All posts by Marilyn Green

St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of January 11-17

photo: Jack Flaherty via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Three arbitration eligible Cardinals settle

On Friday, January 15, the Cardinals announced agreement have been reached with three of their arbitration eligible players for one-year contracts for 2021.  The deadline for submitting salary figures for arbitration was 12 noon CT on Friday.

The three players are RHPs Alex Reyes and Jordan Hicks, and CF Harrison Bader.  Reyes settled for a salary of $900,000 for the 2021 season, while Hicks agreed to a salary of $862,500.  Bader will be paid $2 million for the upcoming season.

The final amouns for the two pitchers was slightly lower than the projections from MLB Trade Rumors.  The average projection for Reyes was $1.1 million and the average projection for Hicks was $900,000.

Bader’s agreement was higher than projected.  His average projection was $1.4 million, $600,000 lower than he received.  Much of Bader’s value comes from his elite defense, though the center fielder ended the 2020 season with the third highest OPS on the team, behind 1B Paul Goldschmidt and utility player Brad Miller.

Jack Flaherty

The Cardinals failed to reach agreement with RHP Jack Flaherty.  An agreement could still be reached by the parties prior to the hearing, which will likely occur sometime in February, however, by policy, the Cardinals will stop negotiating and go to hearing.  Flaherty has a history of being outspoken about his displeasure with salaries for players.  He refused to accept the Cardinals prior salary offers, which were then assigned to him as a pre-arbitration player.  Flaherty was penalized $10,000 for this refusal both years.  The parties submitted salary figures on Friday, with Flaherty submitting for $3.9 million and the Cardinals submitting an even $3 million.  An arbitration panel must choose between the two figures in a hearing.

The Cardinals reached an agreement with RHP John Gant on December 3 for $2.1 million.  RHP John Brebbia was also arbitration eligible, but the Cardinals non-tendered him and he subsequently signed a major league contract with the San Francisco Giants.

Cardinals minor league coaches announced

On Saturday, January 16, the Cardinals announced the coaching staffs for the 2021 minor league season.  The group underwent significant changes due to the elimination of two affiliate teams in State College and Johnson City.  The moves were part of an MLB wide reorganization that reduced the total number of affiliated teams to 120.

The Cardinals retain their top four full season clubs in Memphis, Springfield, Peoria and Palm Beach.  Peoria and Palm Beach have switched classes with Peoria becoming the Class-A Advanced affiliate and Palm Beach switched to Low-A.  Memphis and Springfield remain the Triple-A and Double-A clubs.

Ben Johnson has been retained as the manager of the Memphis Redbirds.  Joe Kruzel was not retained as the Springfield manager and has been replaced by Jose Leger.  Leger spent eight years managing in the New York Mets organization and joined the Cardinals organization in 2018.

Chris Swauger will be the manager of the Peoria Chiefs in 2021.  Swauger previously managed the Johnson City Cardinals and the Chiefs in 2017-2018.

The Low-A Palm Beach Cardinals will be managed by Jose Leon.  Leon managed the State College Spikes in 2020.  Dann Bilardello, who managed in Palm Beach previously, was not retained.

The Cardinals retained their Gulf Coast League affiliate, now labeled as Extended Spring Training (EST).  The team will be managed by Roberto Espinoza, who managed Johnson City to the 2019 Appalachian League title.

Two managers, Joe Hawkins and Erick Almonte, were retained in hitting coach roles for 2021.

The two teams in the Dominican Summer League (DSL) keep their 2020 managers for 2021.

Jose Oquendo, who temporarily returned as third base coach for the 2020 Cardinals, remain an infield instructor in the system.

The details of remaining staff changes can be found here for TCN members.

Major Changes in Cardinals Player Development for 2021

Cardinals sign 15 international free agents

On the first day of the 2021 international signing period, the Cardinals announced the signings of 15 players from four different countries.  By far the most were from the Dominican Republic but the group includes two players from Venezuela and one each from Panama and the Bahamas.

The Bahamian player, Adari Grant, is a middle infielder with offensive upside.  From Panama, the Cardinals signed catcher Leonardo Bernal, a switch hitter who was part of his home country’s 2018 US World Cup Silver Medal team.

A full list of the 15 signees and their details can be found here for TCN members.

Cardinals Announce 15 First-Day International Signings

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch stated in his weekly chat that the Cardinals are not actively pursuing starting pitching.  Interest in a reunion with RHP Adam Wainwright remains, but outside a signing of Wainwright there is no indication as of yet that the Cardinals will seek a low cost starting pitcher should Wainwright sign elsewhere.  Goold reports that all signs point to the Cardinals seeking to reduce payroll for 2021.

Yadier Molina

In an interview with Cardinals Spanish language broadcaster Polo Ascencio, former Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina said that he is prepared to retire should no acceptable offer be made to him by the Cardinals or another MLB team.  The details of the interview were reported by Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch.  While the Cardinals maintain an interest in a reunion with Molina, the only offer made to Molina was deemed “ridiculously low” by Molina’s camp, according to sources.

Interest by other teams has been reported but recent acquisitions of other catchers by the Mets and the Padres and others have reduced the number of teams looking for catching help.  Catcher J.T. Realmuto remains unsigned and may be the hang-up in Molina’s market solidifying, but a recent report of a large offer made to Realmuto by the Phillies may provide clarity for Molina should Realmuto accept.

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

Multiple reports from executives and coaches at Winter Warm-Up are that both reliever Jordan Hicks and starter Miles Mikolas are cleared to have a normal spring. The two are already in Jupiter preparing for spring training.

Looking Ahead

Listed below are dates for key offseason events:

  • Friday, January 15 was the deadline for submitting salary figures for arbitration eligible players. That day, the Cardinals reached agreement with three of the four remaining arbitration eligible players.  The three are CF Harrison Bader, RHP Alex Reyes and RHP Jordan Hicks. RHP Jack Flaherty is heading for an arbitration hearing.  John Brebbia was originally in this group as well, but was instead non-tendered and has since signed with San Francisco.  John Gant, in his second year of eligibility, reached an agreement with the Cardinals on December 3, 2020.
  • RHP Alex Reyes reached agreement for a $900,000 salary for 2021.  CF Harrison Bader and the Cardinals agreed to a 2021 salary of $2 million.  Also reaching agreement with the Cardinals was RHP Jordan Hicks for a one year salary of $862,500.
  • RHP Jack Flaherty remains the only arbitration eligible player to not reach agreement. The parties can continue to negotiate on a salary up to the time of the hearing, however the Cardinals say they will not negotiate further and will require the hearing. It will occur sometime in February.  The salary figure filed by Flaherty was $3.9 million.  The Cardinals submitted a figure of $3 million.  The arbitration panel is not permitted to grant a salary anywhere in between but must choose between the two salary figures submitted by the parties.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up has gone virtual for 2021 with its final day on Monday, January 18. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at cardinals.com/wwu.
  • From a report in USA TODAY by Bob Nightengale, commissioner Rob Manfred has informed the 30 MLB teams that they should plan for 2021 Spring Training to begin on time and for a full 162 game season to be played. Cardinals spring training will begin with pitchers and catchers reporting on February 17.

Blast from the Past – Ozzie Smith:  1978-1981

Last week’s Blast covered the early years of Ozzie Smith’s life and the first years of his professional baseball career.  We ended with the only season Smith spent in the minor leagues.  This week we cover Ozzie’s first four years as a major leaguer, all with the San Diego Padres.

Ozzie Smith

Smith went to the Padres 1978 spring training camp as a non-roster invitee and played well enough at the Yuma, Arizona camp to earn a roster spot on the major league team.  He made his debut with the Padres on April 7, 1978, starting in the eighth spot in the lineup at shortstop against the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park.  Ozzie made two plate appearances, grounding into a force out and walking.

Smith secured his first major league hit the next day, a single.  Smith dazzled at defense, making a spectacular bare-handed play in an April 20 game against the Braves.  He did his first back flip for the fans in the last home game of 1978.  The back flip became a trademark for Ozzie throughout his major league career.

Smith finished the 1978 season with a slash line of .258/.311/.312 in 159 games with the Padres.  He finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting, losing out to Bob Horner of the Braves.

Ozzie suffered through a sophomore slump in 1979.  He began the season 0-for-32 before getting his first hit on April 13 against the Reds.  Smith’s batting average stayed below the Mendoza line for much of the season.  He climbed above .200 on August 4 and ended the season with a slash line of .211/.260/.262.

Smith’s fielding was his savior.  He led the league in assists in 1979, the first of eight times he accomplished this feat.  He ended his career with 8,375 assists, the most of any player at any position in major league history.

Smith’s 1980 season was somewhat better as he slashed .230/.312/.276.  Ozzie also won the first of his 13 consecutive Gold Glove Awards.  1980 was even better for Smith on the personal front, as he married Denise Jackson, who he met at the Astrodome in Houston where she worked as an usher.  They were married in November.  They would have three children, Nikko, Dustin, and Taryn before divorcing in 1996.

In the 1981 season, Smith was named to the NL All-Star team for the first time, the first of 14 career selections.  Ozzie hit .222/.294/.256 in the season split into two halves by a strike.  Smith led the NL that season in games played (110), plate appearances (507) and at-bats (450). He earned his second Gold Glove.

Garry Templeton and Ozzie Smith (Getty Images)

1981 was Smith’s last season in San Diego.  On December 10, he was traded to St. Louis in a six-player deal that sent Smith, Steve Mura and a player to be named later to the Cardinals for Garry Templeton, Sixto Lezcano and a player to be named later.  The PTBNL sent by San Diego was Al Olmstead and the Cardinals sent Luis DeLeon.  The trade was not completed until 62 days later as Ozzie had no trade protection in his contract and initially refused the deal.  Manager Whitey Herzog finally persuaded Smith to accept the trade and become a Cardinal.

Next week we will review Smith’s debut and early years with St. Louis.


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2021 Top St. Louis Cardinals Prospects – 2020 Picks and Pans


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of January 4-10

image: St. Louis Cardinals

Winter Warm-Up virtual events announced

The St. Louis Cardinals issued a lineup of virtual experiences for fans to take part in during the 2021 Winter Warm-Up.  The annual event will be virtual this year due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The list of activities include a 2011 World Series reunion that features former team members including Allen Craig, Lance Berkman and David Freese.  That event is scheduled for January 15.

Additional sessions include a talk with prospects Nolan Gorman and Matthew Liberatore, and a topic called “Best Dressed Birds”.  This event features current Cardinals Harrison Bader, Jack Flaherty, and Dexter Fowler sharing their off-field wardrobes.

A full list of sessions with dates, prices and instructions on how to participate can be found at cardinals.com/wwu.

Martinez scratched from key winter ball outing

St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez is in the news again, but not for results on the field.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Sometimes rumors are non-rumors.

Senger Peralta, 2016 (Johnson City Cardinals)

Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch, in response to a question during his weekly chat, threw out the name of Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta as an example of a potential trade target for the Cardinals.  The discussion surrounding Peralta was not couched as a current rumor, but more of a “what kind of player could the Cardinals potentially get” if they were inclined to pursue an additional outfielder.  Goold apparently chose Peralta based on the idea that he was once a part of the Cardinals organization (in his prior life as pitcher Senger Peralta) and was rumored to have been a subject of interest in the past.

However, to be clear, there have been no credible reports of any current interest in trading for Peralta on the part of the Cardinals.  It should also be stressed that there have been no reports that the Diamondbacks are shopping Peralta, either. Despite this, several online sources have represented Goold’s reference as a current rumor, which it clealy is not.

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have five arbitration eligible players – CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first-time arbitration eligible.  Gant, who is in his second year of eligibility, has already reached agreement with the Cardinals on a 2021 contract, avoiding arbitration.  John Brebbia was originally in this group as well, but was instead non-tendered and has since signed with San Francisco.  Hearings will occur in February for players who have not yet come to terms with their employer.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up is going virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at cardinals.com/wwu. The events will take place January 16-18.

Blast from the Past – Ozzie Smith: The Early Years.

This week, we begin a multi-part history installment on the life and career of Hall of Fame Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith.  This first segment covers Smith’s early years and the beginning of his professional baseball career.

Osborne Earl Smith was born on December 26, 1954 in Mobile, Alabama.  Smith was the second of six children born to Marvella and Clovi Smith.  The family moved from Alabama to the Watts section of Los Angeles, California when Ozzie was six years old.  Smith’s father was a delivery driver for Safeway Stores and his mother was a nursing home aide.

Ozzie was an athletic child who practiced back flips in a sawdust pile at a local lumber yard, and who bounced a rubber ball off concrete steps to see how fast he could catch it.  Like many children of poor families, Smith did not have a baseball glove, but would fashion a “glove” out of a paper bag wrapped around his hand.

Ozzie Smith (Cal Poly Athletics)

Smith attended Locke High School in Los Angeles, where he played both baseball and basketball.  His sports activities did not attract college recruiters, but Smith attended college at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo on a partial academic scholarship.  Ozzie made the college baseball team as a walk-on and was taught how to switch hit.  Smith became the starting shortstop after the regular broke his leg.  Smith took this opportunity and ran with it to become a star.

Smith was spotted by scouts playing semipro ball in Clarinda, Iowa in 1976.  The Detroit Tigers picked Ozzie in the seventh round of the amateur draft but he did not sign, instead returning to complete his senior year at Cal Poly.

After graduation, Ozzie was drafted a second time, by the San Diego Padres in the fourth round in 1977.  He began his professional baseball career with the Padres Class-A team in Walla Walla, Washington, and hit .303/.391/.362 in 68 games that season.

Smith spent only that one season in the minor leagues.  In 1978, Ozzie made his major league debut with the Padres.

Next week we take a look at Ozzie’s first years in a major league uniform.


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2021 St. Louis Cardinals Top Prospects – The Departed


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of December 28-January 3

photo: Derian Gonzalez (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Former Cardinal minor leaguer dies in accident

On New Year’s Eve, former St. Louis Cardinals minor league pitcher Derian Gonzalez was killed in a motorcycle accident in his native Venezuela.

The 25-year old right hander was signed by the Cardinals in 2012.   Gonzalez posted a 2.76 ERA in 13 games at Double-A Springfield in 2018 but shoulder problems cut his season short.  He missed the entire 2019 season and was not part of the 60 man player pool for the 2020 season.  The right hander was added to the 40 man roster in 2017 but never made the major leagues.  He was outrighted off the roster the following year.

Gonzalez became a free agent last fall and had been pitching in winter ball in Venezuela at the time of the accident.  He reportedly had signed a contract with the Atlanta Braves a few days prior to his death.

Futher details

Former Cardinals Pitching Prospect Derian Gonzalez Passes

Top stories of 2020 and 2021

In case you missed it, check out The Cardinal Nation’s annual assessment of the top stores of 2020 and a look ahead to the potential biggest newsmakers of 2021, as well.

The Cardinal Nation’s Top Five Stories of 2020 Countdown

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweeted that the Cardinals remain interested in Kolten Wong, even after the team declined his 2021 option and sent him to free agency.  Heyman reported that the decision to cut Wong loose was about the price of the option, not about Wong.  This tweet suggests the Cardinals would be open to sign him at a reduced price.  Other teams have also expressed interest in the second baseman, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner.

Kolten Wong

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have five arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant, who is in his second year of eligibility, has already reached agreement with the Cardinals on a 2021 contract, avoiding arbitration.  John Brebbia was originally in this group as well, but was instead non-tendered and since signed with San Francisco.  Hearings will occur in February for players who have not yet come to terms with their employer.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival is going virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at com/wwu. The events will take place from January 16-18, 2021.

Blast from the Past

This week’s Blast from the Past takes a detour from in-depth looks at former Cardinals greats and instead presents a brief remembrance of a St. Louis short termer from the past.  This tall catcher from the early days of the team had a major league career that spanned 15 years, but his two stints as a Cardinal were brief and memorable in a non-baseball way.

John Bannerman McLean was born on July 18, 1881 in New Brunswick, Canada, but grew up in Boston.  McLean was nicknamed Larry early in his career because of a resemblance to Larry “The Frenchman” LaJoie, a second baseman for both Philadelphia and Cleveland.  He played his first professional baseball in Canada but made his major league debut with the Boston Americans in April 1901, only to be released in July of that year.  He returned to Canada to play and in 1903 he was acquired by the Chicago Cubs.

Larry McLean

After playing one game in Chicago, Larry was traded to the Cardinals.  McLean was a catcher and large one at that, standing 6’ 5’’ and weighing nearly 230 pounds.  He played for the Cardinals in 27 games in 1904 and then was demoted to the Pacific Coast League.  McLean played for the Portland Giants of the PCL and helped them win the 1906 pennant.

McLean was already showing signs of a troubled life off the field.  He battled alcoholism and Portland withheld $200 from his salary with a promise to remain sober.  At the end of the 1906 season, Portland sold McLean to the Cincinnati Reds.  During his time with Cincinnati, his battles with alcohol continued.  His off field life was a sore spot for the Reds, who reportedly hired a private detective to follow him.  The Reds suspended him in 1910 causing Larry to write a letter of resignation.  He returned after a one week suspension and a promise to do better.  The Reds held back 40 percent of his salary as a sobriety bonus.

McLean remained in Cincinnati until September 1912, when he failed to show up for an exhibition game and was suspended.  The Reds had enough, and at season’s end traded him to the Cardinals.

Larry McLean

Larry could not control his addiction.  A few weeks before Cardinals spring training, McLean broke his arm in a poolroom brawl.  After McLean recovered, he played in 48 games in 1913.  In 48 games, he slashed .270/.297/.329 in 158 plate appearances.

On August 6, 1913, the Cardinals traded McLean to the New York Giants.  McLean played well for the Giants and got along with manager John McGraw until June 1915 when he was again suspended for drinking.  The Giants were in St. Louis at the Buckingham Hotel and McLean confronted McGraw about the suspension.  He accused scout Dick Kinsella of spying on him and then got into a brawl with McGraw, which ended in damages at the hotel and McLean fleeing.  McLean’s baseball career was over.

What happened after baseball was not well known until on March 24, 1921, McLean got into an argument in a Boston speakeasy.  He attempted to climb over the bar and the bartender grabbed a pistol and shot him.  McLean died on the street outside.  He was 39 years old.


Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation

2020-2021 Cardinals Winter Ball Hitters Report – December 29


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of December 21-27

photo: John Brebbia (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports Images)

Brebbia signs with the Giants

Former St. Louis Cardinals reliever John Brebbia has signed a one year major league deal with the San Francisco Giants.

John Brebbia

The 30-year old right hander underwent Tommy John surgery during the summer and may not be ready for an on-time start to the 2021 season.

Brebbia, who was first year arbitration eligible, was not offered a contract by St. Louis by the December 2 tender date.  The team did not rule out signing the reliever to a minor league deal, but that option is now off the table with his big-league contract with the Giants. Its amount is reported to be for $800,000, the amount Brebbia was expected to earn in arbitration.  The decision by the Cardinals not to tender a contract was reported to not be financially-driven, but for roster flexibility.

Brebbia made his MLB debut with the 2017 Cardinals and emerged as a reliable reliever over the last three seasons.  The right hander was added from the Diamondbacks in the minor league phase of the December 2015 Rule 5 Draft.

The Giants will have two additional years of control beyond 2021 over Brebbia, with him holding arbitration eligibility in each.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There continues to be no news, or movement on the possible return of Yadier Molina or Adam Wainwright.

Derrrick Goold of the Post Dispatch writes that the Cardinals are seeking “cash-neutral” possible trades, given the uncertainty of the coming season’s revenues.

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have five arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant, who is in his second year of eligibility, has already reached agreement with the Cardinals on a 2021 contract, avoiding arbitration.  John Brebbia was originally in this group as well, but was instead non-tendered and since signed with San Francisco.  Hearings will occur in February for players who have not yet come to terms with their employer.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival has gone virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at cardinals.com/wwu. The events will take place from January 16-18, 2021.

Blast from the Past – Jose Oquendo:  1997 to present

This week’s Blast is the final installment of the series chronicling the baseball career of the “Secret Weapon”, former Cardinals player and current coach Jose Oquendo.

Last week, we ended with the final season of Oquendo’s playing career, 1995. That year he slashed .209/.316/.300 in 88 games.  Oquendo returned to spring camp in 1996 but failed to make the Opening Day roster under new manager Tony La Russa.  He chose to retire after 12 years in the big leagues, the final 10 of which were with St. Louis.

Oquendo’s time in baseball was not over, however.  Jose accepted a position coaching in the Cardinals minor league system in 1997. In 1998, Oquendo became the manager of the Cardinals minor league team the New Jersey Cardinals. The New York-Penn League team was the Cardinals Class A short season A affiliate based in Augusta, New Jersey.  The young Cardinals finished the 1998 season with a record of 34-41, for fourth place in the division.

Oquendo did not spend long toiling in the minor leagues.  In 1999, the Cardinals promoted Jose from minor league manager to big league bench coach in St. Louis under La Russa.

After one season as bench coach, Oquendo moved to third base coach in 2000.  Jose remained in that position for the next 16 consecutive seasons.  His long career as third base coach included being ejected from a game against the Phillies on June 13, 2008.  La Russa had been thrown out earlier in the game after arguing the ejection of his pitcher Russ Springer for throwing an inside pitch to Ryan Howard.  Several innings later, Phillies pitcher Rudy Seanez retaliated by throwing a pitch behind Brendan Ryan without any consequences, which caused Oquendo to argue from his coaching box.  Oquendo was then tossed by umpire Larry Vanover.

Oquendo also made a pinch hitting appearance in a preseason exhibition game with the Memphis Redbirds on April 2009.  Oquendo drew a walk and advanced to third before being stranded on an inning ending groundout.

Jose Oquendo

Oquendo was ejected one more time for arguing balls and strikes in an August 17, 2012 game against the Pirates.

Oquendo was granted a medical leave of absence for the 2016 season to undergo dual knee replacement surgeries.  Jose was replaced as third base coach by Chris Maloney.  In 2017, Oquendo was named Special Assistant to the GM and worked at the Cardinals spring training facility in Jupiter training minor league players.

Jose returned to his former third base coaching box for the 2018 season.  He did not continue in that role for 2019 but remained in the organization in player development.  Jose opened 2020 heading the staff at the Cardinals alternate camp in Springfield, but returned to his third base coaching role on an interim basis covering for Willie McGee. The former outfielder opted out of the 2020 season due to Covid-19 concerns following an early season outbreak of the virus among Cardinals players and staff that kept them off the field for 17 days.

Jose Oquendo (USA TODAY Sports)

Jose’s long career with the Cardinals as both a player and a coach has had staying power. He seems likely to continue indefinitely, but stay tuned to find out for sure.


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TCN 2021 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #2 – Nolan Gorman


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of December 14-20

photo: José Rondón (Raj Mehta/Imagn)

Cardinals add minor league infield depth

This past week, the St. Louis Cardinals announced the signings of two players with major league experience to minor league contracts.  The two, both infielders, received invitations to major league spring training camp.

Infielder Max Moroff’s deal was announced on Tuesday.  Moroff, 27, was the 16th round draft choice of the Pirates in 2012.  He made his major league debut with Pittsburgh on July 31, 2016 and appeared in two games that season. Moroff returned for 56 games in 2017 and 26 games in 2018 before being traded to Cleveland on November 14, 2018.  Moroff appeared in 20 games for the Indians in 2019 and then elected free agency after being outrighted off the roster.  He signed a minor league deal with the Mets and was part of that teams’s 60-man player pool.  He did not play in the major leagues for the Mets in 2020.

Moroff, a switch hitter, will be added to the Cardinals infield depth, down considerably with the departures of Kolten Wong, Brad Miller, and Max Schrock.  Moroff may begin the 2021 season with the Cardinals Triple-A team, the Memphis Redbirds.

Max Moroff

On Friday, the Cardinals announced the addition of infielder Jose Rondon.  Rondon, also 27, a Venezuelan native, was originally signed by the Angels as an amateur free agent in 2011.  He was traded to the San Diego Padres in July 2014 and added to the Padres 40[man roster in the 2015 offseason. Rondon made his major league debut with the Padres on July 29, 2016.  He appeared in only eight games in 2016 and spent all of 2017 with San Diego’s Double-A and Triple-A teams.

In January 2018, the White Sox purchased Rondon’s contract from the Padres.  He played in 42 games for the White Sox in 2018 and in 55 games in 2019.  He was designated for assignment by Chicago in July of 2019 and claimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles.  He made one appearance for the Orioles in 2019 and was placed again on waivers and outrighted to the Orioles minor leagues. Rondon remained with the Orioles organization but did not make an appearance in 2020.  He became a free agent at the end of the season.

Rondon may join Moroff in Memphis and serve as a infield depth.

