photo: Adam Wainwright and Jack Flaherty (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)
Exhibition game recap
The St. Louis Cardinals took on the Kansas City Royals in an exhibition game at Busch Stadium to end 2020 Summer Camp. Former manager Mike Matheny returned to St. Louis to play a game for the first time since he was fired by the Cardinals in 2018.
Miles Mikolas got the start for the Cardinals. The right hander pitched four innings and gave up two runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out four. Carlos Martinez pitched the next four innings and allowed one run on two hits while fanning three and walking one. In his first action as the team’s new closer, Kwang Hyun Kim pitched a scoreless ninth.
The Royals got on the board first with a run in the first inning. The Cardinals answered with two runs in the second on a double by Tyler O’Neill. The Royals tied it up in the third on Salvador Perez’ home run, but the Cardinals took the lead in the bottom frame of the third on a sac fly by Paul DeJong.
In the fifth, DeJong hit a two-run home run to center to increase the lead to 5-2. Rangel Ravelo’s sac fly in the sixth made it 6-2.
The Royals added a run in the seventh on a home run by Bubba Starling. Cardinals pitching shut it down in the next two innings to secure the home win.
Max Schrock and Yadier Molina each had two hits.
Regular Season game recaps
The Cardinals met the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium in a three-game series to open the 2020 season. Jack Flaherty made the Opening Day start and the Cardinals narrowly defeated the visitors, 5-4.
Flaherty took up where he left off last season with a masterful performance marred only by a seventh inning in which he gave up two runs after going scoreless for six innings. The right hander pitched seven full innings and allowed six hits along with the two runs, and no walks while fanning six. Flaherty earned the win.
Ryan Helsley followed with a scoreless eighth inning. Kwang Hyun-Kim took the ninth, and though he faltered early, he recovered enough to close out the inning and give the Redbirds the win with two additional runs allowed to earn his first save as a Cardinal.
St. Louis’ offense got on the board in the second inning on a solo home run by Tyler O’Neill. Dexter Fowler added his own bases-empty shot in the fifth. An RBI single by Yadier Molina in the sixth and a two run home run by Paul DeJong in the eighth rounded out the Redbirds scoring. Kolten Wong and Paul Goldschmidt contributed two hits each and Goldschmidt scored two of the five runs.
Tommy Edman committed a fielding error and was caught stealing in the third inning.
In the second game of the weekend series with Pittsburgh, St. Louis’ offense hammered Pirates pitching in a 9-1 slaughter on Saturday. Only one long ball contributed to the effort, a solo blast by Paul Goldschmidt in the first inning.
RBI singles by Dexter Fowler and Yadier Molina in the fourth inning put two additional runs on the board for a 3-1 lead. In the seventh, Paul DeJong’s single and Matt Carpenter’s double plated four runs to increase the lead to 7-1.
In the eighth, Tommy Edman tripled to the left center gap to bring the final two runs home. In total the Cardinals offense had 10 hits, two each by Goldschmidt and DeJong. Kolten Wong, Goldschmidt, DeJong, and Harrison Bader each scored two runs. Bader stole his first base of the season.
Adam Wainwright pitched a quality start, going six innings and giving up only one run. The veteran right hander allowed three hits, one walk, and struck out five.
John Gant followed Wainwright with 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief. Tyler Webb got the last out of the eighth and the first two outs of the ninth before Daniel Ponce de Leon secured the final out.
In the final game of the weekend opening series vs. Pittsburgh, the Cardinals offense and pitching faltered as the Pirates took a 5-1 victory over the Redbirds at Busch Stadium.
Dakota Hudson got the start for the Cardinals and it went fine for the first three innings. The right hander gave up a hit in each of the first three frames but kept the Pirates off the board. In the fourth, however, the wheels came off the bus after Hudson struck out the first two batters. With a 2-2 count against Colin Moran, Hudson hung a slider and Moran thumped it over the fence in right field. He gave up a single to Phillip Evans and then Jose Osuna homered on the first pitch he saw from Hudson and the score was 3-1 Pirates. In the fifth, Hudson yielded a double and a walk and was pulled. Austin Gomber relieved and the fourth run scored on a sac fly to center.
Gomber continued to pitch for 1 2/3 innings before being Kodi Whitley took over. Whitley, making his major league debut, pitched a scoreless seventh. Andrew Miller relieved in the eighth and gave up the fifth and final Pirates run. Junior Fernandez tossed a scoreless ninth. Hudson took the loss.
