St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of April 5-11

photo: Johan Oviedo via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Game Recaps

Monday, April 5 – Cardinals 4 at Marlins 1

Daniel Ponce de Leon (Jasen Vinlove/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals began a three game series with the Marlins in Miami with a victory.  Starter Daniel Ponce de Leon tossed five innings and gave up one run on three hits.  The right hander struck out three and walked one to earn his first win of the season.

Jordan Hicks pitched a scoreless sixth.  Giovanny Gallegos followed with two run-free innings. Alex Reyes hurled a scoreless ninth to earn his first save of 2021.

The game started with walks to Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt, and Paul DeJong to load the bases.  A passed ball by Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro scored Edman.  Yadier Molina doubled to left to plate Goldschmidt and DeJong and make it 3-0 in the first inning.

The game remained 3-0 until the fifth when Edman led off with a solo home run to right field.  The Marlins plated one in the bottom of the fifth to make it 4-1. That was all the scoring in the game.

Tyler O’Neill was caught stealing for the first time this season.

Tuesday, April 6 – Cardinals 4 at Marlins 2

Yadier Molina (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Redbirds were the winners in the second game of the series thanks to a mid inning comeback from an early 2-0 deficit.

The offense was held scoreless until the sixth inning.  Back to back singles by Tommy Edman and Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado’s walk loaded the bases.  In a repeat of the first game, Edman scored on a passed ball by Alfaro.  Paul DeJong followed with a ground out that plated Goldschmidt.  Matt Carpenter was intentionally walked and Yadier Molina hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score Arenado.  St. Louis took the lead, 3-2.

The Cardinals increased their lead to the final score of 4-2 on a solo home run by Dylan Carlson in the ninth inning.  Molina went 2-for-3 as the only Cardinal with multiple hits.

Starter John Gant gutted his way through four innings.  He gave up one run on four hits while fanning four and walking three. Ryan Helsley tossed 1 1/3 innings of relief during which he surrendered one run on two hits. Helsley ended up with the win.  Genesis Cabrera secured the final two outs of the sixth before Giovanny Gallegos pitched a scoreless seventh.  Tyler Webb started the eighth and got two outs before Alex Reyes finished the final 1 1/3 scoreless innings to earn his second save.

Tyler O’Neill made two errors on the same play, one fielding and one throwing.  Edman stole his first base of the season.

Wednesday, April 7 – Cardinals 7 at Marlins 0

Jack Flaherty (Jasen Vinlove/Imagn)

In the final game of the series and road trip, the Redbirds blanked the Marlins 7-0 behind a good start by ace Jack Flaherty.  The right hander pitched six scoreless innings with one hit allowed and six punchouts.  The only blemish on the outing was four walks as Flaherty earned his first win of the season.

Genesis Cabrera relieved for the seventh and tossed two scoreless innings.  Jordan Hicks pitched a scoreless ninth.

The game had been scoreless on both sides until the seventh.  The Cardinals offense was generated by a two run home run from Yadier Molina in the seventh and a grand slam by Dylan Carlson in the ninth.  The other run came in the eighth on an RBI single by Paul Goldschmidt.  Tommy Edman was the only Cardinal with multiple hits, as he went 3-for-5 but with no RBI.

Edman did get his second stolen base of the season.  Flaherty had a pickoff at second base.

Thursday, April 8 – Cardinals 3, Brewers 1

Nolan Arenado (St. Louis Cardinals)

The Cardinals returned to Busch Stadium for their 2021 Home Opener against the Brewers.  Following the festivities, Adam Wainwright took the field for his sixth opening day start.  The veteran right hander pitched five innings and gave up one run on five hits.  He fanned six and walked two but got a no decision.

Four relievers tossed one scoreless inning each – Ryan Helsley, Andrew Miller, Giovanny Gallegos and Alex Reyes.  Gallegos earned the win and Reyes the save, his third.

The Brewers took a 1-0 lead in the third inning. The Cardinals remained scoreless until the seventh when Yadier Molina singled, Dylan Carlson doubled, and Tyler O’Neill drove in Molina on an infield single.

In the eighth, Austin Dean drew a walk and Nolan Arenado blasted the first pitch he saw in the at bat for a dramatic two run home run, his first as a Cardinal.  St. Louis led 3-1, a score that would remain through the end of the game.

