St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of April 12-18

photo: Yadier Molina (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals dropped both series of the week, falling below .500. The starting pitching is not getting deep into games and the offense is inconsistent. Our Blast From the Past history segment covers the team Hall of Fame candidacy of 25-year broadcaster Harry Caray.



Game Recaps

Monday, April 12 – Cardinals 2, Nationals 5

The St. Louis Cardinals took on the Nationals in St. Louis on Monday in the first of a three-game series.  Starter John Gant suffered his first loss of the season in the 5-2 loss to Washington.

Gant pitched five innings and surrendered three runs on six hits.  The right hander fanned four and walked three.   Giovanny Gallegos relieved in the sixth inning and the right hander allowed one run on one hit.  Andrew Miller followed with a shaky relief effort, giving up one run on three hits without recording an out.  Ryan Helsley took over in the eighth and was the first St. Louis pitcher to come out unscathed.  Helsley tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings, and was followed by Tyler Webb, who secured the final out.

St. Louis’ offense produced two runs on six hits, insufficient for a victory.  The runs came on an RBI single by Tommy Edman in the third inning and Yadier Molina’s sixth inning solo home run.

Edman stole his third base of the season and Dylan Carlson threw out a runner at home for his first outfield assist.

Tuesday, April 13 – Cardinals 14, Nationals 3

In the second game of the series, the Redbirds offense made up for what it lacked in Game 1.  In a 14 run onslaught, the Cardinals pummeled the Nationals for the Game 2 victory.

The scoring began with a first inning solo home run by Paul Goldschmidt.  Washington tied the game with a run in the top of the third, but the Cardinals responded with a four run bottom frame. Two run home runs by Nolan Arenado and Matt Carpenter gave the Cardinals a 5-1 run lead.

The Redbirds poured it on even more in the fifth.  Carpenter reached on a fielding error, Dylan Carlson drew a walk and Andrew Knizner singled to left. Justin Williams followed with an RBI single to right to plate one run.  Pinch hitter Austin Dean’s sac fly scored Carlson.  Tommy Edman walked and Goldschmidt singled to left to plate Knizner and Williams.  Nolan Arenado singled and Edman scored.  Paul DeJong singled to score Goldschmidt and a sac fly by Carpenter plated Arenado.  Carlson singled, Knizner walked and Williams singled to score DeJong and Carlson to make the score 14-1.

The Nationals put up two runs in the top of the ninth for the final score of 14-3.

Jack Flaherty

Starter Jack Flaherty earned his second win of the season in a five inning, one run allowed effort.  Flaherty fanned six and surrendered only three hits.  Genesis Cabrera followed with a scoreless sixth inning. Kodi Whitley contributed two scoreless frames.  Daniel Ponce de Leon allowed the two Washington runs in the ninth.

Arenado made a fielding error.  Williams had an outfield assist at second base.

Wednesday, April 14 – Cardinals 0, Nationals 6

In the rubber game of the series on Wednesday, the Cardinals offense apparently had no runs left to give after the 14 run onslaught the day before.  St. Louis was blanked 6-0 by Washington.

Veteran starter Adam Wainwright suffered his second loss of the season in a five inning effort which produced four opponent’s runs, three earned, on seven hits.  The right hander did punch out seven Nationals and walked two.  Jordan Hicks allowed one run in his one inning of relief.  Ryan Helsley tossed a scoreless seventh.  Giovanny Gallegos surrendered one run in the eighth and Alex Reyes finished with a clean ninth.

St. Louis’ offense managed just four hits.  Tommy Edman and Nolan Arenado doubled.  Yadier Molina and Edmundo Sosa provided singles. Molina set a record with his 2000th game caught, the first to do so with one team in MLB history.

Lane Thomas made a fielding error in what would be his final game on the active roster.

Thursday, April 15 – Off day

Friday, April 16 – Cardinals 2 at Phillies 9

The Cardinals traveled to Philadelphia for a weekend series against the Phillies.  The Cards all wore #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day, which was officially the day before, but the Cardinals did not play. St. Louis lost to the Phillies, 9-2.

