photo: Yadier Molina (Jeff Curry/Imagn)
The reeling St. Louis Cardinals went 2-5 on the week, losing home series to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Yadier Molina hit .324 over his last 10 games and has 27 RBI in his team’s 41 contests. In our weekly history feature, Molina and other Cardinals Clemente Award winners are remembered.
The Cardinals blanked the Phillies in the first of a three-game series at Busch Stadium. Starter Miles Mikolas pitched a gem, going seven scoreless innings, allowing only three hits while fanning five and walking none. John Brebbia pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, and Jordan Hicks got the last two outs in the ninth. Mikolas earned his fourth win of the season.
The long ball featured prominently. Yadier Molina got the Cardinals on the board with a two-run home run in the fourth inning. In the fifth, Matt Carpenter hit a solo home run and Paul DeJong blasted a two-run shot. Kolten Wong drove in a run on a sac fly to complete the four-run inning.
Molina had three hits and drove in two, as did DeJong.
It was a night and day difference between the Cardinals performance on Monday and Tuesday. The Redbirds offense managed only four hits, including a solo home run by Matt Wieters. It was the only extra base hit.
Starter Dakota Hudson took his third loss. Hudson pitched five innings and gave up eight runs, only two earned, on seven hits. The right hander struck out three and walked three. Luke Gregerson pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief and surrendered two runs. Tyler Webb and John Brebbia combined for the final 2 2/3 scoreless innings.
The two Cardinals errors were both throwing errors by Paul Goldschmidt and Kolten Wong. Yadier Molina had a passed ball.
In the third game of the series, St. Louis was blanked by the Phillies 5-0. Starter Jack Flaherty pitched five innings during which he gave up three runs, four earned, on four hits. The right hander struck out two and walked three. Tyler Webb tossed a scoreless sixth. Giovanny Gallegos surrendered one run in his two innings before Luke Gregerson added a scoreless ninth.
The Redbirds offense managed only three hits, including two singles by Yairo Munoz. The other hit was a double by Molina.
Munoz was caught stealing for the first time. There were two miscues, a fielding error by Matt Carpenter and a throwing error by Paul DeJong.
The Cardinals gave the Pirates a shellacking in the first of the four-game series at Busch Stadium. The Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but in the bottom of the second the Cardinals offense put up a four spot. It began with Yadier Molina’s RBI double. Dexter Fowler followed with a ground rule double that plated two. Paul Goldschmidt singled to score Fowler.
The Redbirds added two more runs in the third on Fowler’s RBI single and a ground out force out by Kolten Wong.
The runs continued to come in the fifth. Jose Martinez drew a bases loaded walk. Molina singled for a second score. Two runs came home on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Fowler with a fielding error. Finally, Wong doubled to plate the fifth run of the inning.
Another five run inning started with a Carpenter RBI single in the sixth. Paul Goldschmidt’s ground rule double brought the second run home. Three runs scored on a double by Marcell Ozuna. Ozuna drove in the 17th and final Cardinal run in the eighth on a force out.
All total the Cardinals scored 17 runs on 16 hits. Goldschmidt and Molina each had three hits. Carpenter, Fowler, and Wong had two hits apiece.
St. Louis starter Michael Wacha tossed 5 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on nine hits. Wacha struck out two and walked one. John Gant got the final out of the sixth inning, Dominic Leone added two scoreless innings, and John Brebbia tossed a scoreless ninth. Wacha earned his third win.
The offensive barrage from the previous night did not continue into Friday’s contest. While the lineup scattered 10 hits, only one run came in – and it did not cross the plate until the seventh inning. Yairo Munoz and Paul Goldschmidt singled, and Paul DeJong followed with a single that scored Munoz. Goldschmidt had three hits, but none resulted in a score. Marcell Ozuna had two hits. None of the 10 hits went for extra bases.
Adam Wainwright pitched seven innings and surrendered only one run on five hits. The right hander fanned eight. The one run he gave up was on a solo home run. Andrew Miller allowed the second Pirates run in the eighth to take the loss. Jordan Hicks pitched a scoreless ninth.
The Cardinals suffered their second loss of the series by an identical 2-1 score. Starter Miles Mikolas went seven innings and gave up both Pirates runs on three hits. Mikolas struck out seven and walked one. John Gant tossed a scoreless eighth and Andrew Miller hurled a scoreless ninth.
The meager Cardinals offense managed only two hits. The lone run came home on a double by Paul DeJong in the third inning. The only other hit was a single by Paul Goldschmidt, who scored on the DeJong double. Two hits in one inning, no hits in the other eight.
The Cardinals suffered their third consecutive home loss to the Pirates, an especially tough one considering the Cardinals had a three-run lead going into the seventh inning. At that point, the wheels came off the bus.
Starter Dakota Hudson struggled in the first inning, giving up three runs on three hits, a walk, a hit by pitch and a force out. From there, Hudson settled down and allowed no more runs, but gave up six additional hits. Tyler Webb started the seventh, issued a walk and hit a batter with a pitch. John Brebbia gave up a three-home run to the first batter he faced to tie the game. It went downhill from there. Two more runs scored on two doubles and a walk. Giovanny Gallegos surrendered two more runs in the eighth. Luke Gregerson pitched a scoreless ninth. Brebbia was charged with the blown save and the loss.
St. Louis’ offense scored six runs on 12 hits, but it wasn’t enough. Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run home run in the first inning to put the Cardinals on the board. A third run in the inning came home on a wild pitch. A Jedd Gyorko RBI single completed the four-run frame.
