St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook: Week of February 26-March 4

photo: Yairo Munoz (Scott Rovak/USA TODAY Sports)

Spring Training game recaps

Monday, February 26 – Cardinals 4 at Twins 5

Michael Wacha (USA TODAY Sports Images)

The Redbirds were edged by the Twins in Fort Myers in the first of a three game road trip to the Gulf Coast of Florida.  Michael Wacha made his 2018 Grapefruit League debut, pitching two scoreless innings.  Following Wacha was Dakota Hudson, Matt Bowman, Jordan Schafer, Josh Lucas, Connor Greene, and Ryan Sherriff.  Hudson gave up one run in his one inning of work.  Schafer surrendered two more runs, as did Greene, who was charged with a blown save and took the loss.

Designated hitter Rangel Ravelo was 2-for-4 with two RBI.   Carson Kelly also drove in a run on a sixth inning double, and Adolis Garcia plated a run on a fifth inning single.

Tyler O’Neill and Oscar Mercado stole bases, with Mercado swiping both second and third base.  Kelly made an error on a pickoff attempt and also had a passed ball.  Garcia had an outfield assist, throwing a runner out at home.

Tuesday, February 27 – Cardinals 6 at Red Sox 1

The Cardinals fared better against the Red Sox in the second game of the road trip.  Four of St. Louis’ runs scored without benefit of a hit.  A throwing error brought two home, another scored on a sac fly, and a fourth on a ground ball.  Andrew Knizner hit a solo home run and Yairo Munoz drove in a run to cap off a 3-for-5 day.

Munoz stole a base, as did Kolten Wong.  Wong also committed a fielding error.

Starter Luke Weaver pitched two innings and gave up one run on one hit.  Austin Gomber, Dominic Leone, Derian Gonzalez, Sean Gilmartin, Jake Woodford, and Sam Tuivailala composed the relief squad.  The relievers all put up a zero in the runs allowed column.

Wednesday, February 28 – Cardinals 10 at Orioles 9

Wilfredo Tovar (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The final game on the left coast was memorable, featuring a St. Louis comeback from an eight-run deficit in the later innings.  A grand slam given up by Jack Flaherty put the Orioles up by four runs in the third.  Flaherty left after the slam and John Brebbia got the three outs to end the inning.  Following Brebbia were Jason Motte, Daniel Poncedeleon, John Gant, Hector Mendoza, and Matt Bowman.  Poncedeleon gave up four more Orioles runs on back to back home runs.  Gant surrendered the final run but picked up the win.

Yairo Munoz was the highlight reel offensive player of the game. Munoz drove in four – three on two home runs and another on an RBI single.  Wilfredo Tovar plated three on a bases clearing double.  Two singles by Alex Mejia brought two runs home.

Harrison Bader stole second base.

Thursday, March 1 – Cardinals 3, Twins 3

Oscar Mercado (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Cardinals took on the Twins again back in Jupiter.  The game ended in the first tie of the Spring.  Oscar Mercado was perfect 3-for-3 with one run driven in.  Randy Arozarena went 2-for-4.  Marcell Ozuna hit his first home run as a Cardinal, a second inning solo shot.

Mercado stole his third base of the Spring.  Jose Martinez was thrown out at home on an attempted double steal.

Adam Wainwright made his first start of the Spring, pitching two scoreless innings.  Following in relief were Ryan Helsley, Tyler Lyons, Josh Lucas, Connor Greene, and Ryan Sheriff.  Helsley gave up one run, while Lyons surrendered two and was charged with a blown save.

Friday, March 2 – Cardinals 6, Red Sox 9

Harrison Bader (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Red Sox followed the Twins to Jupiter on Friday.  Carlos Martinez was scheduled to start but was scratched for personal reasons.  Bud Norris made the start in his place.  Norris gave up five runs in 2 1/3 innings and had to leave in the third due to hamstring spasms.  Sean Gilmartin pitched 2 2/3 innings, surrendering three additional runs.  Next came John Brebbia, Derian Gonzalez, Dominic Leone, and Sam Tuivailala.  Gonzalez gave up the final Red Sox run.  Norris took the loss.

Tommy Pham was 2-for-3 with a triple and an RBI.  Paul DeJong was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI, and Harrison Bader was 3-for-4 with a double and a run driven in.  Also plating runs were Kolten Wong and Edmundo Sosa.

Wong stole his third base of the Spring, and Pham was caught stealing for the first time.  Yairo Munoz made a throwing error and Bader had an outfield assist.

Saturday, March 3 – Cardinals 2 at Braves 9

Jedd Gyorko (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Redbirds traveled north to Disney World to play the Braves.  The Braves took control early and never relinquished it.   Miles Mikolas had an indifferent start, giving up four runs in three innings to take the loss.  Matt Bowman and Luke Gregerson followed with a scoreless inning each.  Jason Motte pitched the sixth and gave up five runs before being replaced with one out by Mike Mayers.  Mayers handled the remainder of the game without surrendering additional runs.

Coming off having been out with a sore wrist, Jedd Gyorko started at third base and was 2-for-3 with an RBI.  Pinch hitter and replacement second sacker Tommy Edman was 2-for-2.  Jose Martinez plated a run on a double.

