St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook: Week of April 9 – 15

photo: Jose Martinez (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)

In this week’s St. Louis Cardinals news, the club pulled to two games over .500 by sweeping a four-game set in Cincinnati. Jose Martinez led the offense. In our history feature, a trail-blazing Cardinals pitcher, William Greason, is remembered.

Game Recaps

Monday, April 9 – Cardinals 4, Brewers 5 (10 innings)

Greg Holland (St. Louis Cardinals)

The St. Louis Cardinals took on the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium, and in the first of a three game series, the visitors took the victory in extra innings.  Starter Miles Mikolas pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up four runs on eight hits.  The right hander struck out five and walked none.  Tyler Lyons finished the seventh without damage.  Sam Tuivailala pitched two scoreless innings.  Greg Holland, in his first appearance in the same day he joined the roster, had a tough outing.  Holland walked four straight batters in the 10th to force in the winning run for the Brewers.  With one out in the 10th, Bud Norris relieved Holland and completed the inning.  Holland took the loss.

The Cardinals got on the board in the third inning, scoring three runs to take a one-run lead.  Dexter Fowler’s single plated one, and a single by Marcell Ozuna brought two more runs home.  Though the Brewers retook the lead, the Cardinals tied it up in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings.  Fowler’s sac fly drove in the tying run.   Fowler went 2-for-4 overall, as did Paul DeJong.  Ozuna was 2-for-5.

Fowler made a fielding error.

Tuesday April 10 – Cardinals 5, Brewers 3 (11 innings)

Matt Carpenter (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

In the second game of the series, the contest went to extra innings again, but this time the Cardinals prevailed.  A two-run home run off the bat of Matt Carpenter in the bottom of the 11th brought the victory to the Redbirds.   Carpenter went 2-for-4 with the two RBI and two runs scored.

The Cardinals’ first run came on a bases loaded walk to Yairo Munoz in the sixth.  The run that sent the game into extra innings scored on a wild pitch in the ninth.  In the top of the 10th, the Brewers retook the one-run lead, but the Cardinals came back in the bottom frame and tied it again on Greg Garcia’s RBI single.  Garcia had entered the game late to replace the pitcher and went 2-for-2.

Starter Carlos Martinez pitched six innings, giving up one run on six hits while fanning four and walking two.   Jordan Hicks followed with two scoreless innings of relief.  Bud Norris pitched the ninth and surrendered one run.  Matt Bowman also surrendered a run in the 10th.  Dominic Leone came in for the 11th and shut it down with a scoreless outing to earn the win.

Dexter Fowler stole his first base of the season.

Wednesday, April 11 – Cardinals 2, Brewers 3

Adam Wainwright (USA TODAY Sports Images)

The Cardinals were edged by the Brewers in the rubber game of the series at Busch Stadium.  Adam Wainwright suffered his second loss of the short season, though he did not pitch badly.  The veteran righty went seven innings and gave up three runs on eight hits.  Wainwright struck out four and issued no free passes.  The long ball did him in, as he gave up two solo shots.  Tyler Lyons pitched a scoreless eighth, and Greg Holland redeemed himself with a run-free ninth.

The Cardinals offense was meager.  The first run didn’t score until the sixth inning via a ground out by Matt Carpenter.  The other run came in the ninth via a solo home run by Tommy Pham, a shot which was not initially called a home run but was overturned on umpire review.

Pham went 2-for-4 and was caught stealing for the second time this season.

Thursday, April 12 – Cardinals 13 at Reds 4

Jose Martinez (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Cardinals made their first trip to Cincinnati for the season and took out their Brewers frustration on the Reds.  In the first of the four game series, the Redbirds pounded Reds pitching with 13 runs.

In the first inning, Jose Martinez singled on a ground ball to right field to plate Dexter Fowler.  Yadier Molina followed with his own RBI single.  Marcell Ozuna hit a solo shot to center field in the third inning.  In the fifth, Martinez drew a bases loaded walk, and Paul DeJong homered in the sixth.  Martinez continued his dominance with the bat in the seventh with a solo home run, and Molina hit a solo shot immediately following for back to back long balls.  Fowler then drew a bases loaded walk, Tommy Pham did the same, and Matt Carpenter plated a run on a sac fly.  Martinez came around to bat for the second time in the seventh inning and doubled to score two to complete the seven-run inning.  Martinez wasn’t done, however. In the ninth, he hit a second double to drive in his sixth run of the game.  It was the Jose Martinez show from start to finish.  Martinez went 4-for-5 with six RBI.  Fowler was 2-for-5 with three runs scored, Pham was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, and Molina was 2-for-5.

