St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of June 14-20

photo: Dylan Carlson, Paul Goldschmidt, Tommy Edman (Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports)

The St. Louis Cardinals managed to log a 4-3 week that was clouded by three tough losses in Atlanta over the weekend. With the exceptions of Paul Goldschmidt and Dylan Carlson, the offense is still not hitting consistently. In our history feature, the MLB debuts of St. Louis’ relief pitchers are revisited.

Game Recaps

Monday, June 14 – Cardinals 4, Marlins 2

The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Miami Marlins in the first of a three-game series on Monday at Busch Stadium.  This was the second meeting of the two teams, as the Cardinals swept the Marlins in Miami in April.

Starter Adam Wainwright provided much needed stability. The 39-year-old pitched six innings, yielded two runs on four hits, fanned six and walked three.  Genesis Cabrera, Giovanny Gallegos and Alex Reyes each tossed a scoreless inning of relief.  Gallegos was awarded the win and Reyes the save, his 17th.

The Cardinals got on the board first in the second inning on an RBI single by Edmundo Sosa that plated Yadier Molina, who singled to right earlier in the inning.  The Marlins scored their two runs in the third inning on two singles and two walks.

The Redbirds tied it up in the fifth on a leadoff ground rule double by Tommy Edman and an RBI single by Paul Goldschmidt.  The winning runs came home in the eighth.  Dylan Carlson drew a leadoff walk and Goldschimdt singled. Tyler O’Neill doubled to left and Carlson scored.  Goldschmidt came home on a ground out by Paul DeJong.

Carlson, Goldschmidt, O’Neill and Sosa each had two hits.  Edman had an outfield assist at home plate and Molina picked off a runner at first base.

Tuesday, June 15 – Cardinals 2, Marlins 1

In Game 2, the Cardinals edged the Marlins 2-1 to take the series. Kwang-Hyun Kim made his first start since coming off the injured list and again the pitching staff covered for the limited offense.  The left hander tossed six innings and gave up one run on three hits, struck out six and walked five.

Kwang-Hyun Kim

Genesis Cabrera, Giovanny Gallegos, and Alex Reyes each tossed a scoreless inning.  Reyes was awarded the win, his second of the season.

Miami took a 1-0 lead in the third inning off Kim on a leadoff walk and two singles.  The Cardinals tied the game in the sixth. Jose Rondon singled, stole second base, and came home on a single by Paul Goldschmidt.

The score remained tied 1-1 until the bottom of the ninth.  Goldschmidt led off with a solo home run on the fourth pitch to give the Cardinals the walk off victory.  He was the only Cardinal with multiple hits.

Paul Goldschmidt

In addition to Rondon’s stolen base, Goldschmidt stole his fifth base of the season.  Tyler O’Neill was caught stealing for the second time. Dylan Carlson made a throwing error.

Wednesday, June 16 – Cardinals 1, Marlins 0

The Cardinals swept the Marlins, winning the final game by the score of 1-0 in a pitcher’s duel.  The contest was scoreless until the bottom of the ninth, as St. Louis collected their second walk off of the series.

Starter Johan Oviedo tossed seven scoreless innings, allowed six hits and struck out four.  Andrew Miller and Ryan Helsley combined for the final two scoreless innings with Helsley getting the win, his fourth.

Johan Oviedo

The walk off run scored  when Paul Goldschmidt reached on a error, Matt Carpenter drew a walk, and Yadier Molina singled to left field, scoring Goldschmidt.  For the second day in a row, Goldschmidt represented the walkoff run.

Both teams had six hits, and both pitchers pitched at least seven innings.  Marlins starter and former Cardinal Sandy Alcantara tossed a complete game, but took the hard-luck defeat.

Edmundo Sosa stole his third base of the season and Tyler O’Neill was caught stealing for the second day in a row.

Thursday, June 17 – Cardinals 0 at Braves 4

The Cardinals were blanked by the Braves in the first of a four-game weekend series in Atlanta.  The Redbirds offense managed only three hits against Braves starter Charlie Morton, who pitched into the eighth inning.

The Cardinals were no-hit until the seventh when Paul Goldschmidt singled to left field.  He was left stranded when Nolan Arenado popped out and Tyler O’Neill struck out.

The only real scoring opportunity for St. Louis came in the eighth when Matt Carpenter and Jose Rondon singled.  Morton came out of the game but Tommy Edman struck out to end the inning.

John Gant started for the Cardinals and pitched 5 1/3 innings, yielded three runs on four hits, punched out four and walked three. Daniel Ponce de Leon surrendered a run in the seventh.  Newcomer Wade LeBlanc pitched to two batters in the seventh, gave up a double to Freddie Freeman and got Ozzie Albies out on a pop up.  Junior Fernandez added a scoreless eighth. Gant took the loss, his fifth of the season.