José Rondón

In other signing news, the Cardinals re-signed pitcher Ricardo Sanchez to a minor league contract. The 23-year old left-hander made his brief MLB debut in 2020, but was subsequently removed from the roster and became a free agent this fall.

Ricardo Sánchez

For further information:

Cardinals Sign Infielder Max Moroff to a Minor League Deal

Cardinals Sign Two Ex-Big Leaguers to Minors Contracts

Shildt speaks

On Friday, Cardinals manager Mike Shildt answered questions from the media. He touched on a number of off-season-related topics, some of which were summarized at MLB.com.

For Cardinals minor league followers, Shildt offered an optimistic perspective on prospects Matthew Liberatore and Nolan Gorman.

Liberatore and Gorman: Ability to Play in the Majors Now

Players Alliance visits St. Louis

On Wednesday, the Players Alliance tour came to St. Louis to hand out food and needed supplies to local neighborhood families in need due to the coronavirus epidemic.  The non-profit organization was formed in the wake of the death of George Floyd by 100 current and former black MLB players.

Each player in the group donated their game day salaries from Jackie Robinson Day to fund the organization.  MLB added $1 million worth of supplies to the Alliance.  Cardinals members are Dexter Fowler, Jack Flaherty, and Jordan Hicks.

The Alliance is conducting a 33-city tour this offseason to give back to Black communities.  Fowler, Flaherty, and Hicks reside in other cities during the offseason, so the players involved in the St. Louis stop were not Cardinals.  They were St. Louis native and 2020 NL Rookie of the Year recipient Devin Williams of the Brewers, St. Louis native James Proctor, a minor league pitcher in the Reds organization, and Texas Rangers pitcher Kyle Gibson, whose wife is from St. Louis and who lives in the area in the offseason.  Gibson, who is white, is not a member of the Alliance but volunteered to help out in the local relief effort.

The St. Louis segment included two stops, the first on Gravois Avenue, and the second at the 100 Black Men of Metropolitan St. Louis building on Delmar Blvd.  The people lined up to received aid were given food,  Covid-19 supplies, and baseball equipment.  The Cardinals donated items to give out as well.  The baseball equipment is a part of an effort to grow Black participation in the game.

Martinez starts in winter ball

St. Louis pitcher Carlos Martinez, whose 2020 season prematurely ended with a September oblique injury, has begun pitching in winter ball in his Dominican Republic homeland. His stated goal is to be built up to 100 pitches by Cardinals spring training camp, where he will have to compete to retain his starting berth.

For more:

Members of The Cardinal Nation can follow the winter exploits of a dozen Cardinals hitters and pitchers currently playing across Latin America in our exclusive weekly reports.

2020-2021 Cardinals Winter Ball Hitters Report – December 15

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no new trade or acquisition rumors to report.  The Cardinals remain in the mix for signing both Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, but no movement toward either has been reported.

The Cardinals were reportedly interested in free agent catcher James McCann, but McCann signed with the Mets and is therefore off the market.

Transactions

  • 12/15 The Cardinals sign INF Max Moroff to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
  • 12/18 The Cardinals sign INF Jose Rondon to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
  • 12/18 The Cardinals re-sign LHP Ricardo Sanchez to a minor league contract.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have five arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant is in his second year of eligibility.  Gant has already reached agreement with the Cardinals on a 2021 contract, avoiding arbitration.  John Brebbia was originally in this group as well, but was instead non-tendered and remains a free agent.  Hearings will occur in February for players who have not yet come to terms with their employer.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival is going virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at com/wwu. The events will take place January 16-18.

Blast from the Past – Jose Oquendo:  1991-1995

This week’s Blast From the Past continues the series on former Cardinals player and present minor league instructor Jose Oquendo.  Today, we review the final five seasons of Oquendo’s playing career. They were down seasons for the team, as the 1991-1995 Cardinals missed the playoffs every year.

Jose Oquendo

In the 1991 season, Oquendo continued to primarily play second base.  He made 118 appearances at second, 22 at shortstop and three at first base.  Jose slashed .240/.357/.301 that season with one home  run and 26 RBI.  It would be the final year in which Oquendo was a full time player.

Oquendo suffered a hamstring injury in the 1992 season opener, which kept him out of action until June. He played in only five games in June, five games in July, and three games in September, for a total of 14 games in the season.  He slashed .257/.350/.400.

Luis Alicea, who Oquendo replaced in 1988, was recalled from the minor leagues and became Oquendo’s replacement at second base after the injury.  Alicea remained the Cardinals primary second baseman in 1993 as well.  Oquendo appeared in only 46 games that season – 16 games at second and 22 at shortstop.  He slashed only .205/.314/.205.

Oquendo never returned to full time status.  Second base in 1994 was shared by Alicea and Geronimo Pena.  Oquendo played 16 games at second and 28 games at shortstop in 1994. He also made 14 pinch hitting appearances. His total games played in 1994 was 55.  During that season Jose slashed .264/.364/.310.

The 1995 season was Oquendo’s last as a player.  He increased his games played total to 88 that season with 62 of them at second base.  Alicea had been traded to Boston in the offseason and Oquendo shared the second base duties with Pena, and after July with the newly acquired David Bell, who came over in a trade from Cleveland.  Jose also appeared at shortstop in 24 contests, two games at third base, and one game in right field. Jose slashed .209/.316/.300 in his final season.

With new manager Tony La Russa in charge, Oquendo failed to make the team in 1996 spring training and retired.  At the age of 32, he had logged 12 seasons in the majors. Jose’s time in baseball, however, was not over.  Next week, we will look at Oquendo’s post-playing career.


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TCN 2021 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #6 – Jordan Walker


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of December 7-13

image: FOX Sports Midwest

Wainwright wins Roberto Clemente Award

Long-time St. Louis Cardinals pitcher and current free agent Adam Wainwright was announced this past week as the 2020 recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award. It is given annually to the player who displays commitment to community and an understanding of the value of helping others.  Each team nominates a player in September and the winner is chosen from the 30 nominees.

Adam Wainwright

Wainwright has been nominated for this prestigious award five times, and he now joins five prior Cardinals recipients.  They are Lou Brock (1975), Ozzie Smith (1995), Albert Pujols (2008), Carlos Beltran (2013), and Yadier Molina (2018).  The Cardinals have more Clemente Award winners than any other organization.

Wainwright’s charity foundation, Big League Impact, has raised over $5.8 million since 2013.  The foundation, organized around an annual Fantasy Football competition, has built clean water systems and hospitals in Haiti, as well as a clinic in Ethiopia, among other charitable endeavors.  Big League Impact also provides food for the needy both in the US and overseas, including in St. Louis.

The 39-year old Wainwright stated that winning the Clemente Award was the greatest honor of his career.

Further information:

Adam Wainwright to Receive 2020 Roberto Clemente Award

Cardinals select LHP in Rule 5 draft

The annual Rule 5 Draft was held virtually this year on Thursday, December 10.  The draft contains a major league phase and a Triple-A phase in which teams may select unprotected eligible players from any of the minor league systems of the other 29 organizations.  Any player selected in the major league phase must be added to the new team’s 40-man roster and remain there for the entire season or be returned to their prior organization.  In the Triple-A phase of the draft, players selected are placed in the selecting team’s minor league system with no requirement for return.

This year, the Cardinals made no selections in the major league phase and lost no players, either, but did select LHP Garrett Williams from the Los Angeles Angels in the Triple-A phase.  The 24-year old lefty spent the 2019 season with the Angels Double-A affiliate in Richmond, VA.  Williams posted a record of 7-8 with an ERA of 3.60 in 110 innings pitched in 2019.

Garrett Williams

The Cardinals also lost RHPs Jordan Brink and Ronnie Williams in the Triple-A phase to the Tampa Bay Rays and the San Francisco Giants, respectively.

Much more Rule 5 information for members of The Cardinal Nation:

Cardinals Add One, Lose Two in 2020 Rule 5 Draft

Mozeliak gives the State of the Off-Season

As is tradtion during the Winter Meetings, Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak fielded a series of questions from members of the media, though this time it was virtual. The primary focus as expected was the club’s plans for the remainder of the off-season. Re-signing free agents Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright are the clear priorities. Beyond that are many uncertainties.

Full details here:

John Mozeliak’s State of the Cardinals – December 9, 2020

Cardinals announce 2021 minor league affiliates

Following a major restructuring of the minor leagues by MLB that reduced the number of affiliated teams to 120, the Cardinals confirmed this past week that they will retain all four full-season affiliates in 2021.  They are the Memphis Redbirds, the Springfield Cardinals, the Palm Beach Cardinals, and the Peoria Chiefs.

There will be one difference in 2021 for the four.  While Memphis and Springfield retain their status as the organization’s Triple-A and Double-A affiliates, the Palm Beach Cardinals and the Peoria Chiefs will be swapping levels.  Peoria becomes the Cardinals High-A affiliate and Palm Beach will be the Low-A affiliate.

The Cardinals own the Springfield and Palm Beach teams and hold a minority ownership stake in the Memphis affiliate. The internal level change creates a situation where the top three affiliates are located within a few hours drive from St. Louis.

The Cardinals shed their short-season Class-A affiliate State College Spikes and their Appalachian League affiliate Johnson City Cardinals in the MLB restructuring.  The organization will retain their rookie level team in the Gulf Coast League and their two teams in the Dominican Summer League.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Mark Saxon of The Athletic reported that separate talks between the Cardinals and Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina have been slow to develop.  This is especially true with respect to Wainwright, who recent said he has not had any substantial discussions with any team.  Wainwright is believed to be seeking his third consecutive one-year contract.

Yadier Molina

On the other hand, Molina is reportedly seeking a two-year deal, which Saxon says is at least one year at $10 million plus an option for 2022. Saxon also reports that the Cardinals are not rushing to sign either Molina or Wainwright and are content to wait and watch the market develop.

It has been reported that a member of the Molina camp referred to an early offer from the Cardinals as “ridiculous” and Saxon adds that Molina feels he is being lowballed by the organization.

Transactions

There are no major league transactions to report.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have five arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant is in his second year of eligibility.  Gant has already reached agreement with the Cardinals on a 2021 contract, avoiding arbitration. John Brebbia was originally in this group as well, but was instead non-tendered and remains a free agent. Hearings will occur in February for players who have not yet come to terms with their employer.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival is going virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at com/wvu.  The events will take place January 16-18, 2021.

Blast from the Past – Jose Oquendo: 1986-1990

Last week’s Blast From the Past looked at the early baseball career of Jose Oquendo, the “Secret Weapon, from his signing by the Mets at the age of 15 and concluding with the trade to St. Louis.  This week, we review the first five years of Oquendo’s Cardinals career.

Oquendo came to the club in an April 2, 1985 trade from the Mets for two players, minor leaguer John Young and Angel Salazar.  Oquendo spent the 1985 season playing with Triple-A Louisville Redbirds, where he appeared in 133 games and slashed .211/.264/.245 with one home run and 30 RBI.

Jose Oquendo

Oquendo was called up to St. Louis on April 19, 1986.  Although Jose played exclusively at shortstop up to that time, the presence of Ozzie Smith necessitated that the Cardinals try Oquendo at other positions. In his 76 games played in 1986, 29 were at shortstop, 21 were at second base and one game each at third base and left field.  He also made 30 pinch hitting appearances and three pinch running appearances.  Oquendo improved his hitting in the big leagues, slashing .297/.359/.341.

Oquendo increased his versatility in 1987, playing every position that season except catcher.  He made one emergency pitching appearance in the August 7 game against the Phillies in which the Cardinals were losing 12-4.  Jose pitched the eighth inning and gave up three earned runs.  In addition to the one pitching appearance, Oquendo played first base three times and third base eight times.  His outfield appearances increased to 46 in total, 37 of which were in right field.  He continued to receive time at both second base and shortstop as well.

Oquendo slashed .286/.408/.335 in 116 games in 1987 and reached the postseason that year for the one and only time in his career. In 42 plate appearances across the NLCS and the World Series, Jose slashed .222/.286/.306 with one home run and six RBI.

It was in 1988 that Oquendo reached the pinnacle of versatility by playing at every position on the field at least once.  Oquendo made one appearace again as a pitcher and one appearance behind the plate that season. His one pitching outing was in a 19-inning game against the Braves on May 14 in which he tossed three scoreless innings before giving up a double to Ken Griffey in the 19th inning.  Over the full season, Oquendo slashed .277/.350/.350 in 148 games.

In 1989, Oquendo become the Cardinals’ regular second baseman with 156 games played at the position, committing only five errors. He also made one appearance at first base and seven appearances at shortstop while leading the league in games played at 163. That season he slashed .291/.375/.372.

Oquendo continued as St. Louis’ starting second baseman in 1990, playing in 150 games there and  four more at shortstop.  This was Jose’s best defensive season as he set a major league record for the fewest errors by a second baseman (three) in a 150+ game season.  His performance at the plate took a hit, however, as he slashed only .252/.350/.316.

Next week, we will look to Oquendo’s final five seasons as a Cardinal player.


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TCN 2021 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #11 – Tink Hence


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of November 30-December 6

photo: Rangel Ravelo (Jon Durr/Imagn)

Cardinals tender contracts to five arbitration eligible players

December 2 was the deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration eligible players as well as pre-arb players. The St. Louis Cardinals announced that evening that of the five of their six arbitration eligible players were tendered contracts.

The five players guaranteed to be back for 2021 include right-handed pitchers Jack Flaherty, Alex Reyes, John Gant, and Jordan Hicks.  Also tendered a contract was center fielder Harrison Bader, who was the only position player with arbitration eligibility.

Rangel Ravelo (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

Not tendered a contract was RHP John Brebbia.  The Cardinals also did not tender a contract to 1B/OF Rangel Ravelo, who was not yet arbitration eligible.

Of the five tendered players, Flaherty, Reyes, Hicks and Bader were arbitration eligible for the first time.  Gant is entering his second year of arbitration.  The next day, the right hander agreed to his 2021 contract terms with the Cardinals, and will be paid $2.1 million.

The remaining four have until January 15 to settle with the team on their 2021 salaries.  Should agreements not be reached by the January 15 deadline, each side will submit a salary figure, with the next step a hearing with an arbitrator sometime in February.  An agreement on a contract can be reached anytime before a hearing is held.

John Brebbia (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

Brebbia and Ravelo have become free agents and will be seeking a contract with another team.  Brebbia missed the entirety of the 2020 season as a result of his Tommy John surgery on June 3, 2020.  The right hander is continuing rehab and has begun a throwing program but may not be ready for the start of the 2021 season.  The Cardinals have expressed interest in signing Brebbia to a minor league contract should he not get a major league contract elsewhere.

Ravelo was not yet arbitration eligible after making his debut in 2019.  He had limited playing time in 2020 and the Cardinals have other options such as Austin Dean and John Nogowski to step into the bench player role.  Ravelo’s spot on the roster was tenuous because he is out of major league options.

For further details:

Two Cardinals Go Non-Tender in the Night

Gant, Cardinals Come to Terms on 2021 Contract

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweeted that the Cardinals are among several teams with interest in free agent catcher James McCann.  The Cardinals continue to have interest in re-signing Yadier Molina, but McCann could be an option should talks with Molina not bear fruit and he signs with another team.

Transactions

  • 12/2 1B/OF Rangel Ravelo has become a free agent.
  • 12/2 RHP John Brebbia has become a free agent.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • The Winter Meetings begin this week and continue through December 10. The in-person meetings have been cancelled due to Covid-19 and will instead be held virtually.  This includes the annual Rule 5 Draft, which will be held on Thursday to conclude the event.
  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have four arbitration eligible players who have yet to settle – CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All are first time arbitration eligible.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up is going virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at cardinals.com/wvu.  The events will take place January 16-18, 2021. The traveling Cardinals Caravans will not be held this year.

Blast from the Past – Jose Oquendo: His early life in baseball

Last week’s Blast was the final installment of the series on Cardinals manager and Hall of Famer Whitey Herzog.  This week we begin a short series on one of Whitey’s players, the man known as the “Secret Weapon”. Jose Oquendo played 10 seasons with St. Louis and continued his post-playing career as a coach and instructor with the eam.

Jose Oquendo

Jose Manuel Roberto Guillermo Oquendo Contreras was born on July 4, 1963, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.  In 1979, at the age of 15, Oquendo was signed as an amateur free agent by the New York Mets.  Oquendo was assigned to the Mets’ short season Class A team, the Grays Harbor Loggers of the Northwest League following his signing on April 15, 1979.  In his first professional season, Oquendo played in 64 games, 63 at shortstop and one at second base.  Oquendo slashed .227/.329/.277 in that first season, with one home and 14 RBI.

Oquendo was promoted to the Class A Lynchburg Mets of the Carolina League for the 1980 and 1981 seasons.  Jose played in 109 games in 1980 and 124 games in 1981, all at shortstop.  His hitting in his first season in Lynchburg was poor, with a line of only .169/.280/.223.  He improved to .249/.366/.300 in 1981.  As it turned out, the 1981 season was his best hitting results during his years in the Mets organization.

Oquendo jumped to the AAA Tidewater Tides of the International League in 1982.  There, he slashed .214/.298/.255 in 114 games.  He continued to play all of his games at shortstop.

Jose made his major league debut with the Mets on May 2, 1983 in a 3-2 loss to the Houston Astros.  Oquendo made a pinch hitting appearance in the ninth inning and grounded into a force out.  Jose slashed .213/.260/.244 in 120 games with the Mets that season.

Jose Oquendo

In 1984, Oquendo bounced back and forth between Tidewater and New York.  He played in 81 games with the Mets, slashing .222/.284/.249.

On April 2, 1985, Oquendo was traded to the Cardinals along with Mark Davis, for John Young and Angel Salazar.  Jose would spend the entire 1985 season with the Cardinals’ AAA affiliate, the Louisville Redbirds.

During Oquendo’s time with the Mets, he played shortstop only.  Once traded to the Cardinals, that changed, as they already had a shortstop, a man named Ozzie Smith.  So, when Oquendo finally made his debut with St. Louis in 1986, the team decided to experiment with making him a utility player.

Next week, we will cover Oquendo’s early years with the Cardinals.


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TCN 2021 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #16 – Kodi Whitley


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of November 23-29

2021 Cardinals Caravans canceled and Winter Warm-Up goes virtual

The annual St. Louis Cardinals Winter Warm-Up/Cardinals Caravans will be different in 2021.  Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the team made the decision to cancel the Caravans for 2021.  Usually about six groups of players and media members visit towns in a multi-state area. The Winter Warm-Up, however, will not be canceled, but instead will be held virtually. It has been a three-day event in downtown St. Louis.

The 2021 Winter Warm-Up is scheduled for January 16-18.  The 50/50 raffle winner will be selected on Friday, January 15.  Player autographs will be available online beginning December 4, which will include pre-ordering autographed baseballs and photos to be personalized by select players.  There will be a limited number of these items, so fans are encouraged to order early.  The list of available items with delivery schedule can be found at cardinals.com/wvu .

Silent auctions will be held online from 9 am to 5 pm CT on January 16 and 17 and from 9 am to 3 pm CT on January 18.  More details will be announced in December.

Martinez involved in Covid protocol violation

News from reporters on Monday, November 23 was that Cardinals’ pitcher Carlos Martinez was in violation of Covid-19 restrictions in place in his hometown of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic over the preceding weekend.  Martinez was allegedly participating in an event with a music artist that involved Martinez on a motorcycle, unmasked, with the singer, also unmasked, on the back of the bike driving through a large crowd of fans, also unmasked.

The incident was in violation of a mandate on social distancing in Puerto Plata.  The Cardinals issued a statement on Monday that they were aware of the incident and were looking into it.  The statement said Martinez was not arrested and there were no pending legal charges against him. Martinez later posted a written statement and a video apologizing for his actions.

Carlos Martinez

Martinez contracted Covid-19 early in the 2020 season and was one of a number of Cardinals players who missed time due to being infected with the virus.  He was one of the sicker of the affected players requiring at least two hospital stays for treatment.  The right-hander returned for five starts, only to have his season ended by an oblique injury.

Martinez is entering the final year of his contract, which includes team options for 2022 and 2023.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Free agent catcher Yadier Molina stated in an interview with Laura Bonnelly V. of Mas Que Pelota that he hopes to return to the Cardinals.  During that interview, he revealed four other teams that have shown interest in him – the Yankees, the Mets, the Padres, and the Angels.  Molina had previously named the two New York teams as suitors but had not revealed the interest of the California clubs.

Molina has stated he wants a two-year contract.  The Cardinals have apparently been in contact with Molina, but no progress has been shared.

A signing by the Angels would reunite Molina with his friend and former teammate Albert Pujols, who is entering the final season of his 10-year contract with the Angels.

Yadier Molina

On Sunday evening, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported that the Toronto Blue Jays are expected to pursue free agent second baseman Kolten Wong, assuming the top available player at the position, D.J. LeMahieu, returns to the New York Yankees as expected. Late last month, the Cardinals gave Wong $1 million to get out of their commitment to pay him $11.5 million this coming season.

Kolten Wong

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • 12/2: Deadline for teams to offer pre-arbitration and arbitration eligible players new contracts for the 2021 season. The Cardinals have six arbitration eligible players – CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Brebbia, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes. All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant is in his second year of eligibility.
  • 12/6-12/10 were the dates scheduled for the annual Winter Meetings in Dallas, TX. The in-person meetings have been cancelled due to Covid-19 and will instead be held virtually.  This also includes the annual Rule 5 draft, which will also be virtual on 12/10.
  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures.
  • The annual Winter Warm-Up is going virtual for 2021. Details on the events and opportunities for autographed merchandise can be found at com/wvu. The events will take place January 16-18, 2021.

Blast from the Past – Whitey Herzog: St Louis Cardinals and beyond

Last week’s Blast From the Past looked at Whitey Herzog’s post-playing career from 1964 through 1979.  This final installment in the series follows Herzog as he left the manager’s job with the Kansas City Royals in 1979 and took on a new opportunity close by.

Herzog was fired by the Royals following the 1979 season.  Down Interstate 70, the St. Louis Cardinals, under the management of Ken Boyer, had finished the 1979 season with a record of 86-76, good for third place in the NL East.  By June of 1980, the Cardinals were 18-33 and had gone 5-22 over the previous 27 games.  The Cardinals fired Boyer and hired Whitey.

Herzog managed the final 73 games in 1980 for the Cardinals and went 38-35.  He assumed the role of general manager on August 26 and the remainder of the 1980 season was managed by Red Schoendienst. Herzog took the reins of both positions – GM and manager – in the 1980 offseason and retained the dual posts for two seasons.  Joe McDonald became the Cardinals GM in April 1982 as Herzog continued on as manager.

Herzog’s 1981 season with St. Louis was cut in half by a midseason player’s strike.  After a 50-game hiatus, the season restarted in August.  With the season cut into two halves, with each half’s winner would advance to the playoffs.  The Cardinals had the best overall record in the NL East of 59-43, but finished second in both halves, thus missing the playoffs.

Whitey Herzog

During Whitey’s two seasons as GM, he acquired Bruce Sutter, Darrell Porter, Lonnie Smith, Willie McGee, and Ozzie Smith.  The Cardinals finished the 1982 season with a record of 92-70, swept the Braves in the NLCS and defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in seven games to win the World Series.

Whitey’s Cardinals did not repeat in 1983, finishing 79-83 and in fourth place in the NL East.  The Cardinals made the unpopular move of trading star first baseman Keith Hernandez to the Mets prior to the 1983 trade deadline.  The reason included a long-time personality conflict with Herzog among rumors of Hernandez’ cocaine use.

The Cardinals finished the 1984 season in third place in the NL East with a record of 84-78.  After the season, the Cardinals acquired pitcher John Tudor and first baseman Jack Clark.  These moves aided the Cardinals to winning 101 games in 1985, the NL East title, and win over the Dodgers in the NLCS and a trip to the World Series against the Whitey’s former team, the Kansas City Royals.

The Cardinals lost the I-70 Series in seven games, a marred by a bad call in Game 6 by umpire Don Denkinger.  A routine grounder was fielded by first baseman Clark who threw to pitcher Todd Worrell.  Denkinger called the runner safe at first but on video he was clearly out.  The bad call led to the Cardinals losing Game 6 and they subsequently dropped Game 7.

Whitey Herzog

The Cardinals had a losing season in 1986 with a record of 79-82.  They bounced back to a winning mark of 95-67 in 1987, taking the NL East title.  They beat the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS but lost the World Series to the Minnesota Twins.

After a losing season in 1988, and a third place season in 1989, Herzog resigned as manager of the Cardinals 80 games into the 1990 season, frustrated he could not motivate the young players.  His career managerial record is 1281-1125, a .532 winning percentage.

