St. Louis Cardinals Major League Notebook – Week of September 12-18

photo: Ryan Helsley (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

Run production remains a concern though the Cardinals still managed to win four of seven at home this past week. No hitter had an OPS over .786. Closer Ryan Helsley threw an immaculate inning and picked up his 17th and 18th saves. Our history feature recounts Albert Pujols’ 2009 and 2010 home run feats.

Game recaps

Monday, September 12 – Off day

Tuesday, September 13 – Cardinals 4, Brewers 8

The St .Louis Cardinals fell to the Milwaukee Brewers in the first of a two-game series at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night. Starter Jordan Montgomery pitched five tough innings, giving up six runs, four earned, on seven hits, fanned six and walked one. Montgomery took the loss, his fourth of the season.

Chris Stratton surrendered one run in 1/3 innings. Packy Naughton threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Zack Thompson allowed one run in 2/3 of an inning. Jake Woodford tossed the final 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

Milwaukee took the early lead with two runs in the top of the first inning. The Cardinals scored three in the home first to take a 3-2 lead. Brendan Donovan walked, followed by a Tommy Edman single. Edman stole second base. Nolan Arenado doubled to plate Donovan and Edman. Arenado come home on a single by Albert Pujols.

The Brewers added two runs in the top of the second to go up 4-3. The Cardinals tied it a 4-4 in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Edman. But that would be the end of St. Louis’ scoring on the evening.

In the fifth, Milwaukee broke the tie with two runs, added one in the sixth and a final run in the eighth for the 8-4 win.

Edman was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Arenado had two RBI and Pujols drove in one.

On the base paths, Edman stole two bases for 29 on the season. Lars Nootbaar made a fielding error.

Wednesday, September 14 – Cardinals 4, Brewers 1

The Cardinals split the series with a 4-1 win over the Brewers on Wednesday. Starter Adam Wainwright pitched five innings, gave up one run on eight hits, struck out three and walked two to earn his 11th win of the season.

Andre Pallante relieved Wainwright and threw a scoreless sixth. Jordan Hicks, Giovanny Gallegos and Ryan Helsley combined to toss the final three scoreless innings.

Milwaukee scored their only run in the top of the second inning to take a brief lead. The Cardinals answered with two in the home second to go up 2-1. Nolan Arenado hit a solo home run. Brendan Donovan singled, Alec Burleson singled, and Donovan scored on a single by Yadier Molina.

Lars Nootbaar thumped a solo home run in the fifth to widen the lead to 3-1. An RBI double by Albert Pujols for the final score of 4-1.

Paul Goldschmidt was 2-for-3 on the night. The Cardinals scored four runs on 10 hits. Arenado, Pujols, Molina, and Nootbaar each had an RBI.

Thursday, September 15 – Cardinals 2, Reds 3

In the first of a five-game series, the Cardinals lost to the Cincinnati Reds by the score of 3-2 on Thursday. Starter Miles Mikolas pitched six innings, gave up three runs on five hits, struck out three and walked three. Mikolas took the loss, his 12th of the season.

Andre Pallante relieved Mikolas and threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Jake Woodford tossed the final 1 2/3 innings.

Cincinnati scored first with one run in the second inning and added another in the top of the third to lead 2-1.

The Cardinals cut the lead to 2-1 in the home third. Lars Nootbaar drew a walk. Brendan Donovan was hit by a pitch. Paul Goldschmidt doubled, Nootbaar scored, Donovan was thrown out at the plate.

The Reds added their third run in the sixth. St. Louis made it 3-2 in the ninth on a sac fly by Albert Pujols but could not tie.

The Cardinals scored their two runs on only three hits. Goldschmidt’s double was the only extra base hit.

On the base paths, Nolan Arenado stole his fifth base of the season. In the field, Nootbaar had an outfield assist at home plate.

Friday, September 16 – Cardinals 6, Reds 5

The Cardinals edged the Reds in the second game of the five-game set on Friday. Starter Jack Flaherty pitched five innings, gave up four runs on six hits, fanned five and walked two.

Zack Thompson relieved Flaherty and threw a scoreless sixth. JoJo Romero surrendered one run in 2/3 of an inning. Chris Stratton got the final out of the seventh. Giovanny Gallegos and Ryan Helsley each tossed a scoreless inning. Stratton received the win. Helsley threw an immaculate ninth (three strikeouts on nine pitches) to earn his 18th save. The immaculate inning was just the third in franchise history.

