Photo: Paul Goldschmidt (Joe Puetz/USA TODAY Sports)
A 6-2 week helped the St. Louis Cardinals gain ground on the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers, as the Redbirds now sit a half game back from first place. Paul Goldschmidt (1.030 OPS) continued to lead the offense, but the now-injured Corey Dickerson (1.200) and rookie Brendan Donovan (1.000) also had strong weeks.
Our Blast from the Past recalls Michael Wacha’s debut in 2013 in a game that featured a four and a half hour rain delay and didn’t end until after 3 AM.
In the first game of a three-game series at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals defeated the Padres in a 6-3 contest. Packy Naughton took the mound for St. Louis. The left-hander pitched 2 1/3 innings, gave up one run on two hits and struck out four.
Andre Pallante surrendered one run in 3 1/3 innings. Giovanny Gallegos and Genesis Cabrera each threw a scoreless innings. Ryan Helsley allowed one run in the final 1 1/3 innings. Pallante got the win, his first of the season.
The Padres got on the board first with one run in the top of the third inning. The Cardinals answered with two scores to make it 2-1 in the home half of the third on a two-run home run by Nolan Gorman.
St. Louis increased the lead to 3-1 in the fifth. Brendan Donovan and Harrison Bader singled. Donovan scored on a Tommy Edman single.
San Diego made it a one-run game in the sixth. In the seventh, Paul Goldschmidt blasted a two-run home run to left center field. Yadier Molina hit an RBI double. The Cardinals led 6-2.
The Padres added a final run in the ninth for the final score of 6-3.
Gorman went 3-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Edman was 2-for-5 with an RBI. Goldschmidt drove in two.
On the base paths, Edman stole his 11th base of the season.
The Cardinals topped the Padres in a one-run game on Tuesday at Busch Stadium. Adam Wainwright got the start. The right-hander pitched seven scoreless innings, allowed two hits, fanned 10 and walked one.
Giovanny Gallegos relieved Wainwright and surrendered two runs in the eighth to deny Wainwright a win and blow the save. Ryan Helsley and Drew VerHagen each tossed a scoreless inning. VerHagen took the win, his third of the season.
The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the third inning. Brendan Donovan walked and scored on a double by Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sac fly by Albert Pujols.
The Padres tied it up 2-2 in the eighth. The game went into the 10th. Ghost runner Tommy Edman began the inning on second base and stole third. Pujols hit a sac fly to score Edman and the Cardinals won in a walk off 3-2.
On the base paths, Edman stole his 12th base of the season. Nolan Arenado was caught stealing for the second time. In the field, Lars Nootbaar had an outfield assist at home plate.
The Cardinals took the third game of the series to complete the sweep against the Padres on Wednesday. Starter Dakota Hudson pitched seven innings, gave up one run on four hits, struck out three and walked one to earn his fourth win of the season.
Drew VerHagen threw a scoreless eighth. Kodi Whitley started the ninth and surrendered one run but couldn’t get the final out. Nick Wittgren bailed Whitley out and retired the final hitter to earn his first save.
The Padres took an initial 1-0 lead in the first inning. The Cardinals knotted it up at 1-1 in the fourth. Paul Goldschmidt led off the inning with a walk. Nolan Arenado singled and Goldschmidt advanced to third. Juan Yepez plated Goldschmidt on a sac fly.
St. Louis took a 3-1 lead in the sixth on a two-run home run by Arenado. In the eighth the Redbirds added two more on an RBI single by Arenado and a double by Yepez.
The ninth began with Whitley on the mound in relief. He got the first out then gave up a solo home run to Luke Voit. The second hitter was retired, but a single and two walks allowed by Whitley loaded the bases. Whitley was removed and Wittgren entered to induce a fly out from Robinson Cano to end the game.
The Cardinals began a five-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Thursday. The Cubs were the winners in this initial contest by the score of 7-5. Matthew Liberatore got the start for St. Louis. The left-hander pitched only 3 1/3 innings in what was his worst start since being called up. He gave up four runs on six hits, struck out only one and issued three free passes. Liberatore took the loss.
Nick Wittgren surrendered one run in 2 2/3 innings of relief. T.J McFarland allowed two more runs in 1 1/3 innings following Wittgren. Kodi Whitley got the final two outs of the eighth.
The Cubs scored two in the first inning to go up 2-0. The Cardinals tied it in the third. Harrison Bader singled and scored on a double by Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt scored on a Nolan Arenado single.
