photo: Daniel Ponce de Leon via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
The St. Louis Cardinals played 10 games on the road in the last seven days, going 6-4. In the process, they have maintained their slim hold on a playoff berth. Daniel Ponce de Leon returned from the alternate camp to make two important starts, the last on short rest. Our history feature recalls the last World Series to be played in one site, the 1944 set played at St. Louis’ Sportsman’s Park.
The St. Louis Cardinals began the week with a five-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park. The series featured two sets of doubleheaders with the first played on Monday. In Game 1, the Cardinals were edged by the Brewers 2-1 in extra innings.
Kwang-Hyun Kim made the start, his first since returning from the 10-day injured list. Kim was very good, tossing seven scoreless innings during which he allowed only three hits. The left hander fanned six and walked three. He threw 87 pitches, 54 for strikes.
Ryan Helsley relieved in the eighth inning and yielded both Milwaukee runs, only one earned. A leadoff walk and an RBI in favor of was replaced by Austin Gomber. Gomber walked his first batter and allowed the sac fly that represented the winning run. That run was charged to Helsley.
Both offenses were held scoreless until extra innings. In the top of the eighth, with Tyler O’Neill on second to start the inning, Tommy Edman singled to center, and O’Neill scored. The Brewers came back in the bottom frame of the eighth with the two runs for the walk off.
St. Louis’ offense managed five hits, all singles from Kolten Wong, Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt, Paul DeJong, and Harrison Bader.
Bader was caught stealing for the first time in 2020.
The Cardinals took the second game of Monday’s twin bill, again in extra innings. Daniel Ponce de Leon received the Game 2 start, and pitched six strong innings. The right-hander allowed two runs on four hits, fanned nine and walked one. He threw 97 pitches, 67 for strikes.
Alex Reyes relieved and tossed a scoreless seventh. The right hander struck out three and walked one. Genesis Cabrera hurled a scoreless eighth, also with three strikeouts and one walk. Tyler Webb closed the ninth with a scoreless performance that included one strikeout and one walk. Cabrera earned the win and Webb, the save.
The Redbirds offense scored three runs on 10 hits. The first run was put on the board in the fifth inning after the Brewers took a 2-0 lead in the fourth. The inning began with a walk from Tommy Edman. Three batters later, Paul DeJong singled to right to move Edman to second. After Rangel Ravelo drew a walk, Tyler O’Neill singled to plate Edman from third.
The Cardinals knotted it up at 2-2 in the seventh when Paul Goldschmidt doubled, and Brad Miller drove him in via a single.
The game went into extra innings, and neither team scored in the eighth. In the ninth, Edman began on second base and was brought home on a single by Paul DeJong. The Brewers failed to score in the bottom of the ninth, and the Redbirds took he win.
O’Neill stole his second base of the season and Matt Wieters had a passed ball.
The Cardinals were the victims of a bludgeoning by the Brewers in a regulation game on Tuesday at Miller Park. The Cardinals scored immediately in the first inning on a RBI double by Paul Goldschmidt. The Brewers responded with two in the home first to take a 2-1 lead. Two more runs in the bottom of the third increased the Brewers lead to 4-1.
To begin the fourth, the game was still a manageable for the Cardinals. However, things then went off the rails as the Brewers scored seven runs to essentially put the game out of reach. Though St. Louis added a run in the fifth on two singles and two walks, the Brewers came back in the bottom of the inning with six additional runs to make it 17-2.
The Cardinals tacked on their final run in the seventh on a single by Paul DeJong. In tota,l the offense had seven hits, the double by Goldschmidt and singles by Tommy Edman with two, Goldschmidt, DeJong, Brad Miller, Matt Wieters, and Harrison Bader.
Jack Flaherty had his worst start of the short 2020 season. The right-hander pitched only three innings and gave up nine runs on eight hits. He fanned six and walked two. Jake Woodford relieved in the fourth and tossed 1 1/3 innings in which he yielded five runs on three hits. Rob Kaminsky allowed three runs, one earned in 2/3 innings and Nabil Crismatt surrendered one run on the final three innings. Flaherty took the loss.
There were two errors, a catcher interference on Yadier Molina, and a fielding error by Lane Thomas. The former led to a small skirmish between the Cardinals and the Brewers in front of the Brewers dugout after Molina was struck on the wrist by Milwaukee batter Ryan Braun’s backswing. St. Louis manager Mike Shildt was suspended one game for some combination of his team going on the field, words that were exchanged between Shildt and the Brewers dugout and his removal of his mask.
