St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of July 12-18

photo: Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong (Billy Hurst/USA TODAY Sports)

The St. Louis Cardinals’ formula coming off the break was strong starting pitching and just enough offense to win two of three. The Pauls – Goldschmidt and DeJong – swung the hottest bats against the Giants. In our history feature, standout events during prior July 12-18s are remembered.

Game Recaps

Tuesday, July 13 – American League wins All-Star Game, 5-2

The American League beat the National League 5-2 in the 91st MLB All Star Game on Tuesday, July 13 at Denver’s Coors Field.  It was the eighth straight win in the Midsummer Classic for the Junior Circuit.

The St. Louis Cardinals sent two players to the event.  Nolan Arenado started, winning the fan vote over other NL third basemen.  Closer Alex Reyes was selected by MLB.  Yadier Molina was selected as a replacement for the injured Buster Posey, but Molina chose not to participate due to foot injury.

Nolan Arenado

Arenado made two plate appearances and grounded out both times.  He was replaced in the fifth inning by Manny Machado.  Reyes relieved Padre Mark Melancon with one out in the eighth inning and a runner on first base.  Reyes gave up a single to Joey Wendle of the Rays, then induced a force out by the Royals Whit Merrifield.  Reyes struck out his last hitter, Mike Zunino of the Rays, swinging on four pitches.

Alex Reyes

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of Toronto was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Friday, July 16 – Cardinals 2, Giants 7

The Cardinals were defeated by the Giants in the first game of the three-game post-break set at Busch Stadium.  Starter Adam Wainwright battled through six innings.  The right hander gave up four runs on five hits, fanned seven and walked one.

Luis Garcia relieved to begin the seventh and surrendered two runs while recording only one out.  T.J. McFarland got the final two outs of the inning but yielded an additional run.  Andrew Miller and Junior Fernandez each tossed a scoreless inning.

St. Louis’ offense was held to only two runs.  After San Francisco scored in the top of the fourth, the Cardinals answered with the tying run in the home half of the inning.  Nolan Arenado led off with a single and later scored on a single by Tommy Edman.

The Giants added three runs in the fifth and three more in the seventh.  In the bottom of the seventh the Redbirds put up their second and final run on a solo home run by Paul Goldschmidt.

The long ball was Goldschmidt’s only hit.  Tyler O’Neill was 2-for-5, Paul DeJong was 3-for-4, and Harrison Bader was 2-for-3.

Saturday, July 17 – Cardinals 3, Giants 1

The Redbirds bounced back from defeat in the first game of the series to win Game 2 at Busch Stadium by a 3-1 score.

The Cardinals took the lead in the second inning on a solo home run by Tyler O’Neill.  St. Louis added to their lead in the sixth on a two-run home run by Paul Goldschmidt.

Paul Goldschmidt

The Giants finally got on the board in the seventh, scoring one run off reliever Ryan Helsley.   The Cardinal bullpen kept San Francisco off board for the final two innings and the Cardinals took the win.

Starter Kwang-Hyun Kim added six innings to his scoreless streak.  The left hander allowed three hits, struck out one and walked two.  Helsley relieved Kim in the seventh and surrendered the Giants only run.  The right hander recorded only one out and was replaced by Genesis Cabrera, who got the final two outs.  Giovanny Gallegos and Alex Reyes each pitched a scoreless frame.  Kim earned his fifth win and Reyes earned his 21st save.

Goldschmidt was 3-for-4 with two RBI.  Paul DeJong was 2-for-3.  O’Neill made a fielding error.

Sunday, July 18 – Cardinals 2, Giants 1

The Cardinals edged the Giants in the rubber game to take the weekend series at Busch Stadium.  In six games with West Division leading San Francisco this season, St. Louis has won four.

Wade LeBlanc made the start for the Redbirds.  The left hander pitched five innings and yielded one run on five hits, struck out three and walked one.  Ryan Helsley, Genesis Cabrera, Giovanny Gallegos, and Alex Reyes each pitched a scoreless inning.  Cabrera was awarded the win.  Reyes earned his 22nd save and set the MLB record for the most consecutive saves to begin a career at 24.

Wade LeBlanc

The Cardinals broke out on top in the third inning on a solo home run by Paul DeJong.  The Giants quickly tied it up in the fourth on a bases empty long ball by Darin Ruf.

The game remained tied 1-1 until the seventh inning.  Matt Carpenter began with a ground rule double to right field.  Jose Rondon pinch ran.  DeJong moved Rondon to third.  Harrison Bader hit a soft checked swing ground ball to pitcher John Brebbia, and hustled to first, outrunning the former Cardinal to the bag and stumbling on the bag for an infield single.  Rondon scored to make it 2-1.  That was the all the Cardinals needed.

