photo: Kolten Wong and Harrison Bader (Peter Aiken/USA TODAY Sports Images)
The surging St. Louis Cardinals have won seven consecutive series for the first time in three years. A 5-2 week briefly put them back in second place as Kolten Wong and Harrison Bader are leading the offense. In our weekly history feature, the reason why Nationals fans hate Pete Kozma is remembered.
The St. Louis Cardinals started the busy week with a seven-game homestand, beginning with four games against the Washington Nationals. The Cardinals were meeting a strong offensive team, despite the Nats’ struggles all season.
The opener was an example of the Redbirds’ fighting spirit, as they pulled off the one run win in the last inning. The Cardinals got on the board first with one run driven in by Marcell Ozuna on a line drive single to left field. The Nats tied it up in the second and took the lead in the fourth, but the Cardinals answered in the bottom of the fourth with one run to tie it up again. That run came on a sac fly by pitcher Miles Mikolas. The Nats took the lead again with two runs in the seventh, but the bottom of the eighth saw the Cardinals respond with four runs to take the lead back. It began with a Jedd Gyorko solo home run. The inning ended with a three run shot by Matt Carpenter. The Nats tied it up once more with two runs in the top of the ninth. The Cardinals were not done though, as Paul DeJong brought it all home for the Redbirds with a walk off solo home run in the bottom of the ninth. Jose Martinez went 4-for-5. Carpenter was 2-for-4. Ozuna was 2-for-5, and Gyorko and Kolten Wong were both 2-for-3.
Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas pitched seven innings and gave up four runs on four hits. Tyler Webb tossed a scoreless eighth. Bud Norris started the ninth, but blew the save by surrendering two runs on three hits. Dakota Hudson got the final two outs to end the inning and was rewarded with the win.
Adolis Garcia made a throwing error.
The Cardinals were the victors in the second game of the series against the Nats. Starter John Gant pitched 5 1/3 innings and gave up one run on four hits. The right hander fanned five and walked none. Chasen Shreve followed with 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief. Mike Mayers began the eighth but had a tough time, surrendering three runs. Dakota Hudson finished the eighth, getting the final out. Jordan Hicks pitched a scoreless ninth. Gant earned his fifth win.
St. Louis’ offense put three runs on the board in the second inning. Harrison Bader opened with a sac fly. Gant launched his first major league home run, a two-run shot. In the fourth, Kolten Wong doubled to right to drive in two runs and added a solo home run in the sixth. Wong was 3-for-3 with two runs scored.
The Redbirds marched on with a third win in the four game series against the Nats. Marcell Ozuna’s solo home run in the second inning got the Cardinals on the board. In the fifth, Harrison Bader led off with a double, and Austin Gomber bunted him over to third. After Matt Carpenter was intentionally walked, Yadier Molina came to the plate. A wild pitch to Molina sent Bader racing home for the second Cardinal run. Molina then singled to right to score Carpenter. Bader singled Kolten Wong home in the sixth. Bader went 3-for-4.
Starter Gomber pitched six scoreless innings, allowing three hits while striking out six and walking four. Daniel Poncedeleon surrendered two runs in his two innings. Bud Norris tossed a scoreless ninth to earn his 23rd save.
Wong stole his fourth base of the season.
The Cardinals were unable to complete the sweep, falling to the Nats in a one-run loss. Luke Weaver only lasted 3 2/3 innings, giving up four runs, two earned, on seven hits. Sloppy defense added to Weaver’s woes. Tyson Ross pitched 3 1/3 innings, surrendering one unearned run on two hits. Brett Cecil and Mike Mayers followed with a scoreless eighth and ninth, respectively.
The Cardinals’ scoring began in the third inning on a solo home run from Harrison Bader. Paul DeJong singled in a run in the sixth, followed by an RBI double from Kolten Wong and a single by Bader to plate Wong. Bader was 2-for-3.