In the second twin bill of the series, the Cardinals defeated the Brewers 4-2 behind an excellent complete game start by veteran Adam Wainwright. Wainwright yielded two runs on four hits, fanned nine and walked one. The two runs allowed came on a long ball in the first inning. Wainwright shut it down for the rest of the game.
Cardinals hitters put up four runs on seven hits. Brad Miller was 2-for-3 with a double and a solo home run in the sixth inning. Tommy Edman doubled in the fifth to drive in a run. The first St. Louis run came on a solo home run by Tyler O’Neill in the second inning. O’Neill drove in the second run on sac fly in the fourth. Paul Goldschmidt, Yadier Molina, and Justin Williams each singled.
Tommy Edman was caught stealing for the fourth time in 2020.
The Cardinals were blanked by the Brewers in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader. The meager St. Louis offense managed only two hits off Brewers starter Brent Suter, singles by Paul DeJong and Tommy Edman
St. Louis rookie starter Johan Oviedo tossed 5 1/3 innings and surrendered six runs, five earned, on seven hits. The right-hander struck out five and walked two. He threw 94 pitches, 61 for strikes. Seth Elledge relieved with one out in the sixth inning and allowed no runs or hits and issued one walk.
Brad Miller committed an error, a dropped foul ball. Matt Wieters had a passed ball.
The Cardinals arrived in Pittsburgh to face the Pirates at PNC Park on Thursday night in the opener of a five-game weekend series. St. Louis starting pitcher Dakota only went two innings and the offense was stymied on just two hits on the way to a disappointing 5-1 loss.
The troubles began when Hudson was removed after the second inning due to injury. It was originally called “right elbow tightness,” but after the game, manager Mike Shildt labeled it a “mild forearm strain”. X-rays showed nothing structural, but Hudson would end up going on the injured list on Friday.
Hudson’s early exit forced Friday’s tentative doubleheader Game 2 starter Austin Gomber into relief action starting in the third inning. The lefty pitched one scoreless frame, but in the fourth, he walked the first two batters. After two consecutive Pirates struck out, Gregory Polanco hit a three-run home run to right center field. Gomber yielded a fourth run on a single and a double before being pulled with two out, still in the fourth.
Tyler Webb retired the final hitter in the fourth, and took the fifth, but was replaced by Seth Elledge with one out in the sixth. Elledge finished the frame. Andrew Miller and Junior Fernandez tossed the scoreless seventh and eighth, respectively. Gomber was tagged with the loss.
The meager Cardinals offense scored one run on two hits, both singles, as they were stymied by Pirates pitcher Steven Brault. The left-hander went all the way to pick up his first win in 14 starts since September 1, 2019. Tommy Edman’s single in the third inning drove in the only Cardinals run. Kolten Wong had the other hit. Yadier Molina and Rangel Ravelo each drew a free pass.
Ravelo had an outfield assist at home plate.
Friday’s Game 1 was Carlos Martinez’ start, his third since being activated from the injured list. Martinez has struggled since his return, and this outing was no different, as the right hander lasted only 3 2/3 innings. He was not helped at all by his defense, which committed four errors in the game. Martinez yielded five runs, only one of which was earned, on three hits. Four walks with only one strikeout contributed to his early exit. He was relieved by Genesis Cabrera, who tossed a scoreless inning.
Alex Reyes followed, entering with two outs in the fifth and retiring the only batter he faced. He returned to pitch a scoreless sixth and retired the first hitter in the seventh, Gregory Polanco. Ryan Helsley finished the game, though it was no easy matter to do so. Helsley got the second out of the inning but walked the next batter. Again, the defense marred the outing with a throwing error by shortstop Paul DeJong, who had committed a fielding miscue earlier in the game. Helsley then walked the hitter to load the bases. The right hander induced a fly ball out to left field to save the win for the Cardinals and Reyes.
The offense had a better showing than the previous night, scoring six runs on eight hits. Kolten Wong led off the game with a solo home run to right field. The lead quickly vanished, however, as the Pirates scored two in the bottom of the inning.
The Cardinals responded with two runs in the top of the second. Yadier Molina singled, and Tyler O’Neill brought him in with blast to right center field. St. Louis led 3-2. The offense added on in the third with two additional runs on a Paul Goldschmidt RBI double and a sac fly by DeJong.
Wong drove in his second run in the fourth inning on a groundout. The Cardinals led 6-2. However, the Pirates were not done as they put three more runs on the board in the bottom of the fourth to decrease St. Louis’ lead to 6-5. The Cardinals bullpen kept the Pirates off the board for the remainder of the game.
Goldschmidt and Molina led the way with two hits each. Wong and O’Neill contributed with the long ball. Tommy Edman and Harrison Bader each singled.