Starter Carlos Martinez pitched a good first inning, retiring all three batters.  Then came the second inning and various defensive miscues sent Martinez into a brief tailspin in which he hit two batters, walked two (one intentionally) and gave up three singles and two doubles. The inning ended with the Phillies leading 6-0.  Martinez recovered and gave up no further runs in the succeeding three innings he pitched.  All told, the right hander surrendered six runs on five hits while striking out five and walking two over five frames.

Kodi Whitley relieved for 1 2/3 innings, yielding two runs on on two hits.  Andrew Miller closed out the game allowing one run on two hits.

St. Louis’ offense was held scoreless until the eighth. Dylan Carlson doubled to right field and Justin Williams smacked a two run home run to left center, his first as a major leaguer, to avert the shutout.

Saturday, April 17 – Cardinals 9 at Phillies 4

The Cardinals recovered from the previous day’s disappointment to beat the Phillies, 9-4. Kwang-Hyun Kim was activated from the injured list to make his first start of the season.  Kim pitched three innings and gave up three runs on five hits. The left hander fanned four and and issued one free pass.

Ryan Helsley relieved in the fourth and tossed 1 2/3 innings, allowing one run to earn his second win of the season – with the help of his team’s offense.  Tyler Webb pitched 2/3 scoreless innings in relief. Jordan Hicks, Genesis Cabrera, and Alex Reyes combined for the final 3 2/3 run-free frames.

The Cardinals offense scored six runs in the third inning to take a 6-1 lead.  Paul Goldschmidt singled and Nolan Arenado drew a walk.  Yadier Molina blasted a three run shot to to left field, his third long ball of the season.  Paul DeJong immediately followed with a solo home run to center field, his third of 2021.  Austin Dean walked and Dylan Carlson doubled to plate Dean.  Justin Williams was intentionally walked and Kim reached on fielding error that scored Carlson.

Yadier Molina

The Phillies scored two in the bottom of the third to make it 6-3. The Redbirds responded with three in the fourth. Once again it was back to back long balls – Nolan Arenado’s two run shot, and Molina’s second home run of the night, a solo blast.

On the basepaths, Tommy Edman was caught stealing for the first time in the season.  Williams made a fielding error.

Sunday, April 18 – Cardinals 0 at Phillies 2

In the rubber game of the three game series at Citizens Bank Park, the Cardinals were blanked by the Phillies, 2-0.  St. Louis’ sputtering offense could do nothing against Phillies starter Aaron Nola, who threw a complete game two hitter.

Yadier Molina collected the first hit early with a lead off single in the second inning.  The other hit didn’t come until the eighth, when Paul DeJong led off with a single.  In both cases, the next three hitters were retired.  10 Cardinals hitters struck out and there were no walks given.  The only other base runner was Tommy Edman, who reached on an error by Nola in the third.

Starter John Gant went the way of every Cardinals starter in every game except one, by not pitching past the fifth inning.  (Only Jack Flaherty made it past five innings in a six inning outing against the Marlins in Miami.)  Gant surrendered two runs on five hits, fanned five and walked five.   Andrew Miller, Giovanny Gallegos and Tyler Webb combined to toss the final four scoreless frames.

The Cardinals committed one error, a fielding miscue by Matt Carpenter.

Big Picture

The Cardinals fell under .500 by finishing the week with a record of 2-4 due to series losses to both the Nationals (home) and the Phillies (away).  It is too early to panic, but this is a pattern that must change soon.

The pitching continues to be the major problem, though offense and defense need to improve as well. There have been too many errors on defense, especially in the outfield, and the offense has been feast or famine, a pattern all too familiar to Cardinals fans with regard to seasons past.

The offense, when it does come, still is mostly centered at the top half of the order.  Tommy Edman at lead off gets on base, but the power hitters, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado need to be a little more consistent.  Yadier Molina’s offense has been a surprise of sorts, but a welcome one.  Paul DeJong has always been streaky and this season is no different.

