St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of August 26-September 1

photo: Harrison Bader (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals won both home series on the week, going 5-2, and opened up a three-game lead in the NL Central. CF Harrison Bader has performed well offensively and defensively since his return. Our weekly history feature looks back at the uncommon back-to-back Cardinals double-header.


Game recaps

Monday, August 26 – Cardinals 12, Brewers 2

John Gant (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The Cardinals manhandled the Milwaukee Brewers in the first of a three-game series at Busch Stadium.  St. Louis scored three runs via the long ball, a solo shot by Yadier Molina in the fourth, and a two-run home run by Paul DeJong in the sixth.  Molina also plated a run in the first inning on a single and DeJong added a sac fly in the eighth.  In the second inning, St. Louis put six runs on the board.  The lineup batted around beginning with Harrison Bader who singled.  Fowler singled to score Bader.  Marcell Ozuna plated three on a double, and Bader hit a ground rule double to drive in two more.  Tommy Edman went 3-for-6.  Fowler, Ozuna, and Bader were 2-for-5.  Molina was 2-for-4.

Starter Adam Wainwright pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up two runs on six hits.  John Gant tossed two scoreless innings of relief and earned the win.  Dominic Leone followed with 1 2/3 scoreless innings, Andrew Miller pitched one scoreless frame before Carlos Martinez got the last out of the ninth.


Tuesday, August 27 – Cardinals 6, Brewers 3

Yadier Molina (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

In Game 2, the Cardinals took the series with a 6-3 win over the Brewers.  Molina hit his second and third home runs of the series, a solo home run in the fifth, and a two-run shot in the seventh.  Molina went 3-for-3 in the game.  Kolten Wong doubled to drive in a run in the seventh and plated a second run on a single in the ninth.   Harrison Bader was 3-for-4 with an RBI double in the ninth.  Marcell Ozuna was 2-for-4.

Starter Miles Mikolas pitched six innings and gave up one run on four hits.  The right hander fanned 10.  Giovanny Gallegos surrendered one in the seventh.  Andrew Miller allowed one run in the eighth and got one out; he was relieved in the eighth by Carlos Martinez, who tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings to earn his 16th save.  Mikolas earned his eighth win.

On the base paths, Wong stole his 18th base.  Dexter Fowler was caught stealing for the third time.


Wednesday, August 28 – Cardinals 1, Brewers 4

The Cardinals were unable to complete the sweep as they lost to the Brewers, 4-1.  Starter Jack Flaherty pitched six innings and gave up three runs, two earned, on five hits.  The right hander struck out seven and walked one.  John Brebbia tossed a scoreless seventh.  Tyler Webb surrendered one run in the eighth, and left with two outs for Dominic Leone, who got the final out of the inning.  Flaherty took the loss.

The Cardinals scoring came on a solo home run by Kolten Wong in the sixth inning.  Wong went 3-for-4.  Yadier Molina was 2-for-4.

Paul Goldschmidt stole his second base of the season.


Thursday, August 29 – Off day


Friday, August 30 – Cardinals, Reds (postponed)

The opener of the four-game series with the Reds at Busch Stadium was rained out on Friday night.  The game was made up as part of a doubleheader on Sunday, as a doubleheader was already previously scheduled on Saturday to make up a previously rained out game from back in June.


Saturday, August 31 – Cardinals 10, Reds 2 (Game 1 doubleheader)

Dakota Hudson (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

In the first of a twin bill, the Cardinals battered the Reds by the score of 10-2.   Solo home runs by Dexter Fowler and Yadier Molina highlighted a 10 run, 12 hit offense.  Fowler went 3-for-5.  Molina and Paul Goldschmidt were 2-for-4 and Kolten Wong was 2-for-3.  Molina, Wong and Goldschmidt each had two RBI.