Michael Wacha received the benefit of all the offense.  The right hander pitched five innings, giving up four runs, three earned, on five hits.  Wacha struck out five and walked three to earn the win.  John Brebbia tossed a scoreless sixth, and Mike Mayers finished with three scoreless innings.

Ozuna made a fielding error.

Friday, April 13 – Cardinals 5 at Reds 3

Luke Weaver (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Cardinals took their winning ways into Game 2, though it was not a blowout.  Luke Weaver earned his second win of the season, pitching six innings and giving up two runs on four hits.  The righty fanned seven and walked one.   Matt Bowman tossed a scoreless seventh.  Tyler Lyons and Dominic Leone combined in the eighth, with Lyons surrendering one run.  Bud Norris pitched a run-free ninth to earn his second save.

Yadier Molina hit his second home run of the series, and his fifth on the short season in the second inning.  It was a solo shot, as was Dexter Fowler’s home run in the sixth.  Also in the sixth, Marcell Ozuna plated Tommy Pham on a single, then Molina drove in two on a single.  Fowler and Ozuna were both 2-for-5.  Pham, Molina, and Jose Martinez were each 2-for-4.

On the base paths, Pham stole his third base of the season.  Martinez was caught stealing for the first time in the season.  In the field, Leone picked Joey Votto off first base.

Saturday, April 14 – Cardinals 6 at Reds 1

Greg Garcia (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Cardinals guaranteed the series win with a victory in Game 3.  Greg Garcia stole the show with two home runs, a solo shot in the second, and a two-run shot in the fourth.  Garcia ended with a 3-for-4 outing, with three RBI and three runs scored.  Marcell Ozuna plated a run on a sac fly in the first, Jose Martinez doubled in a run in the fifth, and Tommy Pham doubled in the final run in the sixth. Pham went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.

Starter Miles Mikolas pitched seven innings, giving up one run on four hits.  The right hander struck out four and walked two to earn his second win of the season.  Greg Holland and Jordan Hicks each contributed a scoreless inning of relief.

Pham stole fourth and fifth bases of the season, both second and third bases.  Harrison Bader stole his first base of the season.

Sunday, April 15 – Cardinals 3 at Reds 2

Carlos Martinez (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Cardinals completed the sweep of the Reds, winning a one-run nail biter on Sunday after a long rain delay.  Carlos Martinez made the start and struck out 11 Reds to earn his second win of the season.  The right hander pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing only two hits. Martinez did walk four for his only blemish in the outing.  Tyler Lyons and Bud Norris each gave up a solo home run in one inning of relief each.   Norris earned his third save.

St. Louis’ offense consisted of a two run home run in the second inning off the bat of Harrison Bader.  It was Bader’s first home run of the season.  Yadier Molina’s single in the seventh brought home the final run, though Molina was thrown out trying to stretch the hit to a double.  Molina went 2-for-3 in the game.

On the base paths, Bader and Tommy Pham were both caught stealing, Bader for the first time and Pham for the third time.  In the field, Carlos Martinez made an error on a pickoff attempt and Kolten Wong and Greg Garcia committed throwing errors.

Big Picture

Bud Norris (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Cardinals began the week with a couple of poor home games against the Brewers.  Two of the three went into extra innings, and all three were a battle for both the offense and the pitching.  Starters had so-so outings, and the bullpen was hit and miss.  Defense and base running were adequate, with one error and one caught stealing among the three games against the Brewers.

Paul DeJong continues with high strikeout totals but did hit some in both series.  Kolten Wong still isn’t hitting, but has been getting on base with walks.  The offense broke out in the Reds series and the pitching also improved.  The closer situation is murky at best; Bud Norris has been getting most of the closing situations, as Greg Holland’s initial appearance in the ninth resulted in four walks, and the manager has been hesitant to use him again in that role for the present.  There were more defensive errors and base running stumbles in the Reds series.

Whether the offense has truly made a breakthrough will be tested in the next series in Chicago.  The bats beat up on the weak Reds team, but the Cubs will not be so easy.  The same goes for the pitching.

The Cardinals will get to meet the Reds again in St. Louis at the end of the week.

The past week ended with a record of 5-2, bolstered by sweeping the Reds.  The Cardinals finish the week in second place in the division with a record of 9-7, 2.5 games behind the surprising Pirates.

