photo: Jack Flaherty (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports Images)
In a week of seven home games, the St. Louis Cardinals won just three, barely holding onto a share of the second wild card. Miles Mikolas won his 15th game, Adam Wainwright turned back the clock, but Jack Flaherty took a loss despite his continuing strong pitching. In our weekly history feature, St. Louis’ win over the Dodgers in the 2014 NLDS is remembered.
The St. Louis Cardinals edged the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first of a three-game home series on Monday. Adam Wainwright took the mound for his first start since coming off the 60-day disabled list, with his last prior start on May 13. The veteran right hander pitched five innings and gave up four runs on seven hits, two of which were home runs. Chasen Shreve started the sixth and gave up one run on a solo home run. Shreve was replaced with two outs by Dominic Leone, who gave up a run on two singles and walk but finished the inning. Tyler Webb tossed a scoreless seventh and John Brebbia added a scoreless eighth to earn the win. Carlos Martinez surrendered one run in the ninth.
The Redbirds fell behind 4-0, but tied it up in the fourth inning. Marcell Ozuna singled to score Matt Carpenter, Paul DeJong doubled to plate Jose Martinez and Ozuna, and Harrison Bader drove in DeJong on a sac fly.
After the Pirates took the lead again in the sixth, the Cardinals battled back with four runs in the eighth. Matt Adams’ three-run home run was the big blow and Bader contributed his second sac fly.
The Cardinals took the second game of the series from the Pirates by a more substantial score. The offense began in the first inning with a double by Marcell Ozuna that plated two. Two more runs were added in the sixth on a wild pitch and a sac fly by Paul DeJong. A second wild pitch in the seventh inning increased St. Louis’ lead to 5-1. The offense broke the game open in the eighth with a six-run burst. Kolten Wong scored on a fielding error. Tyler O’Neill had a three-run blast to left center field. Adolis Garcia’s ground rule double drove in a run, and finally, a sac fly by Ozuna plated Garcia.
Starter Miles Mikolas pitched seven innings and gave up one run on five hits. The right hander fanned seven and walked one. Bud Norris worked a scoreless eighth. Luke Weaver started the ninth, but had a tough time, as he gave up four runs and was replaced with two outs by John Brebbia. Brebbia induced a ground out to end the game. Mikolas earned his 15th win.
The Cardinals failed to complete the sweep, falling to the Pirates in a one-run defeat. Daniel Poncedeleon got the start, and the right hander pitched five innings and gave up two runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking one. Mike Mayers surrendered two runs in the sixth and was replaced with two outs by Tyler Webb, who induced a pop out. Dominic Leone, Brett Cecil, and Chasen Shreve each added a scoreless inning of relief. Poncedeleon took the loss.
The Cardinals put the first run on the board in the first inning on an RBI single by Marcell Ozuna. After falling behind 4-1, the Cardinals attempted to rally. A force out by Jose Martinez plated a run in the eighth. In the ninth, Patrick Wisdom singled to score Yairo Munoz. The rally fell short, however.
The game featured three stolen bases, one each by Matt Carpenter, Harrison Bader and Wisdom.
The Cardinals began an important four-game series with the Dodgers on Thursday in Busch Stadium, with both vying for the postseason. The first game did not go well for St. Louis. Starter Austin Gomber was ineffective and lasted only three innings, during which he gave up seven runs on nine hits. Tyson Ross went three innings, surrendering one run on two hits. John Brebbia allowed one run in the seventh. Mike Mayers and Brett Cecil followed with one scoreless inning each. Gomber took the loss.
After Dodgers took a 3-0 lead out of the gate, the Cardinals responded with one run in the home half of the first, driven in by Marcell Ozuna on a ground out. The Dodgers followed with five more runs, to which the Redbirds answered with three runs in the fifth. Ross began the inning with a solo home run. Ozuna drove in his second run of the game, and Paul DeJong plated another on a sac fly. DeJong singled to score a run in the seventh. In the ninth, a ground out force out off the bat of Jedd Gyorko resulted in a throwing error and two runs.
The Cardinals fought back but fell short.
In the second game of the series, the Cardinals fared no better. This time they were shut out by sterling pitching by young Dodger starter Walker Buehler. The Cardinals had problems with Buehler in Los Angeles, though they did end up winning the earlier game in the late innings. There was no such luck in this meeting.
St. Louis’ offense managed only two hits against Buehler and closer Kenley Jansen, singles from Harrison Bader and Paul DeJong.
