St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook: Week of May 14-20

photo: Jack Flaherty (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports Images)

In this week’s St. Louis Cardinals news, the club had another 3-3 week, including a home split against the Phillies. Rookie Jack Flaherty struck out 13 on Sunday. In our history feature, Flaherty’s feat brings back memories of another famous no. 32, Steve Carlton.


Game Recaps

Monday, May 14 – Off day


Tuesday, May 15 – Cardinals 1 at Twins 4

The St. Louis Cardinals were blanked by the Twins in a two-game series in Minnesota that completed a home and home series.  Starter Jack Flaherty pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up one run on five hits.  The young righty struck out three and walked one.  Brett Cecil came in with two outs in the sixth and gave up a run in 1/3 of an inning.   Luke Gregerson began the seventh, but struggled, surrendering two more runs. Sam Tuivailala got the final out of the seventh and pitched a scoreless eighth.  Cecil took the loss.

The offense only managed one run on two hits.  That lone run came home on a single by Carson Kelly.  The only other hit was a Harrison Bader single.

Gregerson made a throwing error.  Flaherty picked a runner off first base.


Wednesday, May 16 – Cardinals 7 at Twins 5

Bud Norris (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Redbirds turned it around in the second game, defeating the Twins by two runs.  Dexter Fowler got the scoring started by driving in two runs on a first inning single.  Jose Martinez plated a run on a single in the second.  In the fifth, Paul DeJong doubled to right for an RBI.  Two additional runs were added in the seventh on Jedd Gyorko’s single and Matt Carpenter’s double.  Finally, a solo home run by Tommy Pham put a cap on the Cardinals scoring.  Pham was 2-for-5, Jose Martinez was 2-for-4, Fowler was 2-for-3 and Carpenter was 3-for-5.

Miles Mikolas pitched a shortened game, as he did not have his best stuff.  Mikolas left after 4 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits while fanning two and walking two.  Brett Cecil got the final out of the fifth.  Matt Bowman pitched the sixth and allowed one run.  Jordan Hicks tossed a scoreless seventh and was the winning pitcher.  Greg Holland struggled in the eighth, surrendering two runs and only getting one out before Bud Norris came in to get the five out save, his ninth.

Dexter Fowler was caught stealing for the second time this season.  Fowler also made a fielding error.


Thursday, May 17 – Cardinals 2, Phillies 6

In the first of a four game series, the Cardinals were defeated by the Phillies in St. Louis.  Starter Luke Weaver pitched well, tossing seven innings and only giving up one run on four hits.  Weaver struck out six and walked one.  Jordan Hicks started the eighth, but was ineffective, surrendering three runs and not getting an out.  Sam Tuivailala stopped the bleeding, pitching a scoreless inning.  John Brebbia followed in the ninth but allowed two additional runs.  Weaver took the loss.

The Redbirds offense had 10 hits, but could only bring two runs across the plate, both late in the game.  In the eighth, Marcell Ozuna plated a run on a force out, and Jedd Gyorko added an RBI single.  Both Jose Martinez and Francisco Peña had good nights at the plate, going 3-for-4, though neither drove in a run.


Friday, May 18 – Cardinals 12, Phillies 4

Jose Martinez (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

What the offense lacked in the first game, came back with a fury in Game 2, as the Cardinals pummeled the Phillies on Friday.  The scoring began in the third inning, when Tommy Pham doubled in a run.  Jose Martinez singled in a run, and Jedd Gyorko also singled for two.   Another run scored in the fourth on a wild pitch.  In the fifth, Francisco Pena hit a solo home run.  Matt Carpenter singled in a run in the sixth and Jose Martinez added a two run home run.  Kolten Wong launched a solo home run in the seventh, and Martinez doubled in two more runs.  Pham was 3-for-3, Carpenter was 2-for-5, Martinez was 4-for-5, and Pena was 3-for-4.

Michael Wacha earned his fifth win of the season, pitching six innings and giving up two runs on five hits.  The right hander struck out eight and walked two.  John Brebbia surrendered one run in two innings pitched, before Mike Mayers allowed one run in the ninth.


