photo: Jack Flaherty (Sergio Estrada/Imagn)
The St. Louis Cardinals head into the break treading water as a 3-3 week made for a 44-44 mark on the season. Jack Flaherty narrowly missed a no-hitter and instead, one mistake meant a loss to conclude the first half. Our weekly history feature uncovers a Cardinals two-game defensive lapse like no other.
Monday, July 1 – Off day
St. Louis traveled to Seattle for a three game interleague series. The first game was close, but it didn’t go the Cardinals way. St. Louis took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a solo home run by Jose Martinez. The Mariners came back in the second inning with two runs to take the lead and added two more runs in the fifth.
The Cardinals did not score again until the sixth, when Martinez again hit a solo home run. In the seventh, St. Louis knotted the score as Kolten Wong doubled, and Yairo Munoz followed with a two-run blast to left center field. Seattle was not done as they regained the lead at 5-4 in the eighth. The Cardinals were unable to respond in the ninth.
Martinez and Tyler O’Neill each had two hits.
Jack Flaherty made the start and pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits. The right hander fanned seven and walked four. Dominic Leone got the last out of the fifth and the first out of the sixth before Tyler Webb secured the next two outs. Webb returned for the seventh and retired the first two batters, then was replaced by Giovanny Gallegos, who got the final out. Gallegos surrendered the winning run in the eighth. Andrew Miller got the final out of the inning. Gallegos took the loss.
Paul DeJong was caught stealing for the second time this season.
The Cardinals fared better in the second game with the Mariners. Adam Wainwright made the start and pitched five innings, giving up two runs on four hits. The right hander struck out six and walked three. Tyler Webb recorded two outs before John Brebbia finished the sixth and a scoreless seventh and eighth. Andrew Miller and Carlos Martinez handled the ninth. Brebbia got the win.
St. Louis offense did not get going until the last inning. Jose Martinez singled to lead off the ninth. Following a strikeout by Paul DeJong, Paul Goldschmidt singled. Tyler O’Neill drew a walk to load the bases. Dexter Fowler singled to score Martinez. Yadier Molina’s sac fly plated Goldschmidt. Tommy Edman then smacked a three-run home run to left center field. The Mariners couldn’t answer and the Cardinals won 5-2.
The Cardinals took the series with a win in the final game by the same score as their loss in game one. Seattle scored in the first inning, but the Cardinals tied it on Matt Wieters’ solo home run in the third.
The Mariners regained the lead with two runs in the bottom of the third. The Cardinals answered in the fourth to tie it up on a two-run home by Dexter Fowler. Seattle scored one in the bottom of the fourth to retake the lead 4-3.
The score remained 4-3 until the seventh inning. Fowler drew a walk and Harrison Bader singled to left. Wieters walked, then Tommy Edman singled to right to score Fowler and Bader.
Starter Michael Wacha had one of his substandard outings. Wacha lasted only 3 1/3 innings and gave up four runs on six hits. He walked two. Daniel Ponce de Leon tossed the next 2 2/3 scoreless innings. John Gant, Andrew Miller, and Carlos Martinez each pitched a scoreless inning. Ponce de Leon got the win, and Martinez the save, his third.
St. Louis took the momentum from the Seattle series into San Francisco, at least for the first game, as the offense scored nine runs on 14 hits.
The Redbirds offense put three runs on the board in the first inning. It began with a solo home run by Jose Martinez. Paul DeJong singled, and Paul Goldschmidt followed with a two-run home run to center field.
The Giants answered with two runs in the bottom of the first, then added a third run in the third inning to tie the game. The Cardinals retook the lead in the top of the fourth on a triple by Tommy Edman. St. Louis added two more scores in the fifth on an RBI single by Matt Wieters, and a ground out RBI from Kolten Wong.
The scoring continued in the seventh, when Dexter Fowler plated a run on a triple and Kolten Wong singled to score a second run. Fowler hit a solo home run in the ninth to increase the lead to 9-3. The Giants added a run in the bottom of the ninth, but fell short of a rally.
Dakota Hudson made the start and was a little wobbly at the beginning. Hudson pitched five innings and gave up three runs on six hits. The right hander fanned six and walked three. Giovanny Gallegos tossed two scoreless relief innings. Dominic Leone pitched the final two innings and allowed one run. Hudson earned his seventh win.
The momentum didn’t carry over into the second game of the series. The Cardinals did score in the first inning on a single by Paul Goldschmidt, but the Giants tied it up in the bottom half of the inning.
