St. Louis Cardinals Major League Notebook – June 24-30

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

The St. Louis Cardinals went 4-3 at home last week despite the sputtering offense scoring just 17 total runs. The entire baseball world mourns the passing of former Cardinals and Giants great Orlando Cepeda. Our history feature highlights four former Cardinals who debuted during the past week in prior years.



Orlando Cepeda

Orlando Cepeda passes away at age 86

The baseball world was saddened to hear of the passing of Hall of Fame first baseman Orlando Cepeda at the age of 86. The death was announced by his family on Friday.

Cepeda began his baseball career with the San Francisco Giants.  Nicknamed “Baby Bull”, Cepeda played nine seasons with the Giants, and was named Rookie of the Year in 1958. In those nine seasons, he appeared in six All-Star Games, led the National League in home runs with 46 and led the majors in RBI with 142 in 1961.

The Giants traded Cepeda to the Cardinals in May 1966. In 1967, Cepeda hit a career high .325 with 25 home runs and an NL leading 111 RBI. The Cardinals won the pennant and defeated the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. Cepeda was named the NL MVP.

In his final season in St. Louis in 1968, the Cardinals again won the pennant but lost the World Series to the Detroit Tigers. Cepeda had a down year in 1968, hitting only .248 with 16 home runs and 73 RBI. Before the 1969 season started, the Cardinals traded Cepeda to the Atlanta Braves for Joe Torre.

Cepeda played for the Braves, Athletics, Red Sox and finally the Royals during his last season, 1974.

Cepeda has the distinction of being the first player in NL history to win both the Rookie of the Year and the MVP unanimously. The only other one to follow was Albert Pujols.

Due to legal troubles after his retirement, Cepeda was not elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame during his years of eligibility. He was selected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1999.

Cepeda’s death comes just 10 days after the passing of another beloved Giant and Hall of Famer, the great Willie Mays.

The Cardinals community along with Major League baseball mourns the passing of Orlando Cepeda.

Game recaps

Monday, June 24, 2024 – Cardinals 4, Braves 3

The Cardinals edged the Braves by a 4-3 score on Monday at Busch Stadium. Starter Lance Lynn pitched 6 2/3 innings, gave up one run on four hits and struck out five to earn his third win of the season.

Lance Lynn

Ryan Fernandez relieved Lynn and threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Ryan Helsley surrendered two runs in the ninth but received his 27th save.

The Cardinals took a 4-0 lead in the third inning. Michael Siani singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Alec Burleson doubled to drive in Siani. Burleson scored on a single by Willson Contreras. Nolan Gorman singled. Brendan Donovan plated Contreras on a single. Donovan was caught stealing and Gorman came home on the attempt.

The Braves scored their first run in the fifth to cut the lead to 4-1. Atlanta pushed across two runs in the ninth.

The Cardinals scored four runs on 11 hits. Donovan was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Burleson was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Siani was 2-for-3.

On the bases, Donovan was caught stealing.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024 – Cardinals vs. Braves (postponed)

Tuesday night’s game was postponed due to rain and was played as part of a day/night doubleheader on Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024 – Cardinals 2, Braves 6 (game one)

The Cardinals fell to the Braves in the first game of a twin bill on Wednesday. Starter Kyle Gibson pitched four innings, gave up four runs on four hits, struck out four and walked five. Gibson took the loss, his third of the season.

Kyle Leahy relieved Gibson and surrendered two runs in three innings. Giovanny Gallegos threw a scoreless eighth and John King tossed a scoreless ninth.

The Braves went up 4-0 in the top of the second inning and the Cardinals scored one run in the home second. Paul Goldschmidt led off with a double. Brendan Donovan and Nolan Gorman walked. Matt Carpenter plated Goldschmidt on a sac fly.

St. Louis made it 4-2 in the fifth. Carpenter singled. Siani doubled. Masyn Winn drew a walk. Aleb Burleson plated Carpenter on a sac fly.

The Braves put up two runs in the sixth to lead 6-2.