The defense committed four errors, two from DeJong, a generally solid defensive shortstop. Molina was called for another catcher interference, his second of the week, and Edman made a fielding error.
In the second game of the twin bill, the Cardinals earned the sweep with a decisive 7-2 win over the last place Pirates. In this make-up game from August 12, St. Louis was designated as the home team despite the game being played on Pittsburgh soil.
29th man Daniel Ponce de Leon made the start on three days rest and kept the Pirates off the board until the fifth inning. An unfortunate pitch led to a two-run blast that marred the nine strikeout outing for Ponce de Leon. The right-hander walked two and allowed only three hits. His day was finished after the fifth.
Andrew Miller relieved in the sixth and threw a scoreless frame. Seth Elledge finished with a scoreless seventh with one hit allowed.
Both teams were held scoreless until the fourth when the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead on Paul DeJong’s RBI single that was preceded by back to back singles from Paul Goldschmidt and Tommy Edman. Goldschmidt scored on the sac fly.
The Pirates responded by taking the lead on the two-run home run in the top of the fifth. In the bottom of the sixth, the Cardinals retook the lead with a six-run outburst. Edman walked and Goldschmidt reached on catcher interference. Brad Miller walked to load the bases before DeJong’s sac fly to right plated Edman. Tyler O’Neil reached on a fielder’s choice and Goldschmidt scored on a throwing error by the Pirates third baseman.
Harrison Bader pinch ran for Miller and a ground ball by Matt Carpenter led to a throwing error by the Pirate first baseman that allowed Bader to score. With Carpenter and O’Neill on base, Dylan Carlson, newly recalled from Springfield, hit a high middle fastball out of the park for a three-run home run, his second long ball of the season. The home run was Carlson’s second hit in the game. The Cardinals led 7-2, a lead they would not relinquish.
In an unusual contest in Pittsburgh on Saturday night, the Cardinals were the victors in a one-run game against the Pirates in the fourth of the five-game series. It began with the Cardinals being no-hit by Pirates starter Mitch Keller through the first six innings. Keller had recently returned from the injured list and was on a pitch count for the evening. Following six no-hit innings, Keller was removed after 84 pitches with a 4-0 lead over St. Louis.
In the seventh, the tide turned dramatically in the Cardinals’ favor against the Pirates bullpen. With Pittsburgh reliever Geoff Hartlieb on the mound, Brad Miller and Paul DeJong walked. Yadier Molina was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Hartlieb was replaced by left hander Sam Howard.
Tyler O’Neill smacked a double to left field to break up the no-hitter and the shutout. Miller and DeJong scored to make it 4-2. Dylan Carlson’s sac fly to right plated Molina and it was 4-3. Harrison Bader was the second Cardinal hit by a pitch in the inning.
Kolten Wong, after several failed bunt attempts, singled to right and O’Neill scored to tie the game. Tommy Edman singled on a ground ball to left as Harrison Bader scored what ultimately was the winning run from second base standing up.
The Redbirds scored their five runs from only three hits, with the only extra base hit O’Neill’s double. Two walks and two hit-by-pitches were essentially the catalyst for the five-run inning.
St. Louis’ starter was Kwang-Hyun Kim. Kim had recently been activated from the injured list, but unlike Keller, was not on a pitch count. He came into this start with an ERA of 0.63 but yielded four runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings pitched, as his ERA rose to 1.59. The lefty tossed 103 pitches, 68 for strikes, fanned four and issued one walk. His nemesis was two long balls, both solo shots.
The Cardinals ended the week with a win over the Pirates 2-1, the fourth straight win in the five-game series. Jack Flaherty made the start and redeemed himself from the poor start against the Brewers earlier in the week. The right-hander hurled six strong innings with 11 strikeouts, two walks, and only one run allowed on two hits. Flaherty threw 102 pitches, 61 for strikes.
Flaherty was followed by a scoreless, hitless inning each by Tyler Webb, John Gant, and Andrew Miller. Flaherty earned the win, his fourth of the season. Miller received his third save.
Once again, the Cardinals offense couldn’t get anything going against the Pirates starter, who this time was Joe Musgrove. St. Louis was scoreless until the seventh inning, after Musgrove was relieved by Derek Holland. The difference-maker was the two-run home run off the bat of Yadier Molina following Matt Carpenter’s single.
Paul Goldschmidt was 2-for-4, including a double. Dylan Carlson also doubled.
Kolten Wong stole two bases, his fourth and fifth of the season. Harrison Bader stole his third of 2020.
The Big Picture
The Cardinals played 10 road games during the week, which included three doubleheaders. St. Louis won six times. They took only 2 of 5 from the Brewers but won 4 of 5 with the Pirates. The Cardinals stand in second place in the NL Central with a record of 26-24 and are 3.5 games back of the Cubs, who dropped their last two games against the Twins.