Friday, June 18 – Cardinals 1 at Braves 9

The Cardinals were walloped by the Braves in the second game of the series in Atlanta. The Cardinals scored one run to begin the game and were shut down for the remainder.

The lone run for the Redbirds was set up by a leadoff double by Tommy Edman, who scored after ground outs by Dylan Carlson and Paul Goldschmidt.  That was all the offense for the Cardinals other than two scattered hits by Paul DeJong and Edmundo Sosa.

Carlos Martinez started and lasted only three innings, giving up eight runs on eight hits, including two long balls.  The right hander struck out three and walked four.  Jake Woodford relieved Martinez and surrendered one run in his two innings pitched.  Wade LeBlanc tossed the final three scoreless frames. Martinez took the loss, his eighth of the season.

Sosa was picked off and caught stealing in the second inning.

Saturday, June 19 – Cardinals at Braves – Postponed

This game was postponed due to rain in Atlanta.  It was played on Sunday as part of a doubleheader.

Sunday, June 20 – Cardinals 9 at Braves 1 (seven innings, Game 1)

The Cardinals returned the favor to the Braves, matching their win over the Cardinals in Game 2 with the win by the same score over the Braves in Game 3.  Adam Wainwright was brilliant in this seven inning doubleheader game, going all seven.  The right hander allowed only one run on three hits and struck out 11 for a season high.  He also issued three walks.

Adam Wainwright

The Redbirds bats were out and busy.  Nolan Arenado’s home run in the first inning gave St. Louis the 2-0 lead. Tommy Edman singled to start the inning as the first of three hits for the leadoff hitter.

In the fourth inning the Cardinals made it 3-0.  Tyler O’Neill led off with a double and Yadier Molina drove him home on a ground ball single up the middle.  The Braves scored their only run off Wainwright in the home fourth. Freddie Freeman and Ozzie Albies singled, then Freeman stole home on a double steal attempt.

The Cardinals piled on in the fifth.  Edman singled for the second time and Dylan Carlson followed with a double.  Paul Goldschmidt then blasted a three run home run, his 10th of the season, to make it 6-1. The Redbirds added three more in the sixth.  Wainwright drew a walk and Edman singled for the third time. Carlson walked and Goldschmidt singled to plate Wainwright.  Arenado drew a bases loaded walk to score Edman, and Carlson came home on a sac fly by Tyler O’Neill.

Wainwright earned the win, his fifth.  In addition to his three hits, Edman stole his 13th base of the season.

Sunday, June 20 – Cardinals 0 at Braves 1 (seven innings, Game 2)

The Cardinals followed up the thrashing of the Braves in Game 1 of the twin bill, with a no offense shut out by the Braves in the nightcap.

St. Louis’ offense was hobbled by the unremarkable offerings of left hander Drew Smyly, who no-hit the Redbirds through five innings.  The first hit by a Cardinal was an infield single that could have been scored an error off the bat of Paul Goldschmidt.  The second hit by Nolan Arenado was also an infield single.  Both runners were left stranded when Tyler O’Neill struck out swinging.  This was essentially the only scoring opportunity for the Cardinals in the seven inning game.

The Braves didn’t set the world on fire with the bat either, but Ronald Acuna hit a Kwang-Hyun Kim slider at the bottom of the zone in the third inning for a solo home run.  That was enough to win over the sluggish bats of the Cardinals.

Kim tossed four innings and gave up one run on three hits.  The left hander struck out two and walked one to take the loss, his fifth of the season.  Ryan Helsley and Genesis Cabrera each pitched a scoreless inning of relief.

Big Picture

The Cardinals finished the week 4-3, a winning record bolstered by a sweep of the last place Marlins. Losing 3 of 4 to the Braves puts the team in a tie with the Reds for second place in the Division, four games behind the Cubs and Brewers, who are tied for first place.

It’s the same song. different verse for this team over the last several weeks.  Inconsistent pitching and inconsistent offense.  John Gant continues to lead baseball in total walks.  Carlos Martinez is an exercise in guessing whether you will get good Carlos or bad Carlos on any given start.  The bullpen is also a guessing game, sans the golden three, Cabrera, Gallegos and Reyes.

Adam Wainwright is the bright spot in the rotation.  Johan Oviedo continues to improve his game.  Kwang-Hyun Kim has yet to build up to a stable rotation option due to his back issues but is doing well when he can pitch.  So the Cardinals are left with basically two starting pitchers who garner some confidence when they take the mound.  A team can’t win on a regular basis with a rotation like that.

