photo: Marcell Ozuna (Orlando Ramirez/Imagn)
The St. Louis Cardinals swept the Dodgers at home and split with the Reds in Monterrey, Mexico. Outfielder Marcell Ozuna has five home runs and 10 RBI in his last seven games, but his defense remains shaky. In our weekly history feature, recent Cardinals players from Mexico are remembered, with special focus on six-time All-Star pitcher Fernando Valenzuela.
A hot, first-place Dodgers team arrived in St. Louis for a four-game series that opened on Monday. In the first contest, the Cardinals edged the Dodgers.
Starter Miles Mikolas earned the win with a six-inning outing. The right hander yielded three runs on five hits, fanned three and walked one. The win was his first of the season. John Gant pitched two scoreless innings in relief and Jordan Hicks finished with a scoreless ninth to earn his second save.
The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the first, but the Cardinals answered with two runs to tie in the bottom half of the frame. After Jose Martinez reached base on a force out, Marcell Ozuna launched a two-run bomb to left field. The Redbirds didn’t score again until the sixth, after the Dodgers took a 3-2 lead in the fifth. In the sixth, Matt Carpenter led off with a single. Following a walk to Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Martinez singled to left and Carpenter scored to tie the game. Marcell Ozuna grounded into a double play, sending Goldschmidt to third. With Paul DeJong at the plate, a wild pitch brought Goldschmidt home for the winning run.
DeJong was the only Cardinal with multiple hits, with two. Harrison Bader threw a runner out at second base for an outfield assist to complete a double play.
The Cardinals blanked the Dodgers in the second of the four-game set at Busch Stadium. The offense began in the first inning, when Paul DeJong doubled to left and Yadier Molina drove him in on a ground rule double. Molina continued to drive in runs in the third, with another double to plate both Pauls (Goldschmidt and DeJong). Goldschmidt hammered the final nail in the Dodgers coffin with a solo home run to left field in the sixth.
DeJong and Molina each contributed two hits to the win.
Starter Dakota Hudson pitched 4 2/3 hard-fought scoreless innings. At times the young right hander appeared to be laboring to get out of jams but escape them he did. Hudson struck out four but also walked four. John Brebbia relieved with two outs in the fifth and got the final out and returned to pitch a scoreless sixth. John Gant added a run-free seventh. Mike Mayers and Andrew Miller combined for a scoreless eighth and Dominic Leone finished the game with a clean ninth. Brebbia was awarded the win.
Matt Carpenter committed a fielding error and DeJong stole his first base of the season.
In the eighth inning, Marcell Ozuna made a highlight play in left field for the wrong reason. Perhaps his heart was in the right place, but his execution was way off. The runner did not score, however.
"See, what had happened was…" – Marcell Ozuna, probably. pic.twitter.com/1pHXLaeDOq
— Cut4 (@Cut4) April 10, 2019
The Cardinals continued to pound the Dodgers into submission in the third game of the series. Starter Jack Flaherty kept the visitors’ offense at bay through five scoreless innings. The right hander finally gave up a run in the sixth, his final inning, on a solo home run by Joc Pederson. Left hander Tyler Webb surrendered the second run in the seventh on another solo home run. Mayers relieved Webb with one out in the seventh and finished the inning without further damage. John Brebbia pitched a quiet eighth and Dominic Leone followed with a scoreless ninth. Flaherty earned his first win of the season.
The offense put one run on the board in the second inning. Marcell Ozuna led off with a double and then stole third base. As Yadier Molina grounded out, Ozuna scored. Back to back singles by Paul DeJong and Ozuna in the fourth led to DeJong scoring on Dexter Fowler’s single.
After the Dodgers finally scored in the sixth, the Redbirds answered with three runs in the bottom frame. Paul Goldschmidt led off with a single and DeJong tripled to left, bringing Goldschmidt home. With DeJong on third, Molina smacked a two-run home run to center field.
One final long ball added two in the eighth as DeJong singled and Ozuna blasted a home run to left.
Ozuna’s game was rounded out with his second stolen base of the season.
The brooms made their appearance in St. Louis on Thursday as the Cardinals completed the series by sweeping the Dodgers in a four-game home series for the first time since 2010.
The Dodgers bats finally game alive in the finale, but the Cardinals out-slugged them despite starting multiple reserves. The Dodgers took a 3-0 lead with one run in the first inning, and two more in the second. The Cardinals responded with four runs in the bottom of the second.