Starter Jack Flaherty allowed just one run on four hits in six innings pitched. The right hander struck out eight and walked two. Dakota Hudson gave up an unearned run in the seventh. Dominic Leone and Bud Norris combined to pitch a scoreless eighth. Tyler Webb had the ninth and surrendered a run. Flaherty suffered his seventh loss of the season.
If things weren’t bad enough for the Cardinals by losing the first two to the Dodgers, it got worse in Game 3. A contest that began normally enough – with the Cardinals taking the 4-3 lead in the bottom of the fourth – turned quickly into disaster. The wheels came off the bus for starter John Gant in the fifth inning. After giving up the leadoff single, Gant secured a fly ball out. He walked the next two batters to load the bases. With one out in the inning, Tyler Webb took over. Webb gave up a two run single to Cody Bellinger and was replaced by Mike Mayers, who served up a three-run home run to Yasiel Puig, . Puig’s second long ball of the game. Dominic Leone started the sixth, yielded three singles to score a run, and with two outs and a man on, was replaced by Chasen Shreve. Shreve surrendered a single to score Leone’s runner, but then struck out Puig to end the inning. Shreve and Luke Weaver got through the seventh. Weaver returned for the eighth, but it all went south in the final two innings. He surrendered seven Dodgers runs, four unearned.
All four Cardinals runs came in the fourth inning on a grand slam by Patrick Wisdom.
On Sunday night, the Cardinals avoided being swept at home, by shutting out the Dodgers 5-0 behind brilliant pitching by Adam Wainwright. In only his second start following a four month stint on the DL, Wainwright pitched six scoreless innings against one of the best lineups in baseball. The veteran righty allowed only two hits and struck out nine Dodgers. Bud Norris came in to start the seventh, but after walking the first batter, and throwing one pitch to the second, Norris came out of the game due to a blister on his pitching hand. Jordan Hicks finished the inning without damage, then returned to pitch a scoreless eighth. Carlos Martinez closed it out in the ninth.
The Cardinals got on the board in the second inning on a solo home run by Marcell Ozuna. RBI singles by Jedd Gyorko and Yadier Molina brought two runs home in the fourth. Another run was added in the fifth on a fielding error. Molina drove in an insurance run in the eighth.
The Cardinals finished the week of home games at 3-4, taking 2 of 3 from the Pirates but losing 3 of 4 to the Dodgers. St. Louis is now tied with Los Angeles for the second wild card spot. There are 12 games (four series) remaining in the regular season.
The offense is struggling. Matt Carpenter has an OPS of .535 over the last seven games. Molina, Bader, Wong, DeJong, Jose Martinez, and Yairo Munoz all have an OPS under .700 over the last seven games. The offense needs to pick it up over the last 12 games for the team to have a decent chance for a postseason berth.
Pitching has done well enough to keep the Cardinals in games, with the exception of Austin Gomber in Saturday’s game against the Dodgers. Well enough may not be good enough with the offense not doing its share. The remaining schedule is brutal – series with the Braves, Brewers and Cubs, all postseason contenders. Even the remaining series, with the Giants, will not be a cakewalk. The Cardinals have always had problems with San Francisco.
The Cardinals play three games with the Braves and three games with the Giants this week. The goal must be to win both series and hope for help from other teams.
|NL Central standings||W||L||PCT||GB|
|Wild Card standings||W||L||GB|
|Los Angeles||82||68||– –|
|St Louis||82||68||– –|
Over the past seven games (does not contain recent Sunday game results):
- Tyler O’Neill has an OPS of 1.159 in nine plate appearances. He has one HR and three RBI.
- Patrick Wisdom has an OPS of 1.125 in eight plate appearances. He has one HR and five RBI.
- Jack Flaherty has an ERA of 1.50 and a WHIP of 1.00.
- Miles Mikolas has an ERA of 1.29 and a WHIP of 0.86.
- Bud Norris has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.00.
- Jordan Hicks has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 1.00.
- Brett Cecil has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 1.00.
Over the past seven games (does not contain recent Sunday game results)
- Yadier Molina has an OPS of .125.
- Matt Adams has an OPS of .490.
- Harrison Bader has an OPS of .428.
- Kolten Wong has an OPS of .451.
- Austin Gomber has an ERA of 21.00 and a WHIP of 3.33.
- Dominic Leone has an ERA of 10.13 and a WHIP of 3.38.
- Mike Mayers has an ERA of 11.57 and a WHIP of 3.00.
- Luke Weaver has an ERA of 21.00 and a WHIP of 4.33.
A Look at Cardinals Lineups
The lineups over the last seven games (does not contain recent Sunday game):
- The leadoff hitter has been Matt Carpenter for six games and Harrison Bader for one game.
