photo: Marcell Ozuna (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports)
In this week’s St. Louis Cardinals action, the club played poorly overall, losing four of six at home. Marcell Ozuna is on fire, but is not getting enough help from his teammates, other than Jack Flaherty, who started in both wins. In our history feature, key elements of the long-running Cardinals-Cubs rivalry are remembered.
In the opener of a three-game series, the Cardinals blanked the Padres. Starter Jack Flaherty pitched 6 1/3 innings and gave up one run on three hits. The right hander struck out six, walked one and earned his third win of the season. John Brebbia secured the last two outs of the seventh before Austin Gomber began the eighth and surrendered a run. Sam Tuivailala finished the inning without further damage. Bud Norris pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 13th save.
The Cardinals got on the board in the second inning on a two-run home run by Jose Martinez. Marcell Ozuna followed suit in the fifth with a two run shot. In the eighth, Jedd Gyorko’s solo home run was the fifth and final Redbirds run. Martinez went 3-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Marcell Ozuna, Yadier Molina, and Yairo Munoz each went 2-for-4.
Munoz stole his second base of the season.
The Cardinals didn’t get it going in Game 2, losing the Padres 4-2. St. Louis didn’t score until the seventh inning when Marcell Ozuna singled in Matt Carpenter. Yadier Molina grounded out to plate the second and final run for the Cardinals. No Cardinal had multiple hits.
Starter Miles Mikolas pitched six innings, giving up three runs on six hits. The right hander fanned five and walked none. Mike Mayers surrendered one run in the seventh. Jordan Hicks pitched the final two scoreless innings.
St. Louis lost Game 3 and the series to the last-place Friars by the same score as on Tuesday. Starter Luke Weaver pitched 5 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on nine hits. Weaver struck out four and walked none. Austin Gomber, Mike Mayers and John Brebbia combined for the final 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Weaver suffered his sixth loss of the season.
The offense consisted of a two-run home run off the bat of Marcell Ozuna in the sixth inning. Ozuna went 2-for-4, as did Jedd Gyorko.
Harrison Bader was picked off first base.
Thursday, June 14 – Off day
The Cardinals were embarrassed by the Cubs in the first of a weekend series at Busch Stadium. The usually consistent Michael Wacha had one of his poorer starts of the season. Wacha pitched four innings and gave up nine runs, eight earned, on seven hits. The right hander struck out two and walked four. Mike Mayers surrendered two runs in the fifth. Brett Cecil pitched the next two innings and allowed one additional run. Matt Bowman tossed a scoreless eighth. John Brebbia took the ninth and relinquished another run. Wacha took the loss, his second.
The Cardinal scored in the fourth on Marcell Ozuna’s solo home run. Matt Carpenter added a bases-empty long ball in the sixth and he plated another run on a single in the seventy. Tommy Pham’s solo home run in the eighth finished the team’s scoring.
Harrison Bader was picked off first base for the second straight game. In the field, Wacha committed a throwing error, as did Yadier Molina. Bader had two outfield assists.
The Cardinals again were the victims of the Cubs in Game 2 of the series, dropping their fourth game in a row. Marcell Ozuna continued to be the one-man offense for the Redbirds, with a two-run home run in the first inning. Carlos Martinez helped his cause in the fourth by driving in a run on a single. Those were St. Louis’ only runs for the evening. Yairo Munoz went 3-for-4.
Carlos Martinez pitched five innings, giving up three runs on seven hits. The righty walked six hitters, and struck out five. Austin Gomber followed with a scoreless sixth. Sam Tuivailala started the seventh and surrendered one run and got two outs before Jordan Hicks got the final out of the seventh. Hicks returned for the eighth and gave up a two-run home run to Jason Heyward and walked Anthony Rizzo. Hicks was replaced with one out by Matt Bowman, who got the final two outs of the inning, then returned to pitch a scoreless ninth. Tuivailala was the losing pitcher.
The sloppy play continued. Tommy Pham was caught stealing for the sixth time. Though it isn’t reflected in the box score, Dexter Fowler made an inexplicable out at third base in the sixth inning that effectively killed a possible scoring opportunity. Yairo Munoz and Bowman each committed throwing errors.
St. Louis managed to avoid the sweep by shutting out the Cubs on Sunday night. Great starting pitching by Jack Flaherty and four innings of scoreless bullpen relief kept the hot Cubs off the boards. Flaherty pitched five scoreless innings, allowing only two hits while fanning seven and walking three. Flaherty did not get the win because the game remained scoreless until the bottom of the sixth. Reliever John Brebbia got the win. After Brebbia’s scoreless sixth, Austin Gomber, Jordan Hicks and Bud Norris followed suit with a scoreless inning each.