Whitey would not manage again, but did not immediately leave baseball.

Herzog was hired by the Angels in various front office positions, including a brief move into the GM job in 1993-1994.  Herzog resigned from the Angels in 1994, citing a desire to do other things.  Despite other rumors of potential interest, he did not officially work in baseball again.

Matt Carpenter and Whitey Herzog shaking hands (USA TODAY Sports)

Herzog was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010 through a vote of the Veterans Committee and his number 24 was retired by the Cardinals. He was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in the 2014 inaugural class.

Herzog turned 89 years old on November 9 and appears regularly at red jacket events.  He recovered from a mild stroke suffered in 2019 and continues to live in the St. Louis area with his wife, Mary Lou.


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TCN 2021 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #24 – Edwin Nuñez


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of November 16-22

photo: Ivan Herrera (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Cardinals add two to 40-man roster

The deadline for adding players to the 40-man roster for protection from the Rule 5 draft came and went on Friday, November 20.  The Rule 5 draft occurs annually on the morning of the last day of the Winter Meetings, this year on December 10.

The Cardinals protected two top prospects in anticipation of the draft.  Catcher Ivan Herrera was announced on Wednesday, November 18.  Herrera, 20, was signed as an international free agent in 2016 for $200,000.  He spent the 2019 season between Low-A Peoria and High-A Palm Beach and concluded 2019 playing in the Arizona Fall League.  The catcher was to start the 2020 season in Double-A Springfield, but due to the cancellation of the minor league season he instead participated in the alternate training site in Springfield for the shortened season.

Ivan Herrera

Herrera is known more for his bat, slashing a combined .284/.374/.405 in 2019, but has improved his defense through working with coaches as well as Yadier Molina.  Herrera’s addition to the 40-man roster is independent of any talks to re-sign Molina to a new contract.

The second addition to the 40 man roster, RHP Angel Rondon, was announced on Thursday, November 19. The 22-year old was also an international signing in 2016 from the Dominican Republic.  Rondon was named the Cardinals organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2019, and like Herrera, spent the last summer at the alternate site.  The right-hander pitched for Palm Beach and Springfield in 2019, posting a 2.93 ERA over 28 starts.

Angel Rondon

Further free details on each as well as an in-depth subscriber article on those players left unprotected in the Major League and Minor League phases of the 2020 Rule 5 Draft:

Cardinals Add Catcher Ivan Herrera to the 40-Man Roster

Cardinals Follow with Placing Angel Rondon onto 40-Man Roster

Cardinals Rule 5 Draft Preparation Changes

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

In an interview with Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch, Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said the team’s payroll situation for 2021 is “fluid”.   DeWitt stated that due to the uncertainty of what the 2021 season will bring, a payroll reduction remains a possibility.

The extent of the public health situation as the 2021 season nears will be determinant in which direction the Cardinals finances will head.  St. Louis is more reliant on ticket revenue than other teams and therefore the ability for live attendance at games in 2021 will be key.

DeWitt asserted that regardless of the financial situation, he intends to field a “competitive” roster, without clarifying what level of competitiveness is the target.

Transactions

  • 11/18 The Cardinals selected the contract of C Ivan Herrera from the Palm Beach Cardinals
  • 11/19 The Cardinals selected the contract of RHP Angel Rondon from the Memphis Redbirds.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Dates for key offseason events:

  • 12/2: Deadline for teams to offer pre-arbitration and arbitration eligible players new contracts for the 2021 season.
  • 12/6-12/10: The dates originally scheduled for the annual Winter Meetings in Dallas, TX. The in-person meetings have been cancelled due to Covid-19 and will instead be held virtually.  This also include the annual Rule 5 draft, which will also be conducted virtually on December 10.
  • 1/15/21: Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have six arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Brebbia, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant is in his second year of eligibility.

Blast from the Past – Whitey Herzog: 1964-1979

Last week’s installment of Blast from the Past chronicled the playing career of Whitey Herzog.  Herzog retired from baseball at the end of the 1963 season after putting up poor numbers with his final team, the Detroit Tigers.

This week, we begin in 1964, with Herzog returning to the Kansas City Athletics as a scout.  In 1965, Whitey became a coach for the Athletics’ Triple-A affiliate in Vancouver. After one year in Vancouver, Herzog left the Athletics organization and went to work for the New York Mets.

He joined the Mets in 1966 as the third base coach for Wes Westrum, who had replaced Casey Stengel as manager in 1965.  In 1967, Whitey was named Director of Player Development, the farm director.  He also managed the Mets Florida Instructional League for 50 games that year.  This was Whitey’s first foray into managing.  He spent the next six years in Player Development.

Whitey Herzog

After Whitey was passed over for the manager job in 1972 following the death of Gil Hodges, he left the Mets organization.  In November 1972, Herzog was named the manager of the Texas Rangers at the age of 40, replacing Hall of Fame player Ted Williams.  He made his managerial debut on April 7, 1973, with his first win on April 12 by a 4-0 margin over the Kansas City Royals.

Whitey did not finish the season with the Rangers, as he was fired after 138 games and a record of 47-91.  Billy Martin was his replacement.

Herzog’s next job was as the third base coach for the 1974 California Angels.  He became the interim manager for the Angels for four games after manager Bobby Winkles was fired.  The Angels then hired Dick Williams and Whitey stayed on as coach for the rest of the season.

Whitey Herzog

In 1975, Herzog was named manager of the Kansas City Royals in July after the firing of Jack McKeon.  His salary was $50,000 for the remainder of 1975 and through the end of the 1976 season.  Whitey’s first Royals team included George Brett, Frank White, Hal McRae, and 39-year old Harmon Killebrew.  Herzog managed them to a second-place finish.

It was with the Royals that Herzog’s style of baseball, called “Whitey Ball” first began.  Trademarks were top-flight fielding, speed on the basepaths, and solid pitching.  Whitey Ball thrived on the artificial turf of Royals Stadium.  The Royals earned their first AL West Division title in 1976 with a record of 90-72 but lost in the Championship Series to the Yankees.

The Royals again took the AL West title in 1977 with 102 wins.  A rematch with the Yankees in the ALCS ended in a 3-2 loss in five games.  The pattern repeated in 1978 as Kansas City took the AL West title and lost to the Yankees for the third time, in four games.

The 1979 Royals ended the season in second place with only 85 wins.  This setback and friction between Herzog and Royals owner Ewing Kauffman over the manager’s perception that the owner did not want to improve the team led to Herzog’s firing.

Herzog began the next decade with a different team, just across the state.  Next week we will review Herzog’s successful stint as the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.


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Cardinals 2020-2021 Winter Leagues Preview


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of November 9-15

photo: Whitey Herzog played for the Washington Senators from 1956-1958

Cardinals sign minor league catcher

The St. Louis Cardinals made a move this past week to add catching depth to the organization by signing catcher Tyler Heineman to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.  Heineman, 29, spent the shortened 2020 season with the San Francisco Giants, appearing in 15 games for the NL West team.

Tyler Heineman

Heineman was the eighth round draft pick of the Houston Astros in 2012, and spent his first five professional seasons in that organization’s minor league system.  His contract was purchased by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2017 and the catcher played in their system in 2017 and 2018.  After spending the first half of 2019 in the Arizona Diamondbacks system, Heineman was acquired by the Miami Marlins that June and made his major league debut with them on September 4, 2019.  The Giants signed the catcher as a free agent in January 2020. In his 15 games for the Giants, Heineman, a switch hitter, slashed .190/.292/.214.

The minor league deal is a typical depth move for the Cardinals and barring injuries to others, is not likely to be significant in the big league plans for the catching position for the 2021 season.  The Cardinals are still the favorites to re-sign free agent Yadier Molina, and Andrew Knizner is likely to serve as the backup catcher if Molina returns the Cardinals. Even if Molina does not return, another free agent catcher could be added before spring training.

Further details:

Cardinals Sign Catcher Tyler Heineman to Minors Deal

Friday deadline to protect players from Rule 5 draft

The annual Rule 5 draft is set to take place virtually on December 10, 2020. In preparation for this event, each team is allowed to add eligible players to their 40-man roster to exempt them from the draft.  The deadline for this action to take place is November 20, 2020.

The Cardinals 40-man roster currently stands at 37.  The possible return of both Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina would take up two of the three open spots.  Should the Cardinals want to add more than one Rule 5 eligible player, additional spots will need to be made available by removing players currently on the roster by the November 20 deadline. (Other roster changes can be made later for free agent signings or trades.)

You may read here at TCN a prediction of which Rule 5 eligible players are likely to be added by the deadline.

The Cardinal Nation’s 2020 Rule 5 Protection Picks

Cards awards shutout

The major National League awards for 2020 were announced this past week. No Cardinals placed in the top three in the voting for the Most Valuable Player, Cy Young Award, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year honors.

Respective winners were Freddie Freeman of the Braves, Trevor Bauer of Cincinnati, Milwaukee’s Devin Williams and Miami’s Don Mattingly. Voting details can be found here.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported in a tweet that free agent catcher Yadier Molina has received calls of interest from the Mets and the Yankees.  Heyman states at least 3 or 4 other teams, including the Cardinals, have expressed interest in Molina.  Molina’s agent told Heyman that he is seeking a two-year deal for the catcher.

Yadier Molina

Transactions

  • 11/14 The Cardinals signed free agent C Tyler Heineman to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training.

Injury Report

There are no new injuries to report.

Looking Ahead

Listed below are dates for future key offseason events:

  • 11/16 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot will be released.
  • 11/20 Deadline for teams to add eligible minor leaguers to the 40-man roster for Rule 5 draft protection.
  • 12/2 Deadline for teams to offer pre-arbitration and arbitration eligible players new contracts for the 2021 season.
  • 12/6-12/10 were the dates scheduled for the annual Winter Meetings in Dallas, TX. The in-person meetings have been cancelled due to Covid-19 and will instead be held virtually.  This also include the annual Rule 5 draft which will also be virtual on the final day.
  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have six arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Brebbia, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first=time arbitration eligible.  Gant is in his second year of eligibility.

Blast from the Past

This week’s Blast From the Past continues with the second installment of the series on Cardinals Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog.  Last week covered the early years of Whitey’s life and professional playing career.  It ended with the trade from the New York Yankees minor league system to the Washington Senators in April 1956.

Whitey made his major league debut with the Senators on April 17, 1956 at the age of 24, in a game against his former team.  Herzog was in the starting lineup at right field, batting third.  Whitey went 1-for-4, striking out twice and grounding out before hitting a single to right in the bottom of the eighth inning.  The Senators lost, 10-4.

Herzog played in 117 games for the Senators in 1956, with all but five of those games in the outfield.  Whitey slashed .245/.302/.337 with four home runs and 35 RBI.  He split much of 1957 in the minor leagues and played in only 36 major league games.

In May 1958, the Senators traded Herzog to the Kansas City Athletics.  Whitey played in 88, 38, and 83 major league games for Kansas City in 1958, 1959, and 1960, respectively.  His best season with the bat was in 1959, when he slashed .293/.446/.390 with one home run and nine RBI.  He hit eight home runs and 38 RBI with a slash line of .266/.364/.417 in his 83 major league games in 1960.

In January 1961, the Athletics traded Herzog along with Russ Snyder to the Baltimore Orioles for Jim Archer, Bob Boyd, Wayne Causey, Clint Courtney, and Al Pilarcik.  Whitey played in a combined 212 games for the Orioles in 1961 and 1962.  In 1961 he slashed .291/.387/.409 with five home runs and 35 RBI.

The Orioles traded Herzog to the Detroit Tigers on November 26, 1962.  Whitey played in only 52 games for the Tigers in 1963 and hit a dismal .151/.303/.226. Over eight seasons in the major leagues with four different teams, Herzog played in 634 games and posted a career slash line of .257/.354/.365, with 25 home runs and 172 RBI. (His full career playing stats can be viewed here.)

Herzog retired as a player at the end of the 1963 season. The next stage of his baseball career took him off the playing field.  Whitey said years later about his playing career versus his managing career, “Baseball has been good to me since I quit trying to play it.”

Next week, we will look at Herzog’s journey through baseball after his playing days were over.


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of November 2-8

O’Neill and Wong win Gold Gloves

St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Tyler O’Neill and second baseman Kolten Wong were named National League recipients of the 2020 Gold Glove Award for defensive excellence.  It is the 30th time the Cardinals have had multiple Gold Glove winners in the same season and first since 2015. Paul Goldschmidt came in second at first base.

Details here:

Kolten Wong and Tyler O’Neill Win 2020 Gold Glove Awards

The first-time Gold Glove Team Award for the National League went to the Chicago Cubs, which narrowly edged the Cardinals.

For members of The Cardinal Nation, we dug deeper into the metrics which decided the awards and looked at how all position players stacked up.

What the Metrics Say about St. Louis Cardinals Defenders

Cardinals shut out of other major awards

The 2020 Silver Slugger Awards, given to the top offensive performers by position in the National League, did not include any Cardinals.

The top three vote-getters for 2020 Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and Most Valuable Player awards were announced last Monday. The Cardinals have no “finalists” for any of these National League-wide honors, for which the winners will be disclosed this week.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

Adam Wainwright tweeted about his intention to play in 2021, as expected. Because the right-hander had a successful network television analyst debut in the post-season, there was some speculation FOX might try to hire him away.

Transactions

After a prior week of numerous transactions, the Cardinals have been quiet in November to date. As detailed below, the next major decision will be which prospects to protect from the December Rule 5 Draft.

In addition, minor league free agency opened for some and ended for others before it officially began, as we have news for members on 15 current and former St. Louis Cardinals farmhands. Four were once on the 40-man roster and three pitched in the majors in 2020.

Assessing 2020 Minor League Free Agency for the St. Louis Cardinals

To view the entire Cardinals system, by position and team, as well as all free agents and every transaction across the organization, check out the Roster Matrix, free here at the Cardinal Nation.

St. Louis Cardinals Organization Roster Matrix – 2020-2021 Offseason

Injury Report

There is no new injury news to report.

Looking Ahead

Listed below are dates for key offseason events:

  • 11/9-11/12 Winners of the Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and Most Valuable Player awards will be announced on MLB Network at 5 pm CT on consecutive days. The Cardinals have no top three finishers.
  • 11/11 Deadline for free agents to accept or decline a qualifying offer is by 4 pm CT. No Cardinals have been made a qualifying offer and only six players did across all of MLB.
  • 11/16 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot will be released.
  • 11/20 Deadline for teams to add eligible minor leaguers to the 40-man roster for Rule 5 draft protection.
  • 12/2 Deadline for teams to offer pre-arbitration and arbitration eligible players new contracts for the 2021 season.
  • 12/6-12/10 The annual Winter Meetings were to be held in Dallas, TX. The in-person meetings have been cancelled due to Covid-19 and will instead be held virtually.  This includes the annual Rule 5 draft, which will also be virtual.
  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have six arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Brebbia, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant is in his second year of eligibility.

Blast from the Past

Last week’s Blast from the Past was the final installment of the five-part series on Cardinals legend Bob Gibson, who passed away last month and would have turned 85 on Monday.  This week’s Blast begins another series about another team legend, who was born on the same day as Gibson, but four years earlier, and is still with us.

Dorrel Norman Elvert Herzog was born on November 9, 1931 in New Athens, Illinois, a town about 40 miles east of St. Louis.  Herzog was the second of three boys born to Edgar and Lietta Herzog.  Herzog’s father worked at the Mound City Brewery, and his mother at a shoe factory.  Dorrel was also known as “Relly” to his friends and family.  He would acquire another nickname later on as an adult.

Herzog undertook several jobs as a youth to help the family make ends meet.  He worked as a grave digger and delivered newspapers and baked goods and did some work at the brewery where his father worked, as well.

Dorrel would sometimes skip school and take a bus to Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, the home of the Browns and the Cardinals.  His idols were Stan Musial and Enos Slaughter.  Herzog would sneak into the ballpark early and grab batting practice balls that he would take home and reuse at the local sandlots.

Herzog played basketball and baseball at New Athens High School. The lefty pitched, played first base and outfield.  Herzog hit .584 as a junior and helped take his team to the regional playoffs as a senior. He was a second team All-Stater in both his junior and senior years.

Though Herzog drew some interest from local colleges and universities, he did not continue in school following his graduation in 1949.  He signed a contract with the New York Yankees, the same year the Yankees signed another young man named Mickey Mantle.

Herzog began his professional baseball career with the Class D McAlester Rockets in McAlester, Oklahoma.  While there, Herzog acquired the name “Whitey”.  The nickname was bestowed upon him by a sportscaster who said he resembled a pitcher on the Yankees, Bob “White Rat” Kuzava, because of his light blond hair.

During his two years in McAlester, Whitey hit .279 and .351.  He moved up to the Class C Joplin Miners and Class B Piedmont League in 1951 where he hit a combined .276.  In 1952 Whitey played for the Quincy Gems of the Three-I League and the Beaumont Exporters of the Texas League before finally reaching the Triple-A Kansas City Blues near the end of the season.

At the end of the 1952 season, Herzog was drafted into the US Army and spent two years in the Corps of Engineers.  He also married his high school sweetheart, Mary Lou Sinn, that same year.

While stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, Whitey got his first managerial experience leading the company baseball team. After his 1955 discharge from the Army, Herzog returned to baseball, playing for the Yankees Triple-A team, the Denver Zephyrs.  That season, Whitey hit .289 with 21 home runs and 98 RBI.

Herzog hoped to make his New York debut in 1956, but that April, the Yankees traded him to the Washington Senators in a seven-player deal.

Herzog’s major league career began in Washington but didn’t end there.  In the next six years, Whitey bounced around between the majors and the minors for three more organizations. More on that is coming next Monday!


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TCN 2021 St. Louis Cardinals Prospect #43 – Alex FaGalde


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of October 26 – November 1

photo: Kolten Wong (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

Cardinals decline option on Kolten Wong

On Wednesday, October 28, St. Louis Cardinals President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak announced in a Zoom call with media members that the team had declined the 2021 option for second baseman Kolten Wong.  The option was for $12.5 million.  The Cardinals will pay a $1 million buyout to Wong and he has officially become a free agent.

Mozeliak stated that the move was to bring “payroll flexibility” to the team, which faced reduced revenues from gate receipts due to the Covid-19 shortened season.  The Cardinals are anticipating reduced payroll for 2021 and have already made cuts to personnel in baseball operations.

The Cardinals have $116.75 million committed to nine players with guaranteed contracts and six arbitration eligible players likely to receive raises, assuming they are all offered contracts.

The Cardinals also intend to pursue free agents Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina and have “left the door open” for future talks with Wong, though Mozeliak was non-committal about any efforts to re-sign the Gold Glove Award-winning second baseman.

Tommy Edman has been tabbed as Wong’s replacement for 2021.

Further details:

Cardinals Drop Kolten Wong on “the Conservative, Safer Play”

All Cardinals Coaches to Return for 2021

In his Zoom review, Mozeliak also confirmed earlier reports that the entire St. Louis coaching staff will return for 2021. This includes oft-questioned hitting coach Jeff Albert and coach Willie McGee. The latter opted out of participating in 2020 due to COVID concerns.

Three Cardinals are Gold Glove Award finalists

Finalists for the NL and AL Gold Glove awards have been announced and three Cardinals are on the list of the top three finishers at their respective positions.  They are Paul Goldschmidt at 1B, Kolten Wong at 2B and Tyler O’Neill in LF.  The winners of the award will be announced on November 3 at 7 pm CT on ESPN.

Goldschmidt is up for his fourth Gold Glove.  Wong was a winner in 2019.  O’Neill is a first-time nominee.

The Cardinals had six finalists for the Gold Glove Awards in 2019 but only Wong received the prize. Goldschmidt was a finalist but did not win. Catcher Yadier Molina, a nine-time winner, was a finalist in 2019 but not in 2020, causing him to lash out via social media.  Other Cardinals finalists in 2019 but not in 2020 were CF Harrison Bader, SS Paul DeJong, and P Jack Flaherty, all first-time finalists.

Further details:

Three Cardinals are Top Three Finishers in 2020 Gold Glove Award Scoring

Wong and O’Neill win Fielding Bible Awards

The cross-MLB winners of another key defensive award were announced on Thursday. Kolten Wong picked up his third consecutive Fielding Bible Award at second base and left fielder Tyler O’Neill was recognized as the game’s top defender in left field in the sabermetrically-focused voting.

Further details:

Cardinals O’Neill and Wong Win 2020 Fielding Bible Awards

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

David O’Brien and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Atlanta Braves have interest in signing free agent Adam Wainwright.  Wainwright became a free agent on Wednesday, October 28, the day following the end of the World Series.  The quiet period for exclusive negotiations with the Cardinals ended at 4 pm CT on Sunday.  Wainwright can now be signed by any team.

Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch reports that four teams, including the Cardinals, have reached out to Yadier Molina with interest in signing the catcher.  Molina became a free agent along the same calendar as Wainwright.

Goold also reported that Kolten Wong, who became a free agent when the Cardinals declined his 2021 option, has received interest from the Los Angeles Angels and several other teams.

Transactions

  • 10/28 C Yadier Molina, C Matt Wieters, 2B Kolten Wong, 2B Brad Miller, and RHP Adam Wainwright have all elected free agency.
  • 10/30 The Cardinals activated RHPs Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas, Jordan Hicks, and John Brebbia from the 45-day injured list.
  • 10/30 The Cardinals sent LHP Ricardo Sanchez, and RHP Nabil Crismatt outright to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 10/30 2B Max Schrock was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs.

To view the entire Cardinals system, by position and team, as well as all free agents and every transaction across the organization, check out the Roster Matrix, free here at the Cardinal Nation.

St. Louis Cardinals Organization Roster Matrix – 2020-2021 Offseason

Injury Report

  • RHPs Dakota Hudson, Miles Mikolas, Jordan Hicks, and John Brebbia were activated from the 45-day injured list, as required by MLB rule. Hudson and Brebbia are expected to miss all or part of the 2021 season due to Tommy John surgery.  Hicks and Mikolas are expected to be ready to pitch for the opening of spring training 2021.
  • 1B Paul Goldschmidt underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his right, throwing elbow. Goldschmidt is expected to be ready to play for spring training 2021.
  • LHP Ricardo Sanchez required Tommy John surgery, which was conducted in St. Louis two weeks ago.

Looking Ahead

The offseason has officially begun.  Listed below are dates for key offseason events:

  • 11/2 Finalists for Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP awards will be announced during a live broadcast on MLB Network at 5 pm CT.
  • 11/3 Gold Glove Award Winners will be announced during a live broadcast on ESPN at 6 pm CT. Three Cardinals, 2B Kolten Wong, 1B Paul Goldschmidt, and LF Tyler O’Neill are top three finishers.
  • 11/9-11/12 Winners of the Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP awards will be announced on MLB Network at 5 pm CT on consecutive days.
  • 11/11 Deadline for free agents to accept or decline a qualifying offer is by 4 pm CT. No Cardinals have been made a qualifying offer and only six players did across all of MLB.
  • 11/16 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot will be released.
  • 11/20 Deadline for teams to add eligible minor leaguers to the 40-man roster for Rule 5 draft protection.
  • 12/2 Deadline for teams to offer pre-arbitration and arbitration eligible players new contracts for the 2021 season.
  • 12/6-12/10 The annual Winter Meetings were to be held in Dallas, TX. The in-person meetings have been cancelled due to Covid-19 and will instead be held virtually.  This includes the annual Rule 5 draft, which will also be virtual.
  • 1/15/21 Deadline for teams and arbitration eligible players to submit salary figures. The Cardinals have six arbitration eligible players, CF Harrison Bader and RHPs Jack Flaherty, John Brebbia, John Gant, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes.  All but Gant are first time arbitration eligible.  Gant is in his second year of eligibility.

Blast from the Past

The final installment of the series on Cardinals Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Gibson, who recently passed away from pancreatic cancer, highlight’s Gibson’s post-playing career.  Gibson was with the Cardinals from 1959 until his retirement from baseball in 1975.

Gibson hung up his spikes in the last month of the 1975 season.  In the early 1970s, prior to his retirement, Gibson had done some broadcasting work for ABC.  Following his retirement, Gibson was hired to do broadcasting work on ABC’s Monday Night Baseball for a couple of seasons.  The former Harlem Globetrotter also provided basketball commentary for a radio station in New York and subsequently for WTBS in Atlanta.

In the mid-1980s, Gibson hosted a Cardinal pre-game and post-game show for St. Louis radio station KMOX.  In 1990, Gibson worked for ESPN’s baseball broadcast but quit after one season.

The native of Omaha, Nebraska became involved in commercial ventures there.  He was named Chairman of the Board of Directors of Community National Bank of Omaha, which primarily served the local black community.  He also had a financial stake in a local radio station for several years and was briefly involved in a print advertising venture.