Starter Dakota Hudson pitched 7 2/3 innings and gave up two runs on four hits.  The right hander fanned eight and walked two.  John Brebbia relieved in the eighth but surrendered a run without recording an out.  Giovanny Gallegos got the final two outs of the inning.  Carlos Martinez pitched a scoreless ninth.

Wong stole his 19th base of the season. Fowler was caught stealing for the fourth time.


Saturday, August 31 – Cardinals 3, Reds 2 (Game 2 doubleheader)

Michael Wacha (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

In the second game of the twin bill, the Cardinals claimed a ninth-inning walk off win.  St. Louis fell behind 2-0 and was held scoreless until the seventh inning, when Dexter Fowler had an RBI single.  In the bottom of the ninth, with the Cards behind 2-1, Harrison Bader singled to left to score the tying run.  Pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter singled to right to score Bader for the walk off 3-2 win.  Tommy Edman went 3-for-4 and Dexter Fowler was 2-for-4.

Starter Michael Wacha pitched seven innings and gave up two runs on three hits.  The right hander struck out seven and walked two.  Dominic Leone and Tyler Webb combined to pitch a scoreless eighth.  John Gant tossed a quiet ninth to earn the win.

Marcell Ozuna made a fielding error.


Sunday, Sept 1 – Cardinals 4, Reds 3 (Game 1 doubleheader)

Harrison Bader (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The Cardinals began the second doubleheader of the weekend with a 4-3 walk off win against the Reds.  St. Louis scored first when Harrison Bader reached on a missed catch error that scored Yadier Molina.  The Reds took a 3-1 lead in the third.  The Cardinals didn’t score again until the seventh when Bader singled to bring in Jose Martinez.  They added a run to tie on a sac fly by Paul DeJong in the eighth.  In the ninth, Bader faced an extreme Reds shift of five infielders and two outfielders and hit a fly ball over the head of the center fielder to score the walk off run.  Bader and Yadier Molina were each 2-for-4.

Starter Miles Mikolas pitched six innings and gave up three runs on four hits.  The right hander struck out five. Ryan Helsley tossed two scoreless innings of relief.  Carlos Martinez struck out the side in the ninth and was the winning pitcher.

Jose Martinez and Tommy Edman each stole a base.


Sunday, Sept 1 – Cardinals 3, Reds 5 (Game 2 doubleheader)

The Cardinals were unable to complete the four-game back-to-back doubleheader sweep against the Reds.  The Redbirds scored all three of their runs in the third on a two-run home run by Andrew Knizner and an RBI triple by Kolten Wong.  Wong went 3-for-4.

Starter Daniel Ponce de Leon pitched four innings and gave up four runs, three earned, on five hits.  The right hander struck out two and walked one. Dominic Leone tossed a scoreless fifth.  Mike Mayers surrendered one run in two innings of relief.  Junior Fernandez and John Brebbia combined for the final two scoreless innings.

Knizner committed a fielding error.  Harrison Bader had an outfield assist at home plate.


The Big Picture

St. Louis finished the week with a record of 5-2, winning 2 of 3 from the Brewers and taking 3 of 4 from the Reds in back to back doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday. Their 18 wins in August tied April for the most in any month this season.

Kolten Wong (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

As the Cardinals continue to win, this week they did so without significant contributions from their middle of the order bats.  Paul Goldschmidt, Marcell Ozuna, and Paul DeJong were all cold at the plate for the week with OPS’s of .569, .603, and .715 respectively.  Yadier Molina, Tommy Edman, Dexter Fowler, and Harrison Bader were hot.  Kolten Wong hit well in limited appearances coming off a toe injury.  Matt Carpenter had some good moments, including the walk off hit in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader.

Cardinals fans enjoyed some top notch defense from Bader this week.  A diving catch in center on a Freddy Galvis fly ball in the second game of Saturday’s twin bill was dazzling.  Bader also threw a bullet to home plate to get Michael Lorenzen out at home in Sunday’s second game.  The defense remains a plus, with the exception of an outfield start from Jose Martinez on Sunday, whose poor defense continues to be an issue.