- The number two hitter has been Jose Martinez for four games, Yairo Munoz for two games, and Tyler O’Neill for one game.
- The number three hitter has been Matt Adams for five games, and Martinez and Paul DeJong for one game each.
- The cleanup hitter has been Marcell Ozuna.
- The fifth hitter has been Paul DeJong for five games, and Munoz and Jedd Gyorko for one game each.
- The sixth hitter has been Kolten Wong for five games, and Gyorko and Patrick Wisdom for one game each.
- The seventh hitter has been Harrison Bader for four games, and Molina, Munoz and Wong for one game each.
- The eighth hitter has been Molina for two games, Carson Kelly for two games, and Bader, Greg Garcia and Francisco Pena for one game each.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
- 9/10 The Cardinals transferred RHP Michael Wacha from the 10-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list. Left oblique strain.
- 9/10 The Cardinals activated RHP Adam Wainwright from the 60-day disabled list.
- 9/11 The Cardinals activated RHP Mike Mayers from the 10-day disabled list.
- 9/12 The Cardinals activated 3B Jedd Gyorko from the 10-day disabled list.
- 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 Michael Wacha (left oblique strain) was transferred from the 10-day disabled list to the 60-day disabled list on September 10. Out for the rest of the season.
- RHP Luke Gregerson (right shoulder impingement) was transferred from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL on August 11. Out for the rest of the season.
- OF Dexter Fowler (fractured left foot) was transferred from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL on August 21. Out for the rest of the season.
The Cardinals go on the road for a three-game series in Atlanta. Miles Mikolas is set to make the Monday start, followed by Austin Gomber on Tuesday, and Jack Flaherty on Wednesday.
After a Thursday travel day, the Redbirds return home for a weekend series with the Giants. No pitching probables have been announced for that series.
The homestand continues with a three-game series against the Brewers. Another travel day on Thursday takes the Cardinals to Chicago to play the Cubs in the final series of the regular season.
The Cardinals’ regular season schedule can be found here.
Should the Cardinals make the postseason, the NL Wild Card game is scheduled for October 2, and the NLDS begins on October 4. The postseason schedule can be found here.
Blast from the Past
Last week’s history segment returned to the 2013 NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers. This week will focus on a similar series a year later, when the Cardinals took on the Dodgers once more, this time in the NLDS.
Game 1 was played in LA and was a squeaker. St. Louis prevailed in the end, 10-9. Adam Wainwright faced Clayton Kershaw. This postseason matchup was the first of two 20-game winners since Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series. The Cardinals scored first, but the Dodgers got to Wainwright with two runs each in the third, fourth, and fifth innings to take a 6-1 lead. The Cardinals added a run in the sixth to make it 6-2.
As in 2013, the Cardinals got to Kershaw in a big way in the seventh inning. The Redbirds sent five runs home against Kershaw, knocking him out of the game. Matt Holliday added three more to the tally with a three-run home run against reliever Pedro Baez. The Dodgers added two in the eighth and one in the bottom of the ninth, but it was one short of a tie. Kershaw was tagged with the unlikely distinction of being the first pitcher in history to allow at least seven runs in consecutive postseason starts.
The Dodgers bounced back with a 3-2 win in Game 2. The Cardinals runs came on a two-run home run from Matt Carpenter. Zack Greinke was the winning pitcher. Lance Lynn got a no decision with Pat Neshek taking the loss.
Game 3 moved to St. Louis. The Cardinals prevailed, 3-1. John Lackey limited the Dodgers to one run. Matt Carpenter again homered and Kolten Wong hit the winning two-run home run.
The Dodgers sent Kershaw to the mound in Game 4 on three days of rest. It worked for the first six innings, with the Dodgers leading 2-0. However, Kershaw’s nemesis in the postseason, the seventh inning, happened again. Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peralta singled, before Matt Adams hit a beautiful three-run home run which sent him hopping and skipping around the bases. That was the end for the Dodgers, as the Cardinals won the NLDS with a 3-2 win in Game 4.
Kershaw, one of the best pitchers of the last decade, with 3 Cy Young Awards to his credit, met his Waterloo in the postseason St. Louis Cardinals. Tagged with the moniker of a postseason choker, Kershaw redeemed himself somewhat with good performances in the 2017 postseason against the Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Astros, though he did have one hiccup against the Astros in Game 5 of the World Series, which the Astros won.
The Cardinals returned to the postseason in 2015 but lost to the Cubs in the NLDS. The team hasn’t been back since. Perhaps 2018 will bring a change in the tide.
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