St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook: Week of April 2-8

photo: Carlos Martinez (Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports Images)

In this week’s St. Louis Cardinals news, the team finished its first road series at .500, but lost its home opener as well as the initial series of 2018 at Busch Stadium. Carlos Martinez bounced back with an excellent start. In our history feature, the 1933 Cardinals team, led by Hall of Famers Dizzy Dean and Ducky Medwick, is remembered.

Game Recaps

Monday, April 2 – Cardinals 8 at Brewers 4

Paul DeJong (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

In the first of a three game series in Milwaukee, the Cardinals topped the Brewers.  Starter Miles Mikolas went 5 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits.  The right hander fanned five and walked none, but the start was marred by three home runs allowed.  Bud Norris, Tyler Lyons and Jordan Hicks each pitched a scoreless inning.  Mikolas was the winning pitcher.

Mikolas also contributed at the plate, as his two run home run in the fifth inning broke a 2-2 tie.   Paul DeJong blasted a three run shot in the sixth.  DeJong went 3-for-4 with two runs scored.  Jedd Gyorko doubled in a run and was 2-for-2 with two runs scored.  Other runs scored on Dexter Fowler’s single and a sac fly by Jose Martinez.  Matt Carpenter went 2-for-4.

On the basepaths, Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham were both caught stealing for the first time.   Mikolas committed a missed catch error.

Tuesday, April 3 – Cardinals 4 at Brewers 5

Jack Flaherty (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The second game of the series didn’t go as well for the Redbirds.   St. Louis went ahead early and received a strong start, but a faltering bullpen at the end spelled doom.  Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham, batting leadoff and second, respectively, hit back to back solo home runs to begin game.  In the third inning, Marcell Ozuna added a two run blast.  The offense failed to add on, however.  Fowler was 2-for-5. Pham was 3-for-5 with two runs scored.  Jose Martinez went 3-for-4.

Jack Flaherty started on the mound for the Redbirds, pitching five innings and giving up one run on six hits.  The young righty fanned nine Brewers and walked one.  Ryan Sherriff and Matt Bowman combined for two scoreless innings of relief.

Tyler Lyons in the eighth and Dominic Leone in the ninth surrendered the runs to give Milwaukee the victory.  Both relievers allowed two runs on three hits.  Leone gave up back to back home runs to Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun to end the game in a walkoff.  It was the first time in MLB history that a game began with back to back home runs and ended with back to back home runs.  Leone was charged with the blown save and the loss.

Tommy Pham stole his second base of the season, while Yadier Molina stole his first.  Pham also had an outfield assist, throwing a runner out at home.

Wednesday, April 4 – Cardinals 6 at Brewers 0

Carlos Martinez (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Cardinals redeemed themselves by shutting out the Brewers in the rubber game to take the road series.  Carlos Martinez pitched brilliantly, falling two outs short of a complete game shutout.  The right hander pitched 8 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing only four hits while striking out 10 and walking two. Sam Tuivailala was unable to get the final two outs, but Bud Norris finished the inning without incident.  Martinez earned his first win of the season.

The Redbirds got on the board in the first inning on an RBI ground out by Tommy Pham.  In the third, Carpenter followed suit with an RBI ground out, and Marcell plated a run on a single.  Yadier Molina’s solo home run in the fourth put run number four on the board.  Molina then plated a run on a sac fly in the sixth and Kolten Wong added an RBI single.  Ozuna and Paul DeJong each went 2-for-4.

Yairo Munoz made a fielding error, a ninth-inning miscue that likely cost Martinez his complete game.

Thursday, April 5 – Cardinals 1, Diamondbacks 3

The Cardinals absorbed a loss to the Diamondbacks in the home opener at Busch Stadium on Thursday.  St. Louis’ offense was meager at best, with only one run on two hits.   The sole run scored on a double by Yadier Molina.  The only other hit was a single by Marcell Ozuna.

Adam Wainwright was activated off the disabled list to make the start, and it wasn’t a good outing for the veteran right hander.  Wainwright pitched only 3 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on four hits, while fanning three and walking four.  Wainwright’s early exit brought in Matt Bowman, who tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief.  Ryan Sherriff followed with 2/3 clean innings.  Dominic Leone, Tyler Lyons, and Jordan Hicks combined for the final 3 1/3 scoreless.  Wainwright took the loss, his first of the season.

Paul DeJong committed a throwing error and struck out in all four at-bats.

