St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of June 28-July 4

Photo: Harrison Bader (Jim Cowsert/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals opened the week with a sweep of the Diamondbacks at Busch Stadium. Success did not follow them to Colorado as they won just one game of a four-game series against the Rockies. The rotation has stabilized, but the lineup is struggling to provide runs.

Our Blast from the Past feature describes one or more notable events from each day of the week the report covers.

Game Recaps

Monday, June 28 – Cardinals 7, Diamondbacks 1

The Cardinals whomped the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-1 in the first game of a three-game series at Busch Stadium.  The contest was a close one until the seventh inning when the Redbird offense broke out for a six-run inning to blow the game open.

The Cardinals started LHP Wade LeBlanc, and he tossed 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball on four hits.  He struck out two and walked one.  LeBlanc threw strikes, which is something the Cardinal rotation has been lacking in recent weeks.  Ryan Helsley, John Gant, Genesis Cabrera, Giovanny Gallegos, Andrew Miller, and Brandon Waddell all combined to pitch the final 4 2/3 scoreless innings.  Gallegos was awarded the win, his fifth of the season.

St. Louis got on the board first on an RBI triple by Dylan Carlson in the second inning.  The Diamondbacks tied it up in the fifth on a solo home run.  The game remained knotted up at 1-1 until the seventh inning.

In the seventh, Edmundo Sosa led off with a double and Tommy Edman bunted him to third.  Carlson singled to plate Sosa.  Carlson advanced to second on a passed ball and then scored on a single by Paul Goldschmidt.  Tyler O’Neill singled, and Yadier Molina plated both Goldschmidt and O’Neill on a double.  Paul DeJong followed with a two-run home run to left center field.

Dylan Carlson

Carlson, O’Neill, and Sosa each had two hits in the game.  Carlson, Molina, and DeJong each had two RBI.

Tuesday, June 29 – Cardinals 3, Diamondbacks 2

The Cardinals edged the Diamondbacks in a one-run victory at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night.  Carlos Martinez took the mound and reversed course on his recent string of short and ineffective starts.  The right-hander tossed six innings, yielded one run on four hits, fanned six and walked two.

Genesis Cabrera relieved Martinez and allowed one run in 2/3 innings.  Andrew Miller and Alex Reyes combined for the final 2 1/3 scoreless innings.  Martinez earned his fourth win and the first win by a Cardinal starting pitcher other than Adam Wainwright in a month.  Reyes got his 19th save.

The game was scoreless until the fifth inning, when the Redbirds got on the board on a two-run home run by Nolan Arenado.  The long ball was the third baseman’s 16th of the season.

Nolan Arenado

Arizona got a run back in the top of the sixth, but the Cardinals responded in the home half of the sixth with their third run on an RBI single by Tommy Edman.

Andrew Miller, in relief of Cabrera, gave up a bases loaded walk in the seventh to score an inherited runner and make it 3-2, but Alex Reyes held on in a two-inning save for the Cardinal win.  Edman and Arenado each had two hits in the game.

Wednesday, June 30 – Cardinals 7, Diamondbacks 4

The Cardinals defeated the Diamondbacks in the final game of the three-game series to complete the sweep.  Starter Kwang-Hyun Kim yielded one run on three hits in five innings pitched.  The left-hander fanned five and walked three.

Kwang-Hyun Kim

John Gant relieved Kim and tossed two scoreless innings of relief.  Roel Ramirez came in to replace Gant in the eighth but surrendered three runs while only recording one out.  Ryan Helsley got the final two outs of the inning.  Alex Reyes pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 20th save.

The Redbirds scored two runs in the second inning on a double by Kim.  Arizona cut the lead to 2-1 in the top of the third.  In the home half of the third the Cardinals increased the lead by two runs on singles by Tyler O’Neill and Yadier Molina.

