St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook: Week of April 16- 22

photo: Yadier Molina (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

In this week’s St. Louis Cardinals news, the club pulled into first place after another sweep over Cincinnati. Yadier Molina is leading the offense. In our history feature, a seven-game season sweep from 2015 is remembered.


Game Recaps

Monday, April 16 – Cardinals at Cubs (postponed)

The Cardinals/Cubs game for Monday was postponed due to inclement weather (cold and snow).  It was re-scheduled as part of a doubleheader in Chicago on July 21.


Tuesday, April 17 – Cardinals 5 at Cubs 3

Matt Carpenter (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Cardinals met the Cubs for the first time in 2018 and were victorious over their NL Central rivals.  Starting pitcher Adam Wainwright earned his first win of the season.  The right-hander went five innings, giving up one unearned run on four hits while fanning five and walking four.    Dominic Leone and Jordan Hicks followed with a scoreless inning of relief each.  Greg Holland was unable to record an out while surrendering two Cubs runs in the eighth. Tyler Lyons pitched to one batter and retired him.  Bud Norris pitched the final 1 2/3 innings for his fourth save of the season.

The Redbirds got on the board in the third inning with a Matt Carpenter RBI double before Marcell Ozuna drove in a run on a ground out.  In the eighth, Paul DeJong’s solo home run increased the lead to 3-1, and Carpenter plated two more on a single.  Carpenter was 2-for-4 with three RBI.

Wainwright made a throwing error.


Wednesday, April 18 – Cardinals at Cubs (postponed)

The final game of the series was postponed due to continued inclement weather.  The game was played the next day, Thursday, which was scheduled to be an off day for both teams.


Thursday, April 19 – Cardinals 5 at Cubs 8

Jedd Gyorko (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Cardinals were unable to prevail in the makeup of the postponed Wednesday game.  The offense put up five runs, but fell short.  The team was playing catch up after falling behind in the early innings, and a four-run seventh inning just wasn’t sufficient for the victory.  The Cardinals scored in the first inning on wild pitch but remained scoreless until the seventh when Paul DeJong drew a bases loaded walk.  Kolten Wong was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to plate a second run.  Two more runs came home when Cubs second baseman Javier Baez made a throwing error on a double play attempt on a ground ball hit by Dexter Fowler.  It was an inning of unconventional run scoring.  The only Cardinal with multiple hits in the game was Jedd Gyorko, who was 2-for-2 with two walks.

Luke Weaver had a tough outing on the mound.  The young righty pitched four innings, giving up six runs on nine hits while striking out three and walking one.  Weaver suffered his first loss of the season.   Matt Bowman gave up two runs in 1 1/3 innings pitched.  Luke Gregerson added 2/3 of a scoreless inning, followed by a run-free inning each from Greg Holland and Dominic Leone.

Harrison Bader stole his second base of the season.


Friday, April 20 – Cardinals 4, Reds 2

Michael Wacha (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

On Friday, the Cardinals began a three-game home series against the Reds, one week after sweeping those same Reds in a four-game set in Cincinnati.

The Cardinals edged the Reds on Friday with Michael Wacha on the mound.  Wacha took his third win of the season, pitching 6 2/3 innings and giving up one run on six hits.  The right hander fanned three and walked one.   Tyler Lyons added 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.  Bud Norris pitched the ninth and surrendered one run on two hits but earned his fifth save.

St. Louis’ offense was led by Jose Martinez, who went 3-for-5 including a double, a run scored and an RBI, and Yadier Molina, who doubled and plated two. Leadoff man Tommy Pham reached base three times and scored twice.


Saturday, April 21 – Cardinals 4, Reds 3

Yadier Molina (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Redbirds won a squeaker in the second game of the series on Saturday.   Paul DeJong hit a two run home run in the second inning to get the Cardinals on the board.  In the sixth, Dexter Fowler, on his bobblehead day, hit a solo shot to add to the lead.  However, the Reds came back in the seventh to tie the score.  In the same inning, Yadier Molina’s solo home run gave the Cardinals the lead back, and they hung on to win.  It was Molina’s team-leading sixth long ball of the season. The catcher went 2-for-3 and DeJong was 2-for-4.

Carlos Martinez pitched very well, tossing six scoreless innings, allowing only three hits, fanning seven and walking three.  But with the bullpen taking over in the seventh, the wheels came off the bus.  Luke Gregerson had secured two outs before giving up a single.  The manager immediately pulled Gregerson for Tyler Lyons, who had a very poor outing.  Lyons allowed an inherited runner to score, then gave up two more runs to tie the game.  Jordan Hicks was brought in to get the final out, which he accomplished on one pitch.  Hicks returned for two more scoreless innings to earn the win that should have gone to Martinez.  Lyons was charged with the blown save.

Molina stole his second base of 2018.