St. Louis’ offense scored two runs on four hits. No Cardinal had multiple hits. The offense was 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024 – Cardinals 4, Braves 1 (game two)

The Cardinals defeated the Braves by the score of 4-1 in the second game of the twin bill on Wednesday. Fill in starter Matthew Liberatore pitched six scoreless innings, allowed two hits, struck out eight and walked one to earn his second win of the season.

Matthew Liberatore

Chris Roycroft relieved Liberatore and threw a scoreless seventh. Andrew Kittredge surrendered one run in 2/3 of an inning. JoJo Romero hurled 1/3 scoreless innings. Ryan Helsley tossed a scoreless ninth to earn his 28th save.

The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Michael Siani and Masyn Winn singled. Alec Burleson doubled to score Siani and Winn.

The Braves scored their only run in the top of the eighth. St. Louis answered with two runs in the home half to increase the lead to 4-1. Burleson doubled. Dylan Carlson pinch ran for Burleson. Paul Goldschmidt plated Carlson on a single. Goldschmidt stole second base. Brendan Donovan drove in Goldschmidt on a single.

The Cardinals scored four runs on eight hits. Burleson was 2-for-4 with two RBI. Donovan was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Siani was 2-for-3.

On the bases, Donovan stole his second base of the season. Nolan Gorman swiped his sixth bag. Goldschmidt stole his fourth base.

On defense, Liberatore picked a runner off first base.

Thursday, June 27, 2024 – Cardinals 4, Reds 11

The Cardinals were mauled by the Reds in an 11-4 blowout on Thursday at Busch Stadium. Starter Miles Mikolas pitched 4 1/3 innings, gave up 10 runs, nine earned, on 12 hits, struck out one and walked one. Mikolas took the loss, his seventh of the season.

John King relieved Mikolas and surrendered one run in two innings. Giovanny Gallegos threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Ryan Fernandez tossed a scoreless ninth.

The Reds put up one run in the first, added one in the second and three in the top of the third to lead 5-0.

The Cardinals responded with two runs in the home third to cut the deficit to 5-2. Willson Contreras drew a walk. Nolan Arenado hit a two-run home run.

The Reds scored two runs in the fourth, three in the fifth, and one in the seventh to run up the score to 11-2. The Cardinals plated two more runs in the eighth to shrink the lead to 11-4. Michael Siani tripled and scored on a double by Brendan Donovan. Donovan came home on a double by Dylan Carlson.

St. Louis’ offense scored four runs on seven hits. Carlson was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Arenado had two RBI.

On defense, Pedro Pagés had a passed ball.

Friday, June 28, 2024 – Cardinals 1, Reds 0

The Cardinals blanked the Reds by the score of 1-0 on Friday. Starter Andre Pallante pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings, allowed four hits, struck out five and walked three to earn his fourth win of the season.

Andre Pallante

Ryan Fernandez relieved Pallante and threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings. JoJo Romero and Andrew Kittredge combined for a scoreless eighth. Ryan Helsley tossed a scoreless ninth to earn his 29th save.

The Cardinals scored the only run of the game in the third inning. Michael Siani doubled. Willson Contreras walked. Alec Burleson plated Siani on a sac fly.

St. Louis scored one run on four hits. No Cardinal had multiple hits.

On the bases, Burleson was caught stealing.

Saturday, June 29, 2024 – Cardinals 4, Reds 9

On Saturday, the Cardinals lost to the Reds in the third of the four-game series. Starter and former Red Sonny Gray had a tough outing. The right hander pitched 4 1/3 innings, gave up six runs, three earned, on seven hits, struck out six and walked one.  Gray took the loss, his fifth of the season.

John King relieved Gray and surrendered two runs in 1/3 of an inning. In his MLB debut, Gordon Graceffo yielded one run in 4 1/3 innings, but the damage was done.

Gordon Graceffo

The Reds took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning. The Cardinals answered with one run in the home half. Matt Carpenter doubled and scored on a single by Michael Siani.

The Reds took a big jump ahead with a six-run fifth inning to lead 8-1. The Cardinals chipped away at the lead in the sixth on a solo home run by Paul Goldschmidt to make it 8-2.