Back to back singles by Jose Martinez and Tyler O’Neill and Jedd Gyorko’s walk loaded the bases for Harrison Bader. Bader was hit by a pitch and Martinez scored. Matt Wieters’ sac fly plated O’Neill. With runners on first and second, Michael Wacha laid down a sac bunt. A wild pitch sent both Gyorko and Bader home.
The Cardinals increased their lead with a run in the third on RBI single by Gyorko. In the fifth, Harrison Bader was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded for the second time in the game. Wieters plated two on a single to right. Martinez added a run in the sixth on a double to right and later scored a second run in the inning on another wild pitch. Martinez had four hits and scored three times. DeJong and O’Neill each had two hits.
Starter Michael Wacha pitched only 3 2/3 innings. The right hander gave up seven runs on eight hits, including three long balls. Wacha fanned three and walked one. The pen finished with scoreless pitching. Giovanny Gallegos and Tyler Webb each tossed 1 1/3 innings. John Gant added 1 2/3 scoreless innings and Andrew Miller tossed a scoreless ninth. Gallegos got the win.
Wieters and Kolten Wong each stole a base.
Friday, April 12 – Off day
The Cardinals took on the Reds in a special two-game series played in Monterrey, Mexico. The Reds were the home team.
The opener was a disappointing loss for the Cardinals. It started fine, as St. Louis took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Adam Wainwright drove in Dexter Fowler, who earlier doubled to center. The 1-0 lead remained until the sixth. Wainwright was tossing a no-hitter through the fifth, but in the sixth, Jesse Winker got him for a solo home run to break up the no-no and tie the game. Derek Dietrich hit the second long ball off Wainwright to begin the seventh, and that was it for the veteran right hander. John Brebbia came in and retired the next three batters. Tyler Webb began the eighth but gave up a lead off triple and a walk. Mike Mayers retired his first two batters, but surrendered a single and a triple that scored the two inherited runners.
Kolten Wong hit a solo home run in the ninth to bring the score to 5-2 but that was it for the offense. Matt Carpenter and Paul Goldschmidt had two hits each, but neither scored nor drove in a run.
Wong stole his fourth base of the season.
The outcome of the second and final game of the Mexico Series was a hard fought win for St. Louis. It began well, as the Cardinals scored four runs in the first off Reds starter Anthony DeSclafani. Matt Carpenter walked and Paul Goldschmidt doubled to left. Paul DeJong reached on a fielder’s choice, as Carpenter was out at home. Marcell Ozuna then blasted a three-run home run to right field. Tyler O’Neill contributed a solo home run to the cause for a 4-0 lead.
The score remained 4-0 until the bottom of the fifth. Matt Carpenter committed a throwing error on a routine ground out to third and Ozuna kicked a ball in left, with the mistakes leading to a big inning for the Reds. Four runs scored on a double and a three-run home run to tie the game 4-4.
The Cardinals took the lead with a five-run seventh. Carpenter atoned for his error with a lead off solo home run. Marcell Ozuna hit a rocket way up into the left field stands. Yadier Molina singled, Tyler O’Neill walked and Dexter Fowler singled to load the bases. Kolten Wong drew a walk and Molina scored. Pinch hitter Jose Martinez single to center to plate O’Neill and Fowler to bring the score to 9-4. The Reds added a run in the eighth, but the Cardinals prevailed 9-5.
Starter Miles Mikolas pitched five innings and gave up four runs, three earned, on seven hits. He fanned three and walked one. John Gant pitched a scoreless sixth to earn the win. Dominic Leone contributed a run-free seventh. Mexico native Giovanny Gallegos started the eighth and gave up a solo home run to the first batter he faced, Yasiel Puig. He recovered to strike out the second batter. Andrew Miller got the second out of the inning, and Jordan Hicks secured the final four outs to earn his third save.
The Big Picture
The Cardinals ended the week 5-1. A four-game sweep of the Dodgers and a split of the pair with the Reds left the Cardinals with an overall record of 9-6. The Cardinals are in second place in the NL Central, a half game back of the Brewers.
The bullpen continues to be the bright spot, with an ERA of 3.21, third in the NL behind the Giants and the Reds. The starters ERA is 4.40, sixth in the NL. Michael Wacha had a short outing on Thursday. He surrendered three home runs in his start, following an eight walk start the week before. Wainwright took a no hitter into the sixth on Friday. Wainwright’s last two starts have been much better than his first.
After a slow start, Marcell Ozuna’s bat has heated up. He has five home runs and 11 RBI, with all the runs driven in his last eight games. Paul Goldschmidt’s bat has cooled off since the first series in Milwaukee, though he had three hits in the Mexico Series. Kolten Wong and Paul DeJong are leading the team in overall offense, with Goldschmidt and Ozuna right behind.
