St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of September 21-27

photo: St. Louis Cardinals clinch playoffs, September 27, 2020

The St. Louis Cardinals went 4-4 in the final week of the regular season and clinched the number five seed in the NL Wild Card Series against San Diego. Austin Gomber pitched well in two important starts and Harrison Bader paced the sputtering offense. In our history feature, we look back at the 1934 World Series, won by the famous Gashouse Gang.



Game Recaps

Monday, September 21, 2020 – Cardinals 1 at Royals 4

The St. Louis Cardinals began a three-game series in Kansas City against the Royals on Monday.  Game 1 was a 4-1 loss for the Cardinals.

Starter Adam Wainwright suffered his second loss of the season.  The right hander pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up three runs on six hits.  He fanned seven and walked two.   Wainwright threw 91 pitches, 58 for strikes

Tyler Webb relieved and tossed a scoreless inning.  Giovanny Gallegos surrendered a run in 2/3 of an inning. Seth Elledge secured the final out.

St. Louis’ scoring consisted of a solo home run by Matt Carpenter in the second inning.  The Redbirds had a total of six hits, with Yadier Molina going 2-for-4. Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt and Dexter Fowler each singled.

 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020 – Cardinals 5 at Royals 0

St. Louis fared much better in the second game of the series, blanking the Royals 5-0 behind very good pitching from left hander Austin Gomber.  Gomber tossed six scoreless innings on four hits, no walks and struck out three. He threw 76 pitches, 52 for strikes.  Ryan Helsley, Genesis Cabrera, and Jake Woodford each added a scoreless inning of relief.  Gomber earned his first win of the season.

Austin Gomber via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Rookie Dylan Carlson shined offensively with three hits and was a home run short of a cycle.  His second inning double drove in two of the team’s five runs.  Kolten Wong was 2-for-3 and plated a run on a single in the second inning.

Brad Miller doubled in a run in the fifth, and Tommy Edman’s sac fly in the sixth scored the final run.  Paul Goldschmidt contributed a double but was stranded.

Wong was caught stealing for the second time this season.  Edman and Matt Carpenter both made throwing errors.

 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 – Cardinals 3 at Royals 12

The third and final game of the series was a disaster for the Cardinals.  The Royals pummeled starter Carlos Martinez before the right-hander left the game with an oblique injury.  Martinez pitched five innings, giving up eight runs on nine hits.  The right hander struck out three and walked two.

Seth Elledge relieved in the sixth and compounded the woes by yielding three additional runs on four hits.  Kodi Whitley surrendered one run in the seventh inning.  Only Jake Woodford tossed a scoreless frame, the eighth and final inning for St. Louis pitching.

The offense produced nine hits, but only three runs were the result.  Harrison Bader drove in two of the three on a line drive single to left in the ninth inning.  Prior to that, the offense scored one run in the fifth on a single by Dexter Fowler.

Bader and Yadier Molina contributed multiple hits; Molina was 2-for-3 and Bader was 2-for-4.

 

Thursday, September 24, 2020 – Cardinals 4, Brewers 2

The Cardinals’ final series of the regular season began on Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium.  This first of five contests ended with a Cardinals victory against one of the best pitchers in the National League, Corbin Burnes.

St. Louis’ offense got the Burnes in the third inning.  It started with back to back singles by Kolten Wong and Tommy Edman. Paul Goldschmidt singled to drive in Wong.

The Brewers knotted the game up 1-1 in the top of the fourth.  In response, the Redbirds scored two in the bottom half of the inning.  Dexter Fowler drew a walk and Dylan Carlson blasted a ball long and high into right field, but just fair for a two-run home run.  The Cardinals led 3-1.

Dylan Carlson via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Carlson once again plated the fourth and final Cardinals run in the sixth following another Fowler free pass.  This time it was an RBI double in the left center field gap that brought Fowler home.