The offense is a roller coaster with the doubleheader on Sunday its poster child.  Big offense one minute, none the next.  The hitting is like the pitching of Martinez, guessing which one you are going to get.   Only two Cardinal hitters have an OPS over .800 over the last week – Dylan Carlson (.808) and Paul Goldschmidt (.985).  The next closest is Tyler O’Neill (.642).

Dylan Carlson

Injuries are an easy excuse, but as far as the offense goes, only one regular remains on the injured list, Harrison Bader.  Injury is much more of a factor with pitching.  If the offense can get it going with some consistency, the missing pieces in the rotation will be easier to overcome.

The defense has cleaned up its act lately, so that is one less thing about which to be frustrated, as long as it stays that way.

The Cardinals are in a prime stretch of schedule during which to make headway in the division, but so far the results are less than optimal.  They did sweep the last place Marlins, but the Braves have been struggling and the Cardinals should have been able to take advantage, but it didn’t happen.  The next week the Cardinals play the last place Tigers, followed by the last place Pirates, and end the month with the last place Diamondbacks.  The Cardinals have to cash in there or else fall farther behind in the Division and perhaps not catch back up.

NL Central Standings

Team W L Pct GB
Chicago 40 32 0.556            – —
Milwaukee 40 32 0.556            – —
St. Louis 36 36 0.500 4
Cincinnati 35 35 0.500 4
Pittsburgh 25 45 0.357 14

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 6/15 The Cardinals activated LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim from the 10-day injured list.
  • 6/15 The Cardinals optioned RHP Angel Rondon to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 6/17 The Cardinals optioned RHP Seth Elledge to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 6/17 The Cardinals signed free agent LHP Wade LeBlanc.
  • 6/17 The Cardinals placed 2B Max Moroff on the 60-day injured list. Right shoulder subluxation.
  • 6/18 The Cardinals optioned LF Justin Williams to the Memphis Redbirds.

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 could begin some light throwing shortly but a return date in August is still the expected outcome.
  • RHP Jordan Hicks (right elbow inflammation) continues on the 60-day injured list with a return date sometime in August. Hicks has still not begun to throw.
  • CF Harrison Bader (right rib hairline fracture) remains on the 10-day injured list. Bader was injured on Monday, May 24 in a game against the White Sox.  He sustained the rib fracture while diving for a line drive and landing on the ball on his right side.  The CF has begun light baseball activities, and will slowly ramp up.  The discomfort Bader has been experiencing is subsiding but hewill likely need a rehab assignment before returning.  Late June to early July is the forecast for him to again take the field.
  • 2B Max Moroff (left shoulder subluxation) was placed 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 Kodi Whitley (mid back spasms) was placed on the 10-day injured list retroctive to May 27. The relief pitcher has been playing catch and is ramping up the intensity.  It is reported that the reliever is 4 to 6 days from returning to a mound.
  • RHP Jack Flaherty (left oblique strain) was injured in the game against the Dodgers on Monday, May 31. The right hander felt tightness while pitching that was then exacerbated by swinging the bat.  Flaherty has begun some light throwing and will slowly build up the intensity.  He will likely need a rehab assignment before returning to the roster, which is expected to be late July/early August.
  • OF Justin Williams (neck stiffness) was placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to June 3. While on a Memphis rehab, the OF was activated from the injured list and optioned to the Redbirds.
  • LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim (right lower back tightness) was activated from the injured list and has returned to the rotation.
  • 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.
  • 2B/SS Edmundo Sosa was hit by a pitch on his right hand in the June 16 game against the Marlins. Imaging revealed no fracture but he was kept out of the lineup on Thursday against the Braves.  Sosa returned to the lineup in Friday’s game.

Looking Ahead

Following the Braves series, the team has a travel day on Monday and heads to Detroit for a two-game series with the Tigers. Johan Oviedo and John Gant are the projected starters.

The Cardinals will return to St. Louis to play a four-game weekend set with the Pirates.  The homestand will continue with a three games against the Diamondbacks starting Monday, June 28.

July begins in Denver with four games at Coors Field with the Rockies. The team then heads to San Francisco to play the first-place Giants for three.

After a Thursday travel day, the Cardinals return to Wrigley Field for weekend series with the Cubs before the All-Star break begins on Monday, July 12.

The Cardinals regular season schedule can be found here.

Blast from the Past

This week in the major league debut series we look at eight pitchers who are currently (as of June 20) in the Cardinals bullpen.  (Daniel Ponce de Leon was covered in the starting pitcher segment last week.)