NL Central Standings
                                     W             L               %                 GB
Pittsburgh                11             4            .733                –
St. Louis                       9               7            .563               2.5
Milwaukee                 8               8            .500               3.5
Chicago                        7              7            .500                3.5
Cincinnati                   2              13          .133                  9

Who’s Hot

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

  • Greg Garcia has an OPS of 1.577.  He has two HRs, two doubles, and four RBI.
  • Jose Martinez has an OPS of 1.152.  He has one HR, three doubles, and seven RBI.
  • Tommy Pham has an OPS of 1.099. He has one HR, one double, and three RBI.
  • Carlos Martinez has an ERA of 1.50 and a WHIP of 1.33.
  • Luke Weaver has an ERA of 2.19 and a WHIP of 0.73.
  • John Brebbia has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.00.
  • Mike Mayers has an ERA of 2.25 and a WHIP of 1.00

Who’s Not

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

  • Yairo Munoz has an OPS of .495.
  • Harrison Bader has an OPS of .452
  • Michael Wacha has an ERA of 5.40 and a WHIP of 1.60
  • Dominic Leone has an ERA of 13.50 and a WHIP of 1.50.

A Look at Cardinals Lineups

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

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

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 4/9 The Cardinals optioned RHP Mike Mayers to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 4/9 The Cardinals recalled RHP Greg Holland from the Palm Beach Cardinals.
  • 4/11 The Cardinals made a roster status change for C Yadier Molina (one game suspension).
  • 4/12 The Cardinals placed RHP Sam Tuivailala on the 10 day disabled list retroactive to April 10, 2018.  Left knee strain.
  • 4/12 The Cardinals activated C Yadier Molina from suspension.
  • 4/12 The Cardinals recalled RHP Mike Mayers from the Memphis Redbirds.

Injury Report

Sam Tuivailala (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

RHP Sam Tuivailala was placed on the 10 day DL with a left knee strain.  The placement was retroactive to April 10.  An MRI was scheduled on Thursday.   No timetable for his return has been announced.

LHP Ryan Sherriff remains on the 10 day DL with a fractured right toe.   The pitcher is not expected to miss a lot of time and may return to Memphis rather than to the big league roster.

3B Jedd Gyorko (right hamstring strain) is nearing a return.  A short rehab assignment is possible, but Gyorko could be activated sooner.

RHP Luke Gregerson is also nearing a return.  Gregerson has been rehabbing in Palm Beach and his activation could occur during the series in Chicago.

LHP Brett Cecil (left shoulder strain, right foot tendinitis) remains on the DL.  No timetable for his return has been announced, and it is expected he will remain on the DL for a couple of weeks.

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals meet the Cubs for the first head-to-head series of 2018 beginning Monday in Chicago.  Adam Wainwright is scheduled to make the start in the first game of the three game series.  Michael Wacha will start on Tuesday, and Luke Weaver on Wednesday.

St. Louis will have an off day Thursday.  The Cardinals return home to play the Reds again in a weekend series.  No pitchers have been announced for that series, but they will likely be Miles Mikolas, Carlos Martinez, and Wainwright.

After another off day the following Monday, the Mets will come to St. Louis for three.  Following that series the Cardinals travel to Pittsburgh to meet the Pirates for their first series of the season beginning on Friday.

The Cardinals’ regular season schedule can be found here.

Blast from the Past

Last season I wrote about Jackie Robinson and the annual celebration on April 15 of his debut as a major leaguer, and first African American in the major leagues on that day in 1947.  I also discussed the Cardinals’ first African American player, Tom Alston.

This season, I am commemorating that historic day by sharing a little history about another African American player who played for the Cardinals.  When fans think of African American pitchers for the Cardinals, most fans thoughts turn to Bob Gibson, who perhaps was the Cardinals’ best pitcher ever, as well as being African American.  But Gibson was not the first African American to pitch for the Cardinals.

The first was a man named William Greason, born September 3, 1924 in Atlanta, GA.  In World War II, the Marine served in an all-African American unit in the Pacific Theater.

The right handed pitcher made his major league debut on May 31, 1954 for St. Louis.  Greason’s major league baseball career was short lived, as he only appeared in three games for the Cardinals, starting in two and relieving in the other.  Greason did not fare well in his two starts but pitched a scoreless inning in his final appearance.  He spent the remainder of his baseball career in the upper levels of the minors, finally retiring from baseball after the 1959 season.

Prior to joining the Cardinals, Greason pitched in the Negro Leagues, beginning in 1947.  He began with the Nashville Black Vols, and then played with the Asheville Blues, and the Birmingham Black Barons.

After retiring from baseball, Greason became a Baptist minister in the Bethel Baptist Church of Birmingham, Alabama, where he has served as a minister for 30 years.  In 2011, he was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the Alabama Black Achievement Awards Gala.  Greason is 93 years old as of this writing.

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