Bob Gibson (St. Louis Cardinals)

Gibson opened a restaurant near his alma mater Creighton University in the late 1970s.  The restaurant was successful, but Gibson closed the establishment after 10 years due to time conflicts with other activities that took him away from Omaha.

In 1981, Gibson was hired by friend and former teammate Joe Torre as an “attitude coach” for the New York Mets.  Torre and his coaches, including Gibson, were fired after the 1981 season.

When Torre was hired to manage the Atlanta Braves in 1982, Gibson joined him as his pitching coach.  He held that position until the end of the 1984 season, when both he and Torre were fired again.

Gibson stated in his 1994 autobiography “Stranger to the Game” that though he tried to get other jobs in baseball, he felt his reputation for being outspoken and difficult to get along with was held against him.  He also wrote that he believed some people in the Cardinals organization were working to keep him out of the game.  He felt this was due to his inadvertent omission of members of the Cardinals organization from his acceptance speech when he was admitted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981.

Gibson did have one final job in baseball, albeit brief, in 1995, when he was brought on as pitching coach with the Cardinals under Torre.  Torre was fired as manager in June of that year, and Gibson was let go at the end of the season.  The Cardinals later utilized Gibson as a special instructor for years, and he was a regular in spring training camp.

Bob Gibson (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Gibson returned to Omaha to live out his life.  He was named to the Board of Directors of the Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.), a group that provides assistance to down on their luck former players.  He was named to MLB’s All Century Team and was inducted into the Creighton University Hall of Fame.  The University also created a scholarship in his name in 2005.  He was inducted into the Missouri Valley Conference Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Omaha Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.  As a Cooperstown Hall of Famer, he was part of the inaugural class of the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014.

In 2019, Gibson was honored with a street in St. Louis named after him.  A stretch of road in South St. Louis from the 4200 block of East Gibson Avenue to West Kingshighway was renamed “Bob Gibson Way”.  Gibson was on hand for the unveiling in April 2019.  The section of street is located in the Southeast Forest Park neighborhood, south of Interstate 64.

Gibson was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in July 2019 and fought the disease until his death on October 2, 2020, at the age of 84.  His death came only a month after the passing of former teammate and friend Lou Brock.  Gibson was survived by his wife Wendy, who he married in 1979, and son Chris from that marriage.  He was also survived by daughters Annette and Renee from his first marriage.


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Being Free Agent Yadier Molina


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Blast From the Past – Bob Gibson in 1971-1975

In the fourth installment in our Bob Gibson series, we look back at the final five seasons of the Hall of Fame pitcher’s career.  From his 1959 debut with the St. Louis Cardinals, until 1970, when he won his second Cy Young Award, the right-hander was one of the best pitchers in the game.  However, his last five years showed a gradual decline in effectiveness, until he retired from the game prior to the conclusion of the 1975 schedule.

Gibson won at least 20 games in a season for the fifth and last time in 1970.  His record dropped to 16-13 in 1971, but his ERA remained good at 3.04.  Gibson made 31 starts that season and led the league again in shutouts with five.  His strikeouts dropped to under 200 at 185 for the first time since 1961, not counting 1967 when he fractured his leg and missed a couple of months of the season.  He finished fifth in the Cy Young Award voting that year behind winner Ferguson Jenkins, Tom Seaver, Al Downing, and Dock Ellis.  He also won his seventh Gold Glove Award but failed to make the 1971 NL All-Star team.

The year 1971 stood out however, because it was the season in which he pitched his one and only no-hitter.  On August 14 against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium, Gibson no-hit a lineup that included Willie Stargell and Bill Mazeroski, both future Hall of Famers.  Gibby struck out Stargell three times.  The Cardinals beat the Pirates 11-0 as Gibson struck out 10 and issued three walks.  He had previously earned his 200th career victory on August 4 against the Giants.

In 1972, Gibson rebounded to win 19 games with an ERA of 2.46, with the latter his best since 1969.  His strikeouts rose to 208 and he made 34 starts.  Gibson finished ninth in the Cy Young Award voting and was named to his eighth and final All- Star Game.  He also won the eighth of his nine Gold Gloves.

Bob Gibson’s 1971 Gold Glove Award

Gibson tore the cartilage in his knee while running the bases in August 1973.  The Cardinals were in pennant contention at the time of the injury and ended up just 1 ½ games behind the division-winning Mets.  Gibson made only 25 starts in 1973 due to the time out with the knee and his record dropped to 12-10 with an ERA of 2.77. He did win his ninth and final Gold Glove in 1973.

Gibson’s decline began in earnest in 1974.  Though he reached the 3,000th strikeout milestone on July 17, 1974 by fanning Cesar Geronimo of the Cincinnati Reds, Gibby no longer had his once-overpowering fastball.  Gibson’s personal life also took a turn as he and his first wife Charlene divorced that year. A return of swelling in his knee did not help matters and he finished the season with his first losing record since 1960 at 11-13.  His ERA rose to 3.83.

Gibson announced in January 1975 that the season would be his last.  He made only 14 inconsistent starts and was relegated to the bullpen by the end of July.  His last win was in a relief appearance on July 27 against the Phillies.  He made five more appearances in August with the last on August 29. He pitched the sixth inning in relief against the Reds and decided that was it.  Gibson retired and left the team prior to the final road trip.

Gibson ended the 1975 season with a record of 3-10 and ERA of 5.04.  He threw 109 innings with 60 strikeouts and an eye-popping 62 walks.  Gibson retired with a total of 3,117 strikeouts, which was the NL record at that time, and second overall in MLB history to Walter Johnson.  Those 3,117 strikeouts put him presently at a rank of 14th in major league history.

Gibson’s 17-year major league career ended with a record of 251 wins and 174 losses.  His career ERA was 2.91 and he threw 255 complete games, including 56 shutouts.

The final installment of the Bob Gibson series will showcase his post-playing career, which included broadcasting as well as coaching jobs.

Related articles

St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of September 28 – October 4

(includes Blast From the Past covering Gibson’s early career through 1959)

Blast From the Past – Bob Gibson in 1960-1964

Blast From the Past – Bob Gibson in 1965-1970


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Blast From the Past – Bob Gibson in 1965-1970

This week’s Blast From the Past continues with the series on the baseball career of St. Louis Cardinals legend Bob Gibson.  Last week’s segment ended with the World Series Championship of 1964.  Gibson was instrumental in leading that Cardinals team to the top, winning Games 5 and 7 as the starting (and only) pitcher.

Gibson’s career began with the racially troubled relationship between manager Solly Hemus and the black players on the team.  Hemus was replaced mid-season in 1961 with Johnny Keane.  Keane had a much better relationship with Gibson and the pitcher flourished under his guidance.

Red Schoendienst (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)

Keane resigned immediately after the 1964 World Series and was replaced by former Cardinal second baseman Red Schoendienst. Schoendienst had spent his prime years as a player with St. Louis but was traded to the New York Giants in 1956.  After a year, he was dealt to the Milwaukee Braves.  After a bout with tuberculosis in the 1958-59 offseason in which his baseball career was assumed to be over, Schoendienst returned to play baseball with the Braves but was released at the end of the 1960 season.  He returned to the Cardinals in 1961 and spent the next three seasons as a player-coach.  In 1965, Schoendienst took over as St. Louis’ manager.

Bob Gibson’s 1971 Gold Glove Award

The Cardinals as a team struggled for the next two seasons following the 1964 championship.  Gibson, however, pitched well and blossomed.  He won 20 games in 1965 and 21 games in 1966 and made the National League All-Star team both years.  Gibson also won the first two of his nine Gold Glove Awards in those seasons.

In 1967, the offense was led by a group that included Orlando Cepeda, who won the NL Most Valuable Player Award.  Gibson was joined by future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton, who debuted as a 20-year old with the Cardinals two years earlier and became a regular in the rotation by 1967.  By mid-season the Cardinals had a 3 ½ game lead over the San Francisco Giants.  On July 15, Gibson was hit on the leg by a line drive off the bat of Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Gibson continued to pitch to three more hitters before his right fibula snapped just above the ankle.  The injury could have been season-ending, but Gibson returned to pitching on September 7 in a game against the New York Mets.  Gibson started five games in September, winning three.

The Cardinals won the NL pennant by 10 ½ games over the Giants as Gibson finished with a record of 13-7.  St. Louis met the Boston Red Sox in the 1967 World Series.  Gibson started and won Games 1, 4 and 7 and was named World Series MVP.  Gibson pitched all nine innings of the three games and allowed only three runs in total.  He allowed only three hits in Game 7 and struck out 10.  He also hit a home run in the fifth inning as the Cardinals took the series finale by a score of 7-2.

Mike Shannon, Bob Gibson, Tim McCarver and Orlando Cepeda (Getty Images)

1968 became known as “The Year of the Pitcher”, with Gibson as the star of the show.  Gibson threw 28 complete games, which included 13 shutouts.  He led the NL with 268 strikeouts and finished with a record of 22-9.  His most astounding feat, however, was his season ERA of 1.12.  This set a major league record and was the lowest ERA of any pitcher since the Deadball Era.  This record has never been broken.  Gibson capped off his record-breaking season with the first of his two Cy Young Awards and also won the NL MVP award.

Major League Baseball decided to lower the pitching mound after the 1968 season to 10 inches from 15 inches, and it has been said Gibson’s dominance was the driving force behind this decision.  Whether this is true is up for debate.

The Cardinals won the 1968 pennant by nine games over the Giants and played the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.  Gibson set another record by striking out 17 batters in Game 1 to set a World Series record that remains to this day.  Gibson won Game 4 over Tigers pitcher Denny McLain, who he also bested in the opener.  Gibson pitched Game 7 against Mickey Lolich but unfortunately lost that contest and the series to the Tigers.  A two-run triple off Gibson by Jim Northrup went over the head of center fielder Curt Flood in the seventh inning, leading the Cardinals to a heartbreaking defeat.

Bob Gibson’s 1968 Cy Young Award

1969 was a low point for the Cardinals as the season began with labor troubles.  Talk of a player’s strike over salaries led to low morale and a season that ended with the Cardinals dropping to fourth place in the newly created NL East Division.  Gibson won 20 games that year, however.  He led the league in complete games with 28 and played in his fifth consecutive All Star game.

Gibson won his second Cy Young Award in 1970 after posting a 23-7 record.  This was the last season Gibson would win at least 20 games.  The team finished in fourth place in the NL East for the second season in a row and had a losing record of 76-86. Center fielder Curt Flood had been traded to the Philadelphia Phillies at the end of the 1969 season but refused to report, leading to a prolonged legal battle with Major League Baseball that would eventually spark the beginning of player free agency.  Gibson also lost his catcher and friend, Tim McCarver, in the Flood trade.

The years 1965-70 were the pinnacle of Gibson’s career.  The next and final five years of his career would have some bright spots, but his decline was inevitable.


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Blast From the Past – Bob Gibson in 1960-1964

photo: Bob Gibson (Associated Press)

This week’s Blast From the Past is a standalone article that continues the series about St. Louis Cardinals pitching icon and Hall of Famer Bob Gibson.  Last week, we began with a brief description of his early life and his major league debut in 1959.  Here, we look at the next four years of Gibson’s career, a period which ended with his first World Series Championship.

Gibson made his major league debut in April 1959 but spent the next couple of months in the minor leagues.  He returned to pitch for St. Louis mid-season.  Gibson’s 1960 season began with the big league club but he rode the shuttle between the Cardinals and the minor league Rochester Red Wings the next few months.

Gibson made two relief appearances with St. Louis in April 1960.  He had three outings in May, one as a starter for two innings on May 4 and two relief appearances on May 7 and May 11.

Gibson returned to St. Louis on June 21 as a starter.  He remained with the Cardinals for the remainder of the 1960 season.  Gibson made 11 more starts that season, including a complete game on August 12 against the Pirates, in 9-2 win.  He pitched a total of 86 2/3 innings in 1960 in starting and relief combined.

Gibson’s manager during this 1959-60 period was Solly Hemus, a notorious racist. Gibson remarked that Hemus told both he and Curt Flood at one point that they would never make it in the majors.  Because of Hemus’ dislike of black players, he would use Gibson as sparingly as possible.

Hemus began the 1961 season again shuffling Gibson between the bullpen and the rotation.  Gibson made two starts and two relief appearances in April.  In May, he had four starts, including a complete game shutout against the Cubs on May 21.  Gibson made six starts in June, including three complete games.

Johnny Keane

On July 6, Hemus was fired by the sixth-place Cardinals and replaced by Johnny Keane.  “It was a whole new world for the black players,” said Gibson on the removal of Hemus.  The Cardinals were 33-41 under Hemus but went 47-33 after Keane took over.  Gibson made 14 more starts in 1961 including complete games on July 18, August 6, August 31, September 12, and October 1.  The latter was a complete game shutout over the Phillies.

Gibson and Flood, along with teammate Bill White, started a movement to end segregation of black players in the clubhouse and hotel rooms and the Cardinals became the first team in baseball to end this practice of segregation in 1961.

Gibson’s 1962 season featured 22 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in late May.  Major League Baseball played two All-Star Games each season from 1959 to 1962, and Gibson was named to both All-Star teams in 1962.

Despite fracturing his ankle late in the season, Gibson still made 30 starts, and led the NL in shutouts with five.  He pitched 15 complete games and ended 1962 with a record of 15-13 and an ERA of 2.85.  He also posted his first 200+ strikeout season.

A slow recovery from the fractured ankle led to only one win for Gibson in his first seven starts in 1963.  He won his next two and won four of five in June, with the other a no decision. By the end of July, he had a record of 12-5.  Gibson finished the season with a record of 18-9, but the Cardinals fell short of the NL pennant by six games with a record of 93-69 behind the 99-63 Los Angeles Dodgers.

The 1964 season was a race to the finish line against the Phillies for the NL crown.  A nine-game winning streak by the Cardinals and a 10-game losing streak by the Phillies led to St. Louis squeaking out first place on the final game of the season.  Gibson ended 1964 with a record of 19-12 with an ERA of 3.01.

The Cardinals faced the New York Yankees in the 1964 World Series.  The Cardinals won Game 1, 9-5.  Gibson got the Game 2 start against Yankee pitcher Mel Stottlemyre.   His first World Series start ended in an 8-3 loss, with Gibson yielding four of the eight runs in his eight innings pitched.

Gibson redeemed himself in Game 5, which the Cardinals won 5-2 in 10 innings. Gibson pitched the entire game, holding the Yankees scoreless through eight.  He finally gave up two runs in the ninth to tie the game and send it into the 10th inning.  The Cardinals took the lead in the top of the 10th on a three-run home run by Tim McCarver and Gibson shut the Yankees down in the bottom of the 10th with only a single allowed.

Gibson returned to start Game 7 on two days of rest.  He gave up five runs in nine innings including two home runs in the ninth, but the Cardinals put seven runs on the board to win 7-5 and take the series.  Gibson retired Bobby Richardson on a pop fly for the final out.

1964 Cardinals celebration

Gibson won two World Series games and set a new World Series record by striking out 31 Yankee hitters.  The 1964 World Series was the Cardinals seventh World Series title and first since 1946.

The first five years of Gibson’s major league career started with a troubled relationship with a racist manager but ended in a World Series Championship.  The next stage of Gibson’s career would be even better.


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of September 28 – October 4

Game Recaps

Wednesday, September 30, 2020 – Cardinals 7 at Padres 4

The first game of the Wild Card Series between the #5 seed St. Louis Cardinals and the #4 seed San Diego Padres began on Wednesday.  The Cardinals took the series lead with a 7-4 victory over the Friars.

The Cardinals offense has had its struggles during the regular season but was able to score a sufficient amount of runs to secure the win.  The lineup aggressively put four runs on the board in the first inning.  Tommy Edman, batting in the second spot in the lineup, singled and came home as Paul Goldschmidt followed with a home run to left field.  Dylan Carlson smacked a double to left and Yadier Molina singled to bring Carlson home. Paul DeJong doubled, sending Molina to third base, and Matt Carpenter plated Molina on a sac fly.  The Cardinals led 4-0.

Dylan Carlson via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The Padres responded with a run in the home first and added a second run in the second inning.  The Cardinals increased the lead to 6-2 in the top of the third as Carlson singled and Molina thumped a double to left field. DeJong singled to score Carlson.  Carpenter followed with a single to plate Molina.

The Padres added one run in the third inning and another score in the sixth.  St. Louis’ lead had eroded to 6-4.  An insurance run was added in the ninth.  Consecutive walks to DeJong and Carpenter and an RBI single by Fowler brought home the win as the Padres did not score in the bottom of the ninth.

Carlson, DeJong and Molina each had two hits.  Carpenter and Goldschmidt drove in two runs each.

St. Louis’ Kwang-Hyun Kim made the start.  The left-hander pitched 3 2/3 innings and yielded three runs on five hits.  Kim struck out two and walked two but did not give up the long ball to the high-powered Padres.  He threw 76 pitches, 44 for strikes.

Five relievers followed Kim to hold the lead. Ryan Helsley was the only one of the five to yield additional runs.  The right hander tossed 1 1/3 innings, gave up one hit and struck out one.

Genesis Cabrera, Giovanny Gallegos, Andrew Miller, and Alex Reyes combined to pitch the final four scoreless innings.

Carlson stole his first postseason base, and Fowler had an outfield assist at third base.

Thursday, October 1, 2020 – Cardinals 9 at Padres 11

The second game of the Wild Card Series between the Cardinals and the Padres brought a slugfest that ended poorly for St. Louis.  After blowing two different four-run leads and unable to complete the two-game sweep, the Cardinals faced elimination on Friday in their final chance to advance to the Division Series.

Veteran righty Adam Wainwright made Thursday’s start.  The first three innings went well as his offense gave him a 4-0 lead.  However, the wheels came off the bus in the home fourth.

Wainwright gave up consecutive singles to Eric Hosmer, Tommy Pham, and Mitch Moreland.  With the bases juiced, Wil Myers grounded into a force out at third base to bring the first Padres run home.  With one out and runners on first and second, a wild pitch by Wainwright gave San Diego their second run of the inning.

After issuing a walk to Austin Nola, Wainwright came out of the game.  Austin Gomber walked his first hitter, Jake Cronenworth, but recovered to strike out Trent Grisham and Fernando Tatis Jr. to get out of the jam.

Gomber returned to pitch the fifth.  A throwing error by shortstop Paul DeJong put Manny Machado on first.  Gomber induced a double play by Eric Hosmer to eliminate the threat, but then gave up singles to Tommy Pham and pinch hitter Jurickson Profar.  Gomber was removed and replaced by Ryan Helsley, who fanned Wil Myers to end the threat.

The Cardinals gave themselves breathing room by adding two runs in the top of the sixth to increase the lead to 6-2, but the jubilation and their second four-run lead were both short lived.  Genesis Cabrera walked Nola and Cronenworth to open the home sixth.  After fanning Grisham, Cabrera departed in favor of Giovanny Gallegos. The recipient of the “game ball” after Game 1 went from hero to goat by giving up back-to-back home runs to Tatis Jr. (three runs) and Hosmer, which tied the score at 6-6.  After Pham doubled, Gallegos struck out Profar to end the inning.

Things went from bad to worse in the seventh and eighth as Daniel Ponce de Leon yielded three runs on Hosmer’s second solo shot and a two-run blast by Tatis Jr. in the seventh.  Kodi Whitley surrendered a two-run home run in the eighth to Myers with one of Tyler Webb’s runners aboard.  Ponce de Leon took the loss.

Overall, the pen yielded nine runs, all earned, in 4 2/3 innings. The final five Cardinals relievers of the night were all scored upon, giving up five home runs.

St. Louis’ offense was plentiful but could not keep pace with the powerful Padres attack.  Tommy Edman singled to center in the first and Yadier Molina later singled to drive him home to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead.  Matt Carpenter doubled to lead off the second and Harrison Bader singled to center to plate Carpenter.  Kolten Wong then thumped a two-run home run to right field for the 4-0 cushion.

Kolten Wong via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The Redbirds did not add on until the sixth inning. Paul DeJong and Carpenter walked to begin the frame.  Dexter Fowler’s line drive double to right field scored DeJong.  Wong plated Carpenter on a ground out to the pitcher.

After the Padres scored seven in the sixth and seventh, the Cardinals attempted to rally in the final two innings.  In the eighth, Carpenter was hit by a pitch and Fowler followed with a single.  Bader and Wong hit sac flies to bring the Cardinals to within one run, 9-8. However, the long ball subsequently yielded by Whitley negated this rally.

In the ninth, the final Cardinals rally began with a solo home run by Paul Goldschmidt.  With the lead down to 11-9, Dylan Carlson drew a walk and Molina singled.  The attempt ended there as DeJong popped out, Carpenter struck out, and Fowler grounded out against former Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

With his two hits Thursday night, Molina racked up yet another career milestone, becoming just the fifth player in MLB history to collect 100 hits in the post-season.

Wong drove in four runs and Bader plated two. Both of Goldschmidt’s hits went for extra bases, a double and a home run. Carpenter scored three times. However, as a team, the Cardinals offense’s ongoing problem bringing runners in continued as the team was just 4-for-18 with runners in scoring position. Even so, scoring nine runs should be enough to win.

Friday, October 2, 2020 – Cardinals 0, Padres 4

It is as basic as baseball itself. You can’t win if you don’t score.

That is how the challenging season of 2020 for the Cardinals came to its sputtering end as they were blanked by the San Diego Padres 4-0 in the elimination game of the best-of-three Wild Card Series Friday evening at Petco Park.

Jack Flaherty made a very strong start but was rewarded with nothing from the feeble offense.  After scoring 16 runs in the first two games, St. Louis’ offense apparently had nothing left to give.  The game remained scoreless  through 4 ½ innings as Flaherty battled with the Padres bullpen.  The Friars finally broke through in the fifth on doubles by Fernando Tatis Jr. and Eric Hosmer to take a 1-0 lead.  Flaherty finished his outing with a scoreless sixth and was replaced by Alex Reyes.

Jack Flaherty via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

In the seventh, the Padres offense added insult to injury with the help of the usually outstanding Cardinals defense.  When Trent Grisham grounded into a potential double play, a throwing error by 2019 Gold Glove second baseman Kolten Wong left runners on second and third with no outs.  An intentional walk to Tatis Jr. juiced the bases.  Manny Machado grounded to third, where Tommy Edman caught the ball on a high hop but failed to touch the bag before throwing home.  The force was removed at home, a run scored, and every runner was safe.  With the bases still loaded, Reyes walked Eric Hosmer and the Padres led 3-0.

San Diego completed its scoring when Reyes yielded a solo home run to Jake Cronenworth in the eighth.   Only this final run that occurred on Reyes’ watch was earned. Flaherty took the loss.

Against nine different San Diego pitchers, the Cardinals offense managed just four hits.  A double by Yadier Molina was the only to go for extra bases and his walk was only one of three earned by the team. Wong, Edman, and Dylan Carlson each singled.  In a continuing problem, St. Louis hitters were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.

The Big Picture

The Cardinals were eliminated from the postseason following losses to the Padres in the final two games of the Wild Card Series.  The Cardinals won the first game by a score of 7-2 but lost 11-9 and 4-0 in the final two games.

As has been the case throughout the season, the offense, or lack thereof, was the predominate issue.  Though the Cardinals scored nine runs in Game 2, the pitching was unable to hold back the Padres offense.  In the third and final game, the offense was non-existent.

Only three Cardinals had an OPS in the series above .762, Yadier Molina (1.115), Paul Goldschmidt (1.055), and Dylan Carlson (1.016).  Three others had OPS’s at or above .700, Matt Carpenter (.762), Paul DeJong (.729), and Kolten Wong (.700).

Yadier Molina via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Harrison Bader, who had the highest OPS during the week before the series, had the lowest of the series (.293).  Bader ended the regular season with the third highest OPS on the team for the full season at .779.  Brad Miller, who ended the regular season with the second highest OPS (.807), slumped during the last two weeks of the season with an OPS of only .544 and thus did not start any of the three games and made only one pinch hitting appearance in the series.   The only Cardinal who has had consistent offense through both the regular season and the postseason is Goldschmidt.   One player cannot carry a team.

Pitching and defense basically powered the Cardinals into the offseason.  Both failed them to a lesser degree in the postseason, as evidenced by the staff’s 6.12 ERA. Other than Austin Gomber, Andrew Miller and Alex Reyes, the bullpen especially struggled.

Without a consistent offense and leaky pitching, it was an uphill battle for the Cardinals against the powerful Padres.

Enhancing the hitting should be a key component of the Cardinals’ offseason activity.

Final NL Central Standings

All four National League Central teams to qualify for the post-season lost their Wild Card Series. St. Louis was the only one of the four to even claim one game.

