photo: John Gant (Scott Kane/USA TODAY Sports)
The St. Louis Cardinals ran their consecutive series win streak to 10 before dropping two of three to Cincinnati at home over the weekend. That dropped them into a precarious lead for the second wild card. John Gant and Jack Flaherty continue to pitch well from the rotation as the offense sputters. In our weekly history feature, the 2013 NLDS win over Pittsburgh is remembered.
Monday, August 27 – Off day
The St. Louis Cardinals began a three-game series with the NL Central rival Pirates at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals took the opener behind excellent pitching by Jack Flaherty. The right hander pitched seven one-run innings, allowing four hits and striking out five. Jordan Hicks surrendered a run in the eighth and was removed with two outs and replaced by Dakota Hudson, who got the final out of the inning. Bud Norris pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 28th save.
The game began for the Cardinals with a two-run home run by Jose Martinez in the first inning. Tyler O’Neill blasted his own two-run shot in the fourth. The Cardinals didn’t score again until the eighth when Greg Garcia plated Paul DeJong on a single.
Martinez went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Harrison Bader distinguished himself with an outfield assist at home plate.
The Redbirds were blanked by the Pirates in the second game of the series. As the final score indicates, the Cardinals offense was limited. The Cardinals scattered five hits, including doubles by Yairo Munoz, Yadier Molina, and Paul DeJong.
Miles Mikolas pitched five innings, giving up two runs on eight hits. Chasen Shreve, Dominic Leone, Brett Cecil, and Carlos Martinez each added a scoreless inning of relief.
The defense made two errors, both throwing miscues by Munoz and DeJong.
The Cardinals rebounded from the previous night’s loss by blanking the Pirates 5-0. Starter John Gant tossed 5 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing only three hits while fanning six and walking three. Dakota Hudson got the next three outs before Carlos Martinez closed out out of the seventh. Chasen Shreve and Jordan Hicks combined for a scoreless eighth. Luke Weaver pitched a scoreless ninth.
Five St. Louis runs scored across the third, fourth, and fifth innings. Harrison Bader and John Gant hit back to back solo home runs in the third. Paul DeJong drove in Jose Martinez on a force out in the fourth. Martinez singled in the fifth to plate both Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina.
The Cardinals began the weekend with a three-game set against the cellar-dwelling Reds. The Reds took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but the Cardinals responded with four runs in the second and three runs in the third. Starting pitcher Austin Gomber hit a two-run double in the second and Matt Carpenter drove him in with a home run. Paul DeJong added a three-run home run in the third.
The Cardinals led 7-2 going into the eighth, but the Reds came back with three to make it 7-5. The Redbirds responded with five more runs in the home half of the frame. Patrick Wisdom hit a solo home run. DeJong drove in two more on a single to right, and Yairo Munoz plated two more on a single to center.
Gomber pitched seven innings in his start, surrendering two runs on 10 hits. Brett Cecil gave up three runs to begin the eighth and was replaced by Jordan Hicks with one out. Hicks got out of the inning without further damage. Dominic Leone threw a scoreless ninth.
The Cardinals were blanked by the Reds in Game 2. St. Louis’ offense took an untimely vacation, as the bats managed only two hits, singles by Matt Carpenter, and relief pitcher Tyson Ross.
Daniel Poncedeleon took the mound to start, but he was not effective. The right hander lasted until one out in the fourth, when he was replaced by Ross. Poncedeleon gave up three runs on five hits. Ross went 4 2/3 innings and surrendered one run. Tyler Webb pitched a scoreless ninth.
St. Louis’ series win streak of 10 came to an end against the last-place team in the Division in extra innings. Luke Weaver struggled badly through his first two innings, giving up two runs and issuing way too many walks. Weaver was able to limit the damage in the third and fourth, but his 40 pitches in the first inning led to the inevitable short outing.
Tyler Webb tossed a scoreless fifth and got the first out in the sixth before giving way to Dominic Leone to finish the inning. Carlos Martinez surrendered one run in the seventh. Dakota Hudson tossed two scoreless innings. With the game tied in the 10th, Bud Norris gave up back to back to home runs, a two-run shot by Eugenio Suarez, and a solo shot by Brandon Dixon to give the Reds a 6-3 lead. Brett Cecil got the final out.
It was a struggle for St. Louis’ offense to score. After the Reds took the 2-0 lead, the Redbirds tied it up when Harrison Bader drove in a run on a double, and Greg Garcia plated him on a single. After the Reds took a 3-2 lead in the seventh, Bader’s infield single in the eighth tied the game at 3-3.