The Brewers made it closer in the ninth with one run to make it 4-2, but St. Louis prevailed.  Edman and Carlson each had two hits.  One other Cardinal had two hits, and the second one was very special.  Yadier Molina’s 2,000th career hit was a line drive single to center.  He became just the 12th catcher in MLB history to reach the 2,000 hit milestone.

The offense had many chances to put the game away, but continued to struggle to produce in scoring situations. The Cardinals hitters stranded 11 baserunners and went just 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position.

Kwang-Hyun Kim was St. Louis’ starter on the mound.  The left hander tossed five innings and allowed one run on five hits, escaping a key two-on, two-out jam in his final frame.  Kim struck out three and walked two.

Giovanny Gallegos pitched a scoreless, hitless sixth and Genesis Cabrera followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings.  Alex Reyes took over with one out in the eighth and got the final two outs.  The right hander returned to start the ninth, struck out one hitter but yielded two singles.  Andrew Miller came in and surrendered a single but struck out the final two hitters to seal the victory. His fourth save protected Kim’s third win.

Friday, September 25, 2020 – Cardinals 0, Brewers 3 (seven innings, Game 1)

The Cardinals continued the final homestand of 2020 with a Friday doubleheader against the Brewers.  In Game 1, the Cardinals offense couldn’t get anything going against Milwaukee pitching.  A total of five hits was all St. Louis batters could muster against Brewers starter Brent Suter and relievers Devin Williams and Josh Hader and their only runner to reach second base did it in the final inning.

Kolten Wong reached to begin the home first on an infield single to third base.  He was erased in a double play off the bat of Paul Goldschmidt.  Paul DeJong singled to right in the fourth but was stranded.

Dylan Carlson hit an infield single in the fifth, but was erased in a double play, this time by Brad Miller.  The double play struck again in the sixth after Harrison Bader singled to center and Wong followed with a ground ball that enabled the Brewers to turn two.

The Cardinals finally got a runner safely to second base in the seventh when Paul Goldschmidt doubled to left field. A ground out and two strikeouts ended that scoring possibility and the game.

St. Louis starter Jack Flaherty continued to have issues with Milwaukee hitters.  Flaherty pitched five innings and allowed three runs on four hits, one of which was home run.  The right-hander also fell victim to the walk, issuing four free passes, though he did fan five.

John Gant started the sixth in relief, but after facing one hitter, left the game with groin tightness, a recurring issue for him.  Ryan Helsley replaced Gant and pitched a scoreless frame.  Tyler Webb tossed a scoreless seventh inning. Following the game, Gant was placed on the 10-day injured list.

Friday, September 25, 2020 – Cardinals 9 “at” Brewers 1 (seven innings, Game 2)

A pitching gem from Cardinals starter Daniel Ponce de Leon plus a much better offensive performance led St. Louis to a decisive win over the Brewers in the second game of the twin bill. St. Louis was designated as the road team in this make-up contest from August 2.

Ponce de Leon kept the Milwaukee offense not only scoreless but hitless until the sixth inning.  In his six innings of work, the right-hander yielded one run on one hit, a home run by Brewers shortstop Orlando Arcia.  Ponce de Leon struck out six and walked two, throwing 99 pitches, 60 for strikes, to earn his first win of the season. It was also his first career win as a starter in his 20th try.

Daniel Ponce de Leon via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

Kodi Whitley made his second appearance since being activated from the injured list on Tuesday and pitched a scoreless seventh inning.  He allowed one hit, struck out one, and walked one.

The offense got on the board in the first inning, when Tommy Edman singled to right field, and Matt Carpenter drove him home on a double to right.  Two more runs came home in the second.  Paul DeJong singled and later scored on a wild pitch. Matt Wieters drew a walk, and Kolten Wong followed with an RBI triple to center.

The big inning was the fifth. Wong singled to lead off and came home when Edman thumped a home run to center to make it 5-0.  Matt Carpenter singled on a ground ball to third base and Harrison Bader pinch ran.  Dexter Fowler and Paul DeJong each walked to load the bases.  Dylan Carlson doubled to left to score Bader and Fowler. Wieters then drove DeJong and Carlson home on a single to center.