Wainwright made a throwing error on a pickoff attempt at second base and center fielder Dylan Carlson committed a fielding miscue on the same play, which resulted in the Brewers’ only run.

Friday, April 9 – Off day

Saturday, April 10 – Cardinals 5, Brewers 9

The second game of the Brewers series was a bitter loss for the Redbirds.  The pitching failed, as the offense scored five runs on 11 hits, which should have been enough to win.

Starter Carlos Martinez yielded three runs in five innings.  The right hander allowed eight hits, struck out one and walked one.  Martinez was the losing pitcher.

Ryan Helsley tossed a scoreless sixth.  Tyler Webb started the seventh and allowed four runs in 2/3 innings.  Andrew Miller was responsible for an additional two runs in relief of Webb in large part due to a three-run home run served up to his first batter.  Jake Woodford pitched the final 1 2/3 scoreless innings before being sent down after the game for a fresh arm.

The offense was held scoreless until the sixth when Yadier Molina drew a walk and Austin Dean singled.  Justin William hit a grounder to first that was misplayed by Brewers 1B Keston Hiura.  The error allowed both Molina and Dean to score.  The Brewers still led 3-2.

Milwaukee plated five in the in the seventh to make it 8-2, then added another run in eighth.  The Cardinals rallied in the home eighth with three runs, scoring on a Molina single, a walk by Dylan Carlson and a three run bomb by Austin Dean.  That closed the scoring.

Sunday, April 11 – Cardinals 3, Brewers 9

In the rubber game, Cardinals pitching once again faltered and they dropped the home series with a 9-3 loss on Sunday.

Starter Daniel Ponce de Leon did not make it through the second inning. In 1 1/3 innings pitched, the right hander allowed seven runs on six hits, with no strikeouts and four walks.

Newly recalled Johan Oviedo relieved in the second and stopped the bleeding.  The right hander pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings, with two hits allowed, four punchouts and two walks.  Jordan Hicks added 1 1/3 scoreless innings. Tyler Webb followed with 2/3 scoreless innings.  Genesis Cabrera pitched the ninth and surrendered two runs.

The offense was unable to crawl out of the seven run hole created by Ponce de Leon.  Ironically, Oviedo drove in the Cardinals first run on a ground out.  Austin Dean’s double in the sixth plated St. Louis’ final two runs as the outfielder went 2-for-4.

Paul DeJong made his third miscue of the young season on an errant throw.

Big Picture

Opening week, the Cardinals lost the first series of the season to the Reds.  A series win against the Marlins was a goal and the Cardinals exceeded that by a sweep in Miami.  The week ended with another series loss, yet the Cardinals came out ahead in the week, 4-2.

Pitching continues to be the Achilles heel so far for the Redbirds.  Though the offense could be better, especially at positions 5-9, it was pitching that failed miserably in the series loss to the Brewers.  The rotation is battered with injuries and the bullpen has been inconsistent at best.  The starters have been inconsistent and their inability to go deeper into games is putting pressure on the relievers. Only three members of the pen, Giovanny Gallegos, Jordan Hicks, and Alex Reyes, have been consistently reliable.  Johan Oviedo was a bright spot on Sunday in relief of Ponce de Leon.

The offense is mostly coming from the top of the order.  Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Yadier Molina have been the bulk of the offense so far.  Dylan Carlson has contributed three home runs, but with a high strikeout rate.  Austin Dean has contributed as well in limited appearances.  More contribution throughout the order is needed.  The outfield especially has been a mixed bag.  With Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader both on the injured list, it is going to be up to replacements Dean and Lane Thomas as well as Justin Williams to provide offensive production along with Carlson.

The defense has been fine, though Paul DeJong has three errors early in the season.  DeJong has also been unproductive with the bat in the last two series and was moved out of the cleanup spot on Sunday in favor of the 38-year-old Molina.

The Cardinals play the Nationals at Busch to start the week and then end the week playing the Phillies in Philadelphia.  Both teams will be tough so pitching must be better and the offense needs to pick it up.  As a result of the two losses to the Brewers, St. Louis is now tied for second place in the division behind the Reds.  Winning series should be the Cardinals’ prescription.