It was a pitcher’s duel until the Cardinals came to bat in the sixth. The first run scored when Yadier Molina hit into a double play with the bases loaded and no outs. Jedd Gyorko followed with an RBI single. In the seventh, Matt Carpenter added a solo home run to right field. Yadier Molina doubled in the eighth to drive in a run, and Yairo Munoz singled for the fifth and final run. Harrison Bader and Marcell Ozuna each went 2-for-4.
Flaherty committed a throwing error on a pickoff attempt and Gyorko made a throwing error to first base. Bader had an outfield assist, throwing Anthony Rizzo out at third.
The Cardinals played poorly this past week, losing 2 of 3 to both the Padres and the Cubs and ending the week 2-4. The team is 37-32 and sits four games back of the Brewers and 3.5 games back of the Cubs, yet remains essentially tied for the second wild card.
The offense, with the exception of Marcell Ozuna, continues to struggle. Dexter Fowler has been sitting on the bench more frequently in favor of Harrison Bader. Kolten Wong’s offensive struggles continue, so he has spent many games on the bench and is inserted in the late innings as a defensive replacement. Only Ozuna really stood out this week with the bat. Jose Martinez missed the Cubs series, as he was on paternity leave.
Starting pitching has been hit and miss. Jack Flaherty pitched well on Sunday. Carlos Martinez walked six batters in his Saturday start. Michael Wacha had a very poor outing on Friday. Miles Mikolas has been fine, but Luke Weaver has been so-so. The bullpen has been much the same, though Matt Bowman returned on Friday and made a couple of good appearances.
Defense and base running were poor all week. Multiple errors on the infield, and on some pitchers, mostly throwing errors. Dexter Fowler made a baserunning blunder that got him thrown out at third and cost the Cardinals a scoring opportunity. Harrison Bader was picked off first base in two straight games.
The Cardinals have a tough schedule over the next couple of weeks; a road series with the Phillies and a set in Milwaukee are coming up this week. The Cardinals remain in third place in the NL Central. Opportunities to gain ground were blown in poor series against the last-place Marlins and Padres.
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Over the past six games (does not contain recent Sunday game results):
- Marcell Ozuna has an OPS of 1.478. He has four HRs, and nine RBI.
- Jose Martinez has an OPS of .974. He has one HR and two RBI.
- Jack Flaherty has an ERA of 1.42 and a WHIP of 0.63.
- Jordan Hicks has an ERA of 3.38 and a WHIP of 0.75.
- John Brebbia has an ERA of 1.93 and a WHIP of 0.64.
- Bud Norris has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.00.
Over the past six games (does not contain recent Sunday games):
- Dexter Fowler has an OPS of .282.
- Kolten Wong has an OPS of 4.00.
- Michael Wacha has an ERA of 18.00 and a WHIP of 2.75.
- Carlos Martinez has an ERA of 8.31 and a WHIP and 2.77.
- Luke Weaver has an ERA of 6.75 and a WHIP of 1.88.
- Mike Mayers has an ERA of 9.00 and a WHIP of 1.36.
- Sam Tuivailala has an ERA of 6.75 and a WHIP of 2.25.
A Look at Cardinals Lineups
The lineups over the last six games (does not contain recent Sunday game):
- The leadoff hitter has been Matt Carpenter for five games and Harrison Bader for one game.
- The number two hitter has been Tommy Pham for five games and Bader for one game.
- The number three hitter has been Martinez for four games, Molina for one game, and Pham for one game.
- The cleanup hitter has been Marcell Ozuna.
- The fifth hitter has been Yadier Molina for five games, and Jedd Gyorko for one game.
- The sixth hitter has been Gyorko for four games, Greg Garcia for one game, and Dexter Fowler for one game.
- The seventh hitter has been Munoz for two games, Bader for two games, Fowler for one game, and Luke Voit for one game.
- The eighth hitter has been Yairo Munoz for three games, and Kolten Wong for three games.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
- 6/11 The Cardinals optioned 1B Luke Voit to the Springfield Cardinals.
- 6/11 The Cardinals selected the contract of RHP Daniel Poncedeleon from the Memphis Redbirds.
- 6/14 The Cardinals sent RHP Greg Holland on a rehab assignment to the Springfield Cardinals.
- 6/14 The Cardinals optioned RHP Daniel Poncedeleon to the Memphis Redbirds.
- 6/15 The Cardinals placed 1B Jose Martinez on the Paternity List.
- 6/15 The Cardinals activated RHP Matt Bowman from the 10 day disabled list.
- 6/15 The Cardinals recalled 1B Luke Voit from the Springfield Cardinals.