The defense has been mostly good. There was some ugly defense in the Mexico Series, however. There has also been some questionable base running.
The Cardinals play in Milwaukee to begin the week, then end the period at home against the Mets. Both teams are tough, so the Cardinals need to tighten some things up that went wrong in the Mexico Series.
NL Central Standings
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
- 4/9 Rule 5 pick RHP Chris Ellis was returned to the Cardinals from the Kansas City Royals and assigned to extended spring training.
- 4/12 The Cardinals shifted RHP Luke Gregerson’s rehab assignment from the Palm Beach Cardinals to the Springfield Cardinals.
- 4/13 The Cardinals recalled SS Yairo Munoz from the Memphis Redbirds as the 26th player for the Mexico Series only. He returned to Triple-A following the two games in Monterrey.
- RHP Carlos Martinez (right shoulder) had an in injection of platelet-rich plasma in early spring training and began the season on the 10 day injured list. Martinez threw a 20 pitch bullpen session on April 12 and is scheduled for a second session on April 15. Martinez may return to the roster sometime in May in a role to be determined.
- RHP Luke Gregerson (right shoulder) began the season on the injured list. Gregerson has moved up in his rehab assignment to Springfield. Gregerson could possibly return to the roster sometime in late April.
- LHP Brett Cecil (left arm fatigue) was placed on the 60-day injured list on March 28. Cecil had surgery to address carpal tunnel syndrome. No timetable for a return has been set.
- LF Justin Williams (fractured right hand) began the season on the 10 day injured list. Williams has begun swinging a bat.
- CF Harrison Bader tweaked his right hamstring on an OF play in Saturday’s game in Monterrey, Mexico. Bader was not in the lineup for Sunday’s game and is considered day to day.
The Cardinals left Mexico on Sunday night and return to Milwaukee to play the Brewers on Monday, April 15 in a three-game series. Dakota Hudson is scheduled to make the Monday start, Jack Flaherty will start on Tuesday and Michael Wacha takes the mound on Wednesday.
After a Thursday travel day, the Redbirds return home for a weekend series against the New York Mets. The homestand continues as the Brewers come to Busch Stadium for three games. After an off day on Thursday, the Reds travel in to St. Louis for a weekend set.
To end the month of April, the Cardinals travel to the Washington, DC to play the Nationals in a four-game series. The team then travels to Wrigley Field to take on the Cubs for the first action against Chicago this season. The Pirates then come to town for a four-game series at Busch.
Following the Cubs series, the Redbirds return to St. Louis for three against the visiting Phillies.
The Cardinals’ Regular Season schedule can be viewed here.
Blast from the Past
The Cardinals played a series against the Cincinnati Reds in Monterrey, Mexico over the weekend. This conjured up memories of Mexican players of the past who played for the Cardinals.
Most recently in the past were Mexican-born Jaime Garcia, as well as reliever Fernando Salas.
Garcia has retired from baseball, and Salas now plays in the Mexican League, having been released from the Atlanta Braves in August 2018. The Cardinals currently have on their roster one Mexican born player, reliever Giovanny Gallegos, who made an appearance on Sunday.
The most famous of Mexican players in Cardinals history is another Fernando, Fernando Valenzuela, who is by far most known for his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, from 1980-90. He spent 17 seasons in the major leagues with six teams in that span. The last team he played for before retiring in 1997 was the Cardinals, albeit very briefly.
Valenzuela was a six-time All Star, a Cy Young Award winner and NL Rookie of the Year honoree in the Dodgers World Series winning season of 1981. He won a Gold Glove in 1986 and Silver Sluggers in 1981 and 1983. He has one no-hitter on his resume, pitched, ironically, against the Cardinals on June 29, 1990. That season was his last with the Dodgers. He went on to play for the Angels, Orioles, Phillies, and Padres, before his last hurrah with the Cardinals in 1997.
Valenzuela was in fact hardly a Cardinal, but he wore the Birds on the Bat, so he can be claimed. St. Louis had him on the roster for a month, after a trade with the San Diego Padres in June 1997.
The left handed pitcher started five games for the Cardinals, going 0-4 with an ERA of 5.56. He was a shell of his former self, and was released a month later, on July 15, 1997.
His brief stint with the Cardinals had no lasting impact and he contributed little in comparison to the careers of Garcia and Salas. However, as most Cardinal fans would say, “once a Cardinal, always a Cardinal”.
Valenzuela currently works as a color commentator for Spanish language radio with the Dodgers SportsNet LA.
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