Lack of offense against the Brewers was the primary problem in that series. The Cardinals scored only 11 runs across five games while allowing 30. That series was mostly a failure of pitching. The offense was a little better in the Pirates series, but not by a whole lot.
St. Louis hitters under the Mendoza Line this past week include Matt Carpenter (.045), Harrison Bader (.136), Brad Miller (.138) and Tyler O’Neill (.148). Right on the line were Yadier Molina and Kolten Wong and not much better was Paul DeJong (.212). Among regulars, only Tommy Edman (.286) and Paul Goldschmidt (.303) are consistently hitting.
O’Neill, Bader and recently-recalled Dylan Carlson have become the semi-regular outfield, with Lane Thomas sent down. Dexter Fowler’s return is reportedly close.
The injury to Dakota Hudson leaves a hole in the starting rotation. It is not clear how will be filled, though most likely by several pitchers over this final week that may include Daniel Ponce de Leon, Johan Oviedo and Austin Gomber. Adam Wainwright has been the stalwart of the rotation, given some shaky starts by Jack Flaherty, though the latter was much better on Sunday. Kwang-Hyun Kim is back from the injured list and pitched two decent starts this past week. Carlos Martinez, on the other hand, has been iffy at best.
The bullpen has missed Giovanny Gallegos and John Gant. Gant returned to pitch an inning on Sunday. Gallegos is expected to return for the final week of the regular season. Alex Reyes, Tyler Webb, Genesis Cabrera, and Andrew Miller have been fine as well. The rest of the bullpen has been hit and miss.
The defense has continued to have some uncharacteristic issues, specifically by the usually reliable Paul DeJong, who had three errors during the week. Baserunning has been good.
If the Cardinals continue to have a dearth of offense, run prevention has to be the equalizer. Pitching must be more consistent, and the defensive errors have to stop.
The Cardinals play a three game-series with the Royals in Kansas City and may or may not end the season with five game against the Brewers at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals play the Royals well at Kaufmann Stadium and must continue to do so. The Brewers are always tough, and the Cardinals must play better against them at Busch Stadium than they did earlier in the week at Miller Park. If needed, the Cardinals may play a doubleheader against the Tigers on Monday, September 28 to reach 60 games played and to decide the final standings and post-season seeding.
The Cardinals are helped by an easier schedule than the Reds and Brewers, who play each other early in the week. The Reds will face a tough Twins team to end the season while the Cardinals are head to head with the Brewers this coming weekend.
NL Central Standings
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
- 9/14 The Cardinals activated LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim from the 10-day injured list.
- 9/14 The Cardinals placed OF Austin Dean on the 10-day injured list. Right elbow strain.
- 9/14 The Cardinals recalled RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon from the Alternate Training Site.
- 9/15 The Cardinals optioned RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon to the Alternate Training Site.
- 9/16 The Cardinals activated RHP Johan Oviedo from the injured list.
- 9/16 The Cardinals designated RHP Rob Kaminsky for assignment.
- 9/16 The Cardinals optioned OF Lane Thomas to the Alternate Training Site.
- 9/16 The Cardinals optioned RHP Nabil Crismatt to the Alternate Training Site.
- 9/16 The Cardinals recalled RHP Junior Fernandez from the Alternate Training Site.
- 9/16 The Cardinals recalled 2B Max Schrock from the Alternate Training Site.
- 9/16 The Cardinals recalled OF Justin Williams from the Alternate Training Site.
- 9/17 The Cardinals optioned RHP Johan Oviedo to the Alternate Training Site.
- 9/18 The Cardinals placed RHP Dakota Hudson on the 10-day injured list. Right elbow strain.
- 9/18 The Cardinals optioned 2B Max Schrock to the Alternate Training Site.
- 9/18 The Cardinals sent RHP Rob Kaminsky outright to the Alternate Training Site.
- 9/18 The Cardinals recalled OF Dylan Carlson from the Alternate Training Site.
- 9/18 The Cardinals recalled RHP Nabil Crismatt from the Alternate Training Site.
- 9/18 The Cardinals recalled RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon from the Alternate Training Site.
- 9/19 The Cardinals optioned RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon to the Alternate Training Site.
- 9/20 The Cardinals acquired LHP Domingo Robles from the Pittsburgh Pirates for international bonus pool space.
- RHP John Brebbia underwent Tommy John surgery on June 1. He will miss the entire 2020 season.
- RHP Jordan Hicks (Tommy John surgery) has opted out of the 2020 season.
