St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of April 22-28

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

The St. Louis Cardinals went 5-1 on the week, including a crucial home sweep over Milwaukee. Yadier Molina has a 15-game hitting streak while driving in key runs and Marcell Ozuna provides the power. In our weekly history feature, Fernando Tatis’ two grand slams in the same inning are remembered.


Game recaps

Monday, April 22 – Cardinals 13, Brewers 5

Dexter Fowler (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The Cardinals met the Brewers at Busch Stadium for the third series between the two clubs in the month of April.  The two previous series were in Milwaukee.  The Cardinals got their revenge in this instance, pummeling the Brewers in Game 1.

It was all offense, all the time.  Kolten Wong drew first blood with an RBI single in the second inning plate Dexter Fowler and give the Cardinals the 1-0 lead.  Fowler got his licks in with a two run home run to right center field in the fourth inning.

The Brewers put up three runs in the fifth to tie the game, but the Redbirds came back with two more scores in the bottom of the inning.  Paul Goldschmidt’s two run blast to left center gave the Cardinals the 5-3 lead.

The lead was cut to 5-4 in the sixth, but the Cardinals’ half of the seventh is where all the action was.  An error, a walk, and a single loaded the bases.  Marcell Ozuna walked and it was 6-4.  Jose Martinez’ sac fly made it 7-4.  Yadier Molina plated a run on a single.  Fowler did the same.  The line kept moving with an RBI single by Lane Thomas that scored two and Paul Goldschmidt sealed the deal with an RBI single.  Seven runs came home in that inning.

Fowler added the 13th run in the eighth on a single.  He had four hits, drove in four, and scored three.  Goldschmidt has three hits and three RBI.  Martinez and DeJong had two hits.

Jack Flaherty earned his second win of the season.  He tossed six innings and gave up four runs on three hits.  The right hander fanned 10 and walked one.  John Brebbia and Dominic Leone each pitched a scoreless inning.  Giovanny Gallegos gave up a solo home run to Travis Shaw in the ninth.


Tuesday, April 23 – Cardinals 4, Brewers 3

Daniel Ponce de Leon (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The Redbirds edged the Brewers to win the second game of the series and set up the sweep.   Daniel Ponce de Leon got the start in the place of the injured Michael Wacha.  Ponce de Leon pitched five innings and gave up one run on two hits.  The right hander struck out seven and walked three.  John Gant took the next two innings and surrendered the tying run in the sixth.  Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless eighth.  Jordan Hicks allowed a run in the ninth but earned his sixth save.  Miller got the win, Gant was charged with a blown save.

The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Yadier Molina’s RBI single.  The Brewers tied it in the fifth, but the Cardinals answered with a run in the bottom frame on Paul Goldschmidt’s RBI single.

Milwaukee tied it up again in the sixth.  The game remained 2-2 until the bottom of the eighth.  Paul DeJong broke the tie with a solo home run to center field.  Molina doubled to plate a run, but the Brewers cut the lead to 4-3 in the ninth.

Molina had three hits and drove in two.  DeJong and Jose Martinez each had two hits.

Matt Carpenter stole his first base of the season.  Kolten Wong made a throwing error, and Dexter Fowler had an outfield assist.


Wednesday, April 24 – Cardinals 5, Brewers 2

Marcell Ozuna (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The Cardinals completed the home sweep with a 5-2 win over Milwaukee.  A home run by Eric Thames in the first inning put the Brewers on top, 1-0.  The Brewers wouldn’t score again until the ninth.  In between, the Cardinals put up five runs, four in one inning.

The fourth began with back to back singles by the two Pauls – Goldschmidt and DeJong.  Marcell Ozuna blasted a three run home run to put the Cardinals up 3-1.  Not to be undone, Yadier Molina followed with a solo home run.

The Redbirds added one more in the seventh inning when Jose Martinez grounded into a force out with the bases loaded to plate a run.

Goldschmidt, DeJong, Ozuna and Lane Thomas each had two hits in the game.

Adam Wainwright got the start, and other than giving up the solo home run in the first inning, he pitched well.  Wainwright tossed six innings, allowing the one run on four hits.  He fanned three and walked one.  Tyler Webb and John Brebbia combined for two scoreless innings of relief.  Andrew Miller surrendered a run in the ninth, and Jordan Hicks was brought in to get the final out.  Hicks earned his seventh save.  Wainwright earned his second win.

Thomas and Jose Martinez each stole their first base of the season.


Thursday, April 25 – Off day


Friday, April 26 – Cardinals 1, Reds 12

The Reds came to town after an off day to play a weekend series.  The first game was a beatdown of the Cardinals by the last place Reds.

St. Louis’ offense could not solve Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani, held scoreless for six innings.  They finally put a run on the board, their only run, in the seventh against Reds reliever Amir Garrett.  With Matt Carpenter and Paul Goldschmidt on base, Paul DeJong singled to center field and Carpenter scored.  That was the offense for the Cardinals, who scattered eight hits. Carpenter was the only Cardinal with more than one hit, with two singles.  There were no extra base hits.