The Cubs added one run in each of the third, fourth and fifth innings to retake the lead at 5-2. The Redbirds made it 5-3 in the sixth on three consecutive walks to Juan Yepez, Brendan Donovan and Albert Pujols. A ground out by Yadier Molina scored Yepez.
The Cubs increased the lead to 7-3 in the eighth. In the ninth, Bader hit a two-run long ball to cut the lead to 7-5.
Bader was the only Cardinal with multiple hits. He was 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. He also contributed with an outfield assist at second base.
The Cardinals pounded the Cubs in the second game of the series at Wrigley Field on Friday. Miles Mikolas was on the bump for St. Louis. The right-hander pitched five innings, gave up four runs on eight hits, struck four and walked three.
Rookie Zack Thompson, newly called up for the Cardinals finished the game and threw the final four innings. The left-hander surrendered one run on three hits while fanning three and walking one. Mikolas got the win and Thompson earned his first major league save.
The Cubs took a 3-0 lead in the first inning on a three-run home run. The Cardinals posted the first of their runs in the second. Nolan Arenado led off with a single. Lars Nootbaar doubled to right to plate Arenado.
St. Louis took a 4-3 lead in the third on a three-run home run by Paul Goldschmidt. The Cubs tied it in the home half of the third.
The Cardinals put up five runs in the fourth to jump ahead 9-4. Corey Dickerson hit a solo home run. Harrison Bader singled and then stole second base. Andrew Knizner singled to plate Bader. Tommy Edman singled, then Nolan Gorman blasted a three-run home run to right center field.
The Redbirds increased the lead to 12-4 in the sixth. Knizner drew a walk. Edman singled and Knizner advanced to third. Edman stole second base. Paul Goldschmidt walked. Knizner scored on a wild pitch. Arenado singled and Edman scored. Goldschmidt scored on a force out by Brendan Donovan.
The Cubs scored their fifth and final run in the seventh. The Cardinals bolstered their blowout with two runs in the ninth on solo home runs by Dickerson and Nootbaar.
Edman went 3-for-5 with three runs scored. Arenado was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Dickerson was 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Nootbaar was 2-for-5 with two RBI. Bader was 2-for-5 with two runs scored. Gorman and Goldschmidt each drove in three.
On the base paths, Bader stole his 14th base of the season. Edman swiped two bags to tie Bader with 14 steals.
The Cardinals lost to the Cubs in the first game of the twin bill on Saturday. Johan Oviedo was recalled from Memphis to make the game one start. The right-hander pitched five innings and gave up three runs on eight hits, struck out five and walked three.
Jake Woodford relieved Oviedo and threw the final three innings. He surrendered three runs on five hits.
Chicago scored one run in the second inning and two more runs in the fifth to take a 3-0 lead. The Cardinals finally got on the board in the sixth to score their only run of the game on a solo home run by Tommy Edman.
The Cubs answered in the home half of the sixth with two additional runs, then added a final run in the eighth.
The St. Louis offense scored one run on five hits. The only Cardinal with multiple hits was Harrison Bader, who didn’t start the game but came in as a pinch hitter for Lars Nootbaar in the seventh and remained to play CF. Bader was 2-for-2. Juan Yepez had the only other extra base hit, a double.
In the field, Nolan Arenado made a throwing error.
The Cardinals rebounded to take the second game of the twin bill on Saturday. Andre Pallante got the start for St. Louis. The right-hander gave up one run on four innings pitched, struck out two and walked four.
Drew VerHagen relieved Pallante and surrendered two runs in 1 1/3 innings. Ryan Helsley came in for VerHagen in the sixth and gave up a double that allowed two inherited runners to score. Otherwise he threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings but was charged with a blown save. Giovanny Gallegos allowed one unearned run in two innings pitched and got the win, his first of the season.
The Cubs scored first with one run in the first inning. The Cardinals posted three runs in the fourth to go up 3-1. Tommy Edman drew a walk. Paul Goldschmidt singled, advancing Edman to second. Nolan Arenado walked to load the bases. Edman scored on a wild pitch. Brendan Donovan doubled to plate Goldschmidt and Arenado.
Chicago tied the game at 3-3 in the sixth. Neither team scored in regulation and the game went into the 10th inning. Paul Goldschmidt started the inning at second base. Arenado walked. Donovan doubled to score Goldschmidt and Arenado. Donovan scored on a single by Harrison Bader. Bader scored on a Lars Nootbaar double play. The Cardinals led 7-3.