Friday, April 6 – Off day

Saturday, April 7 – Cardinals 5, Diamondbacks 3

Jose Martinez (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Following the Friday off day, St. Louis entertained Arizona for the second game of the series and came out victorious.  Michael Wacha made the start, and the right hander pitched five innings, giving up two runs on four hits.  Wacha struck out five and walked five.  Dominic Leone and Matt Bowman each pitched a scoreless inning of relief.  Jordan Hicks followed in the eighth and allowed one unearned run.  Bud Norris tossed a scoreless ninth, striking out the side.  Wacha earned his first win and Norris his first save.

Jose Martinez got the scoring started early with an RBI single in the first inning.  Martinez contributed a three run home run in the third inning, before Matt Carpenter plated a run on a sac fly.  Martinez was 2-for-4 with four RBI.  Marcell Ozuna went 3-for-4.

Carpenter made a throwing error.

Sunday, April 8 – Cardinals 1, Diamondbacks 4

Luke Weaver (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Cardinals dropped the rubber game of the home opening series on Sunday.  St. Louis’ offense was scarce, with the lone score via an RBI single by Kolten Wong.  The Redbirds had only five hits, all singles.  Wong went 2-for-3 as the only Cardinal with multiple hits.

Luke Weaver had a strong start but was not rewarded.  The second-year righty pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up only one run on three hits while fanning seven and walking one.  Tyler Lyons pitched to one hitter in the seventh and struck him out.  Bowman relieved, walked his first hitter and yielded the single that scored the run charged to Weaver.  Bowman induced a ground out on his third batter to end the inning.

Dominic Leone started the eighth and surrendered a two run home run to break the tie and put the visitors in the lead.  With no outs, Leone was replaced by Mike Mayers, who hadn’t pitched in over a week.  Mayers got the first two hitters out, but the third hitter launched a solo home run to cement the lead for Arizona.  In his first game back, John Brebbia tossed a scoreless ninth.

Tommy Pham was picked off first base, and Dexter Fowler had an outfield assist.

An unfortunate incident occurred in the second inning.  A.J. Pollock was called out on strikes, and was unhappy with the strike call.  Arizona manager Torey Lovullo came out and argued with the home plate umpire. Arguing balls and strikes requires an ejection, which occurred, but not before he was captured on the field microphone directing profanity at Yadier Molina.  Molina took offense and made a move toward Lovullo.  The umpire got between them and a benches-clearing scuffle ensued.  Molina remained in the game, as did Pollock.  Things calmed down and the game resumed without further incident.

Big Picture

The Cardinals began the week by taking two out of three games from the Brewers to finish the season-opening road trip at 3-3. However, to close the period, the Cardinals lost two of three at home to the Diamondbacks.  The 3-3 week for the Redbirds has them in fourth place in the NL Central.

Starting pitching was hit and miss, as was the bullpen and the offense.  Good outings on the mound were provided Carlos Martinez and Luke Weaver, yet only one win followed.  Miles Mikolas and Michael Wacha had so-so starts while Adam Wainwright’s first start was poor.  The bullpen was both good and bad at times.  The introduction of newly signed Greg Holland and the return of Luke Gregerson this week will hopefully strengthen the relief corps.

On offense, it was the same, both good and bad.  Paul DeJong started strongly, but ended weak, going 0-for-11 with eight strikeouts and an error in the Arizona series.  While Dexter Fowler went hitless in his first 13 at-bats, he has picked it up lately.  Jose Martinez cooled a bit, while the sluggish Kolten Wong showed signs of life in Sunday’s game. Marcell Ozuna is working on a seven-game hitting streak.

The Cardinals will see the Brewers again at home in the beginning of the week, and travel to the last place Reds over the weekend. Finishing strongly against the cellar-dweller would go a long way toward picking the Cardinals up.

NL Central Standings

W L % GB
Pittsburgh 7 2 0.778
Chicago Cubs 5 4 0.556 2
Milwaukee 5 5 0.500 2.5
St. Louis 4 5 0.444 3
Cincinnati 2 6 0.250 4.5

Who’s Hot

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

Jedd Gyorko has an OPS of 1.514 in seven plate appearances.  He has one double and one RBI.
Paul DeJong has an OPS of 1.189.  He has three HRs and five RBI.
Marcell Ozuna has an OPS of 1.000.  He has one HR, one double, and five RBI.
Tommy Pham has an OPS of .913.  He has one HR, two doubles, and two RBI.
Carlos Martinez has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.72.
Bud Norris has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.38.
Matt Bowman has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.64.
Jordan Hicks has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.92.
Ryan Sherriff has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.86.
Sam Tuivailala has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 1.00.