The sole Cardinals run came in the third inning. Lane Thomas drew a walk but was thrown out advancing on a wild pitch when he overslid second base. Kolten Wong singled, advanced to second on a wild pitch and Tommy Edman drove him home on a single.
St. Louis’ offense managed just five hits, one each from Wong, Edman, Goldschmidt, DeJong and Molina. Goldschmidt was thrown out attempting to extend his single to a double.
Molina was his stellar self behind the plate, catching a runner stealing and picking off another runner at first base.
The Big Picture
The Cardinals’ opening series was a success, as they took 2 of 3 from the Pirates. Offense was plentiful in the first two games, but not on Sunday. Most of the offense came from the top half of the lineup, though Dexter Fowler and Tyler O’Neill contributed as well, especially in the first game. The 9th spot in the lineup was hitless, though Harrison Bader got on base and scored.
Pitching by Flaherty and Wainwright in the first two games was very good. Hudson was shaky in his start. The bullpen thus far has been good. Starters Carlos Martinez and Miles Mikolas have yet to pitch.
Defense has been very good and so has baserunning for the most part, minus the miscues by Lane Thomas and Goldschmidt in Game 3.
The Cardinals play a two-game series against the Twins in Minnesota mid-week, and then take on the Brewers in Milwaukee over the weekend. Both teams will be tough. A split in Minnesota and a series win in Milwaukee would put the Redbirds in a good spot.
NL Central Standings
Cardinals set Opening Day roster
The Opening Day roster for the 2020 season was announced by the Cardinals on Thursday. Each team can have up to 30 players for the first two weeks of the season. After two weeks, the roster must be reduced to 28, and two weeks thereafter must be reduced to the final 26 for the remainder of the season.
The initial 29 was announced via a tweet by the Cardinals account. The final spot is expected to be given to Giovanny Gallegos. The reliever has been throwing to live hitters and will likely be available by Tuesday’s game against Minnesota.
The remaining players in the 60-man pool who participated in Summer Camp in St. Louis have been sent to the Alternate Camp Site in Springfield. This list includes top prospect Dylan Carlson, who is likely to make his major league debut sometime in the shortened 2020 season. That camp is already under way under the direction of Jose Oquendo.
The Cardinals also announced that RHP Jake Woodford and 2B Max Schrock will be the taxi squad for upcoming road games. Each team is allowed up to three non roster players in the taxi squad and if there is three one must be a catcher. Given that the Cardinals have three catchers on the active roster it was felt two players on the taxi squad would be sufficient.
MLB and MLBPA agree to expanded playoffs for 2020
Major League Baseball and the Players Association reached an agreement this past week on expanding playoffs in the 2020 season to a 16-team format.
The agreement sets out the parameters, which includes eight teams from each league taking part in playoffs that include the normal Wild Card round, followed by a Division Series, a League Championship Series, and a World Series.
The players, who would not have received any salaries in the current playoff model since there would be no gate revenue, are guaranteed at least $50 million under the new agreement if the post-season can be played.
There will be differences other than the expanded number of teams. The Wild Card Series will be a best of three series rather than the normal one and done Wild Card Game. Also, the series will feature all eight teams in each league instead of only Wild Card teams, seeded 1 through 8. The Division winners will be seeded 1 through 3, the second place teams in each division will be seeded 4 through 6 and the two Wild Card teams in each league will be seeded 7 and 8. Wild Card teams will be decided in the traditional way, by record.
The Series format will be #1 seed against #8 seed, #2 vs. #7, #3 vs. #6, and #4 vs. #5. Ties will be resolved based on head to head record, then intradivision record if there is still a tie, and if a tie still exists, based on record in the final 20 Division games. All Wild Card games will be played at the higher seed’s ballpark. Having all games played in one location for the entire series cuts down on travel.
The winners will advance to the Division Series, a best of five series in the traditional 2-2-1 format. The higher seed receives home field advantage. Winner of 1 vs 8 will play winner of 4 vs 5. Winner of 2 vs 7 will play winner of 3 vs 6.
The Championship Series will be a best of seven in the traditional 2-3-2 format. The winner of 1/8 and 4/5 will play the winner of 2/7 and 3/6. Higher seed gets home field advantage.
The World Series will remain a best of seven in the traditional format, AL winner vs NL winner. Highest regular season record of the two teams gets home field advantage.