Ryan Helsley

Cincinnati scored first in the top of the third. The Cardinals tied it at 1-1 in the home half of the frame. Tyler O’Neill drew a walk and stole second base. Brendan Donovan plated O’Neill on a single.

The Reds took the lead with three runs in the fifth to make it 4-1. In the sixth, the Cardinals tied it a second time with three runs on an RBI single by Nolan Arenado and a two-run long ball from Albert Pujols. It was Albert’s career home run number 698.

Albert Pujols

In the seventh, the Reds went up 5-4. In the bottom of the frame, RBI doubles by Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt gave the lead back to the Cardinals, 6-5.

Arenado was 2-for-4 with two RBI. Goldschmidt was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Pujols drove in a pair..

On the base paths, O’Neill stole two bags for 14 on the season, but suffered a hamstring injury on the second. In the field, Arenado made a throwing error.

Saturday, September 17 – Cardinals 5, Reds 1 (Game 1)

In the first of a twin bill, the Cardinals defeated the Reds 5-1 at Busch Stadium. Recalled from Triple-A for the start, veteran Dakota Hudson pitched well. The right hander went eight innings and gave up just one unearned run.

Dakota Hudson

Andre Pallante relieved Hudson and tossed a scoreless ninth.

The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Paul DeJong drew a walk and was eliminated on a force out by Brendan Donovan. Yadier Molina singled. Tommy Edman singled to score Donovan. Pujols walked to load the bases. Molina came home on a walk by Paul Goldschmidt.

St. Louis added three more runs in the third on a single by Donovan and a two-run home run by Molina. The Reds scored their only run in the seventh.

Yadier Molina

Edman was 3-for-5 with an RBI. Molina was 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Donovan and Goldschmidt each had an RBI.

On the base paths, Edman stole his 30th base of the season. In the field, Hudson made a throwing error and Arenado had a fielding miscue.

Saturday, September 17 – Cardinals 1, Reds 0 (11 innings, Game 2)

The Cardinals took the doubleheader with a 1-0 win over the Reds in extra innings. Starter Jose Quintana pitched eight scoreless innings with two hits allowed and six punchouts.

José Quintana

Ryan Helsley followed with a scoreless ninth.

The game remained scoreless through 10 innings. The Cardinals finally broke through in the 11th with the winning run in a walk off. Andrew Knizner started on second base. Brendan Donovan walked. Tommy Edman singled to load the bases. Paul Goldschmidt grounded into a fielder’s choice at third base that was handled by the Reds center fielder. The throw home hit Knizner in the elbow and he was able to score.

Edman was 3-for-5. Corey Dickerson and Alec Burleson each had a single.

On the base paths, Edman stole his 31st base.

Sunday, September 18 – Cardinals 0, Reds 3

The Cardinals lost the final game of the series with the Reds, as the offense took a holiday for all nine innings of play. Starter Jordan Montgomery did his best for an offense that was in absentia. The left hander pitched 5 1/3 innings, gave up three runs on seven hits, fanned nine and walked two. Montgomery took the loss, his fifth of the season.

Jake Woodford threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief. Packy Naughton started the ninth but exited after recording only one out. Chris Stratton finished the inning.

The Reds put up their first of three runs in the third inning and added two more in the sixth.

The Cardinals managed just two hits, both from the bottom of the lineup. They were singles by Paul DeJong and Yadier Molina. The top half of the lineup produced a big goose egg.

The offense was 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base.

The highlight of the game for St. Louis was an outfield assist by Lars Nootbaar who threw out a runner at home.

NL Central Standings

Team W L PCT GB WCGB E#
St. Louis 87 61 0.588
Milwaukee 78 68 0.534 8 2 8
Chicago 62 84 0.425 24 18 E
Cincinnati 58 89 0.395 28.5 22.5 E
Pittsburgh 55 92 0.374 31.5 25.5 E

The Big Picture

For the second consecutive week, St. Louis had to scratch and claw to win four of seven games, all at home. They split two with the Brewers and took three of five from the 30-games-under-.500 Reds. With the Brewers loss on Sunday, the Cardinals remain eight games ahead of Milwaukee in the NL Central.

