photo: Tyler O’Neill (Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)
In this week’s St. Louis Cardinals action, the club had another 3-3 week, following a home series loss to the Royals with a winning set in Pittsburgh. Rookie Tyler O’Neill has aided the inconsistent offense. In our history feature, the 1985 World Series is remembered.
The Cardinals shut down the visiting Royals in the first of a three-game series at Busch Stadium. Starter Miles Mikolas pitched the complete game, allowing only four hits, while fanning nine and walking one. It was the right hander’s first career shutout.
St. Louis’ offense put up four runs in the third inning, with three via a massive home run off the bat of Tyler O’Neill. It was O’Neill’s third home run in three games. Also, in the third inning, Marcell Ozuna singled home a run on a ground ball to right field. Tyler O’Neill continued to drive in runs with an RBI double in the fifth. In the seventh, a solo home run by Matt Carpenter plated the final run. Carpenter went 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Ozuna was 2-for-3, O’Neill was 2-for-4.
It didn’t go well for the Redbirds in the second game of the series. The offense just couldn’t get the timely hit, racking up 11 hits but only scoring one run. That came in the first inning, when Jose Martinez came home on a double steal. Marcell Ozuna went 3-for-4 and Yairo Munoz was 4-for-4.
Stater Luke Weaver pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on seven hits. The right hander struck out eight and walked one. Brett Cecil and Mike Mayers combined for a scoreless eighth. Greg Holland started the ninth, but continued to struggle, surrendering two runs without recording an out. John Brebbia finished the ninth. Weaver took the loss, his fourth.
On the base paths, Martinez stole his first base of the season. Ozuna stole his third bag. Munoz was caught stealing twice.
The Cardinals fell to the Royals for the second night in a disappointing series loss to their cross-state rivals. Michael Wacha’s pitching wasn’t the problem. The right hander went 6 2/3 innings, giving up two runs, one earned, on four hits while fanning six and walking none. Sam Tuivailala secured the last out of the seventh. Jordan Hicks pitched a scoreless eighth. Bud Norris had a difficult ninth, surrendering three runs, two earned, and was tagged with the loss. Brett Cecil and Mike Mayers combined for a scoreless 10th.
Once again, St. Louis’ offense was lackluster. Both runs scored in the second inning on Harrison Bader’s ground out and Francisco Pena’s double. Pena went 2-for-4.
Tyler ONeill made a fielding error but also had an outfield assist, throwing a runner out at home. Norris also committed a fielding error.
Thursday, May 24 – Off day
The Cardinals arrived in Pittsburgh for a weekend series with the Pirates, and the first game was not a good one for them. St. Louis’ offense was kept off the board until the eighth inning, when Tommy Pham broke through with a solo home run. That would be the only run in the game for the Cardinals. Marcell Ozuna went 2-for-3 and Jedd Gyorko went 2-for-4.
John Gant made the start and pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs on four hits. The right hander struck out seven and walked none. Brett Cecil surrendered an additional run in the sixth before John Brebbia allowed two more runs in the seventh, as did Greg Holland in the eighth.
It went much better for the Cards in the second game on Saturday. Jack Flaherty pitched well again, though he was not as dominant as he had been in his previous start. Flaherty pitched six innings, giving up one run on four hits. The right hander struck out four and walked two. Tyler Lyons, Jordan Hicks, and Bud Norris combined for the final three scoreless innings. Flaherty earned his second win of the season.
The game began with a Matt Carpenter leadoff solo home run in the first to give St. Louis the lead. A second run was added in the third on a Jose Martinez RBI single. In the fourth, Francisco Pena’s sac fly plated a run, and Yairo Munoz drove in a run on a single.
Harrison Bader stole his fifth base of the season.
The Cardinals took the final game to win the series in Pittsburgh. St. Louis again scored first when Matt Carpenter and Marcell Ozuna doubled. The Cardinals then fell behind, but rallied with two runs in the seventh, followed by three runs in the eighth. Jedd Gyorko drove in two on his seventh inning single, and in the eighth, Harrison Bader had an RBI single, Yairo Munoz drew a bases loaded walk, and Carson Kelly plated a run on a ground ball force out. Carpenter went 2-for-4.
Miles Mikolas didn’t have his best stuff but kept the Redbirds in the game. The right hander pitched six innings, giving up four runs on five hits while fanning five and walking one. The bullpen did its job as Sam Tuivailala tossed a scoreless seventh and earned the win. Jordan Hicks added a scoreless eighth and Bud Norris a clean ninth.
