St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of May 27-June 2

photo: Marcell Ozuna and Kolten Wong (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals left behind a 9-18 May with a home sweep of the division-rival Cubs as Kolten Wong starred. In our weekly history feature, the Cardinals’ first drafts from the mid-1960s are remembered.


Game recaps

Monday, May 27 – Off day


Tuesday, May 28 – Cardinals 3 at Phillies 4

The Cardinals were edged by the Phillies in the first of a three-game series in Philadelphia.  Starter Adam Wainwright tossed six innings, giving up four runs on eight hits.  The right hander fanned a season high 10.  Giovanny Gallegos pitched two scoreless innings of relief.

St. Louis’ offense scored three runs on only four hits.  All three runs came home in the first inning, starting with a solo home run by Paul Goldschmidt.  Marcell Ozuna followed with a two run shot to right field.

Goldschmidt had two hits and was the only Cardinal with multiple hits.

Harrison Bader had an outfield assist, throwing out Bryce Harper at home.


Wednesday, May 29 – Cardinals 4 at Phillies 11

The Cardinals were blown out by the Phillies in the second game of the series in Philadelphia.  It was out of hand almost from the beginning, as the Phillies jumped ahead 4-0 before the Cardinals scored.  That first run came in the fourth inning on a solo home run by Matt Wieters.

The Phillies scored twice in the fourth and five in the fifth to make it 11-1.  The Cardinals couldn’t even make a dent until the eighth inning.  It began notably with the first major league hit by reliever John Brebbia, who later scored on a single by Marcell Ozuna.   Paul DeJong singled and scored on Matt Wieters’ double, and Ozuna scored on a ground out by Yairo Munoz.

Starter Genesis Cabrera made his major league debut.  The 22-year old pitched 3 2/3 innings, and gave up five runs, three earned, on five hits.  The lefty fanned five and walked two.  Michael Wacha pitched one inning in relief and surrendered six runs on five hits. Tyler Webb followed with two scoreless innings, and Brebbia finished with 1 1/3 scoreless.

Dexter Fowler both helped and hurt in the outfield.  Fowler threw out a runner at home but committed a costly fielding error.


Thursday, May 30 – Cardinals 5 at Phillies 3

Dakota Hudson (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The Cardinals avoided the road sweep with a victory over the Phillies in the final game of the set.  All of St. Louis’ runs came via the long ball.  Marcell Ozuna and Matt Wieters hit solo home runs in the second inning, but the offense would not score again until the seventh, when Jedd Gyorko blasted a two run home run to left center, and Matt Carpenter hit a solo shot to left center.

Starter Dakota Hudson hurled six innings and gave up one run on four hits.  The right hander struck out four and walked three to earn his fourth win of the season.  Carlos Martinez surrendered two runs in the seventh.  Andrew Miller began the eighth and gave up a hit to the only batter he faced.  John Gant got all three outs in the eighth without giving up a run.  Jordan Hicks pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 11th save.

Paul Goldschmidt, Marcell Ozuna, and Matt Wieters each had two hits.  Goldschmidt was picked off second base.


Friday, May 31 – Cardinals 2, Cubs 1 (10 innings)

Miles Mikolas (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The Cardinals began the weekend with a win in the opener of the three game series against their NL Central rival Cubs.  The Cardinals had been swept by the Cubs at Wrigley Field at the beginning of May, so the Cardinals came into the series looking for some payback.  They got it with an extra-innings win.

Starter Miles Mikolas tossed seven innings and gave up only one run on six hits.  The right hander struck out three and walked two.  Carlo Martinez pitched a scoreless eighth.  Jordan Hicks hurled the final two scoreless innings to earn his second win.

St. Louis scored first via a sac fly by Marcell Ozuna to plate Matt Carpenter, who walked to begin the home first and advanced on a wild pitch and a fly out.

The Cubs tied it up in the second, and there the score remained until the bottom of the 10th.  Kolten Wong doubled and later scored on Carpenter’s walk off bloop single to left field that had been vacated by the shift.  Kolten Wong had two hits and stole his eighth base of the season.


Saturday, June 1 – Cardinals 7, Cubs 4

Marcell Ozuna (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The Cardinals clinched a series win with a defeat of the Cubs on Saturday.  The offense was more plentiful in this second game, as the Redbirds scored seven runs on 12 hits.

The Cubs took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a solo home run by Anthony Rizzo.  The Cardinals responded in the bottom frame with a solo home run by Paul Goldschmidt to tie the score.

The Cubs took a 2-1 lead in the top of the second.  The Cardinals tied it again in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by Marcell Ozuna.