The Reds added a ninth run in the top of the seventh. St. Louis responded with one run in the bottom of the inning. Nolan Arenado singled. Nolan Gorman drew a walk. Carpenter drove in Arenado on a single.

The Cardinals made it 9-4 in the eighth. Willson Contreras singled. Arenado singled and Contreras advanced to third on an error. Gorman plated Contreras on a single.

The offense scored four runs on eight hits. Carpenter was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Arenado was 2-for-4.

On defense, Arenado made a fielding error that led to three unearned runs against Gray.

Sunday, June 30, 2024 – Cardinals 2, Reds 0

To salvage a home series split, the Cardinals blanked the Reds for the second time in the series by the score of 2-0. Starter Lance Lynn pitched six scoreless innings, allowed two hits, struck out six and walked one. In a career milestone, Lynn struck out his 1,000th hitter as a Cardinal.

Andrew Kittredge relieved Lynn and threw 2/3 of a scoreless inning. JoJo Romero hurled 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Ryan Helsley tossed a scoreless ninth to earn his 30th save.

The Cardinals scored the first run of the game in the fifth inning. Pedro Pagés and Masyn Winn singled. Alec Burleson plated Pagés on a single.

St. Louis added the second run in the sixth. Nolan Arenado and Pagés singled. Winn drove in Arenado on a double.

The Cardinals scored two runs on seven hits. Pagés was 3-for-4. Winn was 2-for-4 with an RBI.

The Big Picture

The Cardinals ended the week at home with a 4-3 record. They took two of three from the Braves but split the four-game series with the Reds. The Cardinals are 43-40 and remain in second place in the NL Central, 6.5 games back of the Brewers.

The Cardinals did not score more than four runs in any of the seven games. They won two games 1-0 and 2-0.  The offense is still absent and the pitching is having to make up the difference. It failed to do so in three games. The team’s run differential for the season is -40 yet they still hold one of the NL Wild Card spots. This reliance on pitching to keep them in the race cannot continue.

Michael Siani

The top offensive performers for the week by OPS are role players Michael Siani (1.111), Pedro Pagés (1.055), and Matt Carpenter (.962).  The next closest is Brendan Donovan (.726).

At the bottom are Brandon Crawford (.000), José Fermín (.200), Nolan Gorman (.317), and Masyn Winn (.422). Winn has been in a mini slump but his slumps have been short lived. Gorman on the other hand has been hitting poorly for quite some time.

It is now close to the All-Star break with no noticeable improvement by the offense over any extended period of time.

The pitching has been the savior for the most part. There have been hiccups in both the rotation and the bullpen, but they have been relatively mild.

Three of the starting pitchers had ERAs over 4.00 over the past seven days. Miles Mikolas pitched a clunker against the Reds on Thursday. Sonny Gray was not his usual self against the Reds as well. Only Lance Lynn and Andre Pallante had good weeks. Lynn has had two good starts in a row. Matthew Liberatore pitched very well in an unplanned start against the Braves. Kyle Gibson had a subpar start against the Braves. Despite all this, it was the pitching rather than the offense that contributed more to the four wins.

The starting pitching ERAs for the week are Pallante (0.00), Liberatore (0.00), Lynn (0.71), Gray (6.23), Gibson (9.00) and Mikolas (18.69).  The bullpen misses were John King (8.10), Kyle Leahy (6.00) and Andrew Kittredge (5.40). Leahy is back in Memphis. Kittredge pitched better at the end of the week.

The Cardinals leave on Monday for a road trip that begins in Pittsburgh and ends in Washington. The Pirates have been sneaky good and are three games behind the Cardinals. The Nats are four games back in the Wild Card race. The offense needs to show up.