In the second inning, Jose Martinez hit a two-run long ball to bring the score to 6-3. That lead held until disaster struck in the seventh and eighth with the Pirates scoring barrage against the Redbirds bullpen.
Jose Martinez went 3-for-5, but a couple of misplays in right field by Martinez led to multiple Pirates runs. He was not charged with any errors, however. Goldschmidt, Gyorko, and Yairo Munoz each had two hits.
Marcell Ozuna had an outfield assist, throwing a runner out at home.
The Big Picture
The Cardinals played two series this past week, a three-game series with the Phillies and a four game series against the Pirates. The team won only one game in each set, ending the week 2-5 and losers of three straight series.
Each loss was primarily due to one of two causes, pitching and/or offense. In some cases, it was both. There was some poor defense in a couple of games, but this was not an issue that affected the entire week.
Starting pitching continues to be inconsistent, and the once consistent bullpen is showing some wear and tear. Dominic Leone in particular has been struggling. Usual stalwart John Brebbia had a poor outing on Sunday. Giovanny Gallegos had hiccups during the week, as did Tyler Webb.
As for the rotation, Miles Mikolas has been fine, and Adam Wainwright is holding his own. Michael Wacha, Jack Flaherty, and particularly Dakota Hudson, have all had issues with consistency.
The offense goes from good to bad back to good again. It is either bunches of runs or little to none at all. The offense had a minus 9 run differential in the Phillies series, and a plus 7 run differential in the Pirates series, yet the team won only one game in each set.
The Cardinals hit the road to play the Braves and the Texas Rangers this week. One is an above .500 team and one is a below .500 team, but the record of the opponent hasn’t seemed to matter with the inconsistency of both St. Louis’ pitching and offense.
The Cardinals have now fallen to fourth place in the NL Central, 3.5 games back of the Cubs.
NL Central Standings
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
- 5/8 The Cardinals sent RHP Carlos Martinez on a rehab assignment to the Memphis Redbirds.
- The rehab assignment of RHP Carlos Martinez (right shoulder cuff strain) has been shifted to the Memphis Redbirds. A return to St. Louis as soon as next weekend is expected, in a relief role.
- LHP Brett Cecil (left arm fatigue) was placed on the 60 day injured list on March 28. Cecil has been shut down from throwing for an indefinite period as he recovers from surgery to address carpal tunnel syndrome.
- RHP Mike Mayers (right shoulder lat strain) was placed on the 10 day injured list on April 16. Mayers will be out indefinitely and any return will likely not come until after the All Star break.
The Cardinals have an off day on Monday and travel to Atlanta to play the Braves in a three-game series. Jack Flaherty is scheduled to make the Tuesday start, followed by Michael Wacha on Wednesday, and Adam Wainwright on Thursday.
Following the Braves series the team travels to Arlington to play a weekend interleague series with the Rangers. No pitchers have been announced for the series, but will likely be Miles Mikolas, Dakota Hudson, and Jack Flaherty.
After another Monday travel day, the Cardinals return home to continue interleague play with a two-game set against the Royals. There is a second off day on Thursday before the Braves come to St. Louis for a weekend series.
The Monday following the Braves series in St. Louis is a travel day. The team then goes to Philadelphia to play the Phillies.
The Cardinals return to Busch Stadium following the series in Philadelphia for a weekend series against the Cubs.
The Cardinals’ Regular Season schedule can be viewed here.
Blast from the Past
This week Cardinals backstop Yadier Molina was presented with the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award. The humanitarian award began in 1971 and was named after Clemente in 1973 following his death in a tragic plane crash, and is given to those players that “best exemplify the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement, and the individual’s contribution to his team”. Molina is a native of Puerto Rico, the same native land of Clemente, so the award had a special meaning to the Cardinals catcher.
Molina was the 49th recipient of the award (there were two winners in 2014), and the fifth winner from the St. Louis Cardinals. Other Cardinals honored include Carlos Beltran (also a native of Puerto Rico), Albert Pujols, Ozzie Smith, and Lou Brock.
Molina received the award for his outstanding work on behalf of his native land following the devastating Hurricane Maria, which decimated Puerto Rico. The on-field presentation to Molina and his family was made by Ozzie Smith, Bill DeWitt Sr., Bill DeWitt Jr. and Clemente’s son, Luis.
This article takes a brief look at the past Cardinals winner of the award.
Lou Brock was named the fifth winner of the Clemente Award in March 1975, for best exemplifying the game both on and off the field. The award was given his record setting 118 stolen bases during the 1974 season.
Smith won the prestigious award in 1995 for his community service efforts and for being an outstanding ambassador for baseball.
Albert Pujols was the 2008 winner. Pujols is well known for his charity work, which includes the Pujols Family Foundation, an organization which helps the lives of children and young adults with Down Syndrome. Pujols has a daughter with the genetic disorder. Pujols also works with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and other charities.
Carlos Beltran, who played for the Cardinals in 2012 and 2013, won the award in 2013. Also a native Puerto Rican, Beltran had an outstanding season on the field in 2013, going to the first World Series of his career. Off the field, Beltran founded the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico, established in 2011 with $3 million of his own money. The Academy offers high quality education and athletic training for youth in Puerto Rico. Beltran also has his own foundation, the Carlos Beltran Foundation, which gives money to local charities.
Another former Cardinal, John Smoltz, was a Clemente award winner in 2005, though he won the award while he was playing for the Braves. Smoltz played briefly for the Cardinals in 2009 to conclude his Hall of Fame career. Rick Sutcliffe, who pitched briefly for the 1994 Cardinals, won the award in 1987 as a member of the Chicago Cubs.
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