- RHP Miles Mikolas (right forearm strain) had arm surgery and will miss the remainder of the season.
- RHP Kodi Whitley (COVID-19 positive) had experienced discomfort in his pitching elbow during throwing sessions at the Alternate Training Site. He was sent to St. Louis for an MRI and no structural damage was found. No update on his possible return has been reported.
- OF Austin Dean was placed on the 10-day injured list. Right elbow strain.
- LHP Ricardo Sanchez was transferred from the 10-day injured list to the 45-day injured list. Left elbow pain.
- LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim was activated from the 10-day injured list and started Monday’s game against the Brewers and Saturday’s game against the Pirates.
- RF Dexter Fowler remains on the 10-day injured list. He is expected to return to the roster in the coming week, possibly for the Royals series.
- RHP Johan Oviedo was activated from the COVID-19 injured list and started the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader against the Brewers and was optioned to the alternate site aftereward.
- RHP Giovanny Gallegos remains on the 10-day injured list but should be returning to the roster early in the coming week.
- RHP Dakota Hudson was placed on the 10-day injured list. Right elbow strain. Hudson is likely out for the remainder of the season.
The Cardinals conclude the 13-game road trip with a three-game set with the Royals in Kansas City beginning on Monday. Adam Wainwright is scheduled to make the Monday start, Austin Gomber on Tuesday and Carlos Martinez on Wednesday.
Should it be necessary for playoff purposes, the Cardinals will play a doubleheader against the Tigers on Monday, September 28. The games will be a makeup of postponed games from August 3-4.
The NL playoffs begin with the Wild Card series of three games on Wednesday, September 30 in Texas. The NLDS five-game series opens on Tuesday, October 6.
Whether the Cardinals appear in the postseason will be determined by the results in the final week of the regular season. If the season ended today, St. Louis would be the no. 6 seed of eight in the NL. However, four clubs are within a game just behind them – Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Milwaukee and San Francisco. Only three of this five will continue play in October.
Blast from the Past
Major League Baseball announced a format for the upcoming postseason that begins on Tuesday, September 29. The entire postseason except for the Wild Card Series will be played in four neutral sites. Globe Life Field in Arlington and Minute Maid Park in Houston will host the NLDS. The NLCS will be played in Arlington.
For the AL, each Division Series will be played at Petco Park in San Diego and in Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Petco Park in San Diego will host the ALCS. The World Series will be played at Globe Life Stadium in Arlington.
This will be the first time the World Series will be played entirely at one site in the last 76 years. This week’s Blast From the Past recalls 1944, when the World Series was played at one and only one ballpark.
The reason for playing the entire 1944 Series at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis was that it was the home park of both League Champions. The facility was owned by the Browns, with the Cardinals as tenants.
In the 1944 Series, the Cardinals represented the National League against the American League Browns. The former was managed by future Hall of Famer Billy Southworth, the latter by Luke Sewell.
The 1944 series was known by several names, “The Trolley Series”, “Streetcar Series”, and the “St. Louis Showdown”. Ironically, the year 1944 was also the year the movie “Meet Me in St. Louis” was released.
On October 4, 1944, the Browns won Game 1, 2-1. The Browns offense consisted of a two-run home run by first baseman George McQuinn in the fourth inning off Cardinals starting pitcher Mort Cooper. The Cardinals scored their only run in the bottom of the ninth, on a sac fly by pinch hitter Ken O’Dea.
The Cardinals were the winners of Game 2 by the score of 3-2. Left fielder Augie Bergamo drove in the first run on a ground out in the third inning. In the fourth, Cardinals second baseman Emil Verban plated the second run on a sac fly. The game went in to extra innings and was won by the Cardinals in the 11th inning on an RBI single by O’Dea, again as a pinch hitter.
The Browns won Game 3, 6-2. Four of the Browns’ six runs scored in the third on three singles and a wild pitch. The Cardinals plated both their runs on singles, by Walker Cooper in the first inning and by Marty Marion in the seventh.
The Cardinals won the final three games to take the Series. The 5-1 win in Game 4 featured a two-run home run by Stan Musial in the first inning. Solo home runs by first baseman Ray Sanders and left-fielder Danny Litwhiler led to a 2-0 win for St. Louis in Game 5.
The clincher, Game 6, was a 3-1 Cardinals victory. All three runs came home in the fourth on a throwing error and singles by Emil Verban and Max Lanier.
Another event of note in this World War II-era match-up is that it is the only World Series to feature no stolen bases by either team.
The only other World Series to feature two teams from the same city was the 1906 Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago White Sox, and both the 1921 and 1922 World Series between the New York Giants and the New York Yankees.
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