Team W L Pct GB Playoffs
Chicago 34 26 0.567 yes
St. Louis 30 28 0.517 3 yes
Cincinnati 31 29 0.517 3 yes
Milwaukee 29 31 0.483 5 yes
Pittsburgh 19 41 0.317 15

Cardinals icon Bob Gibson passes away

As the Cardinals were playing the third and final game of the Wild Card Series against the Padres on Friday, October 2, word came that former Cardinals pitcher and Hall of Famer Bob Gibson had passed away at the age of 84.  The news was a blow to an organization already in the throes of a heartbreaking loss in a postseason elimination game.

Bob Gibson (St. Louis Cardinals)

Gibson had been battling pancreatic cancer for a year at the time of his death.  While the announcement of his death came via Twitter during the game, the players were not informed until the game was over.  During the Zoom press conference after the game, Jack Flaherty and Yadier Molina shared their sorrow and offered their condolences to the family of Gibson.

What Gibson meant to both baseball and specifically the Cardinals cannot be summed up in a few paragraphs.  Gibson was without argument the best pitcher in the history of the Cardinals organization and one of the best pitchers in the history of major league baseball.  Mere words cannot do justice to the career of this great man.

Gibson was a two-time Cy Young Award winner, a nine time All-Star, and the National League Most Valuable Player in 1968.  Among all Cardinals pitchers he ranks first in many categories, including wins (251) and strikeouts (3,117).  He holds the MLB record for the lowest single season ERA, 1.12 in 1968, a record that may never be broken.

Gibson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981, his first year of eligibility.  He was included in the inaugural class of the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2014.  After his retirement from baseball, he spent a year as a pitching coach for the Mets in 1981 and for the Atlanta Braves from 1982-84.  He also did broadcasting work for ESPN and was a special instructor for the Cardinals beginning in 1996.

The announcement of his death came on the anniversary of Game 1 of the 1968 World Series in which Gibson struck out 17 Detroit Tigers hitters to set a World Series record for strikeouts.

Gibson was and will always be the most favorite Cardinal to this author, who as a child watched him pitch in person several times at games in Busch Stadium.

Gibson is survived by his wife Wendy, son Chris, and daughters Annette and Renee.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 9/28 The Cardinals activated RHP John Gant from the 10-day injured list.
  • 9/28 The Cardinals recalled RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon and C Andrew Knizner from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/30 The Cardinals optioned RHPs Jake Woodford and Seth Elledge to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 10/3 The Cardinals activated RHP Carlos Martinez from the 10-day injured list.

Injury Report

  • RHP John Brebbia underwent Tommy John surgery on June 1. He missed the entire 2020 season and will likely miss part of the 2021 season.
  • RHP Jordan Hicks (Tommy John surgery – Type 1 diabetes) opted out of the 2020 season.
  • RHP Miles Mikolas (right forearm strain) had arm surgery and missed the majority of the 2020 season. Mikolas is expected to be healthy to return and pitch in Spring Training 2021.
  • LHP Ricardo Sanchez was transferred from the 10-day injured list to the 45-day injured list. Left elbow pain.
  • RHP Dakota Hudson was transferred from the 10-day injured list to the 45-day injured list. The right hander had Tommy John surgery and will be out for 9-15 months.
  • RHP Carlos Martinez was sent home to recover from his left oblique strain. He was activated from the 10-day injured list after the season concluded.
  • RHP John Gant (groin strain) was with the team but inactive in the Wild Card round. He was activated from the 10-day injured list after the season concluded.

Looking Ahead

St. Louis’ season is over following a loss to the Padres in the Wild Card Series.  The team has returned to St. Louis.  The postseason will continue without the Cardinals participation.

The offseason begins officially at 9 a.m. on the day following the end of the World Series.  All potential free agents will officially become free agents at this time, with current teams holding a five-day exclusivity window.  Five days after the end of the World Series, teams will begin making decisions on qualifying offers and whether to exercise options.

Offseason awards will be announced in November.  Teams will be making 40-man roster decisions in November in preparation for the Rule 5 Draft and will also be reinstating all injured list players not already activated.

Due to COVID-19 considerations, some or all of the usual offseason meetings will likely not take place in person.  The General Managers Meeting in November will take place virtually.  The Winter Meetings in December will likely also be virtual.

Blast from the Past

This week’s Blast From the Past will be the first in a series of history segments covering the great career of Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson, who passed away this past week at the age of 84.  We begin with a brief summation of his early life, followed by the beginnings of his baseball career, including his major league debut.  We end with some notable events that occurred during his career on the dates covered by this Notebook.

Bob Gibson with the Triple-A Omaha Cardinals

Robert Gibson was born on November 9, 1935 in Omaha, Nebraska.  He was the youngest child of Pack and Victoria Gibson.  Gibson’s father passed away of tuberculosis three months before he was born, and his mother named him Pack Robert Gibson in honor of his father.  Gibson hated the name and later changed it to just Robert.

Gibson was a gifted athlete and played on several youth baseball and basketball teams.  He attended Omaha Technical High School and participated in track, baseball, and basketball there.  He was named to the All State Basketball team his senior year in high school and won a full athletic scholarship for basketball to Creighton University in his hometown.

After graduation from Creighton, Gibson was offered a $3,000 bonus to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Harlem Globetrotters basketball team made Gibson a comparable offer and he delayed his start with the Cardinals to play for the Globetrotters for a year.

Gibson began his professional baseball career with the Cardinals in 1957 and made his major league debut on April 15, 1959 in a relief role.  Gibson pitched the final two innings in a 5-0 loss to the Dodgers, giving up two runs on two hits.  He made two more relief appearances on April 16 an 18 and then was reassigned to the Cardinals minor league affiliate in Omaha.

Gibson was recalled to the major leagues on July 30 and made his first career start, pitching a complete game 1-0 shutout against the Cincinnati Reds.  He made six starts in August and two more in September.  His last appearance was in a relief role on September 27 against the Giants in which he pitched 4 2/3 innings.  This was his last appearance in his rookie season of 1959.

A few notable events from September 28 to October 4 in the career of Bob Gibson include:

  • September 29, 1965 – Gibson hit career home run #11. This long ball was the first grand slam of his career and was hit off Gaylord Perry of the San Francisco Giants in the top of the eighth inning in an 8-6 win for the Cardinals.
  • October 2, 1968 – Gibson strikes out 17 hitters in Game 1 of the World Series against the Detroit Tigers. This set a new MLB record, surpassing the previous record of 15 by Sandy Koufax five years earlier.
  • October 3, 1965 – Gibson becomes a 20-game winner for the first time in his career, pitching a complete game against the Houston Astros at the Astrodome. The Cardinals beat the Astros 5-2.

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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Game Recap – Friday, October 2, 2020

photo: Jack Flaherty via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Friday, October 2, 2020 – Cardinals 0, Padres 4

It is as basic as baseball itself. You can’t win if you don’t score.

That is how the challenging season of 2020 for St. Louis Cardinals came to its sputtering end as they were blanked by the San Diego Padres 4-0 in the elimination game of the best-of-three Wild Card Series Friday evening at Petco Park.

Jack Flaherty made a very strong start but was rewarded with nothing from the feeble offense.  After scoring 16 runs in the first two games, St. Louis’ offense apparently had nothing left to give.  The game remained scoreless  through 4 ½ innings as Flaherty battled with the Padres bullpen.  The Friars finally broke through in the fifth on doubles by Fernando Tatis Jr. and Eric Hosmer to take a 1-0 lead.  Flaherty finished his outing with a scoreless sixth and was replaced by Alex Reyes.

In the seventh, the Padres offense added insult to injury with the help of the usually outstanding Cardinals defense.  When Trent Grisham grounded into a potential double play, a throwing error by 2019 Gold Glove second baseman Kolten Wong left runners on second and third with no outs.  An intentional walk to Tatis Jr. juiced the bases.  Manny Machado grounded to third, where Tommy Edman caught the ball on a high hop but failed to touch the bag before throwing home.  The force was removed at home, a run scored, and every runner was safe.  With the bases still loaded, Reyes walked Eric Hosmer and the Padres led 3-0.

San Diego completed its scoring when Reyes yielded a solo home run to Jake Cronenworth in the eighth.   Only this final run that occurred on Reyes’ watch was earned. Flaherty took the loss.

Yadier Molina via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Flailing against nine different San Diego pitchers, the Cardinals offense managed just four hits.  A double by Yadier Molina was the only to go for extra bases and his walk was only one of three earned by the team. Wong, Edman, and Dylan Carlson each singled.  In a continuing problem, St. Louis hitters were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.

The Padres advance to the Division Series to take on the Dodgers while the Cardinals return home for the off-season.


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With this loss, the Cardinals are 7-4 in winner-take-all postseason games in the DeWitt ownership years and 4-4 in such games on the road.

Cardinals Record in Winner-Take-All Games is Good – Depending on the Situation


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Game Recap – Thursday, October 1, 2020

photo: Giovanny Gallegos via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Twice, St. Louis Cardinals pitching could not hold a four-run lead before falling to the San Diego Padres 11-9, and missing the chance to sweep their Wild Card Series Thursday evening at Petco Park. Cardinals relievers served up five long balls as part of nine earned runs allowed in 4 2/3 innings. Kolten Wong plated four for St. Louis in its losing effort.



Thursday, October 1, 2020 – Cardinals 9 at Padres 11

The second game of the best-of-three Wild Card Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Padres brought a slugfest that ended poorly for St. Louis.  After being unable to hold two different four-run leads and unable to complete the two-game sweep, the Cardinals face potential elimination on Friday in their second and final chance to advance to the Division Series.

Veteran righty Adam Wainwright made Thursday’s start for the Redbirds.  The first three innings went well as his offense gave him a 4-0 lead.  However, the wheels came off his bus in the home fourth.

Adam Wainwright via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Wainwright yielded consecutive singles to Eric Hosmer, Tommy Pham, and Mitch Moreland.  With the bases juiced, Wil Myers grounded into a force out at third base to bring the first Padres run home.  With one out and runners on first and second, a wild pitch by Wainwright gave San Diego their second run of the inning.

After issuing a walk to Austin Nola, Wainwright came out of the game.  Austin Gomber walked his first man, no. 9 hitter Jake Cronenworth, but recovered to strike out Trent Grisham and Fernando Tatis Jr. to get out of the jam.

Gomber returned to pitch the fifth.  A throwing error by shortstop Paul DeJong put Manny Machado on first.  Gomber induced a double play by Eric Hosmer to eliminate the threat, but then gave up singles to Tommy Pham and pinch hitter Jurickson Profar.  Gomber was removed and replaced by Ryan Helsley, who fanned Wil Myers to end the threat.

The Cardinals gave themselves breathing room by adding two runs in the top of the sixth to increase the lead to 6-2, but the jubilation and their second four-run lead were both short lived.  Genesis Cabrera walked Nola and Cronenworth to open the home sixth.  After fanning Grisham, Cabrera departed in favor of Giovanny Gallegos. The recipient of the “game ball” after Game 1 went from hero to goat by giving up back-to-back home runs to Tatis Jr. (three runs) and Hosmer, which tied the score at 6-6.  After Pham doubled, Gallegos struck out Profar to end the inning.

Things went from bad to worse in the seventh and eighth as Daniel Ponce de Leon yielded three runs on Hosmer’s second solo shot and a two-run blast by Tatis Jr. in the seventh.  Kodi Whitley surrendered a two-run home run in the eighth to Myers with one of Tyler Webb’s runners aboard.  Ponce de Leon took the loss.

Overall, the pen yielded nine runs, all earned, in 4 2/3 innings. The final five Cardinals relievers of the night were all scored upon, giving up five home runs.

St. Louis’ offense was plentiful but could not keep pace with the powerful Padres attack.  Tommy Edman singled to center in the first and Yadier Molina later singled to drive him home to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead.  Matt Carpenter doubled to lead off the second and Harrison Bader singled to center to plate Carpenter.  Kolten Wong then thumped a two-run home run to right field for the 4-0 cushion.

Kolten Wong via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The Redbirds did not add on until the sixth inning. Paul DeJong and Carpenter walked to begin the frame.  Dexter Fowler’s line drive double to right field scored DeJong.  Wong plated Carpenter on a ground out to the pitcher.

After the Padres scored seven in the sixth and seventh, the Cardinals attempted to rally in the final two innings.  In the eighth, Carpenter was hit by a pitch and Fowler followed with a single.  Bader and Wong hit sac flies to bring the Cardinals to within one run, 9-8. However, the long ball subsequently yielded by Whitley negated this rally.

In the ninth, the final Cardinals rally began with a solo home run by Paul Goldschmidt.  With the lead down to 11-9, Dylan Carlson drew a walk and Molina singled.  The attempt ended there as DeJong popped out, Carpenter struck out, and Fowler grounded out against former Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

With his two hits Thursday night, Molina racked up yet another career milestone, becoming just the fifth player in MLB history to collect 100 hits in the post-season. It occurred in the catcher’s National League-record 100th playoff contest.

Wong drove in four runs and Bader plated two. Both of Goldschmidt’s hits went for extra bases, a double and a home run. Carpenter scored three times. However, as a team, the Cardinals offense’s ongoing problem bringing runners in continued as the team was just 4-for-18 with runners in scoring position. Even so, scoring nine runs should be enough to win.

The Cardinals must now win on Friday to advance to the Division Series.  St. Louis will have Jack Flaherty on the mound for that crucial, must-win game.  San Diego’s starter remains unlisted, but their bullpen is stretched and their best starters, Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet, are injured and not on the roster.

Friday’s game:  at Padres at 6:08 p.m.  Jack Flaherty (0-0, 0.00) vs. TBA. ESPN/ESPN Radio/KMOX


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Alex Reyes’ Long Road to His First Playoff Appearance


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of September 21-27

photo: St. Louis Cardinals clinch playoffs, September 27, 2020

The St. Louis Cardinals went 4-4 in the final week of the regular season and clinched the number five seed in the NL Wild Card Series against San Diego. Austin Gomber pitched well in two important starts and Harrison Bader paced the sputtering offense. In our history feature, we look back at the 1934 World Series, won by the famous Gashouse Gang.



Game Recaps

Monday, September 21, 2020 – Cardinals 1 at Royals 4

The St. Louis Cardinals began a three-game series in Kansas City against the Royals on Monday.  Game 1 was a 4-1 loss for the Cardinals.

Starter Adam Wainwright suffered his second loss of the season.  The right hander pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up three runs on six hits.  He fanned seven and walked two.   Wainwright threw 91 pitches, 58 for strikes

Tyler Webb relieved and tossed a scoreless inning.  Giovanny Gallegos surrendered a run in 2/3 of an inning. Seth Elledge secured the final out.

St. Louis’ scoring consisted of a solo home run by Matt Carpenter in the second inning.  The Redbirds had a total of six hits, with Yadier Molina going 2-for-4. Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt and Dexter Fowler each singled.

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020 – Cardinals 5 at Royals 0

St. Louis fared much better in the second game of the series, blanking the Royals 5-0 behind very good pitching from left hander Austin Gomber.  Gomber tossed six scoreless innings on four hits, no walks and struck out three. He threw 76 pitches, 52 for strikes.  Ryan Helsley, Genesis Cabrera, and Jake Woodford each added a scoreless inning of relief.  Gomber earned his first win of the season.

Austin Gomber via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Rookie Dylan Carlson shined offensively with three hits and was a home run short of a cycle.  His second inning double drove in two of the team’s five runs.  Kolten Wong was 2-for-3 and plated a run on a single in the second inning.

Brad Miller doubled in a run in the fifth, and Tommy Edman’s sac fly in the sixth scored the final run.  Paul Goldschmidt contributed a double but was stranded.

Wong was caught stealing for the second time this season.  Edman and Matt Carpenter both made throwing errors.

 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 – Cardinals 3 at Royals 12

The third and final game of the series was a disaster for the Cardinals.  The Royals pummeled starter Carlos Martinez before the right-hander left the game with an oblique injury.  Martinez pitched five innings, giving up eight runs on nine hits.  The right hander struck out three and walked two.

Seth Elledge relieved in the sixth and compounded the woes by yielding three additional runs on four hits.  Kodi Whitley surrendered one run in the seventh inning.  Only Jake Woodford tossed a scoreless frame, the eighth and final inning for St. Louis pitching.

The offense produced nine hits, but only three runs were the result.  Harrison Bader drove in two of the three on a line drive single to left in the ninth inning.  Prior to that, the offense scored one run in the fifth on a single by Dexter Fowler.

Bader and Yadier Molina contributed multiple hits; Molina was 2-for-3 and Bader was 2-for-4.

 

Thursday, September 24, 2020 – Cardinals 4, Brewers 2

The Cardinals’ final series of the regular season began on Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium.  This first of five contests ended with a Cardinals victory against one of the best pitchers in the National League, Corbin Burnes.

St. Louis’ offense got the Burnes in the third inning.  It started with back to back singles by Kolten Wong and Tommy Edman. Paul Goldschmidt singled to drive in Wong.

The Brewers knotted the game up 1-1 in the top of the fourth.  In response, the Redbirds scored two in the bottom half of the inning.  Dexter Fowler drew a walk and Dylan Carlson blasted a ball long and high into right field, but just fair for a two-run home run.  The Cardinals led 3-1.

Dylan Carlson via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Carlson once again plated the fourth and final Cardinals run in the sixth following another Fowler free pass.  This time it was an RBI double in the left center field gap that brought Fowler home.

The Brewers made it closer in the ninth with one run to make it 4-2, but St. Louis prevailed.  Edman and Carlson each had two hits.  One other Cardinal had two hits, and the second one was very special.  Yadier Molina’s 2,000th career hit was a line drive single to center.  He became just the 12th catcher in MLB history to reach the 2,000 hit milestone.

The offense had many chances to put the game away, but continued to struggle to produce in scoring situations. The Cardinals hitters stranded 11 baserunners and went just 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position.

Kwang-Hyun Kim was St. Louis’ starter on the mound.  The left hander tossed five innings and allowed one run on five hits, escaping a key two-on, two-out jam in his final frame.  Kim struck out three and walked two.

Giovanny Gallegos pitched a scoreless, hitless sixth and Genesis Cabrera followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings.  Alex Reyes took over with one out in the eighth and got the final two outs.  The right hander returned to start the ninth, struck out one hitter but yielded two singles.  Andrew Miller came in and surrendered a single but struck out the final two hitters to seal the victory. His fourth save protected Kim’s third win.

Friday, September 25, 2020 – Cardinals 0, Brewers 3 (seven innings, Game 1)

The Cardinals continued the final homestand of 2020 with a Friday doubleheader against the Brewers.  In Game 1, the Cardinals offense couldn’t get anything going against Milwaukee pitching.  A total of five hits was all St. Louis batters could muster against Brewers starter Brent Suter and relievers Devin Williams and Josh Hader and their only runner to reach second base did it in the final inning.

Kolten Wong reached to begin the home first on an infield single to third base.  He was erased in a double play off the bat of Paul Goldschmidt.  Paul DeJong singled to right in the fourth but was stranded.

Dylan Carlson hit an infield single in the fifth, but was erased in a double play, this time by Brad Miller.  The double play struck again in the sixth after Harrison Bader singled to center and Wong followed with a ground ball that enabled the Brewers to turn two.

The Cardinals finally got a runner safely to second base in the seventh when Paul Goldschmidt doubled to left field. A ground out and two strikeouts ended that scoring possibility and the game.

St. Louis starter Jack Flaherty continued to have issues with Milwaukee hitters.  Flaherty pitched five innings and allowed three runs on four hits, one of which was home run.  The right-hander also fell victim to the walk, issuing four free passes, though he did fan five.

John Gant started the sixth in relief, but after facing one hitter, left the game with groin tightness, a recurring issue for him.  Ryan Helsley replaced Gant and pitched a scoreless frame.  Tyler Webb tossed a scoreless seventh inning. Following the game, Gant was placed on the 10-day injured list.

Friday, September 25, 2020 – Cardinals 9 “at” Brewers 1 (seven innings, Game 2)

A pitching gem from Cardinals starter Daniel Ponce de Leon plus a much better offensive performance led St. Louis to a decisive win over the Brewers in the second game of the twin bill. St. Louis was designated as the road team in this make-up contest from August 2.

Ponce de Leon kept the Milwaukee offense not only scoreless but hitless until the sixth inning.  In his six innings of work, the right-hander yielded one run on one hit, a home run by Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia.  Ponce de Leon struck out six and walked two, throwing 99 pitches, 60 for strikes, to earn his first win of the season. It was also his first career win as a starter in his 20th try.

Daniel Ponce de Leon via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Kodi Whitley made his second appearance since being activated from the injured list on Tuesday and pitched a scoreless seventh inning.  He allowed one hit, struck out one, and walked one.

The offense got on the board in the first inning, when Tommy Edman singled to right field, and Matt Carpenter drove him home on a double to right.  Two more runs came home in the second.  Paul DeJong singled and later scored on a wild pitch. Matt Wieters drew a walk, and Kolten Wong followed with an RBI triple to center.

The big inning was the fifth. Wong singled to lead off and came home when Edman thumped a home run to center to make it 5-0.  Matt Carpenter singled on a ground ball to third base and Harrison Bader pinch ran.  Dexter Fowler and Paul DeJong each walked to load the bases.  Dylan Carlson doubled to left to score Bader and Fowler. Wieters then drove DeJong and Carlson home on a single to center.

Wong, Edman, and Carpenter each had two hits. Edman, Carlson, and Wieters had two RBI each.

Saturday, September 26 – Cardinals 0, Brewers 3

The Cardinals needed a win against the Milwaukee Brewers to clinch a postseason spot but they did not get it.  A virtually non-existent offense caused the Cardinals to suffer a 3-0 defeat on Saturday night at Busch Stadium.

As has been the case through a significant portion of the shortened season, the St. Louis offense faced pitching that thwarted their efforts.  Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff held them scoreless throughout his eight innings pitched.  Only two Redbirds managed a hit against Woodruff.  Kolten Wong had a leadoff single in the first inning but was left stranded.  Yadier Molina led off the second inning with a single and was likewise stranded.  When all was done, the Cardinals struck out 11 times and walked only once. No baserunners advanced as far as second base.

No offense put the lion’s share of the burden on starter Adam Wainwright.  The veteran right-hander tossed 6 2/3 innings and yielded three runs on eight hits.  He gave up two solo home runs and suffered his third loss of the season.

Andrew Miller relieved with one out in the seventh inning and walked his first batter but struck out the second to end the inning.  Miller returned for the eighth and fanned the first hitter and was replaced by Ryan Helsley, who got the final two outs of the inning.  Tyler Webb hurled a scoreless ninth, with one hit allowed and three strikeouts.

Sunday, September 27, 2020 – Cardinals 5, Brewers 2

The 30-28 Cardinals clinched a spot in the postseason, the fifth seed in the NL, with a 5-2 win over the Brewers at Busch Stadium.  A Monday trip to Detroit was avoided and the team gets a much-needed two days off before their postseason starts in San Diego on Wednesday.

Starter Austin Gomber pitched four innings and yielded one run one hit.  The left-hander fanned three and walked two.  Gomber threw 75 pitches, 47 for starts.

Giovanny Gallegos tossed two scoreless innings.  He fanned three and earned the win, his second of the season.  Genesis Cabrera followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

Alex Reyes closed and allowed one run on two hits.  The right-hander earned his first and only save of the regular season.

St. Louis’ offense got going in a big way in the bottom of the third.  Harrison Bader led off with a triple into center field.  Tyler O’Neill then drew a tough walk, down 0-2 to get the free pass.  He followed that with a steal of second base.  Kolten Wong then singled to the pitcher, who bobbled the ball then threw wildly.  Bader scored from third and O’Neill scored on the error.  Paul Goldschmidt singled to left to plate Wong.   Yadier Molina walked, and Paul DeJong singled to left to drive Goldschmidt home.  The Cardinals led 4-0.

The Brewers added a run in the top of the fourth but the Cardinals took the run right back in the bottom of the inning.  Bader again led off and obliterated a ball into the middle of Big Mac Land, striking a painting created by Fredbird.  The home run was clocked at 106+ mph off the bat.

Harrison Bader via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The score remained 5-1 until the ninth inning.  The Brewers added a run against reliever Reyes, but that was it.  The Cardinals won and celebrated their postseason berth in a Covid-19 appropriate way and the 29-31 Brewers also backed into the playoffs when San Francisco lost.

 

The Big Picture

The last week of the regular season started badly but ended well.  The Cardinals lost 2 of 3 to the Royals, a team they generally play well against and especially in Kaufmann Stadium, a ballpark in which they have generally dominated.  The deciding game of the series was 12-3 trouncing.