Wong, Edman, and Carpenter each had two hits. Edman, Carlson, and Wieters had two RBI each.

Saturday, September 26 – Cardinals 0, Brewers 3

The Cardinals needed a win against the Milwaukee Brewers to clinch a postseason spot but they did not get it.  A virtually non-existent offense caused the Cardinals to suffer a 3-0 defeat on Saturday night at Busch Stadium.

As has been the case through a significant portion of the shortened season, the St. Louis offense faced pitching that thwarted their efforts.  Brewers starter Brandon Woodruff held them scoreless throughout his eight innings pitched.  Only two Redbirds managed a hit against Woodruff.  Kolten Wong had a leadoff single in the first inning but was left stranded.  Yadier Molina led off the second inning with a single and was likewise stranded.  When all was done, the Cardinals struck out 11 times and walked only once. No baserunners advanced as far as second base.

No offense put the lion’s share of the burden on starter Adam Wainwright.  The veteran right-hander tossed 6 2/3 innings and yielded three runs on eight hits.  He gave up two solo home runs and suffered his third loss of the season.

Andrew Miller relieved with one out in the seventh inning and walked his first batter but struck out the second to end the inning.  Miller returned for the eighth and fanned the first hitter and was replaced by Ryan Helsley, who got the final two outs of the inning.  Tyler Webb hurled a scoreless ninth, with one hit allowed and three strikeouts.

Sunday, September 27, 2020 – Cardinals 5, Brewers 2

The 30-28 Cardinals clinched a spot in the postseason, the fifth seed in the NL, with a 5-2 win over the Brewers at Busch Stadium.  A Monday trip to Detroit was avoided and the team gets a much-needed two days off before their postseason starts in San Diego on Wednesday.

Starter Austin Gomber pitched four innings and yielded one run one hit.  The left-hander fanned three and walked two.  Gomber threw 75 pitches, 47 for starts.

Giovanny Gallegos tossed two scoreless innings.  He fanned three and earned the win, his second of the season.  Genesis Cabrera followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

Alex Reyes closed and allowed one run on two hits.  The right-hander earned his first and only save of the regular season.

St. Louis’ offense got going in a big way in the bottom of the third.  Harrison Bader led off with a triple into center field.  Tyler O’Neill then drew a tough walk, down 0-2 to get the free pass.  He followed that with a steal of second base.  Kolten Wong then singled to the pitcher, who bobbled the ball then threw wildly.  Bader scored from third and O’Neill scored on the error.  Paul Goldschmidt singled to left to plate Wong.   Yadier Molina walked, and Paul DeJong singled to left to drive Goldschmidt home.  The Cardinals led 4-0.

The Brewers added a run in the top of the fourth but the Cardinals took the run right back in the bottom of the inning.  Bader again led off and obliterated a ball into the middle of Big Mac Land, striking a painting created by Fredbird.  The home run was clocked at 106+ mph off the bat.

Harrison Bader via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)

The score remained 5-1 until the ninth inning.  The Brewers added a run against reliever Reyes, but that was it.  The Cardinals won and celebrated their postseason berth in a Covid-19 appropriate way and the 29-31 Brewers also backed into the playoffs when San Francisco lost.

 

The Big Picture

The last week of the regular season started badly but ended well.  The Cardinals lost 2 of 3 to the Royals, a team they generally play well against and especially in Kaufmann Stadium, a ballpark in which they have generally dominated.  The deciding game of the series was 12-3 trouncing.

In the end, the Cardinals took 3 of 5 from the Brewers, and slid into a postseason spot.  They finished the regular season with a record of 30-28, taking second place from the 31-29 Reds by percentage points.  Four of the five NL Central squads are in the postseason, with Chicago taking the crown by three games.  The Brewers got in by the skin of their teeth on a loss by the Giants on Sunday.  They finished with a record of 29-31.