NL Central Standings

Team W L Pct GB
Milwaukee 50 34 0.595
St. Louis 43 40 0.518 6.5
Pittsburgh 40 43 0.482 9.5
Cincinnati 39 45 0.464 11
Chicago 39 46 0.459 11.5

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 6/24 The Cardinals optioned C Nick Raposo to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 6/24 The Cardinals activated RHP Nick Robertson from the 15-day injured list and optioned him to Memphis.
  • 6/24 The Cardinals activated C Willson Contreras from the 10-day injured list.
  • 6/26 The Cardinals recalled RHP Chris Roycroft from the Memphis Redbirds as the 27th player for Wednesday’s doubleheader.
  • 6/27 The Cardinals optioned RHP Chris Roycroft to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 6/28 The Cardinals optioned RHP Kyle Leahy to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 6/28 The Cardinals transferred LHP Steven Matz from the 15-day injured list to the 60-day injured list. Lower back strain.
  • 6/28 The Cardinals selected the contract of RHP Gordon Graceffo from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 6/28 The Cardinals sent OF Lars Nootbaar on a rehab assignment to the Springfield Cardinals.
  • 6/30 The Cardinals optioned RHP Gordon Graceffo to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 6/30 The Cardinals designated Memphis LHP Kolton Ingram for assignment.
  • 6/30 The Cardinals selected the contract of RHP Jacob Bosiokovic from the Memphis Redbirds.

Injury Report

  • CF Tommy Edman (arthroscopic wrist surgery) was transferred to the 60-day injured list from the 15-day injured list on May 6. Edman has had a setback in his return, as he sprained his ankle while fielding ground balls. Edman’s rehab has been paused until the severity of the injury can be assessed.
  • RHP Keynan Middleton (right forearm strain) was transferred from the 15-day injured list to the 60-day injured list on June 22. Middleton underwent season ending forearm surgery. The right hander did not throw a pitch for the Cardinals this season.
  • LHP Drew Rom (left bicep tendinitis and left shoulder surgery) was transferred from the 15-day injured list to the 60 day-injured list on April 30. Rom underwent left shoulder surgery. The left hander is expected to be out until at least September.
  • RHP Riley O’Brien (right forearm flexor strain) was transferred from the 15-day injured list to the 60-day injured list on May 10. O’Brien was scheduled for a rehab assignment but it was paused due to continued arm issues. Scans were sent out for a second opinion and no decision will be made until the consultation is completed.
  • LHP Steven Matz (lower back strain) was transferred from the 15-day injured list to the 60-day injured list on June 28. Matz is expected to be out until August.

Willson Contreras

  • C Willson Contreras (left arm fracture) was activated from the 10-day injured list on June 24.

Lars Nootbaar

  • OF Lars Nootbaar (left oblique strain) was placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to May 30. Nootbaar is currently on a rehab assignment with the Springfield Cardinals. His expected return is July 5.
  • RHP Nick Robertson (right elbow inflammation) was activated from the 15-day injured list and optioned to the Memphis Redbirds on June 24.
  • Iván Herrera (lower back tightness) was placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to June 19. Herrera has been swinging the bat and may be catching bullpens in the coming days. A rehab stint may follow.

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals begin July with a three-game series in Pittsburgh with the Pirates beginning Tuesday, July 2. Kyle Gibson is set to make the Tuesday start, followed by Miles Mikolas on Wednesday and Andre Pallante on Thursday.

The Pittsburgh series is followed by a weekend set with the Nationals in Washington.

The Cardinals return to St. Louis for two games against the Kansas City Royals. After a Thursday off day, the Cubs come to town for a weekend series before the All-Star Break.

The first series after the All-Star Break is against the Braves in Atlanta. The Cardinals then return to Pittsburgh.

After a travel day on Thursday, July 25, the Cardinals take on the Nationals again at Busch Stadium. The final series in July is with the Texas Rangers in St. Louis.

Blast from the Past

This week’s Blast from the Past continues the Debut Series with a look at former Cardinals who debuted during the period June 24 through 30.

This week’s group of four debuts are all occurred during the 21st Century and are recognizable names, though several had short careers in St. Louis. The four bounced around with other teams with varying degrees of success. Only one of the four is currently on a major league roster and he is on the injured list.

Four former Cardinal players made their major league debuts with the team during the period June 24 through 30 in past seasons. The dates of the debuts, the game and how they performed is summarized.

Marco Gonzales (USA TODAY Sports Images)

Marco Gonzales – Gonzales made his major league debut with the Cardinals on June 25, 2014. The left-hander was the starting pitcher against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Cardinals won the game 9-6.  Gonzales was called up to replace injured Jaime Garcia in the rotation.

