a scoreless sixth. Andrew Miller surrendered one run in his 1 1/3 innings of relief before John Gant got the final two outs of the eighth. Carlos Martinez pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his eighth save.
The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Yairo Munoz singled to plate a run, then Harrison Bader reached on an error and Munoz scored. That lead held until the eighth inning, when Miller gave up a solo home run to pinch hitter Phillip Ervin. Munoz gave the Cardinals an insurance run in the ninth with a solo home run to finish his 3-for-4 day.
The Cardinals were busy on the base paths with Tyler O’Neill, Munoz, Andrew Knizner and Bader all stealing a base. Paul DeJong was caught stealing.
The Big Picture
The Cardinals won two series this week, taking two of three from the Pirates and three of four from the Reds. The team ended the week 5-2 and a remain in third place in the NL Central, 2.5 games back of the Cubs and a half game back of the Brewers.
Offense remains the primary issue with this team. The ability to score many runs exists and was demonstrated in both series, but the consistency is not there. The hitters expected to put up the numbers are not doing so. Though Paul Goldschmidt has shown flashes of his former self here and there, he continues to have games where he struggles mightily. For example, he struck out in all four at bats in Friday’s game. Matt Carpenter went back on the injured list, but his output has been low all season so far. Paul DeJong hasn’t been very consistent either. Dexter Fowler has hit .111 over his last six games, not including Sunday. Jose Martinez has been hit or miss, batting .182 over the last seven days, but with an OPS of .866. One home run and five walks account for that anomaly. Much of the offense over the last week has come from Tyler O’Neill, Kolten Wong, and Tommy Edman.
Starting pitching has started to come around. Miles Mikolas pitched a complete game shutout against the Pirates. Jack Flaherty has been up and down but has generally lacked run support. Dakota Hudson has been fine. Adam Wainwright pitched poorly in his last start, as did Daniel Ponce De Leon. The fifth starter position remains uncertain, with Michael Wacha coming and going from rotation to bullpen.
Giovanny Gallegos has taken on more responsibility in the bullpen and has shined. Carlos Martinez has not dominated, but is generally getting the job done in the ninth.
The defense has been fine, though the outfield continues to be less than it could be with Harrison Bader struggling at the plate and hence not starting often. He comes in late in games mostly at this point, so he appears in almost every game but has less innings in the outfield.
Baserunning has been the Cardinals strength this season. There is a much different look on the base paths than there has been in prior seasons.
The Cardinals play the Pirates for four games in Pittsburgh, then come home to play the Houston Astros for three games. The Astros series will be tough. The Pirates, though they have a losing record, are no pushovers, especially in their home ballpark. The Cardinals should take at least 3 of 4 from the Pirates.
NL Central Standings
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
Derrick Goold of the Post Dispatch reported on an earlier rumor from Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that the Cardinals are making RHP Carlos Martinez, and OFs Tyler O’Neill and Lane Thomas available for trade. Goold wrote that the Cardinals are open to trading O’Neill and Martinez but are not aggressively shopping them. Goold also threw Harrison Bader into the mix, though Bader’s struggles offensively would make him a sell-low candidate. Goold quoted President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak as saying he “doesn’t see anybody on the current roster we are looking to move”. However, Goold states that the Cardinals are exploring interest in trading RHP Michael Wacha, who hits free agency at the end of the season.
- 7/16 The Cardinals placed 3B Matt Carpenter on the 10 day injured list. Right foot contusion.
- 7/16 The Cardinals recalled SS Edmundo Sosa from the Memphis Redbirds.
- 7/20 The Cardinals optioned SS Edmundo Sosa to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 7/20 The Cardinals recalled RHP Ryan Helsley from the Memphis Redbirds.
- 7/21 The Cardinals optioned RHP Ryan Helsley to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 7/21 The Cardinals optioned RHP Dominic Leone to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 7/21 The Cardinals recalled 1B Rangel Ravelo from the Memphis Redbirds.
- 7/21 The Cardinals recalled LHP Tyler Webb from the Memphis Redbirds.
- LHP Brett Cecil (carpal tunnel syndrome left wrist) continues on the 60 day injured list. Cecil had been shut down from throwing for an indefinite period since spring training. The left hander has had a setback in his rehab and it remains unclear when he will return.