The Cubs put up one run in the home half of the 10th, but the Cardinals bullpen held on for the win.
Donovan went 3-for-5 with four RBI. Edmundo Sosa was 2-for-5.
On the base paths, Donovan stole his second base of the season. Bader was caught stealing for the first time this season.
The Cardinals battled for the win in an extra innings nail biter in the final game of the series on Sunday night. Starter Adam Wainwright battled as well through seven innings without his good stuff. The right-hander gave up two runs, one earned on seven hits, three walks and no strikeouts. Wainwright hasn’t pitched seven innings without a strikeout since 2007.
Genesis Cabrera, in a stellar performance, was able to give the Cardinals four innings in relief, throwing 58 pitches and surrendering only one run. The left-hander fanned five and walked one to earn his third win of the season. The Cardinals haven’t used two or fewer pitchers in an 11 inning game since June 27, 1992. It was a hard won win for St. Louis.
The Cubs scored their first run off Wainwright in the first inning. Chicago scored their second run in the fourth to make it 2-0.
St. Louis was unable to score until the fifth inning. Tommy Edman singled. Paul Goldschmidt singled and a throwing error put the runners on second and third. Nolan Arenado singled to plate both Edman and Goldschmidt and the game was tied 2-2.
The game remained tied until the eighth inning. Cabrera gave up his only run on back-to-back doubles. The Redbirds battled back to tie in the ninth. Harrison Bader hit his first triple of the season. Pinch hitter Lars Nootbaar singled to score Bader. The Cubs failed to score in the home half of the ninth.
The game went into extra innings. Neither team was able to push home a run in the 10th. In the 11th, with Nolan Gorman on second base, Juan Yepez singled, Gorman scored, and the Cardinals led for the first time in the game, 4-3.
Bader then ground into a force out. After Molina struck out, Nootbaar drew a walk. Brendan Donovan followed with a double to score Bader and increase the lead to 5-3.
Cabrera returned to pitch the 11th. He induced a ground out from Nico Hoerner, struck out Jason Heyward, and got another ground out from Nick Madrigal to clinch the win for St. Louis.
Goldschmidt went 2-for-5. Arenado drove in two. Bader was 2-for-5 with two runs scored. Yepez, Nootbaar, and Donovan each had an RBI.
Donovan had two outfield assists in the game. He threw out Ian Happ at third base and gunned down Patrick Wisdom at home.
NL Central Standings
Team W L Pct GB
The Cardinals ended the week with a record of 6-2. They swept the Padres in three games and took 3 of 5 from the Cubs. With the Brewers having lost 5 of their last 6 games, the Cardinals now sit a half game back of first place.
The offense has advanced past their reliance on Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt still continues to hit well, ending the week with an OPS of 1.030. Only Corey Dickerson, who played in only four games and is now on the injured list, had a higher OPS of 1.200. Rounding out the top performers are Brendan Donovan (1.000), Nolan Gorman (.961) and Harrison Bader (.844).
Unfortunately, both of the Cardinals catchers are performing poorly offensively. Knizner has an OPS at the bottom at .282, with Molina slightly higher at .318. Edmundo Sosa, who was looked at as a replacement for Paul DeJong, has also not hit well, with an OPS of .411.
Then there is the pitching, which has been the liability. Starter Dakota Hudson came out of his funk and made a good start against the Padres, as good starts are for the sinker ball pitcher who walks too many hitters. Adam Wainwright made one good start and one subpar one. Miles Mikolas has not looked good in his last two starts. The rest of the rotation has been pieced together with duct tape and well wishes. Matthew Liberatore was called up and has been so-so. He is now back at Memphis. The Cardinals have gotten by with bullpen starts to fill in the gaps.
Then there is the bullpen, which consists of Ryan Helsley, Genesis Cabrera, a struggling Giovanny Gallegos, and various credible outings from Andre Pallante, Packy Naughton, Nick Wittgren, and the newly called up Zack Thompson, who made one appearance in one game out of the bullpen. Others such as Kodi Whitley (now sent packing to Memphis), Jake Woodford, and T.J McFarland have, for all intents and purposes, been abysmal. Drew VerHagen is up and down. The bullpen has become cringeworthy in many respects despite the bright spots of Helsley and Cabrera, who have been solid.
The pitching has to improve. Jack Flaherty and Steven Matz are likely to be back within the next couple of weeks, which will help the rotation. There doesn’t appear to be any help for the bullpen at the moment. Ryan Helsley’s work has been limited and the team won’t pitch him on back to back days. Cabrera is likely down for the count for the next several days after pitching four innings on Sunday. Gallegos is a conundrum.