A ninth inning rally ended badly. Yairo Munoz doubled, and Matt Carpenter was intentionally walked. Francisco Pena made a perfect bunt that rolled inside the foul line and Pena was safe at first to load the bases with no outs. The Reds manager then moved an outfielder in to create a five-man infield. With no outs and the bases loaded, Jose Martinez flailed wildly at a pitch off the plate to strike out. Marcel Ozuna hit a low ball for a week grounder to second and Munoz was thrown out at the plate. Paul DeJong ended the rally with a pop out.
The disastrous top of the 10th happened with Norris pitching, and the Cardinals attempted to rally in the bottom of the 10th. Patrick Wisdom walked, but Bader flied out to left. Wisdom advanced to second on the fly out, then went to third on a passed ball. Greg Garcia then grounded out, and Wisdom scored. With two outs, Carson Kelly walked, Carpenter was intentionally walked again but Pena flied out to right to end the rally, game and series on a down note.
St. Louis concluded the week 3-3, taking 2 of 3 from the Pirates and losing 2 of 3 against the Reds. The Cardinals have fallen a half game behind the Brewers to third place in the NL Central and into the second wild card spot.
The offense slumped this past week, having been shut out once each by the Pirates and the Reds. The Cardinals bats struggled against two of the three Reds starters over the weekend. The strikeouts have increased. Many Cardinals appear to be struggling to lay off breaking pitches out of the zone. This flaw was never clearer than in the Reds series, as usually consistent hitter Jose Martinez struck out four times on Sunday, mostly on breaking pitches out of the zone or in the dirt. Tyler O’Neill has been another who continues to be unable to lay off those pitches, as well as Harrison Bader on occasion. The Cardinals hitters have been less patient at the plate as well.
Other than Jack Flaherty and John Gant, the rest of the rotation struggled over the week. Austin Gomber went seven innings on Friday, but he gave up 10 hits. Both Daniel Poncedeleon and Luke Weaver had short outings, taxing the bullpen. Even the usually stalwart Miles Mikolas didn’t look like himself in his start on Wednesday.
The bullpen had some hiccups as well. Dakota Hudson has had some struggles recently. Brett Cecil gave up three runs in less than an inning on Friday. Jordan Hicks continues to allow too many baserunners. Bud Norris gave up back to back home runs on Sunday.
The defense has taken a hit with Kolten Wong and Jedd Gyorko on the DL. Base running has been fine.
The Cardinals head to Washington, D.C. for a three-game series to begin the week and then play a weekend series with the Tigers in Detroit. The Nats have been struggling, but the Cardinals face Max Scherzer on Monday. The Cardinals have an opportunity to gain ground if they can win against the Nats because the Cubs and Brewers play each other Monday through Wednesday.
|Wild Card Standings||W||L||GB|
|St. Louis||76||61||– –|
Over the past six games (does not contain recent Sunday game results):
- Matt Carpenter has an OPS of 1.342. He has one HR, four doubles, and four RBI.
- Jose Martinez has an OPS of 1.091. He has one HR, one double, and five RBI.
- Jack Flaherty has an ERA of 1.29 and a WHIP of 0.57.
- John Gant has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 1.06.
- Carlos Martinez has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.00.
- Bud Norris has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.00
- Tyson Ross has an ERA of 2.70 and a WHIP of 1.05
- Dominic Leone has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.33.
- Tyler Webb has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 1.00.
- Luke Weaver has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 1.00.
Over the past six games (does not contain recent Sunday game results)
- Matt Adams has an OPS of .375.
- Greg Garcia has an OPS of .154.
- Daniel Poncedeleon has an ERA of 8.10 and a WHIP of 1.80.
- Brett Cecil has an ERA of 20.25 and a WHIP of 3.00.
A Look at Cardinals Lineups
The lineups over the last six games (does not contain recent Sunday game):
- The leadoff hitter has been Matt Carpenter.
- The number two hitter has been Yadier Molina.
- The number three hitter has been Jose Martinez.
- The cleanup hitter has been Tyler O’Neill for three games, and Matt Adams for three games.
- The fifth hitter has been Paul DeJong for three games, and O’Neill for three games.
- The sixth hitter has been DeJong for three games, Jedd Gyorko for two games, and Greg Garcia for one game.
- The seventh hitter has been Harrison Bader for five games, and Garcia for one game.
- The eighth hitter has been Yairo Munoz for four games, and Bader and Garcia for one game each.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
- 8/27 The Cardinals sent RHP Adam Wainwright on a rehab assignment to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 8/28 The Cardinals placed 2B Kolten Wong on the 10 day disabled list retroactive to August 26. Left hamstring strain.
- 8/28 The Cardinals sent RHP Michael Wacha on a rehab assignment to the Springfield Cardinals.
- 8/28 The Cardinals recalled 3B Patrick Wisdom from the Memphis Redbirds.
- 8/29 The Cardinals placed 3B Jedd Gyorko on the 10 day disabled list. Left groin strain.
- 8/29 The Cardinals recalled OF Adolis Garcia from the Memphis Redbirds.