Matt Carpenter made a missed catch error, Wong committed a throwing error, and Ross made a fielding miscue.
The Cardinals started the weekend with a series against their NL Central rival Brewers. This was a crucial series, as the Brewers are one of the teams St. Louis is chasing for a playoff spot. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers in the first game behind excellent pitching from Jack Flaherty. Flaherty went six scoreless innings, allowing three hits, fanning seven and walking three. Dakota Hudson added a scoreless seventh. Jordan Hicks surrendered two runs in the eighth, the only Milwaukee runs. Bud Norris pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 24th save and protect Flaherty’s seventh win.
Marcell Ozuna drove in two runs on a single in the first inning. Jedd Gyorko hit a solo home run in the fourth. In the eighth, Kolten Wong doubled to score two. Jose Martinez went 2-for-4.
Tyler O’Neill stole his second base of the season.
The Cardinals rolled over the Brewers to take the series in Game 2. Marcell Ozuna continued to drive in runs, hitting a solo home run in the second inning. In the third, Tyler O’Neill singled in a run, and Paul DeJong plated two more on a single. Harrison Bader’s triple in the sixth brought home two. DeJong drove in his third run on a single in the eighth. DeJong was 2-for-4.
Starter Miles Mikolas pitched six innings and gave up one run on five hits. The right hander struck out seven and walked none. Mike Mayers tossed a scoreless seventh. Chasen Shreve surrendered one run in the eighth. Daniel Poncedeleon finished with a scoreless ninth.
DeJong stole his first base of the season. O’Neill made a throwing error.
Once again, St. Louis was unable to complete the sweep, as their hitters were unable to figure out Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin. The Cardinals were kept off the board until the eighth inning, when pinch hitter Patrick Wisdom hit a solo home run against reliever Jeremy Jeffress for the only Cardinal run.
Starter John Gant pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up two runs on six hits. Brett Cecil got the final two outs of the fifth. Tyson Ross followed with three scoreless innings. Mike Mayers tossed a scoreless ninth.
St. Louis ended the week 5-2, winning 3 of 4 from the Nationals, and 2 of 3 from the Brewers. The Cardinals briefly held the second wild card spot after defeating the Brewers on Saturday, but the loss to the Brewers on Sunday put them a half game behind the Brewers.
The team continues to play well under interim manager Mike Shildt. There was one defensive relapse in Thursday’s loss to the Nats, when the Cardinals made three errors. The rest of the games for the week were clean. The offense continues to roll, other than Sunday’s game against the Brewers when the Cardinals couldn’t figure out Jhoulys Chacin, who up until that game was 0-7 against the Cardinals. Matt Carpenter has unfortunately cooled off some, and Yadier Molina has been ineffective at the plate as well. Not getting a day off in 25 games most likely has contributed to his slide at the plate. Marcell Ozuna has heated up and Paul DeJong has improved at the plate. Harrison Bader continues to dazzle with his glove and his legs and has also contributed with the bat. Kolten Wong also is having a renaissance at the plate since coming off the DL.
The Cardinals have a tough road trip coming up, with three games against the Dodgers in Los Angeles and three games against hot Rockies in Denver. The team must play well in both series to maintain their march to a playoff spot.
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Over the past seven games (does not contain recent Sunday game results):
- Kolten Wong has an OPS of 1.405. He has one HR, three doubles, and six RBI.
- Harrison Bader has an OPS of 1.192. He has one HR, one triple, three doubles, and five RBI.
- Jose Martinez has an OPS of .913. He has one double and one RBI.
- Jedd Gyorko has an OPS of .950. He has two HRs and two RBI.
- Jack Flaherty has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 1.00.
- John Gant has an ERA of 1.69 and a WHIP of 0.75.
- Austin Gomber has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 1.17.
- Brett Cecil has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.00
- Dakota Hudson has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 1.50.
Over the past seven games (does not contain recent Sunday game results):
- Yadier Molina has an OPS of .369.