Throughout the 60-game season (58 for the Cardinals) the offense has been the sore spot.  Inconsistent at best, the offense never did find a rhythm.  There could be one or several reasons for this, but in the end this issue is the Achilles heel going into the playoffs.

By OPS, the top five hitters on the team for the season are Paul Goldschmidt, Brad Miller, Dexter Fowler, Harrison Bader, and Tommy Edman.  However, only Goldschmidt and Miller have an OPS over .800.  Only Bader and Fowler have an OPS over .700, but Edman was close with .685.  Fowler might have fared better had he not missed significant time on the IL.

In the last seven days, the top six hitters by OPS were Harrison Bader, Dylan Carlson, Matt Carpenter, Kolten Wong, Paul Goldschmidt and Yadier Molina. Bader and Carlson were 1.198 and .957, respectively.  Carpenter and Wong were .788 and .754, respectively.  Goldschmidt and Molina were .689 and .679.

Pitching has been fine, both starting and relieving, in the last week.  The only strugglers were Carlos Martinez and Seth Elledge.  Martinez is injured and not likely to pitch in the postseason.  Dakota Hudson is out for the season with Tommy John surgery so he will not figure into the equation either.  Daniel Ponce de Leon had an excellent start in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader.  Both he and Austin Gomber have filled in for holes in the rotation very nicely.

Defense and baserunning remain a plus for the Cardinals during the regular season and they hope will remain so for the postseason.

The Cardinals are in the Wild Card Series, a best-of-three game set against the Padres in San Diego beginning Wednesday.  The 37-23 Padres are a strong team, with a good enough record to have won the Central or East, so this will be a tough matchup.

 

Final NL Central Standings

Team W L Pct GB
Chicago 34 26 0.567
St. Louis 30 28 0.5172 3
Cincinnati 31 29 0.5167 3
Milwaukee 29 31 0.483 5
Pittsburgh 19 41 0.317 15

Cardinals clinch postseason berth

On the final day of the regular season, the Cardinals clinched a spot in the postseason with 5-2 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.  The win eliminated the need for the Cardinals to play the doubleheader with Detroit on Monday and gives the team a much needed two day break before postseason play begins.

It was a very tough season for St. Louis.  They lost 17 days at the beginning of the season due to a Covid-19 outbreak and had to play catchup with 11 doubleheaders during the remainder of the season.   The Marlins had a similar outbreak but were down for the count for a shorter period of time.  The Marlins also reached the postseason.

The Cardinals are the #5 seed in the NL and will play the Padres in the best-of-three NL Wild Card Series beginning Wednesday.

 

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

 

Transactions

  • 9/21 The Cardinals activated OF Dexter Fowler from the 10-day injured list.
  • 9/21 The Cardinals activated RHP Giovanny Gallegos from the 10-day injured list.
  • 9/21 The Cardinals designated RHP Roel Ramirez for assignment.
  • 9/21 The Cardinals optioned OF Justin Williams to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/21 The Cardinals optioned RHP Nabil Crismatt to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/22 The Cardinals transferred RHP Dakota Hudson from the 10-day injured list to the 45-day injured list.
  • 9/22 The Cardinals activated RHP Kodi Whitley from the injured list.
  • 9/22 The Cardinals optioned RHP Junior Fernandez to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/24 The Cardinals recalled RHP Johan Oveido from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/24 The Cardinals placed RHP Carlos Martinez on the 10-day injured list. Left oblique strain.
  • 9/25 The Cardinals recalled RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/25 The Cardinals placed RHP John Gant on the 10-day injured list.
  • 9/25 The Cardinals sent RHP Roel Ramirez outright to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/25 The Cardinals recalled RHP Nabil Crismatt from the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/26 The Cardinals optioned RHP Daniel Ponce de Leon to the Alternate Training Site.
  • 9/27 The Cardinals activated OF Austin Dean from the 10-day injured list.
  • 9/27 The Cardinals optioned RHP Nabil Crismatt to the Alternate Training Site.