The offense was scarce this week, especially during the five-game series with the Reds. St. Louis scored only 14 runs over the five games against a Reds staff that ranks 28th in MLB with a 4.84 ERA. There was a lack of hitting and scoring runs for the second consecutive week. Only 14 games remain in the regular season.

The inability to hit and score runs consistently is the major issue going into the end of the regular season. While the Division is likely wrapped up (barring a disaster), the lack of offense is an ominous sign for the postseason.

No Cardinals hitters had an OPS at .800 or above for the week. Zero. The highest OPS was from Paul Goldschmidt (.769). Two other hitters had an OPS above .700, Nolan Arenado (.761), and Dylan Carlson (.733 in 5 ABs) Carlson has only played in two games as he was just activated off the IL.

At the bottom are Nolan Gorman and Corey Dickerson, both with an OPS of .286. Paul DeJong and Andrew Knizner had OPS’s of .311 and .375, respectively. Tyler O’Neill was just put on the IL and will likely miss the rest of the regular season. He may be available for the postseason.

This offensive ineptitude cannot continue if there is an expectation of advancing in the postseason. The goal of gaining the second seed by overtaking the Mets and the Braves is a pipe dream.

Regarding the pitching, it has been okay for the most part, though improved performances from Mikolas, Wainwright and Flaherty are sorely needed. Quintana and Montgomery are fine, and the one start from Dakota Hudson in the doubleheader was good. Hudson was sent back down to Memphis the next day.

The bullpen is now missing Jordan Hicks, who was put on the IL on Saturday with arm fatigue and neck spasms. He may be available for the postseason. The Cardinals got Steven Matz back as a bullpen replacement which will help. Otherwise, the bullpen is fine, though more roster churn is likely before the end of the season.

The defense in the infield remains good but the outfield defense has issues. O’Neill is now unavailable, though Carlson is back but may need to re-earn regular starting time. In the meantime, Lars Nootbaar has been switching between right and center. The other outfielders have been Corey Dickerson and a mix of Brendan Donovan and Alec Burleson with Ben DeLuzio as a defensive replacement in center. DeLuzio is the only outfielder who appears to be above average on defense (sans Carlson, whose status is in flux). Nootbaar is good in right but only passable in center. Dickerson is barely average and Burleson is below average. Donovan is passable but better as an infielder. Balls are not getting caught like they were in the first half of the season, and this is a problem with no apparent solution.

The baserunning is the one bright spot. Knizner won the second game of the doubleheader with a baserunning move between third and home that enabled him to be hit by the thrown ball and score.

The Cardinals hit the road for six games on the West Coast, three with the Padres and three with the Dodgers. If the offense continues to be absent, these two series could be the disaster waiting to happen.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 9/13 The Cardinals sent LHP Steven Matz on a rehab assignment to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 9/16 The Cardinals sent OF Dylan Carlson on a rehab assignment to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 9/17 The Cardinals recalled RHP Dakota Hudson from the Memphis Redbirds (29th man for doubleheader).
  • 9/17 The Cardinals activated OF Dylan Carlson from the 10-day injured list.
  • 9/17 The Cardinals activated LHP Steven Matz from the 15-day injured list.
  • 9/17 The Cardinals placed OF Tyler O’Neill on the 10-day injured list. Left hamstring strain.
  • 9/17 The Cardinals placed RHP Jordan Hicks on the 15-day injured list retroactive to September 15. Right arm fatigue and neck spasms.
  • 9/18 The Cardinals optioned RHP Dakota Hudson to the Memphis Redbirds.

Injury Report

  • RHP Alex Reyes (frayed right labrum) remains on the 60-day IL. The right hander had surgery on the shoulder back in May. It is unlikely Reyes will pitch this season.
  • LHP Steven Matz (left knee MCL tear) was activated from the 15-day injured list on Saturday. Matz’s rehab was cut short due to the injury to Jordan Hicks.
  • RHP Drew VerHagen (right hip impingement) remains on the 60-day injured list. VerHagen had hip surgery and is out for the remainder of the season.
  • OF Dylan Carlson was activated from the 10-day injured list on Saturday. Carlson’s rehab was ended early due to the injury to Tyler O’Neill.
  • OF Tyler O’Neill was placed on the 10-day injured list due to a left hamstring strain. The outfielder injured his hamstring stealing second base during the game on Friday. An MRI showed a Grade 1 strain, which is a mild strain. The team is hopeful O’Neill’s stay on the IL will be minimal and he will be able to return for the postseason.
  • RHP Jordan Hicks was placed on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to September 15, due to right arm fatigue and neck spasms. Hicks could return to the team prior to the end of the regular season.