- Greg Garcia has an OPS of .445.
- Matt Carpenter has an OPS of .594.
- Mike Mayers has an ERA of 7.36 and a WHIP of 1.36.
- Bud Norris has an ERA of 6.75 and a WHIP of 1.88.
- Jordan Hicks has an ERA of 6.00 and a WHIP of 1.67.
- Daniel Poncedeleon has an ERA of 6.00 and a WHIP of 1.33.
A Look at Cardinals Lineups
The lineups over the last seven games (does not contain recent Sunday game):
- The leadoff hitter has been Matt Carpenter.
- The number two hitter has been Yadier Molina.
- The number three hitter has been Jose Martinez for five games and Tyler O’Neill for two games.
- The cleanup hitter has been Marcell Ozuna.
- The fifth hitter has been Paul DeJong.
- The sixth hitter has been Gyorko for six games, and Kolten Wong for one game.
- The seventh hitter has been Harrison Bader for four games, Wong for two games, and Greg Garcia for one game.
- The eighth hitter has been Wong for three games, Bader for three games, and Garcia for one game.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
- 8/13 The Cardinals sent RHP Adam Wainwright on a rehab assignment to the Palm Beach Cardinals
- 8/14 The Cardinals activated OF Tyler O’Neill from the 10 day disabled list.
- 8/14 The Cardinals optioned OF Adolis Garcia to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 8/15 The Cardinals activated LHP Brett Cecil from the 10 day disabled list.
- 8/15 The Cardinals optioned LHP Tyler Webb to the Memphis Redbirds
- 8/17 The Cardinals sent RHP Carlos Martinez on a rehab assignment to the Springfield Cardinals.
- 8/18 The Cardinals sent RHP John Brebbia on a rehab assignment to the Memphis Redbirds
- 8/18 The Cardinals sent RHP Michael Wacha on a rehab assignment to the Palm Beach Cardinals.
- 8/18 The Cardinals sent IF/OF Yairo Munoz on a rehab assignment to the Springfield Cardinals.
- 8/19 The Cardinals sent RHP Adam Wainwright on a rehab assignment to the Springfield Cardinals.
- RHP Dominic Leone (right upper arm nerve irritation) was transferred from the 10 day DL to the 60 day DL. Leone was sent on a rehab assignment to Memphis on August 1.
- RHP Alex Reyes (right lat strain) had surgery on June 6 to reattach a tendon in his right lat. The right hander was transferred from the 10 day DL to the 60 day DL. Reyes is expected to be out for the remainder of the season.
- RHP Adam Wainwright (right elbow inflammation) continues on the 60 day DL. Wainwright was sent on a rehab assignment to the Palm Beach Cardinals and then to the Springfield Cardinals.
- RHP Michael Wacha (left oblique strain) continues on the 10 day DL. Wacha was sent on a rehab assignment to the Palm Beach Cardinals on August 18.
- RHP Carlos Martinez (right shoulder strain) continues on the 10 day DL. Martinez was sent on a rehab assignment to the Springfield Cardinals last week. He is set to go to the bullpen for the remainder of the season when he returns to the roster.
- RHP Luke Gregerson (right shoulder impingement) was transferred from the 10 day DL to the 60 day DL on August 11.
- OF Dexter Fowler (fractured left foot) continues on the 10 day DL. The outfielder is expected to be in a walking boot for at least a month. Fowler may return to the roster late in September.
- RHP John Brebbia was placed on the 10 day DL on August 9 retroactive to August 6 with right forearm tightness. Brebbia had originally been optioned to Memphis, but the optional assignment was voided and the pitcher was placed on the DL. Brebbia was sent on a rehab assignment to the Redbirds on August 18.
- IF/OF Yairo Munoz was placed on the 10 day DL on August 11 with a right wrist strain. Munoz was sent on a rehab assignment to the Springfield Cardinals on August 18.
