St. Louis Cardinals Major League Notebook – Week of September 19-25

photo: Albert Pujols (Gary A. Vasquez / USA TODAY Sports)

While Albert Pujols reached the 700-home run plateau, the St. Louis Cardinals lost series to the best two teams in the West, going 2-4 on the week. Their magic number to clinch the division is three. Our history feature recaps Pujols’ home run feats in 2011 and 2012.



Game recaps

Monday, Sept 19 – Off day

Tuesday, Sept 20 – Cardinals 0 at Padres 5

The St. Louis Cardinals were blanked 5-0 in the opener of a three-game series in San Diego. Starter Adam Wainwright pitched six innings, gave up four runs on six hits, struck out one and walked two. Wainwright took the loss, his 10th of the season.

Packy Naughton surrendered one run in two innings of relief.

The Padres put two runs on the board in the first inning and added one run in each of the fourth, fifth, and seventh innings.

The Cardinals offense scattered five hits, with only one, a double by Paul Goldschmidt, going for extra bases. The Cardinals were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base.

Wednesday, Sept 21 – Cardinals 0 at Padres 1

In Game 2 of the series the Cardinals were once again shut out, this time by the score of 1-0. The Padres scratched out one unearned run off starter Miles Mikolas, who pitched six innings and allowed three hits. The right hander fanned six and walked two and took the hard-luck loss, his 13th of the season.

Miles Mikolas

Jake Woodford and JoJo Romero combined to throw the last two scoreless innings.

The Padres scored their only run in the second inning. The Cardinals were held to two hits, singles by Albert Pujols and Juan Yepez.

The shutout was the third in a row for the Cardinals, which also lost 3-0 to the Reds on Sunday. The offense left four runners on base and were 0-for-1 with runners in scoring position.

Tommy Edman made a fielding error.

Thursday, Sept 22 – Cardinals 5 at Padres 4

The Cardinals broke the offensive drought with a 5-4 win over the Padres in the final game in San Diego on Thursday. Starter Jack Flaherty pitched six innings, gave up three runs, two earned, on four hits, fanned nine and walked four to earn his first win of the season.

Jack Flaherty

Steven Matz relieved Flaherty and threw a scoreless seventh. Ryan Helsley surrendered a solo home run in the eighth. Giovanny Gallegos tossed a scoreless ninth to earn his 14th save.

The Padres scored single runs in the first and second innings to go up 2-0. St. Louis made it 2-1 in the top of the fifth on a solo long ball by Lars Nootbaar.

San Diego added a run in the home half of the fifth to make it 3-1. In the seventh, Dylan Carlson singled and both Tommy Edman and Nootbaar walked. Brendan Donovan followed with a grand slam to put the Cardinals ahead 5-3.

Brendan Donovan

The Padres scratched across a fourth run in the eighth, but St. Louis held on to win 5-4.

Donovan had the big fly, his only hit, for four RBI. Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado were 2-for-4.

Arenado and Andrew Knizner committed fielding errors.

Friday, Sept 23 – Cardinals 11 at Dodgers 0

In this epic opener of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium, the Cardinals not only shellacked the mighty Dodgers 11-0, but Albert Pujols made history by blasting his 699th and 700th home runs.

Starter Jose Quintana was very good, keeping the Dodgers offense off the board for 6 2/3 innings. The left hander allowed only five hits and punched out six Dodgers to earn his sixth win of the season.

José Quintana

Zack Thompson followed Quintana with 1 1/3 scoreless innings. The ninth was handed over to outfielder Corey Dickerson, who pitched a scoreless inning.

The Cardinals got on the board in the third inning, scoring two runs on Pujols’ home run number 699. Leading 2-0, St. Louis added to the tally in the fourth, by way of Pujols’ historic 700th long ball, a three-run shot. After four innings, Albert had given his team a 5-0 lead and put himself in the record books.

Albert Pujols

The runs kept coming as Juan Yepez reached on an error in the fifth and scored on Dylan Carlson’s double. Lars Nootbaar got in on the long ball fun with a two-run shot to make it 8-0. Yepez then thumped a solo homer in the seventh, Carlson doubled, and Nootbaar drove him in on a single to make it 10-0.

In the eighth, Alec Burleson hit his first major league home run. The bases empty blast increased the lead to 11-0.

Nootbaar was 3-for-5 with three RBI. Pujols was 2-for-4 and drove in five. Yepez and Carlson were each 2-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Saturday, Sept 24 – Cardinals 2 at Dodgers 6

The Cardinals fell to the Dodgers in Game 2 of the series at Dodger Stadium. Starter Jordan Montgomery had his third shaky outing in a row. The left hander pitched only four innings, gave up six runs on seven hits, struck out three and walked two. Montgomery took the loss, his sixth of the season.