In the fourth an RBI single by Paul Goldschmidt made it 5-1 and an RBI single by Tommy Edman increased the tally to 6-1.  A seventh run in the seventh inning came home on a force out ground ball by Edman.

The three runs in the eighth made it closer, but the Helsley and Reyes staved off any further threat.

Goldschmidt was 3-for-5 in the game O’Neill was 3-for-4 with three runs scored.  Molina went 2-for-4 and Kim had two RBI.

O’Neill stole his sixth base of the season.  Edmundo Sosa made a throwing error, his sixth error of the season,

Thursday, July 1 – Cardinals 2 at Rockies 5

In the first game of a four-game series at Coors Field, the Cardinals were served with a walk off defeat by the Rockies on Thursday.  Adam Wainwright pitched a quality start of eight innings with two runs allowed on six hits.  The right-hander struck out four and walked one.

Adam Wainwright

Giovanny Gallegos gave up the walk off three-run home run in the ninth and took the loss, his second of the season.  Gallegos retired the first two batters with ease, but lost command and walked the next two batters.  His final hitter, Elias Diaz, blistered a middle-middle slider for the walk off win.

The Redbirds scored first with a run on an RBI single by Paul DeJong in the top of the second.  Wainwright gave up a two-run home run in the bottom of the second to give the Rockies a 2-1 lead.

The Cardinals tied the game in the third on a Paul Goldschmidt solo home run.  The game remained knotted up 2-2 until the ninth, when the long ball ended the game.

Goldschmidt, DeJong, and Tyler O’Neill each had two hits in the game.  O’Neill and DeJong both made errors, a throwing error for O’Neill and a fielding miscue for DeJong.

Friday, July 2 – Cardinals 9 at Rockies 3 (10 innings)

The Cardinals beat the Rockies in the second game of the four-game series on Friday night at Coors Field.  This game was a close fight for most of the game, not unlike the previous game, but it ended differently with a Cardinal victory in extra innings.

The Redbirds again scored first in the top of the second inning on a two-run home run by Yadier Molina.  This was Molina’s first home run in Coors Field in a regulation game. The catcher had homered in all other active National League ballparks but had yet to do so at Coors.

The Rockies answered in the bottom of the second with a run to make it a 2-1 Cardinal lead.  This score remained until the fifth when the Rockies tied the game on solo home run by Elias Diaz, the catcher who had hit the walk off long ball in Thursday’s game.  Colorado took a 3-2 lead in the sixth.

In the ninth, the Cardinals the tied the game 3-3. Tommy Edman and Harrison Bader each drew a walk. With two outs in the inning, pinch hitter Jose Rondon singled and Edman scored the tying run.  The Rockies failed to score in the home half of the ninth, and the game was sent into extra innings.

St. Louis broke it open in the 10th.  With Dylan Carlson starting the game at second base, the Rockies intentionally walked Nolan Arenado.  Molina singled to center and Carlson scored.  The Cardinals were not done.  Edman singled to plate Arenado.  Edman and Molina executed a double steal, then Paul Dejong drew a walk. With the bases juiced, Bader annihilated a baseball over the left field stands and onto the concourse for a grand slam and the Cardinals went up 9-3, a deficit from which the Rockies were unable to come back.

Harrison Bader

Molina went 3-for-5 in the game with three RBI and two runs scored.  Edman was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.  Bader drove in four.  Everyone in the starting lineup but the pitcher had at least one hit.

On the pitching side of things, Johan Oviedo got the start.  The right hander tossed six innings and gave up three runs on seven hits, struck out two and walked one.  Ryan Helsley, Genesis Cabrera, John Gant, and Alex Reyes kept the Rockies off the board for the remaining four innings.  Reyes earned the win, his fifth of the season.

On the base paths, Molina stole his second base of the season and Edman snatched his 15th.

Saturday, July 3 – Cardinals 2 at Rockies 3

The Cardinals lost a tough game on Saturday, one day after a huge emotional win.  The Cardinal offense was unable to match the output of the previous night’s game and was stymied by left-hander Kyle Freeland.