Saturday, May 19 – Cardinals 6, Phillies 7

The Redbirds suffered a heartbreaking loss on Saturday, in a game in which the lead see-sawed back and forth.  The Cardinals fell behind, then came back to tie it up twice before taking a one run lead into the eighth inning, when things fell apart.  Starter John Gant yielded three runs, five earned, in 4 1/3 innings pitched.  Gant fanned seven and walked two.   Brett Cecil, Sam Tuivailala, and Jordan Hicks effectively held serve through the seventh, giving up no additional runs.  In the eighth, with a one run lead, Greg Holland was brought in to continue what the previous three relievers had done.  He failed.  Holland got the first two batters out, then the wheels came off the bus.  Two more Phillies runs scored and the lead was lost.  Bud Norris came in to control the damage, and he pitched the final 1 1/3 innings in scoreless fashion.

St. Louis’ scoring began in the fourth, when the first run scored on a throwing error on a force attempt.  Jedd Gyorko singled to add two more runs to tie the game at 3-3.  A Jose Martinez sac fly in the fifth, and Tyler O’Neill’s solo home run in the sixth tied the score for a second time.  Matt Carpenter doubled in the seventh to plate a run that gave the Cardinals the lead, a lead that was lost an inning later.   Tommy Pham was the only Cardinal with multiple hits, as he was 2-for-5.

Pham stole his eighth base of the season.  Gyorko made two errors at shortstop, both throwing errors.  Steven Baron had a passed ball.


Sunday, May 20 – Cardinals 5, Phillies 1

Jack Flaherty (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Redbirds earned the series split by defeating the Phillies on Sunday.  Tyler O’Neill hit his second home run in two games, a solo shot in the sixth inning.  The Cardinals offense took the lead in the fourth.  Kolten Wong put the ball in play with a ground ball to second and a throwing error allowed Tyler O’Neill to score and Dexter Fowler to advance to third.  Greg Garcia singled, and Fowler scored.  In the sixth, the O’Neill home run was followed by Garcia’s sac fly.  In the seventh, Jose Martinez plated a run on a single.  O’Neill and Matt Carpenter were both 3-for-4.

Jack Flaherty pitched brilliantly, tossing 7 2/3 innings and giving up only one run on only two hits.  The right hander struck out a career high 13 hitters while issuing one free pass.  Jordan Hicks finished with 1 1/3 scoreless innings, wowing the home crowd with multiple pitches that reached 104 and 105 mph.

Fowler stole his third base of the season.


Big Picture

The Cardinals were hit and miss all week, splitting two series for a record of 3-3.  The Cardinals, Cubs and Pirates are all tied up at 1.5 games back of the Brewers in the NL Central.

Matt Carpenter (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The offense has been improving for some, especially Matt Carpenter, who had been abysmal at the plate for weeks, but has six doubles in the last five days.  Dexter Fowler is showing signs of life, but Marcell Ozuna continues to struggle.  Stalwarts Tommy Pham and Jose Martinez continue to keep the team afloat, joined by contributions from new faces, such as Tyler O’Neill.

The defense has taken a hit with the loss of Paul DeJong with a fractured hand.  Jedd Gyorko has been getting some starts at short, but hasn’t been strong there, making two errors in one game.  Greg Garcia can play shortstop, and Yairo Munoz has been brought up to fill in as well.  Jose Martinez continues to struggle defensively at first base.

Michael Wacha (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

Starting pitching has been fine, although Miles Mikolas had an uncharacteristically poor start this week.  John Gant and Jack Flaherty have been filling in for the absent Carlos Martinez and Adam Wainwright.  Flaherty has been fantastic, Gant has been so-so.  Weaver has bounced back after a couple of poor starts.  Michael Wacha has quietly logged six solid starts in a row.

The bullpen has not been good, however.  Bud Norris and Sam Tuivailala have been very effective.   Brett Cecil has been adequate.  Despite the velocity, Jordan Hicks has been hit and miss as has John Brebbia.  Mike Mayers has seen very little action.  Matt Bowman and Luke Gregerson are injured.  Greg Holland has been bad – there is no other word for it.

The Cardinals have more interleague play this week against the Royals.  Kansas City is dead last in the AL Central, but always seems to give St. Louis trouble.  The Cardinals travel to Pittsburgh over the weekend, and the last time they were there they were swept in three games.  The team must play better in PNC Park this time or fall farther behind in the standings.