The score remained 1-1 until the bottom of the fourth, when some bumbling and stumbling by the Cardinals outfield loaded the bases with one out. Giants pinch hitter Tyler Austin came to the plate and tattooed a Miles Mikolas pitch for a grand slam to right field. Balls not getting caught that should have been caught by outfielders lit the fuse and Mikolas tossed the grenade.
It got worse as the Giants scored three more runs in the seventh. The Cardinals attempted a comeback in the eighth. Jose Martinez singled and Paul DeJong was hit by a pitch. Paul Goldschmidt brought them in via a three-run home run to right field. It was too little too late for the Redbirds.
Mikolas lost his ninth game of the season. He lasted four innings and gave up five runs, four earned, on six hits. He did strike out six. Daniel Ponce de Leon pitched two scoreless innings. Tyler Webb surrendered three runs in the seventh and was relieved by John Brebbia, who got the final out of the seventh and pitched a scoreless eighth.
Tyler O’Neill was given a fielding error.
The Cardinals lost the final game, and thus the series, to the last-place Giants. Jack Flaherty was very good, throwing a no hitter into the seventh, until that pesky home run thing happened. An errant pitch by Flaherty was smacked by Evan Longoria over the left field wall. This by itself wouldn’t have been so bad if the Cardinals offense had decided to show up.
Flaherty finished the seventh inning having given up the one run on two hits (after the Longoria home run, he gave up a single). Flaherty fanned six and walked one. John Gant pitched a scoreless eighth.
Yairo Munoz had two of St. Louis’ six hits. Flaherty decided he needed to give Munoz some help so he hit a double, the team’s only extra base hit.
Munoz also stole his fourth base and Tommy Edman stole his third. Paul DeJong was caught stealing.
The Big Picture
The Cardinals came into the All-Star break with a record of 3-3 for the week. The team took 2 of 3 from the Seattle Mariners, but lost 2 of 3 to the San Francisco Giants. Both teams are in last place in their divisions.
Concluding a 25-game stretch against a number of weaker teams, the Cardinals went just 13-12 and sit at 44-44 overall. The only consolation is that the other NL Central division clubs are struggling in a comparable manner.
The offense began to show improvement this week, until they laid an egg in the final game on Sunday. Paul Goldschmidt, Jose Martinez, Dexter Fowler, Kolten Wong, Tommy Edman and Tyler O’Neill all had pretty good weeks at the plate. Matt Wieters and Yairo Munoz held their own. Paul DeJong had a somewhat down week, and Harrison Bader continued to struggle offensively.
The starting pitching was the issue. Adam Wainwright was the best of the bunch, though Jack Flaherty improved on his Tuesday performance with a gem on Sunday. Michael Wacha, unfortunately, looks like he needs to go back to the bullpen. Miles Mikolas has not come near his 2018 performance so far this season.
The run differential this week was plus three. Not great, but better than last week. The improved offense helped, the pitching hurt.
The defense in the outfield had some issues over the weekend. Specifically, in Saturday’s game, there were balls not caught that should have been caught. The most egregious was a routine fly ball to left field, that Tyler O’Neill should have caught, but which fell between him and CF Dexter Fowler. O’Neill was given an error and explained after the game that he had a read on the ball, but thought he heard Fowler call him off. O’Neill was recently called up to replace the injured Marcell Ozuna. The usually reliable Harrison Bader was not in the starting lineup on Friday and Saturday, so the outfield did not have its best defensive alignment. It showed. The error was followed by a grand slam that cost the Cardinals the game.
The Cardinals go into the All-Star break in third place in the NL Central, two games back of the Cubs and 1.5 games back of the Brewers.
After the break, the Cardinals play a weekend series at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team with a better record than the Cardinals. After that they play the Pirates, who have been hot and are only a half game back of St. Louis. The second half needs to start off better than the first half ended.
NL Central Standings
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
Giants beat writer Hank Schulman offers the following:
Cardinals looking for a starter. Am told this pitcher, Daniel Ponce de Leon, could be dangled in trade. He is a 27-year-old rookie who will not be eligible for free agency until he turns 21 in 2025.
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) July 7, 2019
- 7/2 The Cardinals activated RHP John Brebbia from the paternity list.
- 7/2 The Cardinals placed 3B Matt Carpenter on the 10 day injured list retroactive to June 29. Lower back strain.
- 7/3 The Cardinals optioned RHP Ryan Helsley to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 7/5 The Cardinals optioned CF Lane Thomas to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 7/5 The Cardinals recalled 1B Rangel Ravelo from the Memphis Redbirds.