The game was scoreless through six innings.  Cardinal starter Wade LeBlanc was also effective and kept the Rockies off the board throughout his 5 2/3 innings pitched. The left-hander allowed three hits, struck out three and walked three before yielding to Ryan Helsley with two outs in the sixth.

Wade LeBlanc

Helsley pitched 2/3 scoreless innings and was relieved by Genesis Cabrera.  Cabrera was not effective and surrendered three runs in one inning of work.  John Gant got the final two outs of the game.  Cabrera took the loss.

Cabrera gave up a three-run home run to Trevor Story in the seventh inning to give the Rockies a lead of 3-0.  The Cardinals came back in the eighth to score two runs on RBI singles by Paul Goldschmidt and Yadier Molina. A similar rally fell flat in the ninth with two runners on when Dylan Carlson struck out swinging to end it.

In the field, Helsley made a throwing error. On the base paths, Harrison Bader was picked off and caught stealing.

Sunday, July 4 – Cardinals 2 at Rockies 3

The Cardinals lost the final game of the four-game series at Coors Field.  The Rockies took three of four and won the series, and the Cardinals leave town to go face a much better team.

Carlos Martinez started the game and gave up a solo home run to Trevor Story in the first inning. In the second inning, Matt Carpenter singled, and Harrison Bader smashed his second home run of the series to give the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.

Martinez only pitched 3 1/3 innings because he was taken out in the fourth with an injury.  It was reported to be a bruised right thumb suffered in his last at bat.  The Cardinals sent Brandon Waddell out for 1 2/3 innings and followed him up with new acquisition Justin Miller for an inning.  They kept the Rockies off the board.

The score remained 2-1 as the sputtering and ineffective Redbird offense struggled to score runs off the worst bullpen in baseball.  In the eighth, one of St. Louis’ best relievers, Giovanny Gallegos, gave up the tying run.  Then in the ninth, the Cardinals All Star closer, Alex Reyes, gave up the winning run.

Harrison Bader, who has not played much since the season started because of injury, was 2-for-4 with the only RBI.  Matt Carpenter, who also does not play much, was also 2-for-4.  The rest of the starting lineup was 3-for-21.

Bader also stole a base, his fourth.  Edman stole his 16th base.

Big Picture

The Cardinals played seven games during the week, won all three against the Diamondbacks at home and lost 3 of 4 to the Rockies on the road, for a 4-3 week.  The 13 game stretch of games against sub .500 teams that it was hoped would get the team back on track ended with the Cardinals winning 5 and losing 8.

The Cardinals are now 3 games under .500 at 41-44 and are 10 games back of first place in the NL Central.  The Brewers, though their winning streak ended with a loss to Pirates on Sunday, are well entrenched in first place with a cushion of 7 games over the second place Reds.

St. Louis now heads to San Francisco to play the first place Giants, who are 22 games over .500.  The team ends the road trip against the Cubs at Wrigley Field and then head into the All-Star break.  The Cubs are the owners of their own 9 game losing streak, but the Cardinals have not played well at Wrigley this season.

The Cardinals are certainly not where they want to be at this point in the year.  The season is not over with however and anything can happen.  The Cardinals just have to play better.  Sounds quite simple, but that is the formula.  Whether the team can pull it off is the $64,000 question.

The offense is not scoring runs, most especially on the road.  Their run differential as of Sunday is -40. It breaks down to -5 at home and -35 on the road.  The individual performances break down like this over the last seven games: Dylan Carlson (.550 OPS), Paul Goldschmidt (.733 OPS), Nolan Arenado (.710 OPS), Tommy Edman (.927 OPS), Paul DeJong (.828 OPS), Yadier Molina (.748 OPS).  These are the players who have played in most of the past seven games.  Tyler O’Neill has played in 5 of the last 7 games and has an OPS of 1.140 in those games.  Harrison Bader played all four games of the Rockies series and has an OPS of 1.041 in that series.