NL Central Standings W L % GB
Milwaukee 28 19 0.596
Chicago 25 19 0.568 1.5
St. Louis 25 19 0.568 1.5
Pittsburgh 26 20 0.565 1.5
Cincinnati 16 32 0.333 12.5

Who’s Hot

Over the past six games (does not contain recent Sunday game results):

  • Tyler O’Neill has an OPS of 1.850 in five plate appearances. He has one HR and one RBI.
  • Francisco Pena has an OPS of 1.532. He has one HR, one double, and one RBI.
  • Harrison Bader has an OPS of 1.222 in nine plate appearances. He has one HR, one triple, and two RBI.
  • Jose Martinez has an OPS of 1.134. He had one HR, two doubles, and eight RBI.
  • Matt Carpenter has an OPS of .959. He has four doubles and three RBI.
  • Luke Weaver has an ERA of 1.29 and a WHIP of 0.71.
  • Jack Flaherty has an ERA of 1.59 and a WHIP of 1.06.
  • Bud Norris has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.33.
  • Sam Tuivailala has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.82.

Who’s Not

Over the past six games (does not contain recent Sunday games):

  • Marcell Ozuna has an OPS of .237.
  • Greg Garcia has an OPS of .286 in seven plate appearances.
  • Jedd Gyorko has an OPS of .382.
  • Kolten Wong has an OPS of .489.
  • Luke Gregerson has an ERA of 54.00 and a WHIP of 6.00
  • Greg Holland has an ERA of 36.00 and a WHIP of 7.00.
  • Jordan Hicks has an ERA of 13.50 and a WHIP of 2.50.

A Look at Cardinals Lineups

The lineups over the last six games (does not contain recent Sunday game):

  • The leadoff hitter has been Tommy Pham.
  • The number two hitter has been Matt Carpenter for three games, Jose Martinez for two games, and Harrison Bader for one game.
  • The number three hitter has been Jose Martinez for four games, and Paul DeJong for two games.
  • The cleanup hitter has been Marcell Ozuna.
  • The fifth hitter has been Jedd Gyorko for four games, and Fowler for two games.
  • The sixth hitter has been DeJong for two games, Jedd Gyorko for two games, Kolten Wong for one game, and Fowler for one game.
  • The seventh hitter has been Carpenter for two games, and Carson Kelly, Tyler O’Neill, Bader and Wong for one game each.
  • The eighth hitter has been Francisco Pena for three games, Wong for two games, and Steve Baron for one game.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.


Transactions

  • 5/14 The Cardinals sent RHP Alex Reyes on a rehab assignment to the Peoria Chiefs.
  • 5/15 The Cardinals placed RHP Adam Wainwright on the 10 day disabled list. Right elbow inflammation.
  • 5/15 The Cardinals recalled RHP Jack Flaherty from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 5/16 The Cardinals placed RHP Luke Gregerson on the 10 day disabled list. Right shoulder impingement.
  • 5/16 The Cardinals recalled RHP John Brebbia from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 5/17 The Cardinals transferred RHP Adam Wainwright from the 10 day disabled list to the 60 day disabled list. Right elbow inflammation.
  • 5/17 The Cardinals placed C Carson Kelly on the 10 day disabled list retroactive to May 16, 2018. Right hamstring strain.
  • 5/17 The Cardinals selected the contract of C Steven Baron from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 5/18 The Cardinals placed RHP Matt Bowman on the 10 day disabled list retroactive to May 17, 2018. Blisters on right middle and index fingers.
  • 5/18 The Cardinals placed SS Paul DeJong on the 10 day disabled list. Fractured left hand.
  • 5/18 The Cardinals recalled SS Yairo Munoz from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 5/18 The Cardinals recalled OF Tyler O’Neill from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 5/19 The Cardinals sent RHP Alex Reyes on a rehab assignment to the Springfield Cardinals.
  • 5/19 The Cardinals sent LHP Tyler Lyons on a rehab assignment to the Springfield Cardinals.

