photo: Paul DeJong (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)
The St. Louis Cardinals are just 3-6-1 on the spring, with pitching and hitting in the middle of the MLB pack. A number of pitchers are performing well, with Paul DeJong leading the offense. Our history feature highlights a trio of leap year day-born Cardinals.
Spring training game recaps
The Cardinals fell to the Marlins on Monday by the score of 6-3. John Gant took the mound to begin the game and pitched two innings, giving up one unearned run following his error on a pickoff attempt. Gant was followed by Ryan Helsley, Junior Fernandez, Zack Thompson, Matthew Liberatore, Bryan Dobzanski, and Kodi Whitley. Liberatore had a rough first spring outing, giving up five runs on three hits.
St. Louis’ initial runs were produced in the second by an RBI single from Rangel Ravelo and a force out RBI by John Nogowski. Nogowski drove in his second run on a single in the fifth. Ravelo had an outfield assist.
Lane Thomas was picked off first base.
The Cardinals were outhit by the Nationals 16 to seven in a three-run home loss on Tuesday. The Redbirds scored six runs, five of which came via the long ball. Paul DeJong blasted a three-run shot in the third inning, and Yairo Munoz thumped a two-run blast in the fifth. DeJong also plated a run on a sac fly in the first, for a total of four RBI on the day.
Austin Gomber made his first spring start, going two innings and giving up one run on three hits. Pitching in relief were Seth Elledge, Alex Reyes, Roel Ramirez, Brett Cecil, Tommy Parsons, Johann Oviedo, and Alex FaGalde. Elledge, Reyes, and Cecil were charged with two runs each.
The Cardinals defeated the Astros in one of two split squad games on Wednesday. The Astros were also playing split squads. Genesis Cabrera started and spun two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and fanning two. Cabrera was succeeded by Angel Rondon, Ramon Santos, Griffin Roberts, Jesus Cruz, Nabil Crismatt, and Bryan Dobzanski. Rondon yielded three runs in his two innings pitched.
Home runs by Lane Thomas and Justin Williams contributed three of the Cardinals’ seven runs. Thomas hit a two run shot, while Williams’ was a solo shot, both in the second inning. Williams also had an RBI on a bases loaded walk in the fifth. Singles by Brad Miller and Ivan Herrera drove in three more in the fifth.
In the other split squad contest, the Cardinals were edged 8-7 by the Marlins in their shared stadium in Jupiter. Nolan Gorman had a good day at the plate, driving in runs on a force out with an error in the second inning, a double in the sixth, and a single in the seventh. A third inning force out off the bat of Edmundo Sosa brought home a run, as did a Yairo Munoz single in the fifth, and a Dennis Ortega single in the sixth.
Kwang-Hyun Kim got the start and he pitched two scoreless, hitless innings, striking out three. John Brebbia, Tyler Webb, Giovanny Gallegos, Rob Kaminsky, Ricardo Sanchez, and Akeem Bostick followed. Gallegos and Sanchez yielded three runs apiece.
The Cardinals took a bus ride to the Gulf Coast to take on the Braves at their new stadium in North Port. Jack Flaherty got the start, pitching 2 2/3 innings and giving up one run on two hits while walking two, and striking out one. Relievers were Alex FaGalde, Dakota Hudson, Roel Ramirez, Junior Fernandez, and Kodi Whitley. Hudson surrendered two runs in his 2 2/3 innings.
The only Redbirds run came on a double by Yairo Munoz, who also stole his first base of the spring. Lane Thomas was caught stealing for the second time. Nolan Gorman committed a fielding error and Max Schrock made a throwing miscue.
The Cardinals suffered a one run loss to the Mets in Port St. Lucie on Friday. Solo home runs by Paul Goldschmidt and Austin Dean were the Redbirds’ only scores. Harrison Bader went 2-for-4 and was the only Cardinal with multiple hits.