Tyler O’Neill

As for pitching, it has improved somewhat over the last week.  John Gant was removed from the rotation and was replaced by Wade LeBlanc, who has pitched well in both his starts.  Adam Wainwright continues to be Adam Wainwright.  Carlos Martinez has been better, though he had a shortened start on Sunday due to injury.  Kwang-Hyun Kim has pitched well also.  Johan Oveido continues to improve. The rotation has stabilized for the time being.

The bullpen still remains a guessing game.  Genesis Cabrera and Giovanny Gallegos, once the stalwarts of the bullpen, have faltered recently.  Gant is back in the bullpen and pitches better there than in the rotation.  Alex Reyes is Alex Reyes, still walks people but still gets saves, though he did not on Sunday.  The new relievers have been fine, so far.

Defense and base running are good, those are not areas of concern for this team at this time.

The Cardinals head to San Francisco to play the Giants, one of the best teams in baseball at 22 games over .500.  They return before the break to play the Cubs at Wrigley.  The Cubs are on a downward slide recently with a nine-game losing streak, but it is Wrigley Field so anything can happen.  The most that can be hoped for with the Giants is that the Cardinals’ bats can heat up and the pitching remains solid.

NL Central Standings

Team                                                  W                                            L                                              Pct                                           GB

 

Milwaukee

 

           51

 

             34

 

         .600

 

          ——

 

Cincinnati

 

           43

 

             40

 

         .518

 

             7

 

Chicago

 

           42

 

             42

 

         .500

 

            8.5

 

St. Louis

 

           41

 

             44

 

         .482

 

            10

 

Pittsburgh

 

           30

 

             53

 

         .361

 

            20

Trade and Acquisition Rumors.

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 6/28 The Cardinals optioned RHP Seth Elledge to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 6/28 The Cardinals selected the contract of LHP Brandon Waddell from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 6/28 The Cardinals selected the contract of RHP Roel Ramirez from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 6/28 The Cardinals optioned RHP Jake Woodford to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 6/28 The Cardinals designated 1B John Nogowski for assignment.
  • 6/29 The Cardinals sent CF Harrison Bader on a rehab assignment to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 7/1 The Cardinals activated CF Harrison Bader.
  • 7/1 The Cardinals optioned LF Lars Nootbaar to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 7/2 The Cardinals transferred RHP Jack Flaherty to the 60-day injured list.
  • 7/2 The Cardinals claimed RHP Justin Miller off waivers from the Washington Nationals.
  • 7/3 The Cardinals optioned RHP Roel Ramirez to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 7/3 The Cardinals traded 1B John Nogowski to the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash considerations.
  • 7/3 The Cardinals activated RHP Justin Miller.

Injury Report

  • RHP Miles Mikolas (right forearm tightness), was placed 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 will shortly begin a more rigid throwing program.  Mikolas has told the media he hopes to start throwing bullpen sessions by the All-Star Break.  Rehab games in the minors could follow by the end of July/early August.
  • 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) was activated from the 10-day injured list on Thursday, July 1 and was in the lineup for the Rockies series.
  • 2B Max Moroff (left shoulder subluxation) was placed on the 10-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 retroactive to May 27. Whitley has made two rehab appearances at Double-A Springfield and a return date is penciled in for some time during the current road trip.
  • RHP Jack Flaherty (left oblique strain) was transferred to the 60-day injured list to make room for newly acquired pitcher Justin Miller. The pitcher resumed light throwing on June 16 and it is hoped he will ramp up his long toss program in the first two weeks of July. A return to throwing off a mound will follow but no timeline for that to begin has been established.  An August return is still expected.
  • 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 was removed from his last outing against the Tigers on Tuesday, due to injury. The right-hander was placed on the 10-day injured list with right shoulder discomfort.  This is the same injury that put him on the IL earlier in the season, but the recovery is expected to take longer this time.  Ponce de Leon will not pick up a baseball for at least three weeks and is expected to be out until late August/early September.
  • LF Tyler O’Neill was hit by a pitch on his right hand in Friday’s game against the Rockies. The right pinkie finger is swollen, but imaging indicated no fracture.  O’Neill was out of the lineup for Saturday’s game and is considered day-to-day.
  • Carlos Martinez suffered a bruised right thumb in his last at-bat in Colorado which caused him to leave the game early. He is considered day-to-day.