In the end, the Cardinals took 3 of 5 from the Brewers, and slid into a postseason spot.  They finished the regular season with a record of 30-28, taking second place from the 31-29 Reds by percentage points.  Four of the five NL Central squads are in the postseason, with Chicago taking the crown by three games.  The Brewers got in by the skin of their teeth on a loss by the Giants on Sunday.  They finished with a record of 29-31.

Throughout the 60-game season (58 for the Cardinals) the offense has been the sore spot.  Inconsistent at best, the offense never did find a rhythm.  There could be one or several reasons for this, but in the end this issue is the Achilles heel going into the playoffs.

By OPS, the top five hitters on the team for the season are Paul Goldschmidt, Brad Miller, Dexter Fowler, Harrison Bader, and Tommy Edman.  However, only Goldschmidt and Miller have an OPS over .800.  Only Bader and Fowler have an OPS over .700, but Edman was close with .685.  Fowler might have fared better had he not missed significant time on the IL.

In the last seven days, the top six hitters by OPS were Harrison Bader, Dylan Carlson, Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, Paul Goldschmidt and Yadier Molina. Bader and Carlson were 1.198 and .957, respectively.  Carpenter and Wong were .788 and .754, respectively.  Goldschmidt and Molina were .689 and .679.

Pitching has been fine, both starting and relieving, in the last week.  The only strugglers were Carlos Martinez and Seth Elledge.  Martinez is injured and not likely to pitch in the postseason.  Dakota Hudson is out for the season with Tommy John surgery so he will not figure into the equation either.  Daniel Ponce de Leon had an excellent start in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader.  Both he and Austin Gomber have filled in for holes in the rotation very nicely.

Defense and baserunning remain a plus for the Cardinals during the regular season and they hope will remain so for the postseason.

The Cardinals are in the Wild Card Series, a best-of-three game set against the Padres in San Diego beginning Wednesday.  The 37-23 Padres are a strong team, with a good enough record to have won the Central or East, so this will be a tough matchup.

 

Final NL Central Standings

Team W L Pct GB
Chicago 34 26 0.567
St. Louis 30 28 0.5172 3
Cincinnati 31 29 0.5167 3
Milwaukee 29 31 0.483 5
Pittsburgh 19 41 0.317 15

Cardinals clinch postseason berth

On the final day of the regular season, the Cardinals clinched a spot in the postseason with 5-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.  The win eliminated the need for the Cardinals to play the doubleheader with Detroit on Monday and gives the team a much needed two day break before postseason play begins.

It was a very tough season for St. Louis.  They lost 17 days at the beginning of the season due to a Covid-19 outbreak and had to play catchup with 11 doubleheaders during the remainder of the season.   The Marlins had a similar outbreak but were down for the count for a shorter period of time.  The Marlins also reached the postseason.

The Cardinals are the #5 seed in the NL and will play the Padres in the best-of-three NL Wild Card Series beginning Wednesday.

 

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

 

Transactions

  • 9/21 The Cardinals activated OF Dexter Fowler from the 10-day injured list.
  • 9/21 The Cardinals activated RHP Giovanny Gallegos from the 10-day injured list.
  • 9/21 The Cardinals designated RHP Roel Ramirez for assignment.
  • 9/21 The Cardinals optioned OF Justin Williams to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/21 The Cardinals optioned RHP Nabil Crismatt to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/22 The Cardinals transferred RHP Dakota Hudson from the 10-day injured list to the 45-day injured list.
  • 9/22 The Cardinals activated RHP Kodi Whitley from the injured list.
  • 9/22 The Cardinals optioned RHP Junior Fernandez to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/24 The Cardinals recalled RHP Johan Oveido from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/24 The Cardinals placed RHP Carlos Martinez on the 10-day injured list. Left oblique strain.
  • 9/25 The Cardinals recalled RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/25 The Cardinals placed RHP John Gant on the 10-day injured list.
  • 9/25 The Cardinals sent RHP Roel Ramirez outright to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/25 The Cardinals recalled RHP Nabil Crismatt from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/26 The Cardinals optioned RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/27 The Cardinals activated OF Austin Dean from the 10-day injured list.
  • 9/27 The Cardinals optioned RHP Nabil Crismatt to the Alternate Training Site.

 

Injury Report

  • RHP John Brebbia underwent Tommy John surgery on June 1. He will miss the entire 2020 season.
  • RHP Jordan Hicks (Tommy John surgery) has opted out of the 2020 season.
  • RHP Miles Mikolas (right forearm strain) had arm surgery and will miss the remainder of the season.
  • RHP Kodi Whitley (Covid-19 positive) was activated from the injured list and has appeared in games.
  • OF Austin Dean was activated from the 10-day injured list.
  • LHP Ricardo Sanchez was transferred from the 10-day injured list to the 45-day injured list. Left elbow pain.
  • RF Dexter Fowler was activated from the 10-day injured list and has been starting games.
  • RHP Giovanny Gallegos was activated from the 10-day injured list and has appeared in games.
  • RHP Dakota Hudson was transferred from the 10-day injured list to the 45-day injured list. The right hander will have Tommy John surgery on Monday and will be out for 9-15 months.
  • RHP Carlos Martinez exited his last start on Wednesday and was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left oblique strain. He is not likely to pitch for the remainder of the season.
  • RHP John Gant was placed on the 10-day injured list with a recurrence of his groin strain.

 

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals defeated the Brewers 5-2 on Sunday to clinch a postseason berth.  They will be the NL’s #5 seed and will play the Padres in San Diego in a best-of-three Wild Card Series starting Wednesday.  No pitchers for the series are official but the first game will likely be a Jack Flaherty start with Kwang-Hyun Kim another possibility.

Should the Cardinals win the series with the Padres, they will move on to the National League Division Series, which begins on Tuesday, October 6. They would face the winner of the Brewers at Dodgers first-round match-up.


Blast from the Past

Last week’s Blast From the Past looked at the 1944 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns.  This week’s segment remembers another World Series from the past, this one 10 years earlier in 1934.

The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals team was an unusual group.  They were nicknamed the “Gashouse Gang” with the name reportedly coined by shortstop Leo Durocher.  The moniker stuck because of the general appearance of the players, who weren’t exactly clean, often taking the field in dirty and smelly uniforms.  A gas house was a factory that turned coal into gas for lighting and cooking, a dirty and odiferous process back in those days.

1934 St. Louis Cardinals

The team had some interesting players as well, starting with pitching brothers Jay and Paul Dean, a/k/a “Dizzy” and “Daffy”.  The aforementioned Durocher was a notorious gambler who hung out with the wrong crowd and was accused of hitting his wife multiple times.  The two were in divorce proceedings that year.  Pepper Martin was the prankster of the group.  Rounding it all out was a newcomer, 22-year old Joe Medwick, known as “Ducky”.  Headlining the Gashouse Gang were Dizzy, Daffy, and Ducky.  In mid-season, the Cardinals added “Dazzy” Vance, a 43-year old veteran pitcher, to the roster.

Dizzy and Daffy Dean

Dizzy Dean predicted before the 1934 season started that he and his brother would win 45 games together.  They actually won 49 – 30 for Dizzy, 19 for Daffy.  At one point during the season the two were embroiled in a pay dispute with general manager Branch Rickey.  The two failed to show up for an exhibition game in Detroit in early August.  Manager Frankie Frisch fined them and they tore up the locker room in a fit of pique.  After refusing to play for a week, the brothers returned, and the season went on.

In early September, the Cardinals were down seven games to the New York Giants.  On a stretch run from the fifth through the 14th, the Cardinals won 7 of 10 games, including 5 in a row.  In a doubleheader against the Giants on the 16th, Dizzy won the first game and his brother won the second.  On the 21st against Brooklyn in a twin bill, Dizzy threw a three-hit shutout in the opener and Daffy threw a no-hitter in Game 2.  Dizzy was reported to have said after that if he knew his brother was going to throw a no-hitter he would have thrown one also.

Dizzy won his 30th game against the Reds in the final game of the regular season.  Brooklyn aided the Cardinals by beating the Giants in a doubleheader and the Cardinals won the NL pennant.

The 1934 World Series between the Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers began on Wednesday, October 3.  The Cardinals won Game 1, 8-3.  Dizzy pitched a complete game, allowed eight hits, struck out six and walked two.  Medwick went 4-for-5 including a solo home run.

Ducky Medwick

The Cardinals lost Game 2, 3-2.  Medwick had an RBI single to left field.  Bill Hallahan was the starter but got a no decision.  The loss went to relief pitcher Bill Walker.

St. Louis bounced back to beat Detroit 4-1 in Game 3.  Like his brother in the opener, Daffy threw a complete game for the win.  He allowed only one run on eight hits, fanned seven and walked five.  Dean also contributed a sacrifice fly on offense.

Detroit won Game 4, 10-4.  Tex Carleton made the start but was relieved by Vance after 2 2/3 innings.  Bill Walker, the second of four relief pitchers, took the loss.  Dizzy appeared as a pinch runner in the fourth inning and was hit in the forehead by a throw from second while running from first base.  He was taken off the field in a stretcher and taken to the hospital.  From this incident came the memorable quote that “X-rays of his head revealed nothing”.

Game 5 was another loss for the Cardinals by the score of 3-1.  Dizzy was the losing pitcher, receiving no run support other than a solo home run by Bill DeLancey.

The Cardinals were undaunted and went on to win Games 6 and 7.  Game 6 was a 4-3 win with Daffy earning his second win of the Series.  In a complete game, he gave up three runs, only one earned, on seven hits.  He struck out four and walked two.  Medwick went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Game 7 was an 11-0 trouncing.  Dizzy won his second game of the series, pitching all nine innings.  He allowed six hits and fanned five.  There was a fight of sorts in this game, initiated by Medwick.  With a 7-0 lead, Medwick tripled and slid into Tigers third baseman Merv Owen aggressively, which Owen took exception to, and the two got into it.  The fight didn’t last long, but Detroit fans responded by throwing bottles, scorecards, and anything else that would fly at Medwick as he came off the field.  The crew would clean it up and the fans would throw things again.  The game was delayed 20 minutes and Commissioner Kennesaw Landis ordered Medwick to shake hands with Owen to quell the crowd, but Ducky refused. So, Landis had Medwick removed from the game.

The Cardinals won Game 7 and the World Series title.  Dizzy had predicted they would win it, and once again, his prediction was realized.   He had said at the time he made the prediction that “It ain’t braggin’ if you do it”.  They did indeed do it – Dizzy, Daffy, Ducky, Dazzy, and all of the Gashouse Gang.


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Game Recap – Saturday, September 26, 2020

photo: Adam Wainwright via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Saturday, September 26 – Cardinals 0, Brewers 3

The St. Louis Cardinals needed a win against the Milwaukee Brewers to clinch a postseason spot but they did not get it.  A virtually non-existent offense caused the Cardinals to suffer a 3-0 defeat on Saturday night at Busch Stadium.

As has been the case through a significant portion of the shortened season, the St. Louis offense faced pitching that thwarted their efforts.  Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff held the Cardinals scoreless throughout his eight innings pitched.  Only two Redbirds managed a hit against Woodruff.  Kolten Wong hit a leadoff single in the first inning but was left stranded.  Yadier Molina led off the second inning with a single and was likewise left stranded.  When all was done the Cardinals struck out 11 times and walked only once. No baserunners advanced as far as second base.

No offense put the lion’s share of the burden on starter Adam Wainwright.  The veteran right hander tossed 6 2/3 innings and yielded three runs on eight hits.  He gave up two solo home runs and suffered his third loss of the season.

Andrew Miller relieved with one out in the seventh inning and walked his first batter but struck out the second to end the inning.  Miller returned for the eighth and fanned the first hitter and was replaced by Ryan Helsley, who got the final two outs of the inning.  Tyler Webb hurled a scoreless ninth inning, with one hit allowed and three strikeouts.

The loss puts the Cardinals one game over .500 at 29-28.  It also enabled the Cubs to clinch the NL Central Division title.  The Cardinals remain in second place in the NL Central  by winning percentage as the Reds lost to the Twins.

A win for the Cardinals in Sunday’s game will clinch a postseason berth for the team.  If the Cardinals lose, then other scenarios exist for the Cardinals to get a postseason spot, including a likelihood to have play the make-up doubleheader of Game 59 and 60 in Detroit against the Tigers on Monday.

Those games will be necessary only if Milwaukee beats the Cardinals and San Francisco bests San Diego on Sunday.

For full details on the various playoff scenarios affecting the Cardinals, including possible seedings, please check out this thread on The Cardinal Nation’s free message board.

Sunday’s game: vs. Brewers at 2:15 p.m., Austin Gomber (1-1, 1.80) vs. Brett Anderson (4-3, 4.00) FOX Sports Midwest/KMOX/WIJR


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Games Recaps – Friday, September 25, 2020

photo: Daniel Ponce de Leon via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

After a dismal offensive showing in Game 1 of Friday’s twinbill vs. Milwaukee, the St. Louis Cardinals pitched and hit well in Game 2 for a decisive win and split. Daniel Ponce de Leon pitched no-hit ball into the sixth inning.



Friday, September 25, 2020 – Cardinals 0, Brewers 3 (seven innings, Game 1)

The St. Louis Cardinals continued the final homestand of 2020 with a Friday doubleheader against the Brewers.  In Game 1, the Cardinals offense couldn’t get anything going against Milwaukee pitching.  A total of five hits was all St. Louis hitters could muster against Brewers starter Brent Suter and relievers Devin Williams and Josh Hader and their only runner to reach second base did it in the final inning.

Kolten Wong reached to begin the home first on an infield single to third base.  He was erased in a double play off the bat of Paul Goldschmidt.  Paul DeJong singled to right in the fourth but was stranded.

Dylan Carlson hit an infield single in the fifth, but was erased in a double play, this time by Brad Miller.  The double play struck again in the sixth after Harrison Bader singled to center and Wong followed with a ground ball that enabled the Brewers to turn two.

The Cardinals finally got a runner safely to second base in the seventh when Paul Goldschmidt doubled to left field. A ground out and two strikeouts ended that scoring possibility and the game.

St. Louis starter Jack Flaherty continued to have issues with Milwaukee hitters.  Flaherty pitched five innings and allowed three runs on four hits, one of which was home run.  The right hander also fell victim to the walk, issuing four free passes, though he did fan five.

John Gant started the sixth in relief, but after facing one hitter, left the game with groin tightness, a recurring issue with the right hander.  Ryan Helsley replaced Gant and pitched a scoreless frame.  Tyler Webb tossed a scoreless seventh inning. Following the game, Gant was placed on the 10-day injured list.

Gant’s Injured Groin Finally Requires an Injured List Move

Friday, September 25, 2020 – Cardinals 9 “at” Brewers 1 (seven innings, Game 2)

A pitching gem from Cardinals starter Daniel Ponce de Leon plus a much better offensive performance led St. Louis to a decisive win over the Brewers in the second game of the twin bill. St. Louis was designated as the road team in this make-up contest from August 2.

Ponce de Leon kept the Milwaukee offense not only scoreless but hitless until the sixth inning.  In his six innings of work, the right hander yielded one run on one hit, a home run by Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia.  Ponce de Leon struck out six and walked two, throwing 99 pitches, 60 for strikes, to earn his first win of the season. It was also his first career win as a starter in his 20th try.

Kodi Whitley made his second appearance since being activated from the injured list on Tuesday and pitched a scoreless seventh inning.  He allowed one hit, struck out one, and walked one.

The offense got on the board in the first inning, when Tommy Edman singled to right field, and Matt Carpenter drove him home on a double to right.  Two more runs came home in the second.  Paul DeJong singled and later scored on a wild pitch. Matt Wieters drew a walk, and Kolten Wong followed with an RBI triple to center.

Tommy Edman via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)h

The big inning was the fifth. Wong singled to lead off and came home when Edman thumped a home run to center to make it 5-0.  Matt Carpenter singled on a ground ball to third base and Harrison Bader pinch ran.  Dexter Fowler and Paul DeJong each walked to load the bases.  Dylan Carlson doubled to left to score Bader and Fowler. Wieters then drove DeJong and Carlson home on a single to center.

Wong, Edman, and Carpenter each had two hits. Edman, Carlson, and Wieters had two RBI each.

The Cardinals have a record of 29-27 and are in second place in the NL Central by winning percentage.  The Cardinals and Reds are three games back of the Cubs. The Cubs and the Reds have clinched postseason berths with two games left in the regular season.  The Cardinals, by virtue of not having played 58 games but only 56 games, have not yet clinched, but could do so by winning either Saturday or Sunday. A doubleheader against the Tigers on Monday is tentatively scheduled and will be played if needed to either determine postseason qualification or Wild Card Round home field advantage, but not seeding.

Saturday’s game:  vs. Brewers at 6:07 p.m.  Adam Wainwright (5-2, 3.05) vs. Brandon Woodruff (2-5, 3.43). FOX Network/KMOX/WIJR


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Game Recap – Thursday, September 24, 2020

photo: Yadier Molina via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The St. Louis Cardinals took the opener of their five-game set against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium. Kwang-Hyun Kim and Dylan Carlson starred and Yadier Molina reached a very significant career milestone Thursday evening.



Thursday, September 24, 2020 – Cardinals 4, Brewers 2

The St. Louis Cardinals’ final series of the regular season began on Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium.  This first of five contests ended with a Cardinals victory against one of the best pitchers in the National League, Corbin Burnes.

St. Louis’ offense got the Burnes in the third inning.  It started with back to back singles by Kolten Wong and Tommy Edman. Paul Goldschmidt singled to drive in Wong.

The Brewers knotted the game up 1-1 in the top of the fourth.  In response the Redbirds scored two in the bottom half of the inning.  Dexter Fowler drew a walk and Dylan Carlson blasted a ball long and high into right field, but just fair for a two-run home run.  The Cardinals led 3-1.

Dylan Carlson via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Carlson once again plated the fourth and final Cardinals run in the sixth following another Fowler free pass.  This time it was a double into the left center field gap that brought Fowler home.

The Brewers made it closer in the ninth with one run to make it 4-2, but St. Louis prevailed.  Edman and Carlson each had two hits.

One other Cardinal had two hits, and the second one was very special.  Yadier Molina’s 2,000th career hit was a line drive single to center.  He became just the 12th catcher in MLB history to reach the 2,000 hit milestone and the sixth Cardinal, following Stan Musial, Lou Brock, Rogers Hornsby, Enos Slaughter and Albert Pujols.

The offense had numerous opportunities to put the game away, but continued to misfire in scoring situations. The Cardinals hitters stranded 11 baserunners and went just 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position.

Kwang-Hyun Kim via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Kwang-Hyun Kim was St. Louis’ starter on the mound.  The left hander tossed five innings and allowed one run on five hits, escaping a key two-on, two-out jam in his final frame.  Kim struck out three and walked two.

Giovanny Gallegos pitched a scoreless, hitless sixth and Genesis Cabrera followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings.  Alex Reyes took over with one out in the eighth and got the final two outs.  The right hander returned to start the ninth, struck out one hitter but yielded two singles.  Andrew Miller came in and surrendered a single, but struck out the final two hitters to seal the victory. His fourth save protected Kim’s third win.

The victory positioned the Cardinals a half-game ahead of the Reds, who were off. It also put the Cardinals 2.5 games back of the Cubs, which lost to the Pirates.  The Cardinals are two games over .500 with a record of 28-26.

Friday’s games:  vs. Brewers at 4:15 p.m., RHP Jack Flaherty (4-2, 4.84) vs. RHP Josh Lindblom (2-3, 4.81) (Game 1), RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon (0-3, 5.74) vs. TBA (Game 2).


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of September 14-20

photo: Daniel Ponce de Leon via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The St. Louis Cardinals played 10 games on the road in the last seven days, going 6-4. In the process, they have maintained their slim hold on a playoff berth. Daniel Ponce de Leon returned from the alternate camp to make two important starts, the last on short rest. Our history feature recalls the last World Series to be played in one site, the 1944 set played at St. Louis’ Sportsman’s Park.

Game Recaps

Monday, September 14, 2020 – Cardinals 1 at Brewers 2 (eight innings, Game 1)

The St. Louis Cardinals began the week with a five-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.  The series featured two sets of doubleheaders with the first played on Monday.  In Game 1, the Cardinals were edged by the Brewers 2-1 in extra innings.

Kwang-Hyun Kim made the start, his first since returning from the 10-day injured list.  Kim was very good, tossing seven scoreless innings during which he allowed only three hits.  The left hander fanned six and walked three.  He threw 87 pitches, 54 for strikes.

Kwang-Hyun Kim via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Ryan Helsley relieved in the eighth inning and yielded both Milwaukee runs, only one earned. A leadoff walk and an RBI in favor of was replaced by Austin Gomber. Gomber walked his first batter and allowed the sac fly that represented the winning run.  That run was charged to Helsley.

Both offenses were held scoreless until extra innings.  In the top of the eighth, with Tyler O’Neill on second to start the inning, Tommy Edman singled to center, and O’Neill scored.  The Brewers came back in the bottom frame of the eighth with the two runs for the walk off.

St. Louis’ offense managed five hits, all singles from Kolten Wong, Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt, Paul DeJong, and Harrison Bader.

Bader was caught stealing for the first time in 2020.

Monday, September 14, 2020 – Cardinals 3 at Brewers 2 (nine innings, Game 2)

The Cardinals took the second game of Monday’s twin bill, again in extra innings.  Daniel Ponce de Leon received the Game 2 start, and pitched six strong innings.  The right-hander allowed two runs on four hits, fanned nine and walked one.  He threw 97 pitches, 67 for strikes.

Alex Reyes relieved and tossed a scoreless seventh. The right hander struck out three and walked one.  Genesis Cabrera hurled a scoreless eighth, also with three strikeouts and one walk.  Tyler Webb closed the ninth with a scoreless performance that included one strikeout and one walk.  Cabrera earned the win and Webb, the save.

Tyler Webb via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The Redbirds offense scored three runs on 10 hits.  The first run was put on the board in the fifth inning after the Brewers took a 2-0 lead in the fourth.  The inning began with a walk from Tommy Edman.  Three batters later, Paul DeJong singled to right to move Edman to second.  After Rangel Ravelo drew a walk, Tyler O’Neill singled to plate Edman from third.

The Cardinals knotted it up at 2-2 in the seventh when Paul Goldschmidt doubled, and Brad Miller drove him in via a single.

The game went into extra innings, and neither team scored in the eighth.  In the ninth, Edman began on second base and was brought home on a single by Paul DeJong.  The Brewers failed to score in the bottom of the ninth, and the Redbirds took he win.

O’Neill stole his second base of the season and Matt Wieters had a passed ball.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020 – Cardinals 3 at Brewers 18

The Cardinals were the victims of a bludgeoning by the Brewers in a regulation game on Tuesday at Miller Park.  The Cardinals scored immediately in the first inning on a RBI double by Paul Goldschmidt. The Brewers responded with two in the home first to take a 2-1 lead.  Two more runs in the bottom of the third increased the Brewers lead to 4-1.

To begin the fourth, the game was still a manageable for the Cardinals.  However, things then went off the rails as the Brewers scored seven runs to essentially put the game out of reach.  Though St. Louis added a run in the fifth on two singles and two walks, the Brewers came back in the bottom of the inning with six additional runs to make it 17-2.

The Cardinals tacked on their final run in the seventh on a single by Paul DeJong.  In tota,l the offense had seven hits, the double by Goldschmidt and singles by Tommy Edman with two, Goldschmidt, DeJong, Brad Miller, Matt Wieters, and Harrison Bader.

Jack Flaherty had his worst start of the short 2020 season.  The right-hander pitched only three innings and gave up nine runs on eight hits.  He fanned six and walked two.  Jake Woodford relieved in the fourth and tossed 1 1/3 innings in which he yielded five runs on three hits. Rob Kaminsky allowed three runs, one earned in 2/3 innings and Nabil Crismatt surrendered one run on the final three innings. Flaherty took the loss.

There were two errors, a catcher interference on Yadier Molina, and a fielding error by Lane Thomas.  The former led to a small skirmish between the Cardinals and the Brewers in front of the Brewers dugout after Molina was struck on the wrist by Milwaukee batter Ryan Braun’s backswing. St. Louis manager Mike Shildt was suspended one game for some combination of his team going on the field, words that were exchanged between Shildt and the Brewers dugout and his removal of his mask.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 – Cardinals 4 at Brewers 2 (seven innings, Game 1)

In the second twin bill of the series, the Cardinals defeated the Brewers 4-2 behind an excellent complete game start by veteran Adam Wainwright.  Wainwright yielded two runs on four hits, fanned nine and walked one.  The two runs allowed came on a long ball in the first inning.  Wainwright shut it down for the rest of the game.