The game remained tied until the bottom of the sixth.  Ozuna singled, and scored on Matt Wieters’ double.  Wieters came in on a single by Dexter Fowler.  Kolten Wong doubled to plate Fowler and the score was 5-2.

The Cubs cut the lead to 5-4 in the seventh.  In the eighth, Fowler and Harrison Bader hit back to back solo home runs to give the Redbirds the 7-4 lead and the eventual victory.

Starter Jack Flaherty pitched five innings and gave up two runs on four hits while fanning eight and issuing no free passes.  John Gant tossed a scoreless sixth and was the winning pitcher.  John Brebbia faltered to begin the seventh, surrendering two runs without recording an out.  Andrew Miller completed the inning in scoreless fashion.  Giovanny Gallegos pitched a scoreless eighth, and Carlos Martinez hurled the scoreless ninth to earn his first save of the season.


Sunday, June 2 – Cardinals 2, Cubs 1

Kolten Wong (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The Cardinals completed the sweep on Sunday in their quest for revenge on their rivals.  The Redbirds beat the Cubs by the same score as Friday, but in regulation.

Starter Adam Wainwright got the job done for the win, his fifth, but with an unusual line.  Wainwright pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing only two hits, but walking a career-high seven. The right hander also struck out eight.  It wasn’t particularly pretty, but it was effective.  Jordan Hicks came in in the ninth to get the save but couldn’t get it done.  His lack of command led to the Cubs’ only run.  John Gant relieved Hicks with one out in the inning and got the final two outs to earn his third save.

St. Louis offense was meager, but it was just enough.  Wainwright kept the Cubs off the board with help from the defense, in particular Kolten Wong, who made a spectacular running catch of a bloop hit by Anthony Rizzo into shallow right field to save a run.  The first Cardinal run scored in the fifth on a sac fly by Wong.  Matt Carpenter hit an RBI single in the eighth for the second St. Louis score.  Wong was involved in the win on several levels. In addition to the run saving catch, Wong drove in the first run and scored the second.  He was the only Cardinal with multiple hits, with two.

Wong stole his ninth base of the season, and Jedd Gyorko stole his second.


The Big Picture

The Cardinals got their first series win in a month with the sweep of the Cubs over the weekend.  The team ended the week 4-2, after dropping two of three in Philadelphia.  The four wins brought them back third place and moved the Cubs out of first place.  The Cardinals are three game behing the first place Brewers and 1.5 games back of the Cubs.

Pitching and not enough offense was the issue in the Phillies series.  Game 2 was a blowout, and the shaky debut by Genesis Cabrera was compounded by a horrendous appearance out of the bullpen by Michael Wacha.

The offense failed in the first game of the Phillies series by scoring runs in the first inning and not adding on.  Several previously hot Cardinals are mired in slumps, including Paul DeJong, Jose Martinez, and Dexter Fowler.  Harrison Bader went great guns against the Rangers the previous week, then went 5-for-31 after.  Bader did hit a home run in Saturday’s game, as did Fowler.  Previously cold Matt Carpenter and Paul Goldschmidt have heated up.  The offense can’t seem to get it going all at the same time.  Even though the team swept the Cubs, they did it without scoring a lot of runs because the Cubs’ offense was worse. Kolten Wong proved to be a difference-maker against Chicago.

The Cardinals play the Reds in a three game series beginning Tuesday, then end the week with another weekend series against the Cubs, this time at Wrigley Field, where they were swept at the beginning of May.  The Cardinals cannot count on the Cubs offense continuing to be bad, and the Reds always play the Cardinals tough.


NL Central Standings

Team W L Pct GB
Milwaukee 34 26 0.567
Chicago 31 26 0.544 1.5
St. Louis 30 28 0.517 3
Pittsburgh 28 30 0.483 5
Cincinnati 27 32 0.458 6.5

Molina goes on the injured list

Yadier Molina (Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY Sports)

The Cardinals placed Yadier Molina on the 10-day injured list on Friday, retroactive to Wednesday, with a right thumb tendon strain.  Molina suffered the injury in the Sunday night game against the Braves the previous week.  Molina was in the lineup in the first game of the Phillies series on Tuesday but did not play after.  Backup catcher Matt Wieters started in the rest of the Phillies series and in two games in the Cubs series.  The Cardinals called up Andrew Knizner from Memphis on Friday to back up Wieters and the rookie made his initial MLB start on Sunday.

Molina is eligible to come off the IL this coming Saturday but will likely remain on the IL longer.  An absence of 2-3 weeks is not out of the question, depending on how the injury heals. Surgery is not necessary, or the absence would be much longer.