Genesis Cabrera – Cabrera made his major league debut with the Cardinals on May 29, 2019 in an 11-4 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.  Though he is currently in the bullpen, the left hander made his major league debut as a starter.  Cabrera pitched 3 2/3 innings against the Phillies and gave up five runs, three earned, on five hits.  He struck out five that day, with the first one Jean Segura, caught looking, in the first inning.  J.T Realmuto struck out swinging in the first inning as well.  Cabrera struck out the side, Scott Kingery, Maikel Franco, and Aaron Nola in the second inning.  The two unearned runs were Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper, who scored on a single by Cesar Hernandez in the first inning.  Cabrera gave up a two run home run in the third (Bryce Harper).  The fifth run was an inherited runner allowed to score by Michael Wacha, who relieved Cabrera in the fourth.

Genesis Cabrera

Junior Fernandez – Fernandez made his debut at Busch Stadium in an 11-9 win over the Pirates on August 11, 2019.  The right hander relieved Miles Mikolas in the sixth inning.  Fernandez pitched to four batters, struck out two and allowed a single to the other two.  The first punch out was of Elias Diaz, who struck out looking on six pitches.  Pablo Reyes also struck out looking on four pitches.  Tyler Webb relieved Fernandez with two outs in the sixth and allowed both of the runners inherited from Fernandez to score.

Junior Fernandez

Giovanny Gallegos – Gallegos made his major league debut as a New York Yankee on May 12, 2017 at Yankee Stadium against the Houston Astros.  The Yankees lost the game 5-1.  Gallegos pitched to one batter, Carlos Correa, who flew out to center field.  The right hander’s next appearance was in that same series on May 14.  Gallegos pitched three innings in relief of Masahiro Tanaka, who lasted only 1 2/3 innings after giving up eight runs. Gallegos struck out Brian McCann swinging to end the second inning for his first major league strikeout.  He retired all three batters in the third.  In the fourth he walked George Springer, who later scored on a sac fly; the run was unearned because the batter after Springer, Josh Reddick, reached base on a catcher interference call.  Gallegos gave up a single in the fourth but the runner was left stranded.

Giovanny Gallegos

Ryan Helsley – The right hander made his major league debut on April 16, 2019, in an 8-4 loss the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.  Helsley relieved Giovanny Gallegos (who relieved Jack Flaherty in a short start) with two outs in the fifth inning.  Helsley’s first batter, Christian Yelich, hit a three run home run to right center field. He then struck out Ryan Braun swinging for his first major league strikeout.  Helsley pitched 2 1/3 innings in that game as his next two innings were scoreless with three more punch outs.

Ryan Helsley

Wade LeBlanc – The newest addition to the Cardinal bullpen made his major league debut as a starting pitcher with the San Diego Padres on September 3, 2008 at Dodger Stadium in a 6-4 loss to the Dodgers.  LeBlanc pitched four innings and gave up five runs on eight hits.  His first major league strikeout was his only punch out of the game; he struck out Casey Blake swinging on four pitches in the first inning. The first two of LeBlanc’s four innings were scoreless. His five earned runs were on a single in the third inning, and two home runs and a single in the fourth.

Wade LeBlanc

Andrew Miller – Miller made his debut as a Detroit Tiger on August 30, 2006 in a 2-0 loss to the Yankees.  The left hander pitched the eighth inning in relief of starter Nate Robertson.  He faced four batters, and it went Lineout, Hit by Pitch, Groundball to 3B/force out at 2B, and Groundout to 3B.  His first major league strikeout was on September 5, 2006 at Comerica Park in a 4-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners.  Miller struck out Yuniesky Betancourt swinging on three pitches in the fifth inning in relief of starter Jeremy Bonderman.  Miller pitched two innings in the game and gave up a run in the sixth inning.

Andrew Miller

Alex Reyes – The oft injured former number one prospect made his major league debut on August 9, 2016 at Busch Stadium in a 7-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. Reyes pitched the ninth inning in a game started by Mike Leake.  The last pitcher in the eighth inning was Zach Duke, who only faced one batter after Matt Bowman gave up three runs.  Reyes struck out his first batter, Adam Duvall, on four pitches for his first major league strikeout.  His final two batters, Tony Renda and Ivan De Jesus, both grounded out.

Alex Reyes

Jake Woodford – Woodford made his first appearance with the Cardinals on August 15, 2020 in the first game of a doubleheader, a 6-3 win over the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.  The right hander debuted as a starter in a bullpen game and pitched three innings, gave up one run on one hit and struck out three.  The right hander faced the minimum in the first two innings, with three ground outs in the first.  In the second, Woodford got his first major league strikeout, of Jose Abreu, who struck out swinging on five pitches.  In his third, he gave up a leadoff solo home run to Luis Robert. Nomar Mazara grounded out, and Woodford punched out Danny Mendick and Tim Anderson, both swinging.

Jake Woodford

Next week’s final segment of this series covers all remaining bullpen pitchers who made at least one appearance for the Cardinals this season, including any on the injured list.  Dakota Hudson, who was left out of the starters list, will also be covered in this segment.


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