Gonzales pitched five innings and gave up five runs on seven hits with three strikeouts and two walks. He had one plate appearance. In the third inning, he doubled to center and scored on a single by Matt Holliday.

Gonzales made five starts in 2014 but spent all of 2015 in Triple-A with the exception of one start with St. Louis. The Colorado native had Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2016 season. He returned in June 2017 and made one start that lasted only 3 1/3 innings. He was traded that July to the Seattle Mariners for outfielder Tyler O’Neill.

Gonzalez pitched for the Mariners through the 2023 season and was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates last December. He is currently on the Bucs’ 60-day injured list.

Luke Voit (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Luke Voit – Voit made his major league debut with the Cardinals on June 25, 2017 against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won, 8-4.

Voit appeared as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning for Trevor Rosenthal. Voit was hit by a pitch but was stranded.

Voit collected his first major league hit the next day against the Cincinnati Reds in a makeup game for a previous rainout. At Busch Stadium, Voit started at first base and hit sixth in the lineup. Voit went 1-for-4. His hit was a double to center in the fifth inning. He was left stranded. His other plate appearances were a strikeout swinging, a hit into a double play and a ground out to the shortstop.

Voit was traded to the Yankees in July 2018 for current Cardinals reliever Giovanny Gallegos. He played for the Yankees for four seasons with his highlight the COVID year of 2020.

From there, Voit became a journeyman. He was traded to the San Diego Padres in August 2022. He signed with the Milwaukee Brewers as a free agent in February 2023 but was released a month later. He was signed and released twice by the New York Mets in 2023 and the beginning of 2024. Voit is currently playing in the Mexican League.

Clayton Mortensen

Clayton Mortensen – Mortensen debuted on June 29, 2009 against the San Francisco Giants in Busch Stadium. The Cardinals lost, 10-0.

Mortensen is notable for two things. One is the shortness of the Cardinals phase of his career, consisting of three innings in this one game. The second notable fact is that he was one of three players traded to the Oakland Athletics for Matt Holliday.

Mortensen’s debut was in relief of starter Brad Thompson in the seventh inning. He gave up six runs, two earned, on five hits with two strikeouts and one walk in three innings. He had one plate appearance in the eighth inning and flied out to center.

Mortensen pitched a total of 33 2/3 innings for the Athletics in 2009 and 2010. He was designated for assignment by Oakland in January 2011 and then traded to the Colorado Rockies. He pitched in 16 games for the Rockies in 2011 and was traded to the Boston Red Sox in January 2012. Boston designated him for assignment on June 29, 2013, four years to the day after his Cardinals debut. The Red Sox traded Mortensen to the Royals, who traded him to the Marlins. Mortensen played in the minor leagues for both teams. The Royals re-signed him on a minor league deal in 2018 but he did not pitch. He retired at the end of the 2018 season.

Mortensen, who was a first-round pick of the Cardinals in 2007, is currently a pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs Complex League team.

Dan Haren

Dan Haren – Haren debuted with the Cardinals on June 30, 2003 against the San Francisco Giants at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals lost, 5-1.

Starter Haren pitched six innings, gave up four runs, two earned, on seven hits, struck out three and walked one. He was the losing pitcher.

Haren made two plate appearances and was 1-for-2. His first major league hit was a double to right field in the third inning. He was left stranded.

Haren made 14 starts in 2003 and then spent the 2004 regular season in Triple-A. He was called up again for the postseason in 2004 in which he made five appearances, including two in the World Series against the Boston Red Sox. Haren pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings in that World Series as the Cardinals were swept.

After the 2004 season, Haren was traded along with Kiko Calero and Daric Barton to the Oakland Athletics for Mark Mulder.

Haren’s major league career spanned 13 seasons. In addition to the Athletics, Haren pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Washington Nationals, Miami Marlins and Chicago Cubs. He appeared in three All-Star Games and finished in the top 10 of the Cy Young Award vote twice.

Haren retired from baseball after the 2015 season. St. Louis’ second-round draft pick in 2001 is currently employed by the Arizona Diamondbacks as a pitching strategist.


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