NL Central Standings

Team W L Pct GB
Cincinnati 6 3 0.667
Milwaukee 5 4 0.556 1
St. Louis 5 4 0.556 1
Chicago 4 5 0.444 2
Pittsburgh 3 6 0.333 3

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 4/11 The Cardinals recalled CF Lane Thomas from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 4/11 The Cardinals placed LF Tyler O’Neill on the 10 day injured list. Right groin strain.
  • 4/11 The Cardinals optioned RHP Jake Woodford to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 4/11 The Cardinals recalled RHP Johan Oviedo from the Alternate Training Site.

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.  No timetable for his return has been reported.
  • LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim (back tightness) is on the 10 day injured list but returned with the Cardinals to St. Louis following the series in Miami. On Sunday, Kim pitched his final simulated game of six innings before returning to the rotation, which will likely come during the upcoming road trip.
  • 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.  He has begun some light baseball activity but has not resumed throwing or hitting.
  • 1B Paul Goldschmidt was scratched from the Opening Day lineup with lower back tightness. Goldschmidt was back in the lineup for the second game of the series on Saturday.
  • LF Tyler O’Neill was placed on the 10 day injured list with a right groin strain. The injury occurred in Saturday’s game as the outfielder was running out a ground ball.  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.

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals homestand continues on Monday against the Nationals to open a three game series. John Gant gets the start on Monday, followed by Jack Flaherty on Tuesday, and Adam Wainwright on Wednesday.

The Cardinals travel to Philadelphia on Thursday to begin a three game weekend series on Friday with the Phillies. Next, the team will go to Washington to play the Nationals for the second time in a three game series.

Following a travel day on Thursday, the Cardinals return home to Busch Stadium for a weekend series against the Reds.

The Cardinals regular season schedule can be found here.

Blast from the Past

This week’s installment of the Cardinals Hall of Fame series considers a Cardinals broadcaster not named Buck or Shannon.  This writer admits not having ever heard of this broadcaster prior to researching this article.  It is my loss.

Francis “France” Laux Jr. was born on December 3, 1897 in Guthrie, Oklahoma. He was the son of J. Francis Laux Sr., a local judge. His nickname “France” was given to him by classmates in school.  Laux was a multi sport athlete in high school and attended Oklahoma City College.

After service in World War I, Laux managed a semi-pro baseball team in Guthrie.  His other jobs included insurance and real estate broker and refereeing college football games.

Laux’s broadcasting career began in a unique way.  On the eve of the 1927 World Series between the Pirates and the Yankees, the regular announcer left local radio station KVOO in a disagreement less than an hour before first pitch.   The station manager called on Laux because he was the only person the manager could think of who knew enough about baseball to do the job.  The manager had to find Laux on the streets of Bristow, 45 miles away and drive him back to the station.  The two arrived with 90 seconds to spare.  So with very short notice, Laux began his broadcast career calling the 1927 World Series.

Laux did such a good job that he was hired to be the station’s regular sports announcer.  He broadcast baseball and football for KVOO for two years.

France Laux

When KMOX in St. Louis was in need of a baseball announcer in 1929, they searched and found Laux.  He was brought in for a 30 day trial run calling both Cardinals and Browns games.  The trial was successful and Laux was hired.

Laux became very popular, with St. Louis the southernmost and westernmost city with a major league baseball team.  KMOX’ 50,000 watt channel was heard all over the western and southern parts of the country, and virtually coast to coast at night.

Laux was the voice of the Cardinals and Browns from 1929 to 1942.  After 1942, he called only for the Cardinals.  After the 1943 season, Laux resigned, only to return in 1948 to call Browns games. After the 1948 season, Laux broadcast only weekend games for the Browns until the Browns moved to Baltimore after the 1953 season.

In the late 1950s, Laux co-hosted a show called Batting Practice with Jack Buck, which functioned as a pre-game show for Cardinals road games.

After leaving broadcasting, Laux turned his attention to a bowling house he had purchased in St. Louis and his duties as the secretary of the American Bowling Congress.  Laux passed away on November 16, 1978 at the age of 80.

One could say that Laux had a similar appeal to Cardinals fans as Buck did later on.  He was the voice of the Cardinals before Buck.   As such, Laux deserves to be inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame because of his two decades of Cardinals broadcasting and huge popularity and reach.  The unfortunate fact that this writer hadn’t heard of him should be no impediment as this speaks more to my deficiencies than it does to Laux’s.


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