The Cardinals ended their second consecutive week at 3-3, losing the series to the Royals, but winning the set in Pittsburgh. The Royals matchup was both disappointing and ugly, marked more by lackluster offense, but also some bad defense and bad baserunning. Pitching remains the strong suit for the most part.
The Pirates series brought more lackluster offense in Game 1, but there was improvement in the final two games. Matt Carpenter has emerged from his long slump, but the usual stalwart Tommy Pham has descended into a slump, though a modest one so far. Marcell Ozuna has improved his batting average, but the power that was expected is still nowhere to be found. Ozuna is hitting singles, but not much more. Dexter Fowler was injured in the Pirates series, but his offense remains a concern. Kolten Wong is staying in the lineup for the most part due to his excellent defense, but how long remains to be seen.
Injuries have plagued the Cardinals, and this is no insignificant factor, but the players that are healthy need to pick it up. The Cardinals cannot sustain their winning record for long with pitching and one or two offensive players carrying the load.
The Cardinals meet the first-place Brewers for a three game series beginning Monday. It is crucial that St. Louis makes its mark here by winning at least two. The Cardinals typically play well in Miller Park, but the offense has to be better.
NL Central Standings
Over the past six games (does not contain recent Sunday game results):
- Tyler O’Neill has an OPS of 1.235. He has two HRs, one double and five RBI.
- Matt Carpenter has an OPS of 1.105. He has two HRs, three doubles and two RBI.
- Marcell Ozuna has an OPS of 1.381. He has one double, eight singles, and one RBI.
- Yairo Munoz has an OPS of 1.110. He has seven singles and one RBI.
- Jack Flaherty has an ERA of 1.32 and a WHIP of 0.66.
- Michael Wacha has an ERA of 1.35 and a WHIP of 0.60.
- Miles Mikolas has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.56.
- Sam Tuivailala has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.00.
- Jordan Hicks has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.75.
- Mike Mayers has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 1.00.
Over the past six games (does not contain recent Sunday game):
- Kolten Wong has an OPS of .167.
- Harrison Bader has an OPS of .250 in eight plate appearances.
- Francisco Pena has an OPS of .312.
- Tommy Pham has an OPS of .381.
- Greg Holland has an ERA of 36.00 and a WHIP of 7.00.
- Bud Norris has an ERA of 9.00 and a WHIP of 1.50.
- John Brebbia has an ERA of 9.00 and a WHIP of 2.00.
A Look at Cardinals Lineups
The lineups over the last six games (does not contain recent Sunday game):
- The leadoff hitter was Tommy Pham for four games, Dexter Fowler for one game, and Matt Carpenter for one game.
- The number two hitter was Matt Carpenter for five games, Jose Martinez for one game.
- The number three hitter was Jose Martinez for five games, and Pham for one game.
- The cleanup hitter was Marcell Ozuna for four games, and Tyler O’Neill for two games.
- The fifth hitter was Jedd Gyorko for three games, O’Neill for two games, and Fowler for one game.
- The sixth hitter was Fowler for two games, Kolten Wong for two games, Gyorko for one game, and Harrison Bader for one game.
- The seventh hitter was Greg Garcia for two games, Yairo Munoz for two games, and Francisco Pena for two games.
- The eighth hitter was Francisco Pena for four games, Wong for one game, and Munoz for one game.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
- 5/24 The Cardinals sent RHP Alex Reyes on a rehab assignment to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 5/24 The Cardinals sent C Carson Kelly on a rehab assignment to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 5/26 The Cardinals placed RHP Greg Holland on the 10 day disabled list. Right hip impingement.
- 5/26 The Cardinals activated C Carson Kelly from the 10 day disabled list.
- 5/26 The Cardinals activated LHP Tyler Lyons from the 10 day disabled list.
- 5/26 The Cardinals optioned C Steven Baron to the Memphis Redbirds.
- RHP Dominic Leone (right upper arm nerve irritation) remains on the 10 day DL. Further tests revealed some nerve damage, but no surgery is required. Leone is expected to be out for an indefinite period.
- C Yadier Molina (pelvic injury with traumatic hematoma) continues on the 10 day DL. Molina was injured by a foul ball during a game. The catcher had surgery and is expected to return sometime in June.
- RHP Carlos Martinez (right lat strain) was placed on the 10 day DL retroactive to May 9. Martinez underwent an MRI on May 17 and began a throwing program on May 21. No announcement has been made about a possible rehab assignment.
- RHP Alex Reyes (Tommy John surgery) finished his last rehab assignment and is scheduled to make his first start for the Cardinals against the Brewers on Wednesday.