Dakota Hudson relieved Montgomery and threw three scoreless innings. Chris Stratton tossed a scoreless eighth.

The Dodgers jumped on Montgomery early and scored one run on a solo home run by Will Smith. In the second, Trayce Thompson and Miguel Vargas took him deep for three runs. The Dodgers added two more runs in the fourth for a 6-0 lead.

The Cardinals finally scored in the sixth on a two-run home run by Nolan Arenado. Arenado was 2-for-3 with two RBI. No other Cardinal had multiple hits. A double by Lars Nootbaar was the only other extra base hit. The offense was 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base.

Sunday, Sept 25 – Cardinals 1 at Dodgers 4

The Cardinals were defeated in the final game of the series with the Dodgers. Starter Adam Wainwright continued to struggle with what is being called a “dead arm”. The right hander lasted only three innings, gave up four runs on six hits, struck out one and walked three. Wainwright took the loss, his 11th on the season.

The bullpen was lights out for the final innings. Zack Thompson threw two scoreless innings. JoJo Romero, Jake Woodford, and Andre Pallante each tossed a scoreless frame.

The Dodgers scored two runs in the first inning, then added a run in the second and third innings. The Cardinals scored their only run in the top of the second. Juan Yepez walked and Dylan Carlson singled. Yadier Molina plated Yepez on a single.

Yepez was 2-for-3. Molina had the only RBI. Lars Nootbaar, Nolan Arenado, and Carlson singled. The offense was 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left six men on base.

NL Central Standings

Team W L PCT GB WCGB E#
St. Louis 89 65 0.578
Milwaukee 82 71 0.536 6.5 2 3
Chicago 67 86 0.438 21.5 17 E
Cincinnati 60 93 0.392 28.5 24 E
Pittsburgh 56 97 0.366 32.5 28 E

The Big Picture

The Cardinals were a dismal 2-4 for the week, failing their tests against the two best teams of the West Division. The struggle continues with the offense and some of the pitching now also. The team won 1 of 3 in both the Padres and Dodgers series. The Cardinals remain comfortably in first place in the NL Central but with a slightly smaller cushion than last week as the Brewers have been playing better than the Cardinals. The Cardinals’ magic number is 3.

The offense continues to be lackluster. In two of the three games in San Diego, they were shut out. San Diego is one of the possible opponents for the Cardinals in the first round of the postseason, so this does not bode well. The only saving grace is that all three games will be at Busch Stadium.

St. Louis’ offense was abundant in the first game of the Dodgers series, as the fans of both teams were treated to Albert Pujols’ two long ball performance on Friday. The two home runs put him right at 700, so the goal has been met with a week of games to go. In the final two games, the offense disappeared as fast as it had briefly returned.

Lars Nootbaar

The top offensive performers for the week by OPS were, Lars Nootbaar (1.753), Albert Pujols (1.143), Alec Burleson (1.000 in 7 ABs), Brendan Donovan (.902), Nolan Arenado (.881), and Juan Yepez (.857). At the bottom are Andrew Knizner (.000), Corey Dickerson (.000), Tommy Edman (.186), and Paul DeJong (.334). Dickerson’s hot streak is over and has been over for a while, but he continues to play.

The most disappointing of some poor pitching performances over the week came from Adam Wainwright, who is suffering from dead arm, and hasn’t pitched well in a month. Jordan Montgomery hasn’t pitched well lately. Miles Mikolas and Jose Quintana have been fine. Jack Flaherty was better in his last start but has not returned to his former self yet.

Dakota Hudson is back on the roster and pitching out of the bullpen, he has performed well. Same for Steven Matz. All in all, the bullpen has been the bright spot on this team. Closer Ryan Helsley has been home run prone lately, but perhaps that is a short-term problem.

The Cardinals finish the road trip in Milwaukee on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Cardinals can clinch the Division with a win on Tuesday,  due to the tiebreaker.  Otherwise, they will have to clinch against the Pirates, with whom they play the last two series of the season, one in St. Louis and one in Pittsburgh.

Regardless of when they clinch, the poor performances throughout the month of September are concerning. The Cardinals will not advance in the playoffs if they continue to play this poorly.

Albert Pujols reaches 700 home run milestone

It was somewhat fitting that Albert Pujols would reach the 700-home run plateau at Dodger Stadium, which he did on Friday in the Cardinals’ 11-0 win. Pujols credits his time with the Dodgers in 2021 as rejuvenating his career and love of the game.

Pujols hit his 699th home run in the third inning of Friday’s game against Dodger starter Andrew Heaney. In the very next inning Pujols went deep against Phil Bickford, who came in to relieve Heaney. This was historic home run #700. The long balls combined gave the Cardinals a 5-0 lead.