Injury Report

  • RHP Dominic Leone (right upper arm nerve irritation) has been placed on the 10 day DL. Further tests revealed some nerve damage but no surgery is required.  No timetable for a return has been set.
  • C Yadier Molina (pelvic injury with traumatic hematoma) continues on the 10 day DL. Molina was injured by a foul ball during a game. The catcher had surgery and is expected to return sometime in June.
  • LHP Tyler Lyons (mid back strain) was placed on the 10 day DL retroactive to May 9. Lyons was began a rehab assignment with Springfield on May 19 so a return is expected soon.
  • RHP Carlos Martinez (right lat strain) was placed on the 10 day DL retroactive to May 9. Martinez underwent an MRI on May 17 and is expected to begin a throwing program on May 21.
  • RHP Alex Reyes (Tommy John surgery) has made three rehab assignment starts in Palm Beach, Peoria, and Springfield. Reyes is eligible to come off the 60 day DL at the end of May, and it is expected that will occur.
  • RHP Adam Wainwright (right elbow inflammation) was activated, made one start, and has been placed back on the disabled list. Wainwright initially went on the 10 day DL but has been transferred to the 60 day DL.  The expectation is that Wainwright will return to pitch some time later this season.
  • C Carson Kelly was placed on the 10 day DL retroactive to May 16 with a right hamstring strain. No timetable for his return has been set.
  • RHP Luke Gregerson was placed on the 10 day DL with a right shoulder impingement. Gregerson underwent an MRI but the results were unavailable as of this writing.  No timetable for his return has been set.
  • SS Paul DeJong has a fractured left hand following a hit by pitch on May 17. DeJong underwent surgery on the hand on May 18 and is expected to be out for a while.
  • RHP Matt Bowman was placed on the 10 day DL with blisters on two fingers of his pitching hand. The timetable for his return has not been determined.

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals continue their homestand with three games against the Royals.  Pitching lineups for the series are Miles Mikolas on Monday, Luke Weaver on Tuesday, and Michael Wacha on Wednesday.

The Cardinals have a off day Thursday and will travel to Pittsburgh for a weekend series against the Pirates.  Pitching for those three games have not been announced given the uncertain status of Carlos Martinez.  At least one of those starts will likely be taken by either Jack Flaherty or John Gant.  The final start on Sunday should be Miles Mikolas if the current rotation remains the same.

After leaving Pittsburgh, the Redbirds travel to Milwaukee for a three game series.  The Cardinals return home after Milwaukee to play four games in Busch Stadium against the Pirates.

After an off day following the Pirates series, the homestand continues against the Marlins beginning Tuesday, June 5.

The Cardinals’ regular season schedule can be found here.


Blast from the Past

This weekend’s celebration remembered the 1968 St. Louis Cardinals team that won the NL Pennant but lost the World Series to the Detroit Tigers.  The celebration centered around the pitching of Bob Gibson, who set the Major League record for lowest ERA in a season at 1.12, a record will likely never by broken.  As a result of that ERA, major league baseball lowered the mound to its current height.

Steve Carlton

Gibson is general considered the best starting pitcher in franchise history.  The Cardinals had another pitcher on that team that sometimes get overlooked among the accolades given to Gibson.  Steve Carlton became a Hall of Fame pitcher in his own right.  Carlton pitched for the Cardinals from 1965-1971 before he was traded to the Phillies in a trade many fans consider the worst trade the franchise ever made.  How and why that trade happened is perhaps for another segment.

In a tie in to the Cardinals of the present day, Carlton holds the franchise record for the most strikeouts in a nine inning game.  Carlton fanned 19 New York Mets in a 4-3 loss on September 15, 1969.  Carlton wore uniform number 32, same as worn by current Cardinal pitcher Jack Flaherty.  In a start against the Phillies on Sunday, Flaherty struck out 13 Phillies, short of the 19 strikeout record, but a career high for him.

Carlton held the record for most career strikeouts by a left handed pitcher (4,136) until the record was broken by Randy Johnson in 2004.  He picked off 144 batters in his career, the most in baseball since that record began being kept in 1957.  Carlton was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1994 with 96% of the vote.

Jack Flaherty’s career is just beginning, and he may never be as great as the superstar with whom he shares a uniform number.  It is fun, however, to imagine the possibilities.


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