Yadier Molina made a throwing error.

Sunday, March 4 – Cardinals 1, Astros 4

The Cardinals met the World Series Champion Astros for the second time of the Spring.  Low offense kept the Cardinals to one run, which was driven in by Harrison Bader. Both he and Yairo Munoz went 2-for-4.  Munoz and Marcell Ozuna doubled for the only extra base hits of the game.

Michael Wacha made his second start of the Spring.  The right hander gave up two runs on five hits in three innings pitched and took the loss.  The relief corps was Dakota Hudson, Connor Greene, Josh Lucas, Daniel Poncedeleon, and Jake Woodford.  Greene surrendered the final two Astros runs.

Kolten Wong stole his fourth Spring base, but also committed a fielding error.  Paul DeJong made a throwing error.

Big picture

The Cardinals are 3-6-1 on the spring. Among Grapefruit League teams, the offense appears competitive, but the pitching does not. Coming into Sunday, the Cards ranked first in batting average (.279), second in OBP (.357), and third in both SLG (.429) and OPS (.787). However, the staff ERA of 6.12 is the worst in Florida, as are batting average against at .293, and WHIP (1.67).

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

In the first major moves of the spring, on Sunday, the Cardinals re-assigned seven players to their minor league camp. This reduced the number of players in camp to 56 (40 roster players and 16 non-roster players).

The seven are non-roster pitchers Hector Mendoza, Daniel Poncedeleon, Jordan Schafer and Jake Woodford, catchers Jeremy Martinez and Dennis Ortega and infielder Max Schrock. The latter has not played this spring due to an oblique injury.

Full details can be viewed at The Cardinal Nation’s Roster Matrix.

Injury Report

IF Matt Carpenter is dealing with a stiff back and has yet to play in a Grapefruit League game.  Carpenter was reported to have pulled 200 pounds of weight on a sled on Saturday as part of his rehab from the back injury.  No date for Carpenter’s first appearance in a game has been announced.

RHP Alex Reyes (Tommy John surgery) has begun Spring Training with light workouts to build up endurance.  Reyes threw a 15 pitch bullpen session on Wednesday, throwing to minor leaguers on the back fields of Roger Dean Stadium.  Reyes was expected to throw another live batting practice on Sunday. The Cardinals have set his return date for May 1.

RHP Bud Norris left Friday’s game against Boston with a left hamstring spasm.  Norris had started the game in place of Carlos Martinez, who was scratched from the start for personal reasons.  Norris is considered day to day.

OF Tyler O’Neill is suffering from an oblique strain.  O’Neill has been out of Grapefruit League play since Monday.  O’Neill is said to be still a while away from returning to play but is progressing.

RHP Arturo Reyes had been nursing an ankle injury, but is now available to pitch.

Looking Ahead

Spring Training week three begins on Monday, as the Nationals come to Jupiter to play St. Louis, with Luke Weaver scheduled to make the start.  The Cardinals remain in Jupiter as the visiting team as they take on the Marlins on Tuesday.  The Nationals return on Wednesday, then on Thursday the Cardinals again face the Marlins, this time as the home team.  The Redbirds travel to the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on Friday to play the Astros.  Another game with the Marlins comes on Saturday, with the Cardinals again the home team.  On Sunday, the Cardinals return to the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches to take on the Nationals.

Grapefruit League play will continue throughout most of March.  Spring Training information, including the schedule, can be found here.

The regular season begins on Thursday, March 29 as the Cardinals take on the Mets in New York in a four-game set.  A three-game series against the Brewers in Milwaukee follows.  St. Louis’ home opener is on Thursday, April 6 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Blast from the Past

The St. Louis Cardinals of 1974 are this week’s featured team.  1974 was the franchise’s 93rd season and its 83rd in the National League.

The Cardinals went 86-75 and finished second in the NL East, 1 ½ games back of the Pirates.  The manager was Red Schoendienst, the GM was Bing Devine, and the owner was Gussie Busch.

The Opening Day lineup was Lou Brock (LF), Ted Sizemore (2B), Reggie Smith (RF), Joe Torre (1B), Ted Simmons (C), Bake McBride (CF), Ken Reitz (3B), Mike Tyson (SS), and Bob Gibson (SP).

The longest losing streak was seven games, from July 13-19.  The longest winning streak was six games, which occurred three times, from July 27-Aug 1, Sept 1-7, and Sept 11-17.  The largest winning margin was an 11-0 defeat of the Phillies on August 4.  The worst loss was a 19-4 loss to the Cubs on Sept. 21.  Splits were 44-37 at home and 42-36 on the road.

The top starting pitcher was Lynn McGlothen, who had a record of 16-12 and an ERA of 2.69.  The best offensive performers were Smith, who hit .309/.389/.528, with 23 HRs and 100 RBI, and Simmons, who hit .272/.327/.447, with 20 HRs and 103 RBI.

Brock led the NL with 118 stolen bases.  That broke the all-time National League record of 111 bases, set by John Montgomery Ward in 1887, and also broke the modern MLB record for stolen bases in a single season, which was 104, established by Maury Wills in 1962.

McBride won the NL Rookie of the Year award.

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