 

Injury Report

  • 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) was activated from the injured list and has appeared in games.
  • OF Austin Dean was activated from the 10-day injured list.
  • LHP Ricardo Sanchez was transferred from the 10-day injured list to the 45-day injured list. Left elbow pain.
  • RF Dexter Fowler was activated from the 10-day injured list and has been starting games.
  • RHP Giovanny Gallegos was activated from the 10-day injured list and has appeared in games.
  • RHP Dakota Hudson was transferred from the 10-day injured list to the 45-day injured list. The right hander will have Tommy John surgery on Monday and will be out for 9-15 months.
  • RHP Carlos Martinez exited his last start on Wednesday and was placed on the 10-day injured list with a left oblique strain. He is not likely to pitch for the remainder of the season.
  • RHP John Gant was placed on the 10-day injured list with a recurrence of his groin strain.

 

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals defeated the Brewers 5-2 on Sunday to clinch a postseason berth.  They will be the NL’s #5 seed and will play the Padres in San Diego in a best-of-three Wild Card Series starting Wednesday.  No pitchers for the series are official but the first game will likely be a Jack Flaherty start with Kwang-Hyun Kim another possibility.

Should the Cardinals win the series with the Padres, they will move on to the National League Division Series, which begins on Tuesday, October 6. They would face the winner of the Brewers at Dodgers first-round match-up.


Blast from the Past

Last week’s Blast From the Past looked at the 1944 World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns.  This week’s segment remembers another World Series from the past, this one 10 years earlier in 1934.

The 1934 St. Louis Cardinals team was an unusual group.  They were nicknamed the “Gashouse Gang” with the name reportedly coined by shortstop Leo Durocher.  The moniker stuck because of the general appearance of the players, who weren’t exactly clean, often taking the field in dirty and smelly uniforms.  A gas house was a factory that turned coal into gas for lighting and cooking, a dirty and odiferous process back in those days.

1934 St. Louis Cardinals

The team had some interesting players as well, starting with pitching brothers Jay and Paul Dean, a/k/a “Dizzy” and “Daffy”.  The aforementioned Durocher was a notorious gambler who hung out with the wrong crowd and was accused of hitting his wife multiple times.  The two were in divorce proceedings that year.  Pepper Martin was the prankster of the group.  Rounding it all out was a newcomer, 22-year old Joe Medwick, known as “Ducky”.  Headlining the Gashouse Gang were Dizzy, Daffy, and Ducky.  In mid-season, the Cardinals added “Dazzy” Vance, a 43-year old veteran pitcher, to the roster.

Dizzy and Daffy Dean

Dizzy Dean predicted before the 1934 season started that he and his brother would win 45 games together.  They actually won 49 – 30 for Dizzy, 19 for Daffy.  At one point during the season the two were embroiled in a pay dispute with general manager Branch Rickey.  The two failed to show up for an exhibition game in Detroit in early August.  Manager Frankie Frisch fined them and they tore up the locker room in a fit of pique.  After refusing to play for a week, the brothers returned, and the season went on.

In early September, the Cardinals were down seven games to the New York Giants.  On a stretch run from the fifth through the 14th, the Cardinals won 7 of 10 games, including 5 in a row.  In a doubleheader against the Giants on the 16th, Dizzy won the first game and his brother won the second.  On the 21st against Brooklyn in a twin bill, Dizzy threw a three-hit shutout in the opener and Daffy threw a no-hitter in Game 2.  Dizzy was reported to have said after that if he knew his brother was going to throw a no-hitter he would have thrown one also.

Dizzy won his 30th game against the Reds in the final game of the regular season.  Brooklyn aided the Cardinals by beating the Giants in a doubleheader and the Cardinals won the NL pennant.

The 1934 World Series between the Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers began on Wednesday, October 3.  The Cardinals won Game 1, 8-3.  Dizzy pitched a complete game, allowed eight hits, struck out six and walked two.  