Adam Wainwright took the mound and pitched three innings. The right hander was charged with one run on four hits, walking one and fanning two. Daniel Ponce de Leon, Andrew Miller, and Alex Reyes followed. Miller and Reyes each surrendered a run.
St. Louis beat the visiting Nationals in Jupiter on Saturday. Carlos Martinez got the start and pitched three scoreless innings with no hits, three walks and four strikeouts. Tyler Webb and Ryan Helsley followed with three scoreless innings, one from Webb and two from Helsley. Jake Woodford gave up all three Nationals runs in his two innings of work. Giovanny Gallegos tossed a scoreless ninth.
Paul DeJong hit a solo home run in the second inning to get the Cardinals on the board. In the fifth, John Nogowski plated a run on a single, as did Tommy Edman. Edman got his second RBI with a single in the seventh. One run in the seventh scored on a fielding error, and Andrew Knizner plated a run on a sac fly.
Kolten Wong was caught stealing.
The Cardinals took a tough loss to the Astros on Sunday in Palm Beach. The Cardinals were leading 3-0 through the fifth inning on home runs by Paul DeJong (two run shot) and Tyler O’Neill (solo shot). The Astros tied it in the sixth with three runs on a triple and a wild pitch. Dennis Ortega gave the Cardinals the lead back in the top of the ninth with a solo home run, but the Astros took advantage of Cardinal pitching issuing too many free passes in the bottom of the ninth to win.
Austin Gomber made the start and he pitched three scoreless innings, allowing one hit, and striking out four. John Gant followed and gave up three runs in 2 2/3 innings pitched. Jesus Cruz, Junior Fernandez, and Kodi Whitley combined for 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Rob Kaminsky started the ninth and issued four walks and got two outs. Nabil Crismatt pitched to one batter and issued a walk that scored the winning run. Two runs scored in the final inning, both charged to Kaminsky.
Tyler O’Neill was caught stealing.
The Big Picture
The Cardinals are 3-6-1 through their first 10 games of the spring and their team stats have them in the middle of the MLB pack. Across the 30 teams, St. Louis is 19th in batting average at .245 and 16th in OPS at .764. Team pitching ranks 14th in ERA at 4.57.
Offensively, Paul DeJong is the early leader with three home runs and seven RBI to go with a .545 average and a 1.993 OPS. Dylan Carlson is batting .500, Yairo Muñoz is hitting .375, with Brad Miller and Tyler O’Neill at .300 each. The latter has two long balls. Muñoz four RBI is second-highest on the team.
Pitchers with at least three mound innings who are unscored upon include Genesis Cabrera, Junior Fernandez, Kwang-Hyun Kim, Ryan Helsley, Kodi Whitley and Daniel Ponce de Leon. Austin Gomber and Jack Flaherty have ERAs under 2.00.
On the struggler’s end, Brett Cecil, Giovanny Gallegos and Alex Reyes are off to tough early starts. Among the hitters at or below the Mendoza line are Edmundo Sosa, Tommy Edman, Andrew Knizner, Paul Goldschmidt, Austin Dean and Dexter Fowler.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
There are no transactions to report.
- RHP Miles Mikolas (right flexor tendon) had a second PRP injection in his right arm to battle a recurrence of inflammation in his right flexor tendon. The latest update is that Mikolas will not be ready to start the season and will likely be out until mid-April.
- 3B Matt Carpenter has been held out of games for the last several days due to back tightness. Carpenter is considered day to day and will likely return to spring games this coming week.
- IF Brad Miller was a late scratch from the lineup in Sunday’s game against the Astros, due to lower back stiffness. Manager Mike Shildt estimates Miller will be unavailable for at least three days, according to Goold.
- IF Yairo Munoz injured his left hamstring running to first base in Saturday’s game. It is reported to be a hamstring strain. Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch reported that Munoz’ availability for Opening Day is doubtful.