Trade and Acquisition Rumors

National reporter Jon Heyman wrote the Cardinals are one of a handful of teams reportedly interested in signing free agent starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel, who no longer has the loss of a first-round draft pick attached.


Transactions 

  • 5/29 The Cardinals optioned OF Lane Thomas to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 5/29 The Cardinals recalled LHP Genesis Cabrera from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 5/31 The Cardinals placed C Yadier Molina on the 10 day injured list retroactive to May 29. Right thumb tendon strain.
  • 5/31 The Cardinals selected the contract of C Andrew Knizner from the Memphis Redbirds.

Injury Report

  • LHP Brett Cecil (wrist) continues on the 60 day injured list. Cecil had been shut down from throwing for an indefinite period since spring training surgery to address carpal tunnel syndrome.  The left hander has begun a throwing program.  Cecil could return to the roster in early July.
  • RHP Mike Mayers (right shoulder lat strain) was placed on the 10 day injured list on April 16. Mayers has reportedly begun a throwing program.  The next step will be throwing bullpen sessions, perhaps within the next several weeks.
  • C Yadier Molina was placed on the 10 day injured list retroactive to May 29. Molina suffered from a right thumb tendon strain on the previous Sunday against the Braves.   An MRI taken showed a slight tear of the tendon between the thumb and the forefinger.  Molina saw a hand specialist, and it was determined surgery would not be required.  No timetable has been set for Molina’s return.

Looking Ahead

Monday is an off day for the Redbirds and beginning on Tuesday the Cardinals continue the homestand with a three-game series with the Reds.  Genesis Cabrera is scheduled for the Tuesday start, followed by Dakota Hudson on Wednesday, and Miles Mikolas on Thursday.

The Cardinals head to Wrigley Field to play the Cubs next weekend, followed by a three game series in Miami and four in New York against the Mets.

On the 17th, the Redbirds return home to take on the Marlins again in a four game series.  The Angels and Albert Pujols come to Busch Stadium for a weekend interleague series next.

The Cardinals’ Regular Season schedule can be viewed here.


Blast from the Past

The annual MLB First-Year Player Draft will begin on Monday night and continue through Wednesday.  The Cardinals have the 19th pick in the first round.

This week’s history segment covers the very first Cardinals draft, which occurred on June 8, 1965.  The Cardinals had the 20th pick that first year.  When the draft began for the first time in 1965, there were more rounds than there are today.  The draft went 60 rounds that year.

Joe DiFabio

The first round pick for the Cardinals in 1965 was Joe DiFabio, a standout right-handed pitcher at Cranford High School in New Jersey.  DiFabio went to Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi.  In his junior year at Delta State, DiFabio was 7-0 with an ERA of 0.55.

DiFabio was assigned to the Cardinals Double-A affiliate in Tulsa.  He went 0-2 with an ERA of 7.88.  He started 1966 at Class A Cedar Rapids in the Midwest League and improved to 11-3 with an ERA of 1.86.  DiFabio made it to Triple-A in 1967, but got sent back to Double-A, where he remained until 1969, when he was back at Triple-A.  DiFabio never made it to the big leagues, and was released by the Cardinals in 1970.

Out of the 60 players drafted by the Cardinals in 1965, six (10%) reached the major leagues.  They were RHP Harry Parker, LHP Dan McGinn, RHP Jerry Robertson, SS Rich Hacker, RHP Pete Hamm, and SS John Sipin.  Parker pitched for the Cardinals in 1970 and 1971, then was traded to the Mets.  The Cardinals got him back in 1975 off waivers, then traded him to Cleveland the next year.

None of the other five players played at the major league level for the Cardinals.  McGinn, Hacker, and Hamm did not sign with St. Louis and were later drafted by other teams. Robertson played in the Cardinals minor league system and then was lost to the Montreal Expos in the expansion draft in 1968. Sipin also played in the system but was traded to the San Diego Padres in 1969.

Ted Simmons, 1972 (Getty Images)

The 1966 draft went for 46 rounds instead of 60.  Only four of the drafted players made the majors, and only one, first rounder Leron Lee, an infielder, made the majors with the Cardinals. The first drafted player to ever have a significant major league career with the Cardinals was a catcher named Ted Simmons, who was the Cardinals first round pick in 1967.

Little changed since 1965.  The draft is a crap shoot any way you look at it.  From the 2015 draft, Harrison Bader, Jordan Hicks, Paul DeJong and Ryan Helsley have made the major leagues.  Dakota Hudson and Andrew Knizner are the only draftees from 2016 in the major leagues so far.  The 2014 draft gave the Cards Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, Austin Gomber and Daniel Ponce de Leon.  The bottom line is only a handful of the picks each year ever make the major leagues.

Who will be the standouts in 2019?


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