As for the bottom half of the order, Dylan Carlson shows periods of getting on a roll, but needs to strike out less.  Justin Williams began the season in a bad spot but has shown some areas of improvement.  The musical chairs in the outfield makes it difficult for hitters like Austin Dean to take hold.  Tommy Edman has been in right, making Matt Carpenter a semi regular at second base.

How things will shake in the outfield once Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader return will make it interesting considering the weakness so far with the defense.  Both O’Neill and Bader bring above average to elite defense in the outfield, something this team has been lacking.  Both will need to show something with the bat though.

The issue with the infield defense is more nuanced considering the lack of a DH this season makes it more difficult to get Carpenter at bats and his defensive skills are lacking in comparison to Edman. The Cardinals let Gold Glove second baseman Kolten Wong go to free agency with the understanding that Edman could take up the mantle, yet he is getting close to spending more time in the outfield than at second base.  The majority of the infield miscues so far have been up the middle with DeJong and Carpenter, which could lead to an untenable situation defensively.

Pitching is its own kind of problem, with starters not going deep into games, thus taxing the bullpen.  Walks have been a real problem as well.  Cardinals pitching has the fourth highest walk percentage in the major leagues. Team ERA is the worst in the major leagues. As stated previously, it is too early to panic, but improvement in the pitching needs to happen soon.

The Cardinals play a three game series at the Nationals and a three game set vs. the Reds at Busch this week.  St. Louis have lost series to both and series wins are needed.  The Cardinals are hovering around the .500 mark, but this can change in a heartbeat if the team continues to lose series at this pace.  A winning streak would go a long way to giving them some breathing space.

The Cardinals are currently 7-8 and are in third place in the NL Central, two games back of the Reds and one game back of the Brewers. The Brewers and Reds have shown some vulnerability lately and the time is now to gain some ground.

NL Central Standings

Team W L Pct GB
Cincinnati 9 6 0.600
Milwaukee 8 7 0.533 1
St. Louis 7 8 0.467 2
Pittsburgh 7 9 0.438 2.5
Chicago 6 9 0.400 3

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 4/13 The Cardinals recalled RHP Kodi Whitley from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 4/13 The Cardinals optioned RHP Johan Oviedo to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 4/15 The Cardinals selected the contract of CF Scott Hurst from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 4/15 The Cardinals optioned CF Lane Thomas to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 4/15 The Cardinals placed RHP Dakota Hudson on the 60-day injured list. Right elbow injury
  • 4/17 The Cardinals optioned RHP Kodi Whitley to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 4/17 The Cardinals activated LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim from the 10-day injured list.

Injury Report

  • RHP Miles Mikolas (shoulder) continues his rehab at the Alternate Training Site. The plan is for the right hander to throw to live hitters in simulated games.  Mikolas threw what was described by manager Mike Shildt as an “aggressive bullpen” and recovered well. The right hander is close to live BP. No timetable for his return has been reported.
  • LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim (back tightness) has been activated and made his first start in Saturday’s game against the Phillies.
  • CF Harrison Bader (right forearm flexor tendon) remains on the 10 day injured list. The injury is described as a right flexor strain but with no damage to the ligament. Bader has received a platelet rich plasma injection and  is expected to miss 4 to 6 weeks.   The outfielder returned to St. Louis and has been sent to the Alternate Training site.  Bader is about 10 to 14 days away from resuming full baseball activity and has been hitting off a tee and throwing up to 220 feet.
  • LF Tyler O’Neill remains on the 10 day injured list with a right groin strain. Imaging showed no significant damage so it is expected O’Neill will be able to return to the roster when the 10 days are up, on April 21.

Looking Ahead

Following the weekend Phillies series, the Cardinals traveled to Washngton to play the Nationals for the second time in a three game series.  After a travel day on Thursday, the Cardinals return home to Busch Stadium for a weekend series against the Reds.

The Phillies come to St. Louis on Monday, April 26 for a four game set. The Cardinals will then travel to Pittsburgh for a weekend series against the Pirates. From Pittsburgh, the team will return to St. Louis to take on the Mets in a four game series.

The Cardinals regular season schedule can be found here.