Looking Ahead

After the Rockies series concludes, the Cardinals then head to San Francisco to play the Giants in a three-game series.  After a Thursday travel day, the Cardinals return to Wrigley Field for a weekend series with the Cubs before the All-Star Break begins on Monday, July 12.

After the All-Star break, the Redbirds play the Giants at Busch Stadium in a weekend series.  The home stand continues on Monday with a four-game series against the Cubs.

The Cardinals then leave St. Louis to travel to Cincinnati for a weekend series against the Reds at Great American Ballpark.

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 notable events from each day of the week the report covers.  As everyone knows, July is trade month, so some of the notable events will be trades that are either notable for the players or notable for something unique about them.

June 28 – This day is notable because it is one of the few dates in the career of Cardinal superstar Stan Musial that he did not hit a home run.  No home run on any June 28 from 1941 through 1963.

June 28, 1963 – Bob Gibson pitched complete game #30 of his career.

June 29, 1935 – Joe Medwick hit for the cycle in a game against the Reds.  The Cardinals lost the game 8-6.

June 29, 1967 – Bob Gibson has his worst start in his career, pitching only 2/3 innings and giving up nine runs on seven hits with two walks and one strikeout.

June 30 – On this date in 1943, 1950, 1952, 1957, and 1958, Stan Musial hit career home runs, #119, #155, #216, #370, and #394.

June 30, 1970 – Bob Gibson pitched complete game #171: 9IP/4ER/5BB/6K.

July 1, 1920 – The Cardinals play their first game in a new ballpark, named Sportsman’s Park.  The park is leased for 10 years at $20,000 per year.

July 1, 1968 – Bob Gibson pitched his 120th complete game in a 6-1 win over the Dodgers.  Gibson’s line was 9IP/9H/1ER/2BB/5K.

July 2, 1948 – Stan Musial hit his 89th career home run off Johnny Vander Meer in a 7-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.  Vander Meer is notable for the being the only pitcher in major league history to pitch two consecutive no-hitters.

July 2, 1965 & 1971 – Bob Gibson pitched complete game #70 on this date in 1965, and #195 on this date in 1971.  In 1965 Gibson’s line against the Mets was 9IP/7H/3ER/4BB/13K.  In 1971, his line against the San Francisco Giants was 9IP/4H/2ER/2BB/7K.

July 3, 1909 – In a doubleheader against the Reds, the Cardinals tied a major league record with 17 errors committed across both games.  The Reds swept the doubleheader.

July 3, 1918 – In a 2-1 win over the Cubs, the Cardinals second baseman Bob Fisher used the “hidden ball” trick on Cubs center fielder Dode Paskert in the ninth inning.

July 4, 2000 – Keith McDonald becomes the third Cardinal in franchise history to hit a home run in his first major league at bat.  McDonald hit his as a pinch hitter.  Two weeks later, Chris Richards did the same, and on the first pitch he saw.  Richards was traded to Baltimore six days later.  Since 2000, six more Cardinals have repeated the feat, including active players Adam Wainwright, Paul DeJong, and Lane Thomas.

July 4, 2008 – Albert Pujols hit his 300th career home run in a 2-1 loss to the Cubs at Busch Stadium.  Pujols hit the long ball, a solo shot, in the eighth inning off Cubs reliever Bob Howry.


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