The offense had five hits and scored twice, which was one more than the Giants on the same number of hits.  Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler O’Neill, Carpenter, DeJong, and Bader each contributed hits.

The Big Picture

It was a short week for the Cardinals due to the All-Star Break.  St. Louis returned for a weekend series against the Giants at Busch Stadium and won two of the three games.  The Cards are tied with the Cubs for third place in the NL Central, nine games back of the Brewers, who swept the Reds in three over the weekend.

Despite the Cardinals’ series win over San Francisco, the offense continues to be lackluster. They scored only seven runs over the three games, fewer than the Giants.  St. Louis pitching held San Francisco to two runs scored over the last two games.

The top offensive performers over the weekend were Paul Goldschmidt (1.538 OPS), Paul DeJong (1.500 OPS), Harrison Bader (.875 OPS), and Tyler O’Neill (.846 OPS).  The remainder of the starters fared very poorly.  Their OPS’s are as follows: Tommy Edman (.347), Dylan Carlson (.231), Yadier Molina (.182), and Nolan Arenado (.154).

Paul DeJong

It was only three games, but they demonstrated that the team still has issues to overcome, even after a five-day break.  The hill to climb to get back in contention is massive, and the offense’s performance over the weekend was not a good start up the hill.

Starting pitching was the weekend’s bright spot.  Adam Wainwright, Kwang-Hyun Kim, and Wade LeBlanc all pitched well enough to keep the offense in the game.  Kim tossed six scoreless innings on Saturday.

Kwang-Hyun Kim

The bullpen in the weekend series consisted mostly of Genesis Cabrera, Giovanny Gallegos, and Alex Reyes.  That trifecta pitched in the final two games, which the Cardinals won.  The bullpen that pitched in the 7-2 loss on Friday consisted of two new additions, Luis Garcia, and T.J. McFarland, plus Andrew Miller and Junior Fernandez.  Garcia and McFarland combined to give up three runs in one inning.  Ryan Helsley appeared in the final two games, pitching poorly in one and better in the other.

The bottom line is that the bullpen does not inspire confidence.   The Cardinals need more than 3 or 4 relievers who can be counted upon, and they do not have them.  The trade deadline is two weeks away and there has been no indication of any potential deals to be made.  Instead, the front office has paraded a succession of waiver pickups and free agents who were released by other teams.  The only recent addition that has succeeded so far is Wade LeBlanc as a rotation replacement.

President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak has told the media that the team will not be sellers.  However, whether they will be buyers on any significant scale remains to be seen.

The Cardinals continue the homestand with four games against the Cubs to start the week.  A weekend series against the Reds in Cincinnati commences over the weekend.  The Cardinals are chasing both teams, so series wins are needed in both cases.

NL Central Standings

Team W L Pct GB
Milwaukee 56 39 0.589
Cincinnati 48 45 0.516 7
Chicago 46 47 0.495 9
St. Louis 46 47 0.495 9
Pittsburgh 36 57 0.387 19

2021 MLB First-Year Player Draft

MLB conducted this year’s draft in Denver during the All-Star festivities.  Prior to 2021, the draft had been held in early June, but MLB moved it a month later.

The draft was 20 rounds instead of the prior 40, another change that may become permanent.  A comprehensive look at the Cardinals draft can be found here at The Cardinal Nation (links below). As of this writing, the Cardinals have signed eight of their 21 selections, including their first rounder, and added two free agents.

Michael McGreevy

The Cardinals’ initial selection was right-handed pitcher Michael McGreevy from the University of California-Santa Barbara.  Details on the player and comments by scouting director Randy Flores can be found here.  Further information on all three days of the draft can be found here and here.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report. The annual deadline is July 31.

Transactions

  • 7/15 The Cardinals optioned LHP Brandon Waddell to the Memphis Redbirds, from where he was placed on the COVID IL.
  • 7/16 The Cardinals selected the contract of LHP T.J. McFarland from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 7/18 The Cardinals optioned OF Lars Nootbaar to Memphis.
  • 7/19 The Cardinals recalled RHP Jake Woodford from Memphis