Sunday, April 22 – Cardinals 9, Reds 2

Paul DeJong (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Cardinals completed the second sweep of the Reds in a week, with a win on Sunday.  Starter Miles Mikolas had a nice outing, pitching seven innings and giving up two runs, one earned, on five hits.  The right hander struck out six and walked none to earn his third win of the season.  Bud Norris and Greg Holland each contributed a scoreless inning of relief.

The game was closer than the final score indicates.  The Cardinals went ahead 3-0 with runs in the second and third innings.  Kolten Wong hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot in the second.  In inning three, Dexter Fowler had RBI single, and Tyler O’Neill plated a run on a sac fly.  The Reds came back in the sixth inning with two runs to drop the lead to 3-2.  However, a three run seventh followed by a three run eighth put the game out of reach for the last place Reds.  Paul DeJong blasted a three-run home run in the seventh, and in the eighth, pinch hitter Greg Garcia doubled two runs home.  Yadier Molina’s sac fly plated the third run of the inning.  Molina went 3-for-4 with two runs scored.  DeJong was 2-for-5 and Harrison Bader was 2-for-4.

Along with his RBI single, Fowler walked four times and stole his second base of the season.  Matt Carpenter committed a throwing error at third.


Big Picture

The Cardinals against the Cubs was a split of two games, with one game yet to play later in the season.  A weekend sweep of the Reds for a second time in a week ended the week strongly for the Redbirds and left them in first place in the Division with a record of 13-8.  The week ended for the Cardinals at 4-1.

Starting pitching has been mostly good, with one poor outing by Luke Weaver against the Cubs.  The bullpen continues to be hit and miss, with stumbles by Matt Bowman and Tyler Lyons predominantly.  Perhaps Greg Holland is starting to regain his footing after having essentially no Spring Training.

The offense has picked up, with strong weeks by Molina, DeJong and Bader.  Marcell Ozuna is struggling, and Kolten Wong’s struggles at the plate continue, though he hit his first home run in Sunday’s game. Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler have been so-so at the plate at best.

Though Wong is having issues at the plate, his defense remains among the best on the team.  Harrison Bader has also shown strong defense, especially in center field with Pham absent due to a groin injury.  The remainder of the defense has been adequate, though with a few miscues here and there, including Carpenter at third.  Base running remains the same.

The Cardinals will entertain a strong Mets team this week, then play a Pirates club that has been on a downward trend after a red-hot start.

NL Central Standings W L % GB
St. Louis 13 8 0.619
Milwaukee 14 9 0.609
Pittsburgh 12 10 0.545 1.5
Chicago 10 9 0.526 2
Cincinnati 3 18 0.143 10

Who’s Hot

Over the past five games (does not contain recent Sunday game results):

  • Harrison Bader has an OPS of 1.229. He has one HR and two RBI.
  • Jedd Gyorko has an OPS of 1.125 in eight plate appearances. He has one RBI.
  • Paul DeJong has an OPS of 1.153. He has two HRs, two doubles, and four RBI.
  • Yadier Molina has an OPS of 1.069. He has one HR, one double, and four RBI.
  • Carlos Martinez has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.92.
  • Michael Wacha has an ERA of 1.35 and a WHIP of 1.05.
  • Dominic Leone has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.50.

Who’s Not

Over the past five games (does not contain recent Sunday games):

  • Marcell Ozuna has an OPS of .243.
  • Kolten Wong has an OPS of .200.
  • Dexter Fowler has an OPS of .417.
  • Luke Weaver has an ERA of 13.50 and a WHIP of 2.50.
  • Tyler Lyons has an ERA of 10.13 and a WHIP of 2.25.
  • Matt Bowman has an ERA of 13.50 and a WHIP of 3.75.
  • Greg Holland has an ERA of 18.00 and a WHIP of 4.00.

A Look at Cardinals Lineups

The lineups over the last five games (does not contain recent Sunday game):

  • The leadoff hitter has been Dexter Fowler for three games, Tommy Pham for one game, and Matt Carpenter for one game.
  • The number two hitter has been Pham for two games, Harrison Bader for one game, Carpenter for one game, and Yadier Molina for one game.
  • The number three hitter has been Matt Carpenter for three games, and Jose Martinez for two games.
  • The cleanup hitter has been Marcell Ozuna for four games, and Martinez for one game.
  • The fifth hitter has been Martinez for two games, Molina for two games, and Fowler for one game.
  • The sixth hitter has been Molina for two games, Greg Garcia for one game, Jedd Gyorko for one game, and Paul DeJong for one game.
  • The seventh hitter has been Bader for two games, Garcia for one game, Wong for one game, and Jedd Gyorko for one game.
  • The eighth hitter has been DeJong for three games, Wong for one game, and Bader for one game.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.