- 9/1 The Cardinals activated LF Marcell Ozuna from the 10 day disabled list.
- 9/1 The Cardinals recalled LHP Tyler Webb from the Memphis Redbirds.
- 9/1 The Cardinals recalled RHP Daniel Poncedeleon from the Memphis Redbirds.
- 9/1 The Cardinals recalled C Carson Kelly from the Memphis Redbirds.
- RHP Alex Reyes (right lat strain) had surgery on June 6 to reattach a tendon in his right lat. The right hander was transferred from the 10 day DL to the 60-day DL. Reyes is expected to be out for the remainder of the season.
- RHP Adam Wainwright (right elbow inflammation) continues on the 60-day DL. Wainwright made what may be his final rehab start on Saturday, his sixth. A decision on where Wainwright goes from this point on is expected in the coming week.
- RHP Michael Wacha (left oblique strain) continues on the 10-day DL. Wacha was sent on a rehab assignment to the Springfield Cardinals on August 21, where a setback occurred. Wacha played catch on August 31 and was scheduled for a bullpen session on Sunday. The timing and role when he returns to the roster remains uncertain.
- RHP Luke Gregerson (right shoulder impingement) was transferred from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL on August 11.
- OF Dexter Fowler (fractured left foot) was transferred from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL on August 21.
- 2B Kolten Wong (left hamstring strain) was placed on the 10-day DL, retroactive to August 26. Wong began baseball activities over the weekend. The second baseman is eligible to come off the DL on Sept 5.
- RHP Mike Mayers was placed on the 10-day DL on August 26 with right shoulder inflammation. Mayers is expected to begin throwing in the coming week.
- 3B Jedd Gyorko (left groin strain) was placed on the 10-day DL on August 29. A return to the roster is not definite, but the third baseman is eligible to come off the DL on Sept 8.
The Cardinals travel to Washington after the Reds series to play three games with the Nationals beginning Monday. Jack Flaherty is scheduled to start on Monday, followed by Miles Mikolas on Tuesday, and John Gant on Wednesday.
With an off day Thursday, the Cardinals travel to Detroit for a weekend interleague series with the Tigers. No pitching probables have been announced.
Following the Tigers series, the Cardinals return home to play the Pirates for three. The homestand continues with a four-game series against the Dodgers. The Cardinals will then travel to Atlanta for three with the Braves.
The Cardinals will have another off day Thursday, Sept 20. The team returns home for a weekend series with the Giants.
St. Louis’ regular season schedule can be found here.
Blast from the Past
Last week, the history segment covered the 2013 NLCS series against the Dodgers. This week I will talk about the NLDS that year, which led to the Cardinals’ appearance in the NLCS.
The Cardinals played the 2013 NLDS against the Pittsburgh Pirates. St. Louis was the NL Central Division winner while the Pirates took the wild card. The restriction against teams from the same division playing in the Division Series was removed in 2012. The Pirates had never played in a Division Series up to that point.
Game 1 was played in St. Louis as the Cardinals beat the Pirates, 9-1. The Redbirds took the lead early by scoring seven runs in the third inning. That inning set a new NLDS record. A three-run home run by Carlos Beltran off A.J. Burnett was the highlight. Burnett came out of the game after that inning. Adam Wainwright was the winning pitcher.
Game 2 was also played in St. Louis, and the Pirates got their revenge, beating the Cardinals 7-1. Gerrit Cole got the better of Cardinals starter Lance Lynn. The Cardinals only managed four hits, including a solo home run by Yadier Molina that was the only run of the game for St. Louis.
The series moved to Pittsburgh for Games 3 and 4. The Pirates took a 2-1 series lead by defeating the Cardinals 5-3. Joe Kelly started for the Cardinals. St. Louis tied the game twice, in the fifth and the eighth, but the Pirates took the lead back with two runs in the bottom frame of the eighth. Reliever Carlos Martinez was tagged with the loss.
The Cardinals won Game 4 by the score of 2-1. Michael Wacha no-hit the Pirates for seven innings. Pedro Alvarez’ home run in the eighth broke up the no-hitter. Matt Holliday’s two-run home run in the sixth gave the Cardinals the lead they would carry to a win.
It came down to Game 5 back in St. Louis. Adam Wainwright held the Pirates scoreless until the seventh inning, when three consecutive singles plated Pittsburgh’s only run. The Cardinals put up six runs, starting in the second inning on David Freese’s two-run home run. A run was added in the sixth, then Matt Adams launched a two-run home run in the eighth, and Pete Kozma singled to plate the third and final run of the inning. Wainwright pitched a complete game to become the fifth Cardinal in franchise history to pitch a complete game with one earned run in a winner-take-all postseason game.
The Cardinals moved on to defeat the Dodgers in the NLCS by beating up on Clayton Kershaw.
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