The starting pitching remained good, with the exception of Daniel Ponce de Leon on Sunday, who struggled a bit.  The bullpen remains one of the best in the NL.  Baserunning also continues to be exceptional.

The Cardinals received reinforcements on Sunday with rosters expanding.  The Cardinals called up Ponce de Leon, as well as relievers Junior Fernandez, Genesis Cabrera, and Mike Mayers.  Rangel Ravelo, and catchers Andrew Knizner and Joe Hudson were also added.  At least two more position players are expected on Tuesday, infielder Edmundo Sosa and outfielder Randy Arozarena.  Knizner and Ravelo have already made appearances, as well as pitchers Fernandez and Mayers.

The Cardinals play a four game series at Busch against the Giants to begin the week, then travel to Pittsburgh to play the Pirates over the weekend.  These series present a good opportunity to widen the lead on the Cubs – if the team can continue to play well and get better offense out of their middle of the order bats.


NL Central Standings

Team W L Pct GB
St. Louis 76 60 0.559
Chicago 73 63 0.537 3
Milwaukee 70 66 0.515 6
Cincinnati 64 73 0.467 12.5
Pittsburgh 60 77 0.438 16.5

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.


Transactions 

  • 8/26 The Cardinals sent OF Tyler O’Neill on a rehab assignment to the Springfield Cardinals.
  • 8/26 The Cardinals sent RF Jose Martinez on a rehab assignment to the Springfield Cardinals.
  • 8/28 The Cardinals released INF Drew Robinson.
  • 8/30 The Cardinals activated OF Tyler O’Neill from the 10 day injured list.
  • 8/30 The Cardinals placed OF Lane Thomas on the 10 day injured list retroactive to August 28. Right wrist fracture.
  • 8/31 The Cardinals recalled LHP Genesis Cabrera from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 9/1 The Cardinals transferred OF Lane Thomas from the 10 day injured list to the 60 day injured list. Right wrist fractureR
  • 9/1 The Cardinals activated OF Jose Martinez from the 10 day injured list.
  • 9/1 The Cardinals selected the contract of RHP Mike Mayers from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 9/1 The Cardinals selected the contract of C Joe Hudson from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 9/1 The Cardinals recalled C Andrew Knizner from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 9/1 The Cardinals recalled RHP Junior Fernandez from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 9/1 The Cardinals recalled 1B Rangel Ravelo from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 9/1 The Cardinals recalled RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon from the Memphis Redbirds.

Injury Report

  • LHP Brett Cecil (carpal tunnel syndrome left wrist) continues on the 60 day injured list. Cecil had begun a throwing program but had a setback.  He will not return to the roster this season. Neither will injured starters Austin Gomber and Alex Reyes, currently assigned to the minor leagues.
  • RHP Jordan Hicks (torn right UCL) underwent Tommy John surgery on June 26 and is out for the rest of the season.
  • LHP Tony Cingrani (left shoulder labrum surgery) was acquired in a trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 31. Cingrani is out for the season and will become a free agent at the end of the season.  Cingrani will likely never throw a pitch for the Cardinals.
  • OF Lane Thomas (right wrist) was placed on the 10 day injured list retroactive to August 28 for a right wrist fracture suffered when he was hit by a pitch. Thomas was transferred to the 60 day injured list on Sept 1 to make room on the roster for C Joe Hudson.  Thomas is out for the season.
  • C Matt Wieters (left calf) suffered a mild calf strain running the bases in the second game of a doubleheader on Saturday. Wieters is considered day to day but the Cardinals recalled two catchers on Sunday, so it is expected Wieters may be unavailable for some time.