Transactions

  • 4/16 The Cardinals activated RHP Luke Gregerson from the 10 day disabled list.
  • 4/16 The Cardinals activated 3B Jedd Gyorko from the 10 day disabled list.
  • 4/16 The Cardinals optioned 3B Yairo Munoz to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 4/16 The Cardinals optioned RHP Mike Mayers to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 4/19 The Cardinals optioned RHP John Brebbia to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 4/19 The Cardinals recalled RF Tyler O’Neill from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 4/22 The Cardinals placed RHP Adam Wainwright on the 10 day disabled list retroactive to April 20. Right elbow inflammation.
  • 4/22 The Cardinals recalled RHP John Brebbia from the Memphis Redbirds.

Injury Report

Sam Tuivailala (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

RHP Sam Tuivailala (left knee strain) continues on the 10 day DL.  A rehab assignment in Memphis is scheduled for this week.  There has been no announcement as to how long the rehab assignment is expected to take or when the right hander will return to the roster.

LHP Ryan Sherriff (fractured right toe) continue on the 10 day DL. A rehab assignment in Memphis is scheduled for this week.  The right hander has options remaining and will likely remain in Memphis after the rehab assignment is completed and he is activated from the DL.

LHP Brett Cecil (left shoulder strain, right foot tendinitis) remains on the DL.  Cecil is expected to begin a rehab assignment in Jupiter soon.

Adam Wainwright (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

RHP Adam Wainwright was placed on the 10 day DL retroactive to April 20 due to right elbow inflammation.  No timetable for his return to the roster has been announced, though Wainwright himself expects his DL stay to be short.

OF Tommy Pham (right groin tightness) is considered day to day.  Pham was injured in Tuesday’s game and returned to the lineup Friday, but was out of the lineup for the final two games of the weekend series.  OF Tyler O’Neill was called up to provide additional outfield depth.  The injury to Pham at this time is not considered serious enough to warrant a stint on the DL.


Looking Ahead

The Cardinals have an off day Monday, April 23, and begin a series with the Mets in St. Louis on Tuesday.  Adam Wainwright was originally scheduled to make the Tuesday start, but the right hander was placed on the 10 day DL on Sunday.  Luke Weaver is now scheduled for the start, with the rest of the rotation continuing in order, with Michael Wacha on Wednesday and Carlos to close the Mets series on Thursday.

On Friday, the Cardinals travel to Pittsburgh for a weekend series against the Pirates.  The Cardinals have another off day the following Monday and return home to St. Louis to play a two-game interleague set against the White Sox.  After another Thursday off day, the Cubs arrive in St. Louis for a weekend series.

The homestand continues on May 7 with a two-game interleague series with the Twins.  The Cardinals again have no game scheduled on Wednesday, May 9, as they travel to the West Coast for a four-game series beginning Thursday with the San Diego Padres.

The Cardinals’ regular season schedule can be found here.


Blast from the Past

The Cardinals did something this week that has only been accomplished once before in the franchise’s recorded history.  They swept the Reds in four games, and then in a three-game series.  What’s more, that feat was accomplished all in one week.

According to the Cardinals Media Guide, the only other time the Cardinals swept a team in two comparable series in one season was in 2015, when the Cardinals swept the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three game set in St. Louis, and later in a four-game series in Phoenix.

On May 20-22, 2015, the Cardinals defeated the D-backs 3-2, 6-4, and 4-3.  The 3-2 and 4-3 wins were both walk off wins, with the 3-2 win in 10 innings.  Carlos Martinez started the first game but got a no decision, as the winner was Trevor Rosenthal.  Jhonny Peralta hit a solo home run.  In the second game, Jaime Garcia was the winning pitcher, and Randal Grichuk hit a solo home run.  The Game 3 starter was Lance Lynn, and Seth Maness was the winning pitcher.  Solo home runs were provided by Kolten Wong and Jason Heyward.

The Cardinals met the D-backs in Arizona on August 24-27, 2015.  The Cardinals won all four games, 5-3, 9-1, 3-1, and 5-3.  Lance Lynn was the Game 1 starter and winner.  Matt Carpenter hit a solo home run.  In Game 2, Jaime Garcia was the winning pitcher and Peter Bourjos hit a solo home run.  The third game was a John Lackey win with a solo shot by Mark Reynolds.   The final game was the 13th win for Carlos Martinez.  Tony Cruz launched a solo home run, and Brandon Moss added a two-run blast.

The D-backs of 2015 were not cellar dwellers like the current Reds team.  Arizona finished the season in third place in the NL West.  The Cardinals only played two series with Arizona, as they do with all NL teams not in the Central Division.  The Cardinals have four more series remaining with the Reds this season, so the possibility exists that the Cardinals could sweep them several more times, to make history for the franchise.  Such a feat would not be easy, or it would have been done more times than it has.

Stay tuned.


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