- LHP Brett Cecil (carpal tunnel syndrome left wrist) continues on the 60 day injured list. Cecil had been shut down from throwing for an indefinite period since spring training surgery. The left hander has begun a throwing program. Cecil could begin a rehab assignment in early July and possibly return to the roster by the end of the month.
- RHP Mike Mayers (right shoulder lat strain) was transferred from the 10 day injured list to the 60 day injured list on June 20. Mayers was sent on a rehab assignment to Memphis on June 26. The right hander could return to the roster sometime in July.
- 3B Jedd Gyorko remains on the 10 day injured list. Gyorko originally had lower back issues, was then reported to have recurring calf issues, and at present is suffering from a wrist ailment for which he had arthroscopic surgery on June 24. It is expected the infielder will not return to baseball activities for three weeks after the surgery.
- RHP Jordan Hicks (torn right UCL) underwent Tommy John surgery on June 26 and is out for the rest of the season.
- LF Marcell Ozuna (fractured right fingers) was placed on the 10 day injured list on June 29. Ozuna suffered the injury diving back to first base on a pickoff attempt. No timetable for a return has been announced.
- C Yadier Molina (right thumb) has been out of the starting lineup since July 4 with soreness in his right thumb. Molina had previously been on the injured list with the thumb. Molina made a pinch hit appearance on July 5. It is expected Molina will be back in the lineup after the All-Star break.
- 3B Matt Carpenter (lower back) was placed on the 10 day injured list on July 2 retroactive to June 29. Carpenter has resumed baseball activities as of Sunday, and is expected to be reinstated after the break.
- 2B Kolten Wong (left calf) was hit by a pitch during an at bat in the July 6 fame. Wong was not in the starting lineup on July 7. He is considered day to day.
The Cardinals return from the All Star Break on Friday, July 12 to play the Arizona Diamondbacks in a weekend series at Busch Stadium. Adam Wainwright is scheduled to make the Friday, July 12 start against Arizona. Dakota Hudson will make the Saturday start, followed by Miles Mikolas on Sunday.
The home stand will continue with a three game series with the Pirates from July 15-17. The Cardinals leave St. Louis after the Pirates series and travel to Cincinnati to take on the Reds in a four game series beginning Thursday, July 18.
On Monday, July 22 the team flies to Pittsburgh to play the Pirates again for four. The Cardinals then return home for a weekend interleague set with the Houston Astros.
After an off day on Monday, July 29, the Chicago Cubs come to Busch Stadium for a three game series. St. Louis has another off day on Friday, August 2 to travel to Oakland to play a two game interleague series beginning Saturday with the Athletics.
The Cardinals’ regular season schedule can be viewed here.
Blast from the Past
An avoidable error in a game against the Giants over the weekend led to a brutal loss for the Cardinals. Such errors happen of course, as baseball players are human, but some mistakes just seem worse than others when they could have easily been avoided. Such was the case over the weekend.
So, this week’s blast from the past takes a look at two games of a doubleheader played by the Cardinals against the Cincinnati Reds in 1909 in which 17 errors were committed over both games. This two game set that demonstrates that it can always be worse.
On July 3, 1909, the Cardinals took on the Cincinnati Reds for a doubleheader at Robison Field in St. Louis. The Cardinals lost the first game 10-2. Perhaps the six errors in the game were a contributing factor.
There is no inning by inning breakdown of these games available, so it is unknown the circumstances of the errors themselves. What is known is who made the errors and how many. Three Cardinals players, one outfielder and two infielders, were the culprits. Right fielder Steve Evans made two of the six errors. Those two errors gave Evans a total of six errors up to that point in the season. The second player was second baseman Chappy Charles, who only made one of the errors, but that one gave him a total of 24 errors. Chappy probably wasn’t the best second baseman ever. Finally, third baseman Bobby Byrne made three errors, increasing his total to 27. That Cardinal infield needed some work.
The second game of the doubleheader made the first game seem like a regular day at the ballpark in comparison. The Cardinals made a total of 11 errors, as six players were implicated in this fielding cataclysm. One was Chappy, who made three errors in Game 2. Now, old Chappy had 27 errors. The other five were catcher Ed Phelps with two errors, first baseman Ed Konetchy who had just one error, center fielder Joe Delahanty who made one error, (and it was his first of the season), shortstop Rudy Hulswitt with three, and pitcher Bob Harmon with one (also his first).
The Cardinals also lost the second game 13-7. This should surprise no one. The Reds, the happy victors in both of these games, committed one error in each.
Games like these should remind all Cardinals fans that no matter how bad it is, it can always be worse. Tyler O’Neill has nothing on Chappy and the gang.
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