- RHP Dominic Leone (right upper arm nerve irritation) was transferred from the 10 day DL to the 60 day DL. Leone is expected to be out for an indefinite period. Leone has engaged in strength training and other rehab exercises but has not been cleared for any baseball activity.
- RHP Alex Reyes (right lat strain) had surgery on June 6 to reattach a tendon in his right lat. Reyes will be out for the remainder of the season but is expected to make a full recovery.
- RHP Adam Wainwright (right elbow inflammation) continues on the 60 day DL. Wainwright is not expected to begin a throwing program until July.
- RHP Luke Gregerson (right shoulder impingement, knee surgery for torn meniscus). Gregerson had surgery on his right knee for a torn meniscus on June 11 while on the DL for a shoulder ailment. The right handed pitcher may return to the roster in late July.
- SS Paul DeJong (fractured left hand) continues to recover from hand surgery. DeJong has resumed some baseball activities, including hitting off a tee. He is expected to take batting practice during the week of June 18. DeJong could return to the roster in late June or early July.
- RHP Greg Holland (right hip impingement) was sent on a rehab assignment to the Memphis Redbirds on June 7. Holland began a rehab assignment with the Springfield Cardinals on June 14, which concluded Saturday. A return to the St. Louis roster is expected on Monday.
- LHP Tyler Lyons (left elbow sprain) was placed on the 10 day DL retroactive to June 6. Lyons is expected to begin a throwing program the week of June 18.
The Cardinals travel to Philadelphia to begin a three game series with the Phillies. Miles Mikolas is scheduled to make the Monday start, followed by Luke Weaver on Tuesday and Michael Wacha on Wednesday.
The Cardinals move to Milwaukee upon departing Philadelphia to play a four game series against the Brewers. If the rotation holds, the Thursday starter should be Carlos Martinez, followed by Jack Flaherty on Friday, Mile Mikolas on Saturday, and Luke Weaver on Sunday.
After a Monday off day, the Cardinals play a two game interleague series with the Indians at Busch Stadium. There is another off day on Thursday, and the Braves come to St. Louis for a weekend series.
Following the homestand, the Cardinals will head to Arizona for a three game series with the Diamondbacks.
The Cardinals’ regular season schedule can be found here.
Blast from the Past
St. Louis played a crucial series with the Cubs over the weekend and could only manage to win one game of the three. Friday’s game was a 13-5 blowout, and Saturday’s game was essentially a bullpen loss, as the Cardinals blew an early lead to fall, 6-3. Every series against the Cubs is played like it is the World Series due to the intense competition between the two clubs.
The Cardinals-Cubs is one of the oldest and most intense rivalries in major league baseball. Some speculate that this originated in the 19th Century as a result of an economic trade rivalry between St. Louis and Chicago. The original Chicago team was the Chicago White Stockings, and the formation of the St. Louis Brown Stockings in 1875 arose to compete with that team. The Brown Stockings would collapse and re-emerge in 1882 when the St. Louis Browns (later the Cardinals) met the White Stockings in two pre-World Series matchups. The first official meeting of the Cardinals and the Cubs took place on April 12, 1892 in Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. This was the year the Browns moved to the National League and became known as the Cardinals in 1900. (Another St. Louis Browns team emerged in the American League as the former Milwaukee Brewers, which later then became the current Baltimore Orioles.)
The Cubs had early successes which the Cardinals did not have. The Cubs won their last World Series before their 2016 Championship in 1908. The Cardinals would eventually begin to dominate the Cubs in World Series Championships, with their first in 1926. Though the Cubs would win a few pennants during this time, their pennant winning eventually stopped in 1945. The Cardinals on the other hand have won 11 World Series titles in the decades prior to the Cubs next one in 2016.
Over the ensuing decades notable events occurred within the rivalry. There was the so-called “Sandberg Game” on June 23, 1984, named after Cubs star Ryne Sandberg. The extra innings game featured two Sandberg home runs in extra innings to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat for the Cubs.
The Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa home run record chase was another big event in the rivalry. McGwire eventually won the home run battle, but Sosa got the prize of winning the NL MVP award in 1998.
St. Louis is way ahead of the Cubs in the Championship battle, but there are other statistical comparisons of note between the two clubs. The Cardinals hold the edge over the Cubs in league MVPs; the Cardinals have 20 compared to the Cubs 11. But the Cubs have more Cy Young pitchers, five, to the Cardinals three. The Cardinals have more Gold Glove Winners at every position except second base. The Silver Slugger awards between the two teams are fairly even overall, as are the number of players in the Hall of Fame with their team’s plaques. The Cardinals have 11 and the Cubs have 11.
The Cubs currently have the upper hand over the Cardinals over the last several seasons. Over the history of the franchises, however, the Cardinals have reigned supreme in most of the categories that matter.
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