Looking Ahead

After a Monday travel day on September 19, the Cardinals play three games in San Diego against the Padres. Adam Wainwright is scheduled to make the Tuesday start, followed by Miles Mikolas on Wednesday and Jack Flaherty on Thursday.

The team then goes to Los Angeles to play the Dodgers in a weekend series. Assuming the rotation doesn’t change, Jose Quintana should make the Friday start with Jordan Montgomery going Saturday, and Wainwright finishing the series on Sunday.

The Cardinals then travel to Milwaukee for two games with the Brewers. This will be the final series against the Brewers for the regular season. After a Thursday travel day to return to St. Louis, the team plays the Pirates in a three-game weekend set.

The Cardinals travel to Pittsburgh to end the regular season with three games.

The regular season schedule can be found here.

Blast from the Past

In the next installment of our series on the career home run record of Cardinals great Albert Pujols, we review the 2009 and 2010 seasons. The team made a shortened postseason appearance in 2009, losing to the Dodgers in the NLDS. The Cardinals did not go to the postseason in 2010.

Following is each season with totals for each and further details about the home runs hit.

2009 season

This was Albert Pujols’ ninth major league season. Pujols hit 47 home runs including 10 games with two home runs.

Albert Pujols

Pujols’ first home run (#320 career) was hit on April 7, 2009, against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Pirates 9-3. The long ball, of the two-run variety, was hit off Pirates starter Ian Snell in the third inning.

Albert’s final home runs in 2009 (#365 and #366) were hit at Miller Park off Brewers starter Jeff Suppan and reliever Chris Narveson on September 9. Pujols hit a two-run long ball off Suppan in the top of the fifth, and a solo shot off Narveson in the top of the seventh. The Cardinals won, 5-1.

Further details on the 47 home runs hit by Pujols in 2009.

  • Thirty-four of the 47 home runs were hit against right-handed pitchers. Thirteen were hit off left-handers.
  • Of the 47, 25 were on the road and 22 at home.
  • Albert hit five home runs each against the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
  • Pujols hit two home runs each off the following pitchers: David Weathers (CIN and MIL), Toma Ohka (CLE), Jon Garland (ARI), Randy Johnson (SFG), Zach Duke (PITT), Livan Hernandez (NYM), and Kevin Slowey (MIN).
  • Albert hit three home runs each at PNC Park, Miller Park, and Progressive Field.
  • Locations of the 47 home runs were Up the Middle (26), Pulled (19), and Opposite Field (2)
  • Long balls by month: April (8), May (8), June (14), July (4), August (7), September (6).
  • Type: Fly Balls (31), Line Drives (16).

2010 season

During Albert Pujols’ 10th major league season he hit 42 home runs in total. He had one three home run game and five two-homer games. The three home run game was on May 30 at Wrigley Field. Albert hit two long balls against Ryan Dempster and one off John Grabow.

His first home runs (#367 and #368) were hit on April 5, 2010, against the Reds at Great American Ballpark. The first was a solo home run in the top of the first inning against Reds starter Aaron Harang. The next was in the seventh inning against Mike Lincoln, a two-run shot. The Cardinals won the game 11-6.

Pujols’ final home run of 2010 (#408) was hit at Wrigley field on September 26 in the the first inning against Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija. The three-run home run helped the Cardinals beat the Cubs 8-7.

Further details on the 2010 home runs.

  • Pujols hit 24 home runs against right-handed pitchers and 18 against left-handers.
  • He hit 25 home runs on the road and 17 at home.
  • Albert smacked eight home runs against the Brewers.
  • Pujols hit four home runs off Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster.
  • Wrigley Field could not hold five of the 42 home runs.
  • The locations of the home runs were: Up the Middle (22), Pulled (18) and Opposite Field (2).
  • Long balls by month: April (7), May (5), June (6), July (6), August (11), and September (7).
  • Type of home runs: Fly Ball (35), Line Drive (7).

The next installment will look at the 2011 Cardinals season and Pujols’ 2012 season, his first with the Angels.


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