Who’s Not

Over the past six games (does not contain recent Sunday games):
Kolten Wong has an OPS of .167.
Yairo Munoz has an OPS of .286.
Matt Carpenter has an OPS of .576.
Adam Wainwright has an ERA of 7.36 and a WHIP of 2.18.
Miles Mikolas has an ERA of 6.35 and a WHIP of 1.24.
Tyler Lyons has an ERA of 7.71 and a WHIP of 1.71.

A Look at Cardinals Lineups

The lineups over the last six games (does not contain recent Sunday game):
The leadoff hitter has been Dexter Fowler.
The number two hitter has been Tommy Pham.
The number three hitter has been Matt Carpenter.
The cleanup hitter has been Marcell Ozuna.
The fifth hitter has been Jose Martinez.
The sixth hitter has been Yadier Molina.
The seventh hitter has been Paul DeJong.
The eighth hitter has been Kolten Wong for three games, Jedd Gyorko for two games, and Yairo Munoz for one game.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

4/3 The Cardinals placed 3B Jedd Gyorko on the 10 day disabled list.  Right hamstring strain.
4/3 The Cardinals recalled OF Harrison Bader from the Memphis Redbirds.
4/4 The Cardinals optioned RHP Jack Flaherty to the Memphis Redbirds.
4/5 The Cardinals activated RHP Adam Wainwright from the 10 day disabled list.
4/7 The Cardinals sent RHP Luke Gregerson on rehab assignment to the Palm Beach Cardinals.
4/8 The Cardinals placed LHP Ryan Sherriff on the 10 day disabled list retroactive to April 6. Right great toe fracture.
4/8 The Cardinals recalled RHP John Brebbia from the Memphis Redbirds.

Injury Report

LHP Brett Cecil (left shoulder strain, foot tendinitis) continues on the 10 day DL. No timetable for a return has been set, but it looks to be several weeks away.
RHP Luke Gregerson (left hamstring strain) was sent on a rehab assignment to the Palm Beach Cardinals.  Gregerson is expected to be activated to the roster sometime in the coming week.
3B Jedd Gyorko (right hamstring strain) continues on the 10 day DL.   No firm timetable for a return has been set, though he has begun to take batting practice. A rehab assignment could be a week away still.
LHP Ryan Sherriff (fractured toe) was placed on the 10 day DL retroactive to April 6 and is wearing a walking boot.  No timetable for a return has been set.

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals continue the homestand with a three game set against the Brewers opening Monday.  Miles Mikolas is set to the make the Monday start, followed by Carlos Martinez on Tuesday and Adam Wainwright on Wednesday.

The Redbirds will head to Cincinnati on Thursday for a four game series with the Reds.  Starting pitchers will likely be Michael Wacha, Luke Weaver, Mikolas, and Martinez.  The Cardinals will then travel to Chicago to take on the Cubs.

St. Louis has a travel day on Thursday to return to St. Louis for a weekend series against the Reds.  After an off day the following Monday, the homestand will continue with a three game series versus the Mets at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals’ regular season schedule can be found here.

Blast from the Past

This week’s history segment features the 1933 St. Louis Cardinals.  The 1933 season was the 52nd season of the franchise, and the 42nd in the National League.

The Cardinals went 82-71 and finished fifth in the NL, 9.5 games back of the New York Giants.  The managers were Gabby Street for the first half of the season, and Frankie Frisch for the second half.  The GM was Branch Rickey and the owner was Sam Breadon.

The Opening Day lineup was Sparky Adams (3B), George Watkins (RF), Frankie Frisch (2B), Ripper Collins (1B), Joe Medwick (LF), Ernie Orsatti (CF), Jimmie Wilson (C), Gordon Slade (SS), and Dizzy Dean (SP).

Ducky Medwick and Dizzy Dean

The longest losing streak was four games, three times, from May 14-18, July 12-15, and August 6-9.  The longest winning streak was seven games, from May 26-June 1.  The highest winning margin was a 17-2 victory over the Reds on June 17.  The worst loss was an 11-1 defeat by the New York Giants on July 1.  Splits were 47-30 at home and 35-41 on the road.

The top starting pitcher was Dean, with a record of 20-18 and an ERA of 3.04.  The best offensive performer was Medwick, who hit .306/.337/.497, with 18 home runs and 98 RBI.

Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby was signed for his second stint with the Cardinals for the 1933 season.  He played for the Cardinals through July 22, mostly as a pinch hitter, but was placed on waivers on July 23.  He was claimed by the St. Louis Browns three days later.  The Cardinals retired his number in 1937.

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