Pujols was greeted by fans of both teams as he rounded the bases. He stopped to give a high-five to his friend Adrian Beltre, sitting in the front row. He then embraced and high fived his teammates, most of whom had left the dugout and were assembled on the edge of the field. Pujols took a curtain call, something he doesn’t normally do on the road, and then pointed to the Dodger dugout to acknowledge his former teammates.

It was a special night, and it was a well-deserved accolade for one of the best players of his generation.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 9/19 The Cardinals recalled 1B Juan Yepez from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 9/19 The Cardinals optioned 2B Nolan Gorman to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 9/21 The Cardinals recalled RHP Dakota Hudson from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 9/21 The Cardinals optioned LHP Packy Naughton 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. Reyes will not pitch this season.
  • RHP Drew VerHagen (right hip impingement) is on the 60-day injured list. VerHagen had hip surgery and is out for the remainder of the season.
  • 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 no later than the postseason. If all goes well, he will begin running on Wednesday.
  • RHP Jordan Hicks was placed on the 15-day injured list, retroactive to Sept 15, due to right arm fatigue and neck spasms. Hicks is to start a throwing progression on Monday and those results will determine if he can return to the team prior to the end of the regular season or for the playoffs.

Looking Ahead

Following the weekend series in Los Angeles, the Cardinals travel to Milwaukee to play two with the Brewers on Tuesday and Wednesday. 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 series.

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

The postseason begins on October 7. Assuming the Cardinals win the NL Central, they will likely play either the Padres, Phillies or Brewers in a best of three Wild Card Series. All games will be played at Busch Stadium with no off days.

Should the Cardinals advance beyond the Wild Card Series, they will play the winner of the NL East in a best of five National League Division Series which will begin on October 11. Home field advantage goes to the team with the higher seed, which in this case is likely the winner of the NL East.

The regular season schedule can be found here.

Blast from the Past

In this next installment of our series on the career home run record of Cardinals great Albert Pujols, we take a look at his 2011 with the Cardinals and his first season with the Angels. The Cardinals won their 11th World Series title in 2011.

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

2011 season

This was Albert Pujols’ 11th major league season, and it culminated in a World Championship. Pujols hit 37 home runs in 2011, including three games with two home runs.

Pujols’ first home run of the 2011 season (#409) was hit on April 2, 2011, against the San Diego Padres at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals lost, 11-3. The solo long ball was hit off Padre starter Clayton Richard in the bottom of the third inning.

The final home run hit by Albert in 2011 (#445) came at Busch Stadium off Mets starter Chris Capuano on September 22. It was a solo shot in the bottom of the fifth. The Cardinals lost, 8-6.

Further details on the 37 home runs hit by Pujols in 2011.

  • Twenty-eight of the 37 home runs were hit off right-handed pitchers. Nine were hit against left-handers.
  • Of the 37, 21 came on the road and 16 at home.
  • Albert hit six home runs Chicago Cubs pitching.
  • Pujols hit three long balls each off Rodrigo Lopez (CHI) and Yovani Gallardo (MIL)
  • Albert hit three home runs at PNC Park, Dodger Stadium, Miller Park, and Dolphins Stadium.
  • Locations of the 47 home runs were Pulled (19), Up the Middles (16), and Opposite Field (2)
  • Long balls by month: April (7), May (2), June (8), July (7), August (8), September (5).
  • Type: Fly Balls (28), Line Drives (9).
Arte Moreno and Albert Pujols, Feb. 1, 2012 (Getty Images)

2012 season

Albert left St. Louis as a free agent after the 2011 season and signed a 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels. In his 12th major league season and his first as an Angel, Albert hit 30 home runs. He had two games with two home runs.

The first 2012 home run (#446) was hit on May 6, 2012, against the Toronto Blue Jays at Angel Stadium. The two-run home run came in the bottom of the fifth inning against Blue Jays starter Drew Hutchinson. The Angels won, 4-3.

The final home run of 2012 (#475) came at Angel Stadium on September 12 in the bottom of the ninth inning against Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle. It was a solo home run. The Angels lost, 4-1.

Further details on the 2012 home runs.

  • Pujols hit 20 home runs against right-handed pitchers and 10 against left-handers.
  • He hit 16 home runs on the road and 14 at home.
  • Albert smacked five home runs against Texas Rangers pitching.
  • Pujols hit two home runs each off Gavin Floyd (CHW) and Derek Holland (TEX).
  • Rangers Ballpark did not hold four of the 30 home runs.
  • The locations of the home runs were: Pulled (18), and Up the Middle (12)
  • Long balls by month: May (8), June (4), July (8), August (9), and September (1).
  • Type of the home runs: Fly Ball (29), Line Drive (1).

The next installment of this series will detail Pujols’ 2013 and 2014 seasons with the Angels.


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