Adam Wainwright via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Cardinals hitters put up four runs on seven hits.  Brad Miller was 2-for-3 with a double and a solo home run in the sixth inning. Tommy Edman doubled in the fifth to drive in a run.  The first St. Louis run came on a solo home run by Tyler O’Neill in the second inning.  O’Neill drove in the second run on sac fly in the fourth.   Paul Goldschmidt, Yadier Molina, and Justin Williams each singled.

Tommy Edman was caught stealing for the fourth time in 2020.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020 – Cardinals 0 at Brewers 6 (seven innings, Game 2)

The Cardinals were blanked by the Brewers in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader.  The meager St. Louis offense managed only two hits off Brewers starter Brent Suter, singles by Paul DeJong and Tommy Edman

St. Louis rookie starter Johan Oviedo tossed 5 1/3 innings and surrendered six runs, five earned, on seven hits.  The right-hander struck out five and walked two.  He threw 94 pitches, 61 for strikes.  Seth Elledge relieved with one out in the sixth inning and allowed no runs or hits and issued one walk.

Brad Miller committed an error, a dropped foul ball.  Matt Wieters had a passed ball.

Thursday, September 17, 2020 – Cardinals 1 at Pirates 5

The Cardinals arrived in Pittsburgh to face the Pirates at PNC Park on Thursday night in the opener of a five-game weekend series.  St. Louis starting pitcher Dakota only went two innings and the offense was stymied on just two hits on the way to a disappointing 5-1 loss.

The troubles began when Hudson was removed after the second inning due to injury.  It was originally called “right elbow tightness,” but after the game, manager Mike Shildt labeled it a “mild forearm strain”. X-rays showed nothing structural, but Hudson would end up going on the injured list on Friday.

Hudson’s early exit forced Friday’s tentative doubleheader Game 2 starter Austin Gomber into relief action starting in the third inning. The lefty pitched one scoreless frame, but in the fourth, he walked the first two batters. After two consecutive Pirates struck out, Gregory Polanco hit a three-run home run to right center field. Gomber yielded a fourth run on a single and a double before being pulled with two out, still in the fourth.

Tyler Webb retired the final hitter in the fourth, and took the fifth, but was replaced by Seth Elledge with one out in the sixth. Elledge finished the frame. Andrew Miller and Junior Fernandez tossed the scoreless seventh and eighth, respectively.  Gomber was tagged with the loss.

The meager Cardinals offense scored one run on two hits, both singles, as they were stymied by Pirates pitcher Steven Brault.  The left-hander went all the way to pick up his first win in 14 starts since September 1, 2019. Tommy Edman’s single in the third inning drove in the only Cardinals run. Kolten Wong had the other hit. Yadier Molina and Rangel Ravelo each drew a free pass.

Ravelo had an outfield assist at home plate.

Friday, September 18, 2020 – Cardinals 6 at Pirates 5 (seven innings, Game 1)

Friday’s Game 1 was Carlos Martinez’ start, his third since being activated from the injured list.  Martinez has struggled since his return, and this outing was no different, as the right hander lasted only 3 2/3 innings.  He was not helped at all by his defense, which committed four errors in the game.  Martinez yielded five runs, only one of which was earned, on three hits.  Four walks with only one strikeout contributed to his early exit.  He was relieved by Genesis Cabrera, who tossed a scoreless inning.

Alex Reyes followed, entering with two outs in the fifth and retiring the only batter he faced.  He returned to pitch a scoreless sixth and retired the first hitter in the seventh, Gregory Polanco.  Ryan Helsley finished the game, though it was no easy matter to do so.  Helsley got the second out of the inning but walked the next batter.  Again, the defense marred the outing with a throwing error by shortstop Paul DeJong, who had committed a fielding miscue earlier in the game.  Helsley then walked the hitter to load the bases.  The right hander induced a fly ball out to left field to save the win for the Cardinals and Reyes.

The offense had a better showing than the previous night, scoring six runs on eight hits. Kolten Wong led off the game with a solo home run to right field.  The lead quickly vanished, however, as the Pirates scored two in the bottom of the inning.

The Cardinals responded with two runs in the top of the second.  Yadier Molina singled, and Tyler O’Neill brought him in with blast to right center field.  St. Louis led 3-2. The offense added on in the third with two additional runs on a Paul Goldschmidt RBI double and a sac fly by DeJong.

Kolten Wong via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Wong drove in his second run in the fourth inning on a groundout.  The Cardinals led 6-2.  However, the Pirates were not done as they put three more runs on the board in the bottom of the fourth to decrease St. Louis’ lead to 6-5.  The Cardinals bullpen kept the Pirates off the board for the remainder of the game.

Goldschmidt and Molina led the way with two hits each.  Wong and O’Neill contributed with the long ball.  Tommy Edman and Harrison Bader each singled.

The defense committed four errors, two from DeJong, a generally solid defensive shortstop.  Molina was called for another catcher interference, his second of the week, and Edman made a fielding error.

Friday, September 18, 2020 – Cardinals 7, Pirates 2 (seven innings, Game 2)

In the second game of the twin bill, the Cardinals earned the sweep with a decisive 7-2 win over the last place Pirates.  In this make-up game from August 12, St. Louis was designated as the home team despite the game being played on Pittsburgh soil.

29th man Daniel Ponce de Leon made the start on three days rest and kept the Pirates off the board until the fifth inning.  An unfortunate pitch led to a two-run blast that marred the nine strikeout outing for Ponce de Leon.  The right-hander walked two and allowed only three hits.  His day was finished after the fifth.

Andrew Miller relieved in the sixth and threw a scoreless frame.  Seth Elledge finished with a scoreless seventh with one hit allowed.

Both teams were held scoreless until the fourth when the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead on Paul DeJong’s RBI single that was preceded by back to back singles from Paul Goldschmidt and Tommy Edman.  Goldschmidt scored on the sac fly.

The Pirates responded by taking the lead on the two-run home run in the top of the fifth.  In the bottom of the sixth, the Cardinals retook the lead with a six-run outburst.  Edman walked and Goldschmidt reached on catcher interference.  Brad Miller walked to load the bases before DeJong’s sac fly to right plated Edman.  Tyler O’Neil reached on a fielder’s choice and Goldschmidt scored on a throwing error by the Pirates third baseman.

Dylan Carlson via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Harrison Bader pinch ran for Miller and a ground ball by Matt Carpenter led to a throwing error by the Pirate first baseman that allowed Bader to score. With Carpenter and O’Neill on base, Dylan Carlson, newly recalled from Springfield, hit a high middle fastball out of the park for a three-run home run, his second long ball of the season.  The home run was Carlson’s second hit in the game.  The Cardinals led 7-2, a lead they would not relinquish.

Saturday, September 19, 2020 – Cardinals 5 at Pirates 4

In an unusual contest in Pittsburgh on Saturday night, the Cardinals were the victors in a one-run game against the Pirates in the fourth of the five-game series.  It began with the Cardinals being no-hit by Pirates starter Mitch Keller through the first six innings.  Keller had recently returned from the injured list and was on a pitch count for the evening.  Following six no-hit innings, Keller was removed after 84 pitches with a 4-0 lead over St. Louis.

In the seventh, the tide turned dramatically in the Cardinals’ favor against the Pirates bullpen.  With Pittsburgh reliever Geoff Hartlieb on the mound, Brad Miller and Paul DeJong walked.  Yadier Molina was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Hartlieb was replaced by left hander Sam Howard.

Tyler O’Neill via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Tyler O’Neill smacked a double to left field to break up the no-hitter and the shutout.  Miller and DeJong scored to make it 4-2.  Dylan Carlson’s sac fly to right plated Molina and it was 4-3.  Harrison Bader was the second Cardinal hit by a pitch in the inning.

Kolten Wong, after several failed bunt attempts, singled to right and O’Neill scored to tie the game.  Tommy Edman singled on a ground ball to left as Harrison Bader scored what ultimately was the winning run from second base standing up.

The Redbirds scored their five runs from only three hits, with the only extra base hit O’Neill’s double.  Two walks and two hit-by-pitches were essentially the catalyst for the five-run inning.

St. Louis’ starter was Kwang-Hyun Kim.  Kim had recently been activated from the injured list, but unlike Keller, was not on a pitch count.  He came into this start with an ERA of 0.63 but yielded four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings pitched, as his ERA rose to 1.59.  The lefty tossed 103 pitches, 68 for strikes, fanned four and issued one walk.  His nemesis was two long balls, both solo shots.

Sunday, September 20, 2020 – Cardinals 2, Pirates 1

The Cardinals ended the week with a win over the Pirates 2-1, the fourth straight win in the five-game series.   Jack Flaherty made the start and redeemed himself from the poor start against the Brewers earlier in the week.  The right-hander hurled six strong innings with 11 strikeouts, two walks, and only one run allowed on two hits.  Flaherty threw 102 pitches, 61 for strikes.

Jack Flaherty via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Flaherty was followed by a scoreless, hitless inning each by Tyler Webb, John Gant, and Andrew Miller.  Flaherty earned the win, his fourth of the season.  Miller received his third save.

Once again, the Cardinals offense couldn’t get anything going against the Pirates starter, who this time was Joe Musgrove.  St. Louis was scoreless until the seventh inning, after Musgrove was relieved by Derek Holland.  The difference-maker was the two-run home run off the bat of Yadier Molina following Matt Carpenter’s single.

Paul Goldschmidt was 2-for-4, including a double.  Dylan Carlson also doubled.

Kolten Wong stole two bases, his fourth and fifth of the season.  Harrison Bader stole his third of 2020.

The Big Picture

The Cardinals played 10 road games during the week, which included three doubleheaders.  St. Louis won six times.  They took only 2 of 5 from the Brewers but won 4 of 5 with the Pirates.  The Cardinals stand in second place in the NL Central with a record of 26-24 and are 3.5 games back of the Cubs, who dropped their last two games against the Twins.

Lack of offense against the Brewers was the primary problem in that series.  The Cardinals scored only 11 runs across five games while allowing 30.  That series was mostly a failure of pitching.  The offense was a little better in the Pirates series, but not by a whole lot.

St. Louis hitters under the Mendoza Line this past week include Matt Carpenter (.045), Harrison Bader (.136), Brad Miller (.138) and Tyler O’Neill (.148). Right on the line were Yadier Molina and Kolten Wong and not much better was Paul DeJong (.212). Among regulars, only Tommy Edman (.286) and Paul Goldschmidt (.303) are consistently hitting.

Paul Goldschmidt via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

O’Neill, Bader and recently-recalled Dylan Carlson have become the semi-regular outfield, with Lane Thomas sent down. Dexter Fowler’s return is reportedly close.

The injury to Dakota Hudson leaves a hole in the starting rotation. It is not clear how will be filled, though most likely by several pitchers over this final week that may include Daniel Ponce de Leon, Johan Oviedo and Austin Gomber.  Adam Wainwright has been the stalwart of the rotation, given some shaky starts by Jack Flaherty, though the latter was much better on Sunday.  Kwang-Hyun Kim is back from the injured list and pitched two decent starts this past week.  Carlos Martinez, on the other hand, has been iffy at best.

Dakota Hudson via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The bullpen has missed Giovanny Gallegos and John Gant.  Gant returned to pitch an inning on Sunday.  Gallegos is expected to return for the final week of the regular season.  Alex Reyes, Tyler Webb, Genesis Cabrera, and Andrew Miller have been fine as well.  The rest of the bullpen has been hit and miss.

The defense has continued to have some uncharacteristic issues, specifically by the usually reliable Paul DeJong, who had three errors during the week.  Baserunning has been good.

If the Cardinals continue to have a dearth of offense, run prevention has to be the equalizer.  Pitching must be more consistent, and the defensive errors have to stop.

The Cardinals play a three game-series with the Royals in Kansas City and may or may not end the season with five game against the Brewers at Busch Stadium.  The Cardinals play the Royals well at Kaufmann Stadium and must continue to do so.  The Brewers are always tough, and the Cardinals must play better against them at Busch Stadium than they did earlier in the week at Miller Park.  If needed, the Cardinals may play a doubleheader against the Tigers on Monday, September 28 to reach 60 games played and to decide the final standings and post-season seeding.

The Cardinals are helped by an easier schedule than the Reds and Brewers, who play each other early in the week.  The Reds will face a tough Twins team to end the season while the Cardinals are head to head with the Brewers this coming weekend.

NL Central Standings

Team W L Pct GB
Chicago 31 22 0.585
St. Louis 26 24 0.520 3.5
Cincinnati 27 27 0.500 4.5
Milwaukee 26 26 0.500 4.5
Pittsburgh 15 38 0.283 16

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 9/14 The Cardinals activated LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim from the 10-day injured list.
  • 9/14 The Cardinals placed OF Austin Dean on the 10-day injured list. Right elbow strain.
  • 9/14 The Cardinals recalled RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/15 The Cardinals optioned RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/16 The Cardinals activated RHP Johan Oviedo from the injured list.
  • 9/16 The Cardinals designated RHP Rob Kaminsky for assignment.
  • 9/16 The Cardinals optioned OF Lane Thomas to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/16 The Cardinals optioned RHP Nabil Crismatt to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/16 The Cardinals recalled RHP Junior Fernandez from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/16 The Cardinals recalled 2B Max Schrock from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/16 The Cardinals recalled OF Justin Williams from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/17 The Cardinals optioned RHP Johan Oviedo to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/18 The Cardinals placed RHP Dakota Hudson on the 10-day injured list. Right elbow strain.
  • 9/18 The Cardinals optioned 2B Max Schrock to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/18 The Cardinals sent RHP Rob Kaminsky outright to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/18 The Cardinals recalled OF Dylan Carlson from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/18 The Cardinals recalled RHP Nabil Crismatt from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/18 The Cardinals recalled RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/19 The Cardinals optioned RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/20 The Cardinals acquired LHP Domingo Robles from the Pittsburgh Pirates for international bonus pool space.

Injury Report

  • RHP John Brebbia underwent Tommy John surgery on June 1. He will miss the entire 2020 season.
  • RHP Jordan Hicks (Tommy John surgery) has opted out of the 2020 season.
  • RHP Miles Mikolas (right forearm strain) had arm surgery and will miss the remainder of the season.
  • RHP Kodi Whitley (COVID-19 positive) had experienced discomfort in his pitching elbow during throwing sessions at the Alternate Training Site. He was sent to St. Louis for an MRI and no structural damage was found. No update on his possible return has been reported.
  • OF Austin Dean was placed on the 10-day injured list. Right elbow strain.
  • LHP Ricardo Sanchez was transferred from the 10-day injured list to the 45-day injured list. Left elbow pain.
  • LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim was activated from the 10-day injured list and started Monday’s game against the Brewers and Saturday’s game against the Pirates.
  • RF Dexter Fowler remains on the 10-day injured list. He is expected to return to the roster in the coming week, possibly for the Royals series.
  • RHP Johan Oviedo was activated from the COVID-19 injured list and started the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Brewers and was optioned to the alternate site aftereward.
  • RHP Giovanny Gallegos remains on the 10-day injured list but should be returning to the roster early in the coming week.
  • RHP Dakota Hudson was placed on the 10-day injured list. Right elbow strain.  Hudson is likely out for the remainder of the season.

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals conclude the 13-game road trip with a three-game set with the Royals in Kansas City beginning on Monday.  Adam Wainwright is scheduled to make the Monday start, Austin Gomber on Tuesday and Carlos Martinez on Wednesday.

The Cardinals return to Busch Stadium on Thursday for a five-game series with the Brewers, which includes a doubleheader on Friday.

Should it be necessary for playoff purposes, the Cardinals will play a doubleheader against the Tigers on Monday, September 28.  The games will be a makeup of postponed games from August 3-4.

The NL playoffs begin with the Wild Card series of three games on Wednesday, September 30 in Texas.  The NLDS five-game series opens on Tuesday, October 6.

Whether the Cardinals appear in the postseason will be determined by the results in the final week of the regular season. If the season ended today, St. Louis would be the no. 6 seed of eight in the NL. However, four clubs are within a game just behind them – Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and San Francisco. Only three of this five will continue play in October.

Blast from the Past

Major League Baseball announced a format for the upcoming postseason that begins on Tuesday, September 29.  The entire postseason except for the Wild Card Series will be played in four neutral sites.  Globe Life Field in Arlington and Minute Maid Park in Houston will host the NLDS.  The NLCS will be played in Arlington.

For the AL, each Division Series will be played at Petco Park in San Diego and in Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.  Petco Park in San Diego will host the ALCS.  The World Series will be played at Globe Life Stadium in Arlington.

This will be the first time the World Series will be played entirely at one site in the last 76 years.  This week’s Blast From the Past recalls 1944, when the World Series was played at one and only one ballpark.

The reason for playing the entire 1944 Series at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis was that it was the home park of both League Champions.  The facility was owned by the Browns, with the Cardinals as tenants.

In the 1944 Series, the Cardinals represented the National League against the American League Browns.  The former was managed by future Hall of Famer Billy Southworth, the latter by Luke Sewell.

Sportsman’s Park

The 1944 series was known by several names, “The Trolley Series”, “Streetcar Series”, and the “St. Louis Showdown”.  Ironically, the year 1944 was also the year the movie “Meet Me in St. Louis” was released.

On October 4, 1944, the Browns won Game 1, 2-1. The Browns offense consisted of a two-run home run by first baseman George McQuinn in the fourth inning off Cardinals starting pitcher Mort Cooper. The Cardinals scored their only run in the bottom of the ninth, on a sac fly by pinch hitter Ken O’Dea.

1944 World Series program

The Cardinals were the winners of Game 2 by the score of 3-2.  Left fielder Augie Bergamo drove in the first run on a ground out in the third inning.  In the fourth, Cardinals second baseman Emil Verban plated the second run on a sac fly.  The game went in to extra innings and was won by the Cardinals in the 11th inning on an RBI single by O’Dea, again as a pinch hitter.

The Browns won Game 3, 6-2.  Four of the Browns’ six runs scored in the third on three singles and a wild pitch.  The Cardinals plated both their runs on singles, by Walker Cooper in the first inning and by Marty Marion in the seventh.

The Cardinals won the final three games to take the Series.  The 5-1 win in Game 4 featured a two-run home run by Stan Musial in the first inning.  Solo home runs by first baseman Ray Sanders and left-fielder Danny Litwhiler led to a 2-0 win for St. Louis in Game 5.

The clincher, Game 6, was a 3-1 Cardinals victory.  All three runs came home in the fourth on a throwing error and singles by Emil Verban and Max Lanier.

1944 St. Louis Cardinals team photo

Another event of note in this World War II-era match-up is that it is the only World Series to feature no stolen bases by either team.

The only other World Series to feature two teams from the same city was the 1906 Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox, and both the 1921 and 1922 World Series between the New York Giants and the New York Yankees.


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Game Recap – Saturday, September 19, 2020

photo: Tyler O’Neill via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Saturday, September 19, 2020 – Cardinals 5 at Pirates 4

In an unusual contest in Pittsburgh on Saturday night, the St. Louis Cardinals were the victors in a one-run game against the Pirates in the fourth of the five-game series.  It began with the Cardinals being no-hit by Pirates starter Mitch Keller through the first six innings.  Keller had recently returned from the injured list and was on a pitch count for the evening.  Following six no-hit innings, Keller was removed after 84 pitches with a 4-0 lead over St. Louis.

In the seventh, the tide turned dramatically in the Cardinals’ favor against the Pirates bullpen.  With Pittsburgh reliever Geoff Hartlieb on the mound, Brad Miller and Paul DeJong walked.  Yadier Molina was hit by a pitch to load the bases.  Hartlieb was replaced by left hander Sam Howard.

Tyler O’Neill smacked a double to left field to break up the no-hitter and the shutout.  Miller and DeJong scored to make it 4-2.  Dylan Carlson’s sac fly to right plated Molina and it was 4-3.  Harrison Bader was the second Cardinal hit by a pitch in the inning.

Tommy Edman via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Kolten Wong, after several failed bunt attempts, singled to right and O’Neill scored to tie the game.  Tommy Edman singled on a ground ball to left as Harrison Bader scored what ultimately was the winning run from second base standing up.

The Redbirds scored their five runs from only three hits, with the only extra base hit O’Neill’s double.  Two walks and two hit-by-pitches were essentially the catalyst for the five-run inning.

Kwang-Hyun Kim via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

St. Louis’ starter was Kwang-Hyun Kim.  Kim had recently been activated from the injured list, but unlike Mitch Keller, was not on a pitch count.  He came into this start with an ERA of 0.63 but yielded four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings pitched, as his ERA rose to 1.59.  The lefty tossed 103 pitches, 68 for strikes, fanned four and issued one walk.  His nemesis was two long balls, both solo shots.

Jake Woodford relieved with one out in the sixth and pitched a scoreless 2/3 innings, retiring both batters he faced.  Ryan Helsley added 1 1/3 scoreless innings, and Genesis Cabrera closed it out with 1 2/3 scoreless frames.  Woodford earned the win, his first as a major leaguer, while Cabrera earned his first save.

DeJong committed a throwing error, his third error of the week and fourth of the season.

The win put the Cardinals back at second place in the NL Central.  The Cubs lost to the Twins 8-1 and the Reds lost to the White Sox 7-1.  The Cardinals are now 4.5 games back of the Cubs and one game up on the Reds and Brewers, who are tied for third place.

Sunday’s game:  vs. Pirates at 3:05 pm.  Jack Flaherty (3-2, 5.52) vs. Joe Musgrove (0-5, 5.74), FOX Sports Midwest/KMOX


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Games Recaps – Friday, September 18, 2020

photo: Daniel Ponce de Leon via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The St. Louis Cardinals continued with the five-game series at the Pittsburgh Pirates with a twin bill on Friday night. St. Louis needed wins after the tough loss to the last place Pirates on Thursday. The need was met with a sweep.



Friday, September 18, 2020 – Cardinals 6 at Pirates 5 (seven innings, Game 1)

Game 1 was Carlos Martinez’ start, his third since being activated from the injured list.  Martinez has struggled since his return, and today’s outing was no different, as the right hander lasted only 3 2/3 innings.  He was not helped at all by his defense, which committed four errors in the game.  Martinez yielded five runs, only one of which was earned, on three hits.  Four walks with only one strikeout contributed to his early exit.  He was relieved by Genesis Cabrera, who tossed a scoreless inning.

Alex Reyes

Alex Reyes followed, entering with two outs in the fifth and retiring the only batter he faced.  He returned to pitch a scoreless sixth and retired the first hitter in the seventh, Gregory Polanco.  Ryan Helsley finished the game, though it was no easy matter to do so.  Helsley got the second out of the inning but walked the next batter.  Again, the defense marred the outing with a throwing error by shortstop Paul DeJong, who had committed a fielding miscue earlier in the game.  Helsley then walked the hitter to load the bases.  The right hander induced a fly ball out to left field to save the win for the Cardinals and Reyes.

The offense had a better showing than the previous night, scoring six runs on eight hits. Kolten Wong led off the game with a solo home run to right field.  The lead quickly vanished, however, as the Pirates scored two in the bottom of the inning.

The Cardinals responded with two runs in the top of the second.  Yadier Molina singled, and Tyler O’Neill brought him in with blast to right center field.  St. Louis led 3-2. The offense added on in the third with two additional runs on a Paul Goldschmidt RBI double and a sac fly by DeJong.

Tyler O’Neill

Wong drove in his second run in the fourth inning on a groundout.  The Cardinals led 6-2.  However, the Pirates were not done as they put three more runs on the board in the bottom of the fourth to decrease St. Louis’ lead to 6-5.  The Cardinals bullpen kept the Pirates off the board for the remainder of the game.

Goldschmidt and Molina led the way with two hits each.  Wong and O’Neill contributed with the long ball.  Tommy Edman and Harrison Bader each singled.

The defense committed four errors, two from DeJong, a generally solid defensive shortstop.  Molina was called for another catcher interference, his second of the week, and Edman made a fielding error.


Friday, September 18, 2020 – Cardinals 7, Pirates 2 (seven innings, Game 2)

In the second game of the twin bill, the Cardinals earned the sweep with a decisive 7-2 win over the last place Pirates.  In this make-up game from August 12, St. Louis was designated as the home team despite the game being played on Pittsburgh soil.

29th man Daniel Ponce de Leon made the start on three days rest and kept the Pirates off the board until the fifth inning.  An unfortunate pitch led to a two-run blast that marred the nine strikeout outing for Ponce de Leon.  The right-hander walked two and allowed only three hits.  His day was finished after the fifth.

Daniel Ponce de Leon

Andrew Miller relieved in the sixth and threw a scoreless frame.  Seth Elledge finished with a scoreless seventh with one hit allowed.