The first round is scheduled to begin Tuesday, September 29 through Friday, October 2. All but one series will be televised by ESPN. The other series will be televised by TBS.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
- 7/22 The Cardinals placed 2B Brad Miller on the 10-day injured list retroactive to July 20, 2020. Right ankle bursitis.
- 7/22 The Cardinals released LHP Brett Cecil.
- 7/23 The Cardinals selected the contract of Kodi Whitley from the Alternate Training Site.
- 7/23 The Cardinals recalled LF Austin Dean, RHP Junior Fernandez, C Andrew Knizner, and SS Edmundo Sosa from the Alternate Training Site.
- RHP John Brebbia underwent Tommy John surgery on June 1. He will miss the entire 2020 season.
- RHP Jordan Hicks (Tommy John surgery) has opted out of the 2020 season. Hicks, a Type 1 diabetic, made the decision to opt out and was placed on the restricted list.
- 3B Brad Miller (right ankle bursitis) has been placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to July 20. Miller was sent to the Alternate Camp for rehab and the expectation is that he will be available for the Brewers series that begins on Friday.
- RHP Giovanny Gallegos remains on the injured list but has begun throwing to live hitters. Gallegos is expected to be ready to play on Tuesday in Minnesota.
- RHPs Alex Reyes and Genesis Cabrera (previously quarantined for positive COVID-19 test) are said to be “progressing nicely” at the Alternate Camp Site in Springfield. Both pitchers are throwing bullpen sessions and will throw again on Monday. Should all be well they will progress to live batting practice.
After an off day on Monday, July 27, the Cardinals will play a two-game series against the Twins in Minnesota. Carlos Martinez is scheduled to make the Tuesday start followed by Miles Mikolas on Wednesday.
The team will travel on Thursday to Milwaukee to begin a three-game series on Friday against the Brewers. The Cardinals will then shift to Detroit for a two-game set.
The team will then return home for an eight-game homestand starting next Wednesday. It begins with two against those same Tigers and a three-game weekend series versus the Cubs.
The full 60-game schedule can be found here.
Blast from the Past
This week’s Blast From the Past takes a look at a snapshot in the career of Cardinals Hall of Famer Stan Musial. “The Man” hit 475 home runs over his 22-year career and this week we look at five particular home runs that he hit on the same day, July 22, in five consecutive seasons.
On July 22, 1947, The Cardinals defeated the New York Giants 10-5 at Sportsman’s Park. In the bottom of the third inning with Red Schoendienst on base with a leadoff walk, Musial hit home run #62 of his career off Giants starter Monty Kennedy. This long ball was followed by a solo shot from teammate Whitey Kurowski to the give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead. Musial went 3-for-4 with a double and a single in addition to the home run.
On July 22, 1948, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Giants, Musial hit home run #94 of his career. The Cardinals were the victors 7-6 in 11 innings. The home run, a two run shot, came in the seventh inning off Giants pitcher Clem Dreisewerd. The long ball was preceded by an RBI triple from teammate Marty Marion. Musial was 2-for-6 with a double he hit off the same pitcher in the ninth inning.
One year later, on July 22, 1949, the Cardinals played the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field. In the first inning Musial hit a solo home run off Dodger starter Preacher Roe, the 127th of his career. In addition to the home run, Stan singled to center field in the 5th inning. The Cardinals won, 3-1.
On July 22, 1950, Musial hit career home run #159 in the second game of a doubleheader with the Boston Braves. The Cardinals prevailed by an 11-7 score. The box score does not indicate in what inning the home run occurred, but it was hit off Warren Spahn, who pitched 4 2/3 innings. Musial was a particular nemesis of Spahn in the home run department. Musial went 3-for-5 that day.
Musial launched career home run #193 on July 22, 1951. This was the only one of the five games the Cardinals lost, as the Brooklyn Dodgers prevailed 9-2 at Ebbets Field. The long ball, good for two runs, came in the ninth inning off Carl Erskine. Musial went 2-for-4.
After a break of three years, Musial also hit a solo home run on July 22, 1955, #314, against Phillies pitcher Murry Dickson in the first game of a doubleheader in Connie Mack Stadium. The Cardinals lost 6-3.
By way of reference, Musial’s first major league home run, good for two runs, was hit off Rip Sewell on September 23, 1941 in the second game of a doubleheader against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The home run came hit one week after Musial’s major league debut.
Musial’s last career home run, #475, occurred on September 16, 1963 against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Busch Stadium. The bases-empty blast to right field in the seventh inning against Johnny Podres was Musial’s only hit, as the Cardinals lost 3-1.
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