Jake Woodford

Injury Report

  • RHP Miles Mikolas (right forearm tightness), remains on the 60-day injured list. A second opinion by Dr. James Andrews revealed no structural damage to the UCL or a flexor tendon tear.  Mikolas is throwing and expected to begin a rehab assignment as early as this week, but the plans have not been finalized.  An August return date remains the hope.
  • RHP Jordan Hicks (right elbow inflammation) continues on the 60-day injured list and the team seems less optimistic that he can return to pitch sometime before the end of the season.
  • 2B Max Moroff (left shoulder subluxation) is on the 60-day injured list after suffering a shoulder injury in a batting practice session. Moroff had surgery on the shoulder and is out for the rest of the season.
  • RHP Jack Flaherty (left oblique strain) continues on the 60-day IL. Flaherty has begun throwing bullpen sessions and the tentative plan is to send the right hander on a rehab assignment during the first half of August.
  • RHP Dakota Hudson (Tommy John surgery) is expected to be out all of the 2021 season. Hudson is tracking well toward an Opening Day 2022 return, though a late 2021 season return is not impossible, but unlikely.
  • RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon (right shoulder inflammation) threw a side session last week and he is expected to continue to throw and ramp up the intensity. A return date is possibly late August/early September.
  • RHP Carlos Martinez (right thumb ligament sprain) is weighing his treatment options. It is doubtful that the right hander will return to pitch this season and may have thrown his last pitch as a Cardinal.  Martinez is on the final year of his contract, and though the team holds options for 2022 and 2023, they are not expected to pick them up.

Looking Ahead

Following the Giants series, the Cardinals continue the homestand with a four-game set with the Cubs beginning Monday, July 19. Starters will be Jake Woodford, TBA, Adam Wainwright and Kwang-Hyun Kim.

The Cardinals travel to Cincinnati for a weekend series against the Reds at Great American Ballpark.  After a travel day on Monday, July 26, the Cardinals will have two games in Cleveland.

After a second travel day on Thursday, July 29, the team returns to St. Louis for a weekend set with the Twins.  Following an off day on Monday, August 2, the Cardinals continue the homestand with a three-game series with the Braves.

The Cardinals regular season schedule can be found here.

Blast from the Past

Blast from the Past for the month of July is notable events month, as we describe one or more memorable events from each day of the week the report covers.  As everyone knows, July is a prime trade month, so some of the highlighted events will be trades that are either notable for the players or something unique about them.

July 12, 1966 – The 37th MLB All-Star Game was played at Busch Stadium.  It was the fourth time St. Louis had hosted the Midsummer Classic.  The NL won 2-1 in 10 innings.

Mark McGwire (Getty Images)

July 12, 1998 – Mark McGwire becomes the second player in MLB history to hit 40 home runs in both leagues after previously doing so with the Oakland A’s.  The first to accomplish the feat was Darrell Evans, who hit 41 home runs with the Braves in 1973 and 40 with the Tigers in 1985.

July 13, 1948 – St. Louis hosts the 15th MLB All-Star Game at Sportsman’s Park. Stan Musial hit a home run in the first inning, but the AL defeated the NL 5-2.

July 13, 1972 – The Cardinals bested the Braves 2-0 in a game that lasted 93 minutes.  As short as it was, this was not the MLB record for shortest game.  That honor belongs to the 51-minute game between the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies on September 28, 1919.

Rogers Hornsby

July 14, 1924 – While the Cardinals defeated the Brooklyn Robins 12-0, Rogers Hornsby raised his average to .402 with three hits in four at bats.  Hornsby’s average remained above .400 for the rest of the season.

July 15, 1901 – Christy Mathewson throws the first no-hitter of the modern era for the Giants and it was against the Cardinals.  The Giants defeated St. Louis 5-0 at Robison Field in St. Louis.

July 15, 1967 – Bob Gibson is hit by a comebacker off the bat of Pittsburgh’s Roberto Clemente.  Gibson finished the inning before realizing he had fractured his fibula.  The broken leg kept Gibson out for most of the remaining season, but he returned in September to lead the Cardinals to a World Series Championship against the Boston Red Sox.

July 16, 1962 – In the second game of a doubleheader between the Cardinals and the Pirates at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Stan Musial took his 10,428th at bat in the seventh, establishing a new NL record.  The prior record was set by Honus Wagner in 1917.

July 17, 1924 – Future Hall of Famer Jesse Haines throws a no-hitter against Boston at Sportsman’s Park.

Bob Gibson (AP photo)

July 17, 1974 – Bob Gibson strikes out Cesar Geronimo, the 3,000th of his career.

July 18, 1952 – The Cardinals pull off the largest come-from-behind win in NL history, defeating the Giants 14-12 after trailing 11-0.

July 18, 1961 – The Cardinals first baseman Bill White ties Ty Cobb’s record of hits in consecutive doubleheaders with 14.  White went 3-for-4 in both of the final two games of a four-game sweep of the Cubs. The streak began on the day Cobb died.


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