- RHP Mike Mayers (right shoulder lat strain) continues on the 60-day injured list and has been pitching on a rehab assignment with Memphis since the end of June. No announcement of a return to the roster has been made.
- 3B Jedd Gyorko remains on the 10 day injured list. Gyorko originally was placed on the list due to lower back issues, was then reported to have recurring calf issues, and at present is suffering from a wrist ailment for which he had arthroscopic surgery on June 24. It was reported Gyorko began swinging off a tee as of July 17. The timetable for Gyorko’s return is possibly the middle or end of August, but may not be until September.
- RHP Jordan Hicks (torn right UCL) underwent Tommy John surgery on June 26 and is out for the rest of the season.
- LF Marcell Ozuna (fractured right fingers) was placed on the 10-day injured list on June 29. Ozuna suffered the injury diving back to first base on a pickoff attempt. It was reported the swelling has gone down in the hand and he has been cleared for baseball activities. Ozuna may begin a rehab assignment late in the week.
- C Yadier Molina (right thumb) was placed on the 10-day injured list on July 11, retroactive to July 8. He has been shut down from all baseball activities. Molina is expected to be re-evaluated in late July.
- 3B Matt Carpenter (right foot contusion) was placed on the 10-day injured list on July 16. Carpenter has resumed baseball activities and may begin a rehab assignment this week.
On Monday, July 22, the team opens a four-game series in Pittsburgh. The Cardinals then return home for a weekend interleague series with the Houston Astros.
After an off day on Monday, July 29, the Chicago Cubs come to Busch Stadium for a three game set. St. Louis has another off day on Friday, August 2 to travel to Oakland to play a two game interleague series beginning Saturday with the Athletics. The West Coast trip continues with a stop in Los Angeles to take on the Dodgers in a three game series beginning August 5.
The Cardinals have a travel day on Thursday, August 8 and return home to a weekend series with the Pirates. It is a short home stand, as the Cardinals have an off day Monday and begin a two game series in Kansas City against the Royals
The Cardinals’ regular season schedule can be viewed here.
Blast from the Past
This week in Blast from the Past, we look at significant happenings for each day in history over the period July 15 through July 21. In some cases, there will be multiple entries.
- On July 15, 1967, in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson was hit in the right leg by a line drive comebacker off the bat of Pirates legend Roberto Clemente. Gibson pitched to three more hitters, unaware his leg bone was fractured. At that point, his fibula bone snapped just above the right ankle. Gibson returned to play in September, the Cardinals won the pennant, and went on to win the World Series against the Boston Red Sox.
- In the second game of a doubleheader against the Pirates in 1962, Stan Musial took his 10,428th at bat in the seventh inning, setting a new National League record, surpassing Honus Wagner’s record set in 1917. Musial singled to right field.
- Gibson pitched career complete game #237 on this day in 1973. The opponent was the Giants as Gibson gave up two earned runs, walked four and struck out one.
- Jesse “Pop” Haines, future Hall of Famer, throws a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox at Sportsman’s Park on this day in 1924.
- Gibson gets his 3,000th strikeout, fanning Geronimo Pena in a 6-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on this day in 1974. The strikeout ball now resides in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
- On this day in 1961, future National League president Bill White tied Ty Cobb’s record for hits in consecutive doubleheaders. White collected 14 hits over doubleheaders on July 17 and 18 against the Cubs. Ironically, July 17, 1961 was the day Cobb passed away.
- On July 19, 1993, the Cardinals game against the Braves is delayed for an hour when a fire broke out in the press box area of Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta.
- Gibson pitched complete game #50 in a 7-6 win over the Mets in 1964. Gibson gave up six earned runs, struck out 11, and walked three.
- In 2004, against the Cubs, Albert Pujols went 5-for-5, including three home runs and five RBI in an 11-8 win over their NL Central rivals. This was Pujols first career three home run game.
- On this day in 1975, in a game against the San Diego Padres, catcher Ted Simmons hit a home run to lead off the fourth inning. The manager of the Padres, John McNamara, asserted that Simmons’ bat contained illegal grooves above the bat handle. Umpire Art Williams inspected the bat, determined McNamara was correct, and called Simmons out. The bat was confiscated. The at bat is described in the boxscore as an out to the catcher. The game was continued under protest, but the Cardinals won the game 4-0, making the protest moot.
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