Looking Ahead

The Giants come to Busch Stadium for a four-game series beginning Labor Day afternoon.  Adam Wainwright is scheduled to make the Monday start, followed by Jack Flaherty on Tuesday.  No pitchers for Wednesday and Thursday have been announced but will likely be Dakota Hudson and Michael Wacha.  The Cardinals then travel to Pittsburgh to play the Pirates in a weekend series starting Sept 6.

After a travel day on Monday, Sept 9, the Cardinals begin a three-game set in Denver with the Rockies.  The team leaves Colorado and return home for a weekend series again with the Brewers.

On September 16, the Nationals come to Busch Stadium for three games.  The Cardinals then travel to Chicago to play the Cubs in a four-game series beginning Sept. 19.

The Cardinals’ regular season schedule can be viewed here.


Blast from the Past

The Cardinals’ schedule this past week worked out such that the team was forced to play doubleheaders on back to back days against the Cincinnati Reds.  A prior rained out game from June had already been scheduled as part of a doubleheader on Saturday.  The day before, a night of storms in St. Louis forced the rescheduling of that game with the Reds.  Because this was the last scheduled series with the Reds, the Friday game had to be played as part of a doubleheader with Sunday’s regularly scheduled game.  That meant doubleheaders on back to back days.

Double headers in today’s game are an uncommon phenomena.  They do happen occasionally, but they generally tend to be avoided unless necessary.  Doubleheaders on back to back days are even rarer. However, in the early days of baseball, the twin bill was quite common.  Changes in the game, the players, the number of games, financials and other factors have made doubleheaders more or less a thing of the past.

This week’s Blast from Past looks at some back to back doubleheaders in St. Louis’ more recent, and distant past.

Omar Oliveras

Prior to this weekend’s set of doubleheaders, the last time the Cardinals played home twin bills on back to back days was in 1994.  On Thursday July 21 and Friday July 22, the Cardinals had doubleheaders in St. Louis against the Atlanta Braves.  The first game began at 5:37 pm local time and was a 6-3 victory for the Cardinals.  The game featured starting pitcher Omar Olivares against John Smoltz for the Braves.  Olivares, an appropriate choice wearing “00”,  pitched a complete game, while giving up three runs on three hits, striking out two and walking five.  Smoltz went six innings, gave up six runs on 11 hits, struck out four and walked one.

Bryan Eversgerd (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The second game of the twin bill began at 8:38 pm local time and was a 6-1 win for the Braves.  That game featured John Frascatore for St. Louis against Greg Maddux for Atlanta.  Maddux pitched a complete game, while Frascatore went only 3 1/3 innings.  Frasacatore was relieved by Bryan Eversgerd, who most fans today recognize as the Cardinals’ bullpen coach.

The twin bill on July 22 featured Tom Urbani vs. Kent Mercker and was a 5-0 Cardinal win.  The second game was Rick Sutcliffe against Brad Woodall, a 3-2 St. Louis victory.

Bob Forsch

On July 7 and 8, 1987, the Cardinals played back to back doubleheaders in St. Louis against the Dodgers.  The Cardinals won all four games, 5-4 and 5-4 on July 7, and 6-3, 8-7 on July 8.  The second game on both days went 10 innings.  The opener on July 8 featured future Cardinals Hall of Famer Bob Forsch against Fernando Valenzuela.  The first game on July 7 was started by none other than current Cardinal broadcaster Rick Horton, in one of his rare starts as a Cardinal (he was mostly a reliever in his career).

If one goes back far in franchise history, to 1924, you will find two sets of back-to-back doubleheaders against the Cincinnati Reds.  The first occurred on May 27 and 28, and the second on June 27 and 28.  The Cardinals split the games 2-2 in May but lost all four in June.  There were many other back to back twin bills that year, and no doubt if you searched you would find many, many others back in those days.  There were four other such instances in 1924 alone.

The doubleheader is not what it once was in terms of frequency, though you may find some of a nostalgic bent who believe they ought to occur more often.  In the words of Ernie Banks, “Let’s play two” has its fans still throughout baseball.


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