- OF/1B Jose Martinez has been out of the lineup for the last two games due to right hip tightness. He is considered day to day.
- 2B Kolten Wong was hit in the elbow by a pickoff throw in Saturday’s game. Wong was out of the lineup on August 19. X-rays of the elbow were negative. Wong is considered day to day.
The Cardinals began a road trip to the West following Sunday’s game. A three game series with Dodgers opens on Monday night. Austin Gomber is set to make the Monday start, followed by Daniel Poncedeleon on Tuesday, and Jack Flaherty on Wednesday.
After a travel day on Thursday, the Cardinals take on the Rockies in Colorado for a weekend series. Miles Mikolas is scheduled to make the start on Friday. No pitchers have been announced for the remainder of the series. Those pitchers may be contingent on the possible return of Michael Wacha from his rehab assignment.
Following the Rockies series, the Cardinals will have an off day next Monday, and return home to play the Pirates in a three-game series. The homestand will continue with a weekend series against the Reds.
The next road trip takes the Redbirds to Washington, D.C. for a three-game set with the Nationals. Following a Thursday travel day, the Cardinals meet the Tigers in Detroit for a weekend interleague series.
The Cardinals then return home to take on the Pirates again in a three-game series. A four-game series at home against the Dodgers follows.
St. Louis’ regular season schedule can be found here.
Blast from the Past
The Cardinals took three of four from the Nationals at Busch Stadium last week. Playing the Nationals always makes this author reminisce about the 2012 National League Division Series, in which the Cardinals stole Game 5 from the Nats to move on to the NLCS.
The 2012 Cardinals finished with an 88-74 record and earned a wild card spot. St. Louis played the Braves in the wild card game, a wild and crazy game that is likely the subject of a future Blast from the Past. The Cardinals won to advance to the NLDS against the Nationals.
The first two games were played in Busch Stadium. The Nationals took the first game 3-2. The Cardinals roared back in Game 2, pummeling the Nats 12-4 behind Carlos Beltran’s two home runs.
The series then moved to Washington, where the Cardinals blanked the Nats 8-0 in Game 3. Chris Carpenter was the winning pitcher in only his fourth start since coming back from Thoracic Outlet surgery. Perennial whipping boy Pete Kozma hit a three-run home run. The Nationals just edged out the Redbirds in Game 4 by the score of 2-1.
The series went to Game 5, also at Nationals Park. That was a year in which the NLDS went 2-3 instead of 2-2-1 due to the addition of a second wild card that year. Adam Wainwright had a terrible start, giving up six Nationals runs in three innings. Things were looking bleak for the Cardinals, but those Redbirds refused to give in to what everyone thought was a sure win for the Nats. Down 6-0 going into the fourth inning, the Cardinals began chipping away. Matt Holliday doubled to bring in a run in the fourth. A wild pitch and a walk to Allen Craig added two more runs in the fifth. Matt Holliday grounded out to bring in a run in the seventh. The score now stood at 6-4.
The Cardinals made it 6-5 in the top of the eighth when Daniel Descalso hit a solo home run off Tyler Clippard. The Nats added a run in the bottom of the eighth to make it 7-5.
The Nats sent out closer Drew Storen in the top of the ninth. Storen gave up a leadoff double to Carlos Beltran. Matt Holliday grounded out and Allen Craig struck out. The Nationals were one out away from their first NLCS. Storen then walked Yadier Molina, then walked David Freese. With the bases juiced, Daniel Descalso hit a single that scored Beltran and pinch runner Adron Chambers to tie the game at 7-7. Descalso stole second base, and up came Pete Kozma, who had the three-run home run in Game 3. Kozma singled to score Freese and Descalso to make it 9-7. Jason Motte pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, and the Cardinals celebrated while Nats fans looked on in horror and disbelief.
Kozma was booed by Nationals fans for the remainder of his Cardinals’ career and beyond.
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