- RHP Adam Wainwright (right elbow inflammation) was activated, made one start, and was placed back on the disabled list. Wainwright initially went on the 10 day DL but was transferred to the 60 day DL. The right handed pitcher underwent a non-intrusive procedure on his elbow on May 21 to determine the source of his pain. The expectation is that Wainwright will return to pitch some time this season.
- RHP Luke Gregerson was placed on the 10 day DL with a right shoulder impingement. Gregerson underwent an MRI but the results were not disclosed. No timetable for his return has been set.
- SS Paul DeJong has a fractured left hand following a hit by pitch on May 17. DeJong underwent surgery on the hand on May 18 and has undertaken some minor hand rehab. No timetable for his return has been announced.
- RHP Matt Bowman was placed on the 10 day DL with blisters on two fingers of his pitching hand. The timetable for his return has not been determined.
- RHP Greg Holland was placed on the 10 day DL on May 26. Diagnosis was right hip infringement. No timetable for his return has been announced.
- 2B Greg Garcia exited the May 21 game with lower back tightness. Garcia is considered day to day and made several pinch hit appearances during the week but has not been in the starting lineup.
- RF Dexter Fowler was hit in the knee by a pitch in Saturday’s game against the Pirates. X-rays were negative. Fowler did not play Sunday and is considered day to day.
The Cardinals begin the week in Milwaukee for a three-game series against the Brewers. Luke Weaver is scheduled to make the Monday start. Michael Wacha will start on Tuesday, followed by Alex Reyes, making his first start since having Tommy John surgery, on Wednesday.
The club returns home from Milwaukee to begin a four-game series against the Pirates. Scheduled starters for that series have not been announced.
The Cardinals will have an off day a week from Monday, then take on the Marlins at home in Busch Stadium for a three-game series. The Redbirds then travel to Cincinnati for a weekend set against the Reds.
The Padres travel to St. Louis for a three game series beginning June 11. After an off day that Thursday, the Cubs will come to St. Louis for a weekend matchup.
The Cardinals’ regular season schedule can be found here.
Blast from the Past
St. Louis lost two of three to the Royals this week at Busch Stadium, a disappointing series for Cardinals fans to say the least. After the Cubs, the Royals are arguably the team’s second most intense rival. Being the other major league team in the state of Missouri and being compared somewhat unfavorably over the years to the Cardinals, Kansas City and St. Louis coming together in competition is never boring.
The rivalry’s perhaps most divisive moments came in an unfortunate meeting for the Cardinals with the Royals in the 1985 World Series. In what has often been referred to as the I-70 World Series, St. Louis came in as the favorite, having won 101 games in the regular season to the Royals’ 91. The Cardinals franchise had already won nine World Series, while the Royals had never won. The 1985 Series had the designations of being the first World Series that was all night games, and the last World Series in which the designated hitter was not used in the AL ballpark.
The first three games went well for the Cardinals, and they began Game 4 up 3-0 against the Royals. It seemed as if the outcome was obvious. However, the Cardinals dropped Game 4 and Game 5 at Busch Stadium. Game 6 began as a pitcher’s duel between the Cardinals’ Danny Cox and Royals’ starter Charlie Leibrandt. Both Cardinal fans and Royal fans most remember the controversial call at first base, but there had been an earlier controversial call at second base. This call benefited the Cardinals. The Royals’ Frank White appeared to have stolen second but was called out. Later replays showed he was safe.
The game was scoreless until the eighth inning when the Cardinals scored on a single by Brian Harper to score Terry Pendleton. Then came the ninth, and the call that would go down as one of the most controversial calls in World Series history. The Royals’ Jorge Orta hit a ground ball to the right of first base which Jack Clark fielded and tossed the ball to pitcher Todd Worrell, covering first base. The toss was caught behind Worrell, and umpire Don Denkinger called Orta safe, though later replays clearly showed he was out.
The rest is, as they say, history, as the wheels came off the bus for the Cardinals. The Royals won Game 6 and Game 7 to claim the World Series. Denkinger later saw the replay and admitted he made the wrong call, but it was too late. Denkinger said his view was blocked by Orta and he was waiting to hear the ball hit Worrell’s glove, but the crowd noise was too loud for him to hear it.
Needless to say, Game 6 became a bone of contention between Cardinals and Royals fans, and still is to some extent to this day. There is no way of knowing whether the Cardinals would have won had the correct call had been made, which adds to the drama. This writer also lost a bet to a Royals’ fan colleague over that series.
Both the Royals and the Cardinals would go on to win other World Series, the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011, and the Royals in 2014. Neither team has met the other in a World Series since 1985, but this writer believes a rematch is long overdue.
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