The Cardinals face a tough week with three games against the Tampa Bay Rays in Florida and then a return home to face the Reds. The Reds still remain in the basement of the NL Central but are playing better than they were earlier in the season. Interleague play for the Cardinals is a crapshoot at best, and a long shot on the road. The Reds, like the Cubs, will give it everything they have to beat their division rivals. Not getting swept in Tampa is a win. The Brewers are not likely to be down for long, and their pitching is far superior to the Cardinals and will always keep them competitive. The Cardinals must bear down to keep their momentum.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors.
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
- 5/30 The Cardinals optioned RHP Jake Woodford to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 5/30 The Cardinals recalled LHP Packy Naughton from the Memphis Redbirds.
- 6/3 The Cardinals optioned LHP Matthew Liberatore to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 6/3 The Cardinals selected the contract of LHP Zack Thompson from the Memphis Redbirds.
- 6/3 The Cardinals optioned RHP Kodi Whitley to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 6/3 The Cardinals recalled RHP Johan Oviedo from the Memphis Redbirds.
- 6/3 The Cardinals sent LF Tyler O’Neill on a rehab assignment to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 6/3 The Cardinals sent RF Dylan Carlson on a rehab assignment to the Springfield Cardinals.
- 6/3 The Cardinals designated 2B Kramer Robertson for assignment.
- 6/4 The Cardinals recalled RHP Jake Woodford from the Memphis Redbirds.
- RHP Jack Flaherty (right shoulder) was transferred from the 10-day IL to the 60-day IL to make room for the addition of Nolan Gorman to the big league roster. Flaherty is scheduled to make his first rehab start on Sunday for the Springfield Cardinals.
- RHP Alex Reyes (frayed right labrum) remains on the 60 day IL. The right-hander received a second opinion and has had surgery on the shoulder. Whether the injury is season-ending is yet to be determined.
- LF Tyler O’Neill (right shoulder impingement) was placed on the 10-day injured list. The outfielder had been struggling at the plate with a .195 average in 32 games. An MRI showed no significant damage but there was fluid around the rotator cuff. O’Neill received a cortisone shot. The Cardinals sent O’Neill on a rehab assignment to the Memphis Redbirds on June 3. O’Neill is not expected to return to the roster until after the road trip which ends with a three game series in Tampa Bay.
- RF Dylan Carlson (left hamstring tightness) was placed on the 10-day injured list on May 23, retroactive to May 22. An MRI was given, and the outfielder was diagnosed with a Grade 1 or Grade 2 hamstring strain. Carlson was sent on a rehab assignment to the Springfield Cardinals on June 3. Like O’Neill, Carlson will not rejoin the team until after the road trip on June 10.
- LHP Steven Matz (left shoulder stiffness) left his last start on May 22 with some stiffness in his pitching arm. He was placed on the 15-day injured list on May 23. Matz threw a bullpen session in Chicago on June 2. The left-hander is scheduled to throw another bullpen session on June 5. Matz will likely go out on at least one rehab assignment.
- RHP Jordan Hicks (right forearm flexor) was placed on the 15-day injured list on May 26, retroactive to May 25. Hicks suffered some lingering pain after pitching but there isn’t a large level of concern with Hicks at this time. Hicks will likely get some innings pitching in the minor leagues before being returned to the big league roster. Whether he will return as a starter has not been determined.
- OF/DH Corey Dickerson left Saturdays’ game one of the doubleheader with a calf injury. Dickerson left midway through the second inning of the game.
After the five game series at Wrigley ends on Sunday, June 5, the Cardinals travel to Florida on Monday to play the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-game interleague series beginning on Tuesday. No pitchers have been announced for that series.
After the team leaves Florida they return to St. Louis to begin a six-game homestand. The first three-game series will be against the Reds. Following that series is a three-game series with the Pirates.
Another road trip begins on June 17 with a three-game series in Boston followed by a four-game series in Milwaukee.
Following the Milwaukee series, the Cardinals return to St. Louis for a six-game homestand, three games each with the Cubs and the Marlins.
The regular season schedule can be found here.
Blast from the Past.
This week’s Blast from the Past remembers a game from the more recent past, one that was the debut of a former Cardinal starter and was notable for its lengthy and messy rain delay. It was much less notable for the fact that this writer stayed up until the wee hours of a Friday morning to watch the final out.