The Cardinals pitching staff was pummeled by the Reds hitters.  Starter Miles Mikolas gave up four runs on six hits in five innings pitched.  Ryan Helsley came out unscathed in his two innings of relief.  Tyler Webb surrendered two runs while recording only one out in the eighth.  Giovanny Gallegos finished the inning without further damage.  In the ninth, Dominic Leone was shelled by the Reds for six runs in 2/3 of an inning.  With a score of 12-1, it was time for a position player to pitch, and that position player was Jedd Gyorko.  He only needed one out and he got that out by striking out Phillip Ervin on four pitches.


Saturday, April 27 – Cardinals 6, Reds 3

Marcell Ozuna (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The Cardinals had redemption on their mind for this second game of the series, and they got it.  Though the Reds initially took a 2-0 lead, St. Louis’ bats were not silent in response.  In the bottom of the third, Marcell Ozuna thumped a three run home run to left center field to give the Redbirds the 3-2 lead.  Ozuna was a one man wrecking crew.  He followed the long ball with a two run double in the fifth.

The Reds scored one in the top of the sixth.  In the bottom half, Harrison Bader, coming off the bench, drove in Dexter Fowler on a line drive to right field.  Final score, 6-3 Cardinals.

Starter Dakota Hudson pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on seven hits.  The right hander struck out one and walked one.  John Gant tossed 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief.  Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless eighth, and Jordan Hicks hurled a scoreless ninth to earn his eighth save.  Hudson was the winning pitcher.

Matt Carpenter was caught stealing for the first time of the season.  Jose Martinez made a fielding error.  Fowler had an outfield assist.


Sunday, April 28 – Cardinals 5, Reds 2

Jack Flaherty (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The Cardinals prevailed in the rubber game of the series on Sunday.  The Redbirds pretty much had this game in hand throughout, despite a hiccup in the ninth.  Starter Jack Flaherty came through with seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits, striking out four and walking one.  John Brebbia, Andrew Miller, and Jordan Hicks each pitched 1/3 of the eighth inning to combine for a scoreless inning.  The hiccup game from Dominic Leone, who had given up six runs in Friday’s laugher. Leone surrendered two runs in the ninth before John Gant came in with two outs to earn his first save and protect Flaherty’s third win.

The offense put up the first two of five runs in the fourth inning.  Jose Martinez hit an RBI single and Yadier Molina followed with a sac fly.   The Cardinals added three more scores in the eighth on a two run Molina single, and a double from Dexter Fowler that plated Harrison Bader.  Fowler was tagged out at second on the play to end the inning. This lead extension caused manager Mike Shildt to let Hicks take the final inning off, leading to Leone’s unintended excitement.

Jedd Gyorko and Kolten Wong each made a fielding error.


The Big Picture

The Cardinals ended the week having swept the Brewers and taken 2 of 3 from the Reds.  The record for the week was 5-1 to put them firmly in first place in the NL Central with a 2.5 game lead over the Cubs. Their .630 winning percentage is fueled by a 12-4 home record that is tied with the Dodgers for the best in MLB.

Starting pitching is slowly improving, though the staff has been giving up the long ball at a concerning rate.  The bullpen has had some missteps in a couple of games, specifically in the beatdown by the Reds on Friday.  Dominic Leone has given up eight runs in two games.  Andrew Miller has been inconsistent, good in one outing, not good in the next one.  Jordan Hicks has been rolling along, however.  John Brebbia and John Gant have been the stalwarts in middle relief.

Yadier Molina (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Other than in Friday’s game, the offense has been fairly consistent.  They have been putting balls in play and striking out less.  Marcell Ozuna continues to be a threat to opponents for the long ball, and Paul DeJong has been very good.  Yadier Molina is working on a 15-game hitting streak while driving in key runs.

Dexter Fowler and Jose Martinez, playing every day in the outfield while Harrison Bader has been on the IL, have contributed enough that they continue to start despite the return of Bader.  Both have extremely high BABIPs (batting average on balls in play) though, so sustaining that output may be a challenge going forward.  Bader and Tyler O’Neill remain on the bench for backup.

Defense has been okay. There have been errors in the field, but not particularly significant ones.  Fowler had two outfield assists while playing CF.  Martinez in RF catches what balls he can, as his range is limited.  It is surprisingly the Infield defense where most of the errors have occurred, but this is unusual and unlikely to continue to be an issue.

There have been a couple of baserunning blunders but compared to how poor that aspect of the game has been in past years, the efforts by the 2019 team is much improved.

The Cardinals are on the road this week to play the Nationals and the Cubs.  The Cubs are currently in second place behind the Cardinals, so a good showing in Chicago is a must.


NL Central Standings

Team W L Pct GB
St. Louis 17 10 0.630
Chicago 14 12 0.538 2.5
Milwaukee 15 14 0.517 3
Pittsburgh 12 14 0.462 4.5
Cincinnati 11 16 0.407 6

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.