Blast from the Past

This week’s installment of the Cardinals Hall of Fame series continues with another broadcaster, this one more well known to this author and doubtless to many other St. Louis fans.  A colorful character to say the least, this broadcaster’s career spanned more than one team and he became even more well known as the voice of a Cardinals rival.

Harry Caray

Harry Christopher Caray was born on March 1, 1914 in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Christopher Carabina and Daisy Argint.  Harry changed his name from Carabina to Caray when he began his broadcasting career in Joliet, Illinois at the suggestion of the station manager, who thought Carabina sounded too awkward on the air.

Caray never knew his father, who was Italian, and who left Harry’s mother shortly after his birth.  Daisy Argint, of Romanian descent,  remarried when Harry was five.  She died of pneumonia when Harry was 14. Caray then went to live with his Aunt, Doxie Argint.

Harry’s family was poor, and he began selling newspapers at the age of 8.  Caray would attend Cardinals games at Sportsman’s Park whenever he had the money to afford a ticket.  He attended Webster Groves High School where he played second base and shortstop on the baseball team.  He was good enough to be awarded a baseball scholarship to the University of Alabama, but he did not accept the scholarship because he could not afford the room and board.

Caray played some semipro baseball after high school and was seen by scouts who invited him to a tryout for the Cardinals.  Caray didn’t make the team but he instead got a job with a company that sold sports equipment.  Harry listened to Cardinals games on the radio and though he could do a better job than the broadcasters he heard so he sent a letter to the general manager of KMOX.  Caray received a tryout and the general manager was impressed but thought he needed more experience, so he arranged to get Caray a job at WCLS in Joliet, Illinois.

After 18 months at WCLS, Caray was hired as the sports director of WKZO in Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he got his first experience as a play by play man for baseball games.  It was at WKZO that Caray first uttered the phrase “Holy Cow!” as a substitute for profanity.

Harry was rejected for military duty in World War II because of bad eyesight and he moved back to St. Louis and took a job at KXOK in 1944.  Harry landed the job of doing play by play for Cardinals and Browns games in 1945 because he convinced the Griesedieck brothers that he could sell their beer on the air.  So Caray and broadcast partner Gabby Street began broadcasting Cardinals and Browns games on WIL in St. Louis.

At the time Caray started at WIL, the Cardinals games were not broadcast exclusively on one radio station so Caray and Street had competition.  The two built a considerable following, however, and in 1947 Cardinals owner Sam Breadon granted exclusive rights to the Griesedieck brothers to broadcast Cardinals games.

Caray continued to do play by play for the Cardinals through changes in ownership and broadcast sponsors, from Breadon to Gussie Busch and from the Griesedieck brothers to Anheuser Busch.  Caray and Street worked together until Street’s death in 1951. Caray then went on to partner with Joe Garagiola and then Jack Buck.  As the Cardinals play by play man, he called three World Series in 1964, 1967  and 1968.

Caray’s last season broadcasting Cardinals games was 1969, his 25th year as the team’s play by play man.  Caray was fired after the  season, an action reportedly taken on the recommendation of Anheuser Busch’s marketing department.  Rumors that Caray had had an affair with Susan Busch, the daughter in law of Gussie Busch, were never substantiated but not denied by Caray, who said the rumors were good for his ego.  Susan Busch denied the rumors, stating the two were only friends.  Susan divorced her husband August Busch III shortly after the rumors began.

Caray’s broadcast career continued with the Oakland Athletics and then the Chicago White Sox, and ultimately Carey became the voice of the Chicago Cubs in 1981.  His time with the Cubs continued until 1997, despite

A stroke in 1987 cost him two months away from broadcasting.  Caray’s grandson Chip was hired to join Harry in the broadcast booth for the 1998 season but that pairing was never realized as Harry passed away on February 18, 1998.

Though Caray finished his career as the voice of St. Louis’ rival, Harry was the voice of the Cardinals first.  His 25 years in St. Louis cannot be eclipsed by his move to Chicago, and his voice and personality behind the radio broadcasts must not be overlooked.  Caray deserves his place in the Cardinals Hall of Fame as the exclusive voice through some of the best years of the franchise in the 1960s.


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