On May 30, 2013, the Kansas City Royals and the Cardinals met for the final game of a four-game series at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals had won the first three games and were looking for the four-game sweep.
On the bump to start the game was newly called up starter Michael Wacha. Wacha was a first round draft pick of the Cardinals in the June 2012 draft. Wacha’s meteoric rise through the Cardinals minor league season in less than a year left Cardinals fans eager to see the phenom. Wacha had pitched in only 26 games throughout four levels in the system, ending with 15 games pitched in Triple A Memphis before his call up. The right-hander ended the season on the Cardinals roster.
The Royals were in the midst of an eight-game losing streak on that Thursday. That game also marked the debut of Royals Hall of Famer George Brett as interim hitting coach. Brett remained in that position until he stepped down on July 25.
The starting lineup for the Cardinals was as follows: 2B Matt Carpenter, RF Carlos Beltran, LF Matt Holliday, 1B Allen Craig, C Yadier Molina, 3B David Freese, CF Jon Jay, SS Pete Kozma, P Michael Wacha.
The lineup for the Royals was: LF Alex Gordon, SS Alcides Escobar, RF David Lough, 1B Eric Hosmer, CF Lorenzo Cain, 3B Mike Moustakas, 2B Elliot Johnson, C George Kottaras, P Jeremy Guthrie.
Managing was Mike Matheny for the Cardinals, and Ned Yost for the Royals.
The game started late due to a one hour rain delay. The first pitch was thrown by Wacha at 8:15 CT. The right-hander sailed through the first inning, retiring the first three hitters on a strikeout swinging, ground out to short, and fly out to LF.
The Cardinals came to bat in the home half of the first. Carpenter doubled to right field off Guthrie, then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Beltran struck out and Holliday lined out to second. Craig singled to second and Carpenter scored. Molina singled to center. Freese singled to center, and Craig scored. Jay struck out swinging to end the inning. The Cardinals led 2-0.
Wacha retired all three Royals hitters in the second. Wacha singled, Carpenter walked and Beltran singled, but the Cardinals did not score as Holliday ground out and Craig lined out.
The third inning went by quickly, with both pitchers having a 1-2-3 inning. Wacha repeated this in the top of the fourth. Carpenter and Beltran both singled in the bottom of the fourth but were left stranded.
Wacha gave up his first hit in the fifth, a double to Cain. Johnson singled and the Royals scored their first run of the game off Wacha. The Cardinals got no hits in the bottom of the fifth.
Both pitchers retired all three hitters in the sixth. Wacha retired all three in the top of the seventh. Guthrie was replaced by Tim Collins in the bottom of the seventh. Collins got the first two outs, then walked Holliday and Craig. Molina grounded out to third to end the inning.
Wacha ended his debut with seven innings pitched, one earned run, two hits and six strikeouts. Randy Choate relieved Wacha in the eighth. Choate got the first two outs, and Seth Maness came in to get the final out.
The Cardinals were retired 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eighth. Mitchell Boggs came in to pitch the top of the ninth with the Cardinals leading 2-1. Boggs gave up a solo home run to the first hitter he faced, Jeff Francoeur, who had pinch hit for Collins in the seventh. He then walked Gordon. Boggs came out and Victor Marte came in. Marte hit Escobar. Lough reached on an error and then Marte gave up a two-run double to Hosmer. Marte then intentionally walked pinch hitter Chris Getz.
The rain came with the Royals leading 4-2 and no outs having been recorded. The game was official at that point but under the rules had the umpires called the game, the Royals’ three runs in the ninth would have been wiped out and the Cardinals would win 2-1. Umpire Joe West refused to invoke the rule and decided to wait out the rain under the influence of reportedly fierce lobbying by the Royals.
The rain delay lasted four hours and 32 minutes. As the grounds crew tried to prepare an incredibly messy field for the return of play, this writer remembers Matheny and Mozeliak standing and watching. Mozeliak was on the phone, probably attempting to persuade MLB to end the game because of a dangerous field. The grounds crew did their best, but the field was in bad shape when the game resumed.
Joe Kelly came in to pitch the remainder of the ninth. He induced a double play for the first two outs. He intentionally walked Johnson and Adam Moore flew out to RF. Shane Robinson, Carpenter and Beltran were quickly retired in the bottom of the ninth. The Royals secured their only win of the series as the game ended at 3:14 AM on Friday morning with a couple of hundred fans still in the stands.
The “official” length of the game was recorded at 2 hours and 27 minutes.
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