The Cardinals begin the second full week of Grapefruit League play on Monday, as the Minnesota Twins travel to Jupiter. Kwan-Hyun Kim is scheduled to start. Following his three innings/50 pitches are scheduled to be Genesis Cabrera (3/50), Brett Cecil (1/25), Andrew Miller (1/25) and John Brebbia (1/25).
The Cardinals will play the Astros again on Tuesday in Jupiter. The team travels to Port St. Lucie on Wednesday to take on the Mets. A Redbirds split squad plays the Mets again on Thursday at Roger Dean Stadium while the second squad takes on the Nationals in Palm Beach.
The Cardinals will take Friday off. On Saturday, the Astros return to Jupiter, and on Sunday the Cardinals (as the home team) take on their stadium mates the Marlins.
The full spring training game broadcast schedule can be found at TCN here.
Blast from the Past
This week’s Blast from the Past takes a brief detour away from the series on Cardinal nicknames to commemorate an event that doesn’t occur every year. Leap year comes every fourth year when the month of February has 29 days instead of 28. 14 major league players were born on Leap Day. This segment looks at two Cardinals in franchise history who have February 29 birthdays (one with a nickname) and one sort of Cardinal also born on Leap Day.
Pepper Martin is the longest tenured of the Leap Day Cardinals. Born Johnny Leonard Roosevelt Martin on February 29, 1904 in Temple Oklahoma, Martin played 13 non-consecutive seasons for St. Louis. The origin of Martin’s nickname “Pepper” is unclear, though he may have first been called that by the owner of the minor league team in Fort Smith where he played in 1925.
He made his major league debut with the Cardinals on April 16, 1928. Martin played in 39 games that year and made one appearance as a pinch runner in the 1928 World Series. The Cardinals were swept in four games by the Yankees.
Martin was sent back down to the minor leagues. Martin appeared in six games for St. Louis in 1930 but had only one plate appearance. Martin returned in 1931 and stayed, playing with the notorious “Gas House Gang” through the remainder of the decade. Pepper led the league in runs scored in 1932, and in stolen bases in 1933, 1934, and 1936. Martin’s rough style of play took a toll on his body, and in 1940 he was sent to the minor leagues as player-manager of Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League.
Martin returned to the Cardinals in 1944 at the age of 40 because of a player shortage due to World War II. He played in 40 games that year and helped the Cardinals clinch the National League Pennant, but he did not play in the World Series.
Martin passed away on March 5, 1965 at the age of 61. He was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame in 2017.
The second Cardinal born on Leap Day was Roy Parker, who was born in Union, Missouri on February 29, 1896. Parker played for the Cardinals in only two games in September of 1919, following his service in World War I. Parker was a pitcher, and he tossed only two innings in those two games, in which he gave up seven earned runs in total for a major league ERA of 31.50.
Finally, Richard J. Pearce, known as “Dickey” was born on February 29, 1836 in Brooklyn, New York. Pearce played professional baseball for 22 years, beginning with the Brooklyn Athletics in 1856. Pearce may have been the first baseball player to earn money for playing the game. He is credited with pioneering the position of shortstop. He also invented the bunt, called the “tricky hit”.
Pearce played from 1875-1877 for the St. Louis Brown Stockings. The Brown Stockings were basically the forerunner of the Cardinals. The original Brown Stockings went bankrupt in 1877, but a few of the former players convinced St. Louis merchant Chris von der Ahe to buy the team in 1881. The team and five others became the American Association. The Brown Stockings became the Browns, who became the Perfectos in 1899 and ultimately the Cardinals in 1900. The Browns moved to the National League in 1892 and it is from that year that current ownership recognizes the beginning of the Cardinals.
So, Pearce was only “sort of” a Cardinal, playing for a predecessor of today’s Cardinals. Pearce passed away on September 18, 1908 in Wareham, Massachusetts at the age of 72. He didn’t start, but finished, his professional baseball career in St. Louis.
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