Transactions 

  • 4/22 The Cardinals placed RHP Michael Wacha on the 10 day injured list, retroactive to April 19. Left knee patella tendinitis.
  • 4/22 The Cardinals recalled 3B Drew Robinson from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 4/23 The Cardinals sent LH Tyler O’Neill on a rehab assignment to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 4/23 The Cardinals optioned 3B Drew Robinson to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 4/23 The Cardinals recalled RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 4/24 The Cardinals activated CF Harrison Bader from the 10 day injured list.
  • 4/24 The Cardinals sent RHP Luke Gregerson on a rehab assignment to the Springfield Cardinals.
  • 4/24 The Cardinals optioned RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 4/26 The Cardinals activated LF Tyler O’Neill from the 10 day injured list.
  • 4/26 The Cardinals optioned CF Lane Thomas to the Memphis Redbirds.

Injury Report

  • RHP Carlos Martinez (right shoulder cuff strain) is scheduled to go to Jupiter this week to start the last phase of his throwing program. He will face batters in a couple of live batting practice sessions.  The Cardinals will determine whether Martinez is ready for a minor league rehab assignment after the throwing sessions. He will return to St. Louis as a reliever, as he is more comfortable with his shoulder when throwing fewer pitches.
  • RHP Luke Gregerson (right shoulder impingement) has been on a minor league rehab assignment, currently in Springfield. Gregerson will pitch one more time and the Cardinals will determine his return date to the roster.
  • LHP Brett Cecil (left arm fatigue) was placed on the 60-day injured list on March 28. Cecil had surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome and will be out for an indefinite period.
  • LF Justin Williams (fractured right hand) is close to a return from the injured list. Williams will likely be cleared to leave extended spring training by mid-May.  Williams will be sent to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • RHP Mike Mayers (right shoulder lat strain) was placed on the 10-day injured list on April 16. Mayers will be out indefinitely and any return will likely not come until after the All Star break.
  • RHS Alex Reyes punched a wall with his left, non-throwing hand and suffered a broken pinky. He was placed on Memphis’ 7-day injured list effective April 28 and sent to Jupiter, Florida, where he will keep throwing, but from behind a protective screen. An assessment will be made in three weeks.

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals travel to Washington DC to play the Nationals in a four-game series to end the month of April.  Michael Wacha is scheduled to be activated from the injured list and make the Monday start.  Adam Wainwright will start on Tuesday, followed by Miles Mikolas on Wednesday and Dakota Hudson on Thursday.

The team then travels to Wrigley Field to take on the Cubs for the first series with Chicago of the season.  The rotation for that series will likely be Jack Flaherty, Wacha, and Wainwright.

Following the Cubs set, the Redbirds return to St. Louis to play three against the visiting Phillies. The Pirates follow the Phillies to St. Louis to play a four game series beginning Thursday, May 9.  After a Monday off day, the Cardinals then go on the road to Atlanta to play the Braves for three.

The Cardinals’ Regular Season schedule can be viewed here.


Blast from the Past

This week’s blast from the past reminisces about an unusual offensive feat by a Cardinals position player that occurred 20 years ago this past week.

Fernando Tatis

St. Louis welcomed a special guest to the ballpark this past week.  Fernando Tatis, former Cardinals third baseman, came to town to celebrate the 20th anniversary of his two grand slams in one inning game that occurred on April 23, 1999 in Dodger Stadium.

Tatis was traded to the Cardinals by the Texas Rangers on July 31, 1998 for Royce Clayton and Todd Stottlemyre.   Darren Oliver and Mark Little also came to the Cardinals in that trade.  In his 2 ½ seasons with the Cardinals, Tatis posted a slash line of .282/.389/.525 with 60 home runs and 197 RBI.

On April 23, 1999, his first full season with the team, the Cardinals were playing at Dodger Stadium.  Tatis was at third base and hitting cleanup.  In the top of the third inning, with Chan Ho Park on the mound, Tatis came to the plate. The bases were loaded with Darren Bragg, Edgar Renteria, and Mark McGwire.  On a 2-0 pitch from Park, Tatis tattooed a pitch to left field for a grand slam.

The Cardinals continued to hit and scored three more runs after the grand slam. Eight batters later, still in the third inning, Tatis came to the plate with the bases loaded a second time. This time the bases were full with Jose Jimenez, Bragg, and Renteria (McGwire had flied out to RF).  Again with Park on the mound, and a 3-2 count, Tatis crushed the ball for his second grand slam of the inning.  Needless to say, Park was immediately pulled for a reliever.

The Cardinals won that game 12-5.  No other MLB player had ever hit two grand slams in one inning, and no one has done it since.

Tatis played one more season for St. Louis and was traded to the Montreal Expos in December 2000.  He played for 10 more years with the Expos, the Orioles, and the Mets before making his last major league appearance on July 4, 2010 for the Mets. Tatis announced his retirement in October of that year.

Tatis coaches in the minor leagues for the Boston Red Sox.  Fernando Tatis Jr. was called up this spring and is the San Diego Padres’ shortstop.  He has another son who plays in the Chicago White Sox organization.


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