Both teams were held scoreless until the fourth when the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead on Paul DeJong’s RBI single that was preceded by back to back singles from Paul Goldschmidt and Tommy Edman.  Goldschmidt scored on the sac fly.

The Pirates responded by taking the lead on the two-run home run in the top of the fifth.  In the bottom of the sixth, the Cardinals retook the lead with a six-run outburst.  Edman walked and Goldschmidt reached on catcher interference.  Brad Miller walked to load the bases before DeJong’s sac fly to right plated Edman.  Tyler O’Neil reached on a fielder’s choice and Goldschmidt scored on a throwing error by the Pirates third baseman.

Harrison Bader pinch ran for Miller and a ground ball by Matt Carpenter led to a throwing error by the Pirate first baseman that allowed Bader to score. With Carpenter and O’Neill on base, Dylan Carlson, newly recalled from Springfield, hit a high middle fastball out of the park for a three-run home run, his second long ball of the season.  The home run was Carlson’s second hit in the game.  The Cardinals led 7-2, a lead they would not relinquish.

Dylan Carlson

The sweep of the team’s 10th doubleheader of the season put the Cardinals back to the .500 mark with a record of 24-24, and in a tie for second place with the 26-26 Reds.  Both teams are 5.5 games back of the Cubs.

Saturday’s game:  vs. Pirates at 6:05 p.m.  Kwang-Hyun Kim (2-0, 0.63) vs. Mitch Keller (1-1, 5.06), FOX Sports Midwest/FOX Sports 1/KMOX


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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Game Recap – Thursday, September 17, 2020

photo: Dakota Hudson via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Thursday, September 17, 2020 – Cardinals 1 at Pirates 5

The St. Louis Cardinals faced the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on Thursday night in the opener of a five-game series.  Cardinals starting pitcher Dakota only went two innings and the offense was stymied on just two hits on the way to a disappointing 5-1 loss.

The troubles began when Hudson left the game after the second inning due to injury.  It was originally called “right elbow tightness,” but after the game, manager Mike Shildt labeled it a “mild forearm strain”. X-rays showed nothing structural, but Hudson will have imaging on Friday and more will be known then.

Hudson’s early exit forced Friday’s tentative doubleheader Game 2 starter Austin Gomber into action starting in the third inning. The lefty pitched one scoreless frame, but in the fourth, he walked the first two batters. After two consecutive Pirates struck out, Gregory Polanco hit a three-run home run to right center field. Gomber yielded a fourth run on a single and a double before being pulled with two out, still in the fourth.

Tyler Webb retired the final hitter in the fourth, and took the fifth, but he was replaced by Seth Elledge with one out in the sixth. Elledge finished the frame. Andrew Miller and Junior Fernandez tossed the scoreless seventh and eighth, respectively.  Gomber was tagged with the loss.

The meager Cardinals offense scored one run on two hits, both singles, as they were stymied by Pirates pitcher Steven Brault.  The left-hander went all the way to pick up his first win in 14 starts since September 1, 2019. Tommy Edman’s single in the third inning drove in the only Cardinals run. Kolten Wong had the other hit. Yadier Molina and Rangel Ravelo each drew a free pass.

Kolten Wong via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Ravelo had an outfield assist at home plate.

The loss put the Cardinals at 22-24 and dropped them into third place in the NL Central, a half-game back of the second-place Reds, and six games back of the first-place Cubs. St. Louis now trails further in their season series against baseball’s worst team, with the Bucs having won four of six and with four more contests just ahead.

In transaction news prior to the game, starting pitcher Johan Oviedo was optioned out and Wednesday’s 29th man, outfielder Justin Williams, remains on the active 28-man roster. More changes are coming on Friday.

Friday’s games:  vs. Pirates at 3:05 p.m., Carlos Martinez (0-2, 10.32) vs. Trevor Williams (1-7, 6.35) (Game 1); vs. Pirates 45 minutes following Game 1, Daniel Ponce de Leon (0-3, 6.23) vs. Chad Kuhl (1-2, 5.50) (Game 2), FOX Sports Midwest/KMOX

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St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of September 7-13

photo: Matt Carpenter via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The St. Louis Cardinals finished a disappointing homestand with a 3-5 week. While the offense is coming to life, led by Matt Carpenter, the bullpen is showing significant wear – just as the schedule becomes more challenging. Our history feature revisits the longest MLB game that reached its conclusion in contiguous play, a 1974 Cardinals win over the Mets that lasted over seven hours.

Game Recaps

Monday, September 7, 2020 – Cardinals 1 at Cubs 5

In the Labor Day finale of the five-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field, the Cardinals fell to the Cubs 5-1. An inefficient outing from starter Johan Oviedo, plus defensive and baserunning miscues meant sloppy play by the Redbirds.

Oveido tossed 4 2/3 innings and gave up five runs, three earned, on eight hits.  The 22-year old right hander walked three and struck out one.  He threw 96 pitches, 63 for strikes.

Tyler Webb relieved with one out in the fifth and went on to hurl 1 1/3 scoreless innings.  He struck out two and walked one.  Seth Elledge and Rob Kaminsky pitched a scoreless inning each.

The Cardinals offense managed only seven hits and one run, which came home in the seventh inning. The frame began with a single by Paul Goldschmidt, who was then eliminated on a ground out force by Brad Miller.  With Miller on first, Paul DeJong singled to right to advance Miller.  Matt Wieters’ single to center plated Miller.

Goldschmidt and Kolten Wong each had two hits.  The only extra base hit was a double by Harrison Bader.

St. Louis’ defense committed two throwing errors, one each by Matt Carpenter and Wong.  Wong was caught stealing and picked off first base.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020 – Cardinals 3, Twins 7 (seven innings, Game 1)

The Cardinals played a twin bill at Busch Stadium against the Twins on Tuesday as a makeup of previously postponed games.  The Cardinals dropped Game 1 by the score of 7-3 behind a shaky first start off the injured list from Carlos Martinez.

Martinez hurled only 3 2/3 innings and took the loss.  The right hander yielded four runs on seven hits, fanned three and issued one free pass.

Jake Woodford relieved and surrendered one additional run on two hits in his 2 1/3-inning outing.  Ryan Helsley closed out the game in the seventh inning and allowed two runs on two hits.

St. Louis’ offense was held scoreless until the sixth inning. Kolten Wong led off with a walk and came in when Tommy Edman blasted a home run to right field.  Paul Goldschmidt singled to center and later scored from third on a wild pitch for St. Louis’ final run.  Goldschmidt was 2-for-3 as the only Cardinal with multiple hits.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020 – Cardinals 6, Twins 4 (seven innings, Game 2)

The Cardinals split Tuesday’s twin bill with the Twins with a 6-4 win behind a five-run inning that was all small ball.  Five Cardinals pitchers took the mound to secure the victory.

St. Louis’ offense fell behind 2-0 in the second inning.  In the third, some small ball and hitters getting on base in multiple ways led to a 5-2 lead for St. Louis.

Matt Carpenter

The inning began with a line drive single to center off the bat of Matt Carpenter.  Matt Wieters was hit by a pitch and Harrison Bader drew a walk to load the bases.  When Tommy Edman was hit by a pitch, Carpenter scored.

With the bases still juiced, Paul DeJong walked to plate Wieters.  Following a Paul Goldschmidt strike out, Brad Miller reached on a fielder’s choice and Bader scored.  Rangel Ravelo then singled to left and Edman came home.  In the next play, Paul DeJong was thrown out on a Tyler O’Neill ground out force out. The bases remained loaded and the lineup turned over to Carpenter, who drew a walk to plate Miller.

St. Louis added an insurance run on an RBI single by Kolten Wong to score Edman, who reached base via a walk.  The offense scored six total runs on only five hits, with no Cardinal having more than one hit.

Up from the alternate camp, Daniel Ponce de Leon got the start and tossed three innings, giving up two runs on five hits.  He struck out four and walked one, throwing 63 pitches, 43 for strikes.

Genesis Cabrera followed with a scoreless fourth inning appearance. John Gant allowed one run in the fifth.  Andrew Miller started the sixth and recorded the first two outs.  Giovanny Gallegos finished the sixth and tossed the seventh and final inning, yielding a solo home run.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020 – Off day

Thursday, September 10, 2020 – Cardinals 12, Tigers 2 (seven innings, Game 1)

The Cardinals bats came alive in the first game of a twin bill against the Detroit Tigers at Busch Stadium on Thursday afternoon.  The contests made up the postponed contests originally scheduled for August 5 and 6.

The day’s scoring began with a two-run home run off the bat of Yadier Molina in the second inning following a walk by Rangel Ravelo.   Molina, wearing the number 21 to celebrate his late countryman Roberto Clemente, took the fifth pitch he saw from Detroit starter Tarik Skubal and sent it over the left field wall.

Yadier Molina

The Cardinals’ big inning was the third.  Kolten Wong led off with a walk.  Tommy Edman doubled to left to bring in Wong.  Paul Goldschmidt drew a walk and Paul DeJong singled and scored Ravelo’s sac fly.  Tyler O’Neill blasted a two-run home run to left center field to bring the score to 7-0. Harrison Bader slapped a line drive single to left and Lane Thomas followed with a two-run long ball to left center to increase the lead to 9-0.

The Tigers got on the board with two runs in the top of the fourth inning.  The Cardinals responded by adding a 10th run in the bottom half of the inning on a solo home run by Goldschmidt.  The final two scores were added in the sixth on a two-run blast by Ravelo.

Starter Jack Flaherty pitched five innings and yielded two runs on four hits to earn his third win.  The right hander fanned six and walked two.  Flaherty was not efficient with his pitches, however, as he threw 95 pitches, 63 for strikes.

Seth Elledge and Nabil Crismatt each tossed one inning of scoreless relief.

O’Neill stole his first base of the season.

Thursday, September 10, 2020 – Cardinals 3, Tigers 6 (seven innings, Game 2)

The Cardinals led for much of the second game of the doubleheader, but things went south in the final inning.  Austin Gomber was the Game 2 starter and he tossed three scoreless innings.  The left hander allowed five hits, struck out six and walked one.

Alex Reyes relieved in the fourth, escaping a bases-loaded with no out jam.  The right-hander pitched two scoreless innings with one hit allowed and two strikeouts.  Genesis Cabrera yielded a solo home run in the sixth and with one out, Gant finished the frame with no further damage.

Giovanny Gallegos started the seventh.  The closer walked his first batter and gave up single to the second.  The third Tiger hitter, Jonathan Schoop, singled on a ground ball to center. Harrison Bader threw home and the throw was offline, allowing the runners to advance to second and third.  The game was then delayed as Gallegos was taken out due to a groin injury.

Ryan Helsley took over on the mound as Miguel Cabrera was intentionally walked to load the bases.  The next batter singled and two runs scored to give Detroit the 4-3 lead. After a double play off the bat of the next hitter, Helsley gave up a back-breaking two-run home run to Jeimer Candelario and the Tigers led 6-3.  The injured Gallegos took the loss.

The Cardinals scored their first run in the second inning.  Paul DeJong led off with a single and later scored on Matt Carpenter’s single.  DeJong crossed the plate again in the fourth when he drew a walk and was again plated by Carpenter, this time on a double to center field.

The third run was added in the fifth inning on a solo home run by Tommy Edman.  The Cardinals carried their 3-1 lead into the seventh inning when the wheels came off the bus.  Edman and Carpenter had two hits each.

Edman was caught stealing for the third time this season.  The aforementioned throwing error by Bader was his second of the season.

Friday, September 11, 2020 – Cardinals 1, Reds 3

The Cardinals fell to the Cincinnati Reds 3-1 in the first of a three-game weekend series at Busch Stadium Friday evening.  St. Louis’ offense was stymied by the pitching of Reds starter Luis Castillo, managing only one run on two hits.

The lone Redbirds run scored in the second inning.  Brad Miller drew a leadoff walk and Paul DeJong followed with a double to left.  Matt Carpenter drove in Miller from third on a ground out to first base.  The only other hit by a Cardinal batter was a single by Kolten Wong.  Cardinals hitters struck out six times and drew three walks.

Pitching with an extra day of rest, Adam Wainwright made the start for the Cardinals.  On a night the right-hander lacked his best stuff, the 39-year old tossed six innings and gave up three runs on eight hits.  He struck out four and walked two on the 15th anniversary of his MLB debut.  Wainwright threw 99 pitches, 63 for strikes.

Seth Elledge pitched a scoreless seventh. Tyler Webb and Nabil Crismatt followed with a clean inning each.  Wainwright took the loss, his first of the season after four wins.

The game lasted 2 hours and 24 minutes.

Saturday, September 12, 2020 – Cardinals 7, Reds 1

The Cardinals blew past the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night in the second contest of the three-game weekend set at Busch Stadium.  The offense took off on the strength of long balls by four different St. Louis hitters, backed by a strong outing from starter Dakota Hudson.

Hudson earned the win, his third of the season, while lowering his 2020 ERA to 2.92.  The right-hander hurled six innings and yielded one run on just one hit.  Hudson fanned four and walked four, including three in the third inning, a jam he evaded with just one run with the help of an inning-ending double play.

Dakota Hudson

Genesis Cabrera went out to relieve Hudson in the seventh, but a fingernail came off before he threw a pitch, which sent him back to the clubhouse.  Tyler Webb followed and tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings, with one hit allowed and two Reds strikeouts.  Andrew Miller got the final two outs of the eighth before Rob Kaminsky pitched a scoreless ninth.

The Reds took an initial 1-0 lead in the third inning.  Brad Miller led off the Cardinals fourth with a solo shot to deep center field to knot the score.  Paul DeJong drew a walk and Matt Carpenter singled to left center.  Austin Dean followed with a walk to load the bases.  Matt Wieters’ ground out brought DeJong home and the Cardinals led 2-1.

In the bottom of the sixth, the floodgates opened for St. Louis.  Carpenter thumped his team’s second long ball, this one to right center, to increase the lead to 3-1.  Dean walked and Wieters was hit by a pitch.  With two on, Harrison Bader blasted an on the black outside fastball over the right center field wall for the back-breaking three-run home run.  Two batters and an unassisted double play later, Paul Goldschmidt sent the fourth St. Louis long ball into their bullpen in right field.  The Cardinals led 7-1 and kept that lead until the end.

In his first start, left fielder Dean reached four times on a double and a trio of free passes. Tommy Edman and Carpenter had two hits apiece. Bader plated three. Edman and Kolten Wong each stole a base. It was Edman’s second of the season and Wong’s third.

Sunday, September 13, 2020 – Cardinals 5, Reds 10

An injury plagued and shaky Cardinals bullpen could not hold the lead in the rubber game of the three game set against the Reds at Busch Stadium on Sunday.  The Cardinals had a 5-3 lead heading into the sixth inning, but the Reds put seven runs on the board in the final four innings.

Carlos Martinez made his second start since returning from the COVID injured list, and it was an improvement on the first.  The right hander went four innings, and yielded three runs on six hits, but his stuff was good enough to fan eight Reds hitters.  He threw 90 pitches, 55 for strikes.

The bullpen took over in the fifth and six pitchers combined to allow seven runs over the next five innings.  First it was Genesis Cabrera, who gave up on run in 1 1/3 innings pitched.  Alex Reyes followed with an inning in which he relinquished one run.

John Gant relieved with one out in the seventh and faced one batter, who singled, and came out of the game due to an injured groin.  Andrew Miller secured the final two outs, but not before three runs scored, two inherited, that were charged to Reyes and Gant, and one additional run charged to Miller.

Jake Woodford tossed the eighth and yielded a run.  Nabil Crismatt gave up two more runs in the ninth.  All seven Cardinals pitchers allowed at least one run.

St. Louis’ offense took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a sac fly by Rangel Ravelo.  The Reds tied it in the top of the second.

Still in the second inning, Matt Carpenter led off with a ground rule double and Harrison Bader drew a walk. Kolten Wong’s single plated Carpenter before Bader scored on a sac fly by Paul DeJong.  St. Louis led 3-1.

The Reds knotted the game again with two runs in the third.  In the fifth, the Redbirds regained the lead.  Brad Miller walked, Yadier Molina singled and Miller scored on a single by Carpenter.  A baserunning blunder by Molina on a Tyler O’Neill single led to Molina being thrown out at home.  Harrison Bader singled and plated Carpenter for the 5-3 lead.

The Cardinals did not score again. Five runs came home on eight hits, two off the bat of Carpenter.

The Big Picture

The Cardinals ended a disappointing week at home with a record of 3-5.  The team ended a five-game series against the Cubs on Monday with a loss, thus taking two of the five games.  The Cardinals split doubleheaders with the Twins and Tigers and won only one of three from the Reds over the weekend.

St. Louis fell back to .500 with a record of 20-20 and are four games back of the Cubs with 18 left to play.  There are no remaining games on the regular season schedule with the Cubs or the Reds.

A mixture of factors led to the disappointing showing.  Injuries have plagued the pitching staff, and the bullpen in particular is showing signs of wear.  Four pitchers are out for the season, and four more are currently on the injured list, with another, John Gant, potentially going on the list, though initial reports have indicated his groin injury may not be serious.  Starter Kwang-Hyun Kim is scheduled to be activated on Monday in Milwaukee.

John Gant

Manager Mike Shildt cited lack of production from the outfield as a stumbling block.  Dexter Fowler remains on the injured list, and though Austin Dean was recently activated, he suffered an injury in Sunday’s game and his current status is unknown.  Of the remaining outfielders on the roster, not counting Tommy Edman or Rangel Ravelo, primarily infielders who have made starts in the outfield, only Harrison Bader has an OPS above .800.  There is a report that outfielder Justin Williams, who is currently at the Alternate Training Site, may be added to the taxi squad on the upcoming road trip.

Top offensive producers in the last seven days with at least 15 plate appearances are Matt Carpenter (1.222 OPS), Harrison Bader (.946), Paul Goldschmidt (.930), Kolten Wong (.818), and Tommy Edman (.870).

Harrison Bader

Several defense and baserunning issues surfaced this past week.  Carpenter, Wong, and Bader each made throwing errors.  Two runners, Paul DeJong and Yadier Molina, were thrown out at home trying to score in separate games, and Wong was picked off first base in Monday’s game against the Cubs.  Austin Dean misplayed a fly ball in the outfield in Sunday’s game.

The Cardinals travel to Milwaukee on Monday for a crucial five-game series.  The Brewers are only two games back of the Cardinals in the NL Central.  The Cards then face the last-place Pirates for a five-game set.  Both series feature doubleheaders.  Winning the majority of these 10 games is important for maintaining a playoff spot.

NL Central Standings

Team W L Pct GB
Chicago 28 20 0.583
St. Louis 20 20 0.500 4
Milwaukee 20 24 0.455 6
Cincinnati 21 26 0.447 6.5
Pittsburgh 14 30 0.318 12

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 9/8 The Cardinals activated RHP Carlos Martinez from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/8 The Cardinals designated RHP Ryan Meisinger for assignment.
  • 9/8 The Cardinals optioned OF Dylan Carlson to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/8 The Cardinals recalled RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/9 The Cardinals optioned RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/10 The Cardinals placed RHP Johan Oviedo on the 10-day injured list.
  • 9/10 The Cardinals activated OF Austin Dean from the 10-day injured list.
  • 9/10 The Cardinals sent RHP Ryan Meisinger outright to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/10 The Cardinals recalled RHP Nabil Crismatt from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/11 The Cardinals placed RHP Giovanny Gallegos on the 10- day injured list. Right groin strain.
  • 9/11 The Cardinals optioned RHP Nabil Crismatt to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/11 The Cardinals recalled RHP Nabil Crismatt from the Alternate Training Site.

Injury Report

  • RHP John Brebbia underwent Tommy John surgery on June 1. He will miss the entire 2020 season.
  • RHP Jordan Hicks (Tommy John surgery) has opted out of the 2020 season.
  • RHP Miles Mikolas (right forearm strain) had arm surgery and will miss the remainder of the season.
  • RHP Carlos Martinez was activated from the injured list and started game one of Tuesday’s doubleheader.
  • RHP Kodi Whitley (COVID-19 positive) had experienced discomfort in his pitching elbow during throwing sessions at the Alternate Training Site. He was sent to St. Louis for an MRI and no structural damage was found. Whitley returned to the Alternate Training Site and continues to work out there.  No update on his possible return has been reported.
  • OF Austin Dean was activated from the injured list and started in Saturday’s game, but departed on Sunday with a sore elbow.
  • LHP Ricardo Sanchez was transferred from the 10-day injured list to the 45-day injured list. Left elbow pain.
  • LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim is on the 10-day injured list. Kidney ailment. Kim had returned to St. Louis but is making good progress in his recovery.  The left hander could return as early as Monday for one of the doubleheader games.
  • RF Dexter Fowler was placed on the 10-day injured list. Stomach ailment.  Fowler returned to St. Louis and is expected to be out indefinitely, but with a chance to return late in the season.
  • RHP Johan Oviedo was placed on the COVID-IL and is in quarantine due to an exposure to and individual who tested positive. Oveido continues to test negative and is asymptomatic.  The right hander could return to the roster some time during the week.
  • RHP Giovanny Gallegos was removed from Friday’s game and was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right groin strain. He will likely remain on the injured list for the full 10 days and perhaps beyond.

Looking Ahead

Following the weekend series against the Reds at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals travel to Milwaukee and play a doubleheader at Miller Park on Monday. Kwang-Hyun Kim is expected to be activated from the injured list to make the start in the first game of Monday’s doubleheader.  Daniel Ponce de Leon is scheduled to start the second game.

The series continues on Tuesday with a regulation game and ends on Wednesday with a second doubleheader.  Jack Flaherty will make the start on Tuesday, and Adam Wainwright will start the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader.  No pitcher has been announced for the second game.

The team leaves Milwaukee and travels to Pittsburgh for a five-game series that begins on Thursday.  A doubleheader will be played on Friday and the series concludes on Sunday.

The road trip continues with three games in Kansas City against the Royals starting on Monday, September 21.  The regular season ends at home in St. Louis with a four-game set against the Brewers, unless a makeup doubleheader vs. Detroit is needed to be played in Monday the 28th to settle playoff seedings.

Blast from the Past

The week which just ended is most well known for one great momentous event in US history, when on September 11, 2001, terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers of Manhattan, New York, killing more than 2,000 people.  In a much lesser sense, in a baseball context, September 11 also marks a day when in 1974, the Cardinals played a game that put the organization in the baseball history books.

On September 11, 1974, the Cardinals met the New York Mets at Shea Stadium for a regulation game that was anything but.  In a night contest that began at 8:08 p.m. ET, the Cardinals defeated the Mets 4-3 when the game came to an end at 3:12 a.m.  The 25-inning, 7 hour and 4 minute game became the second longest game by innings in major league history, and the longest continuous game by innings in wihch a winner was decided.

The longest game by innings (26) was a game between the Brooklyn Robins and the Boston Braves on May 1, 1920.  The game ended in a 1-1 tie when the game was called due to darkness.

The longest game by time (8 hours and six minutes) was played on May 8, 1984 between the Chicago White Sox and the Milwaukee Brewers that went 25 innings.  It was not continuous as it was stopped and restarted over two days.

Only the Cardinals and Mets game was a continuous game that finally decided a winner.

The Cardinals sent 26 different hitters to the plate, including seven pitchers, who took a total of 86 at bats.  The Mets sent 24 different hitters to the plate, including six pitchers, who took a total of 89 at bats.

Starting pitchers were Bob Forsch for the Cardinals and Jerry Koosman for the Mets.  The Cardinals used six more pitchers following Forsch:  Mike Garman, Al Hrabosky, Rich Folkers, Ray Bare, Claude Osteen, and Sonny Siebert.  Siebert was the winner.  Osteen pitched the longest, 9 1/3 innings.

The Cardinals scored first on an RBI single by Joe Torre.  The Mets tied it up in the bottom of the first, then took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth.  The game remained 3-1 in favor of the Mets until the top of the ninth inning.  A two-run home run by Ken Reitz off Koosman tied the game at 3-3.

From the end of the ninth inning until the top of the 25th inning, the closest either team came to scoring was in the 23rd and 24th.  The Mets loaded the bases in both innings, and the Cardinals filled the bags in the top of the 24th.

The game finally came to an end in the 25th when the Cardinals scored.. Bake McBride led off the inning with a single, but was picked off first base, or so it looked, until the throw by Mets pitcher Hank Webb went sailing past first baseman John Milner.  Milner retrieved the ball as McBride ignored the third base coach’s stop sign and headed home.  Mets catcher Ron Hodges dropped Milner’s throw as McBride scored the winning run with no outs in the top of the 25th.  The Mets were unable to answer in the bottom of the frame.

And so at 3:12 a.m. ET, 7 hours and 4 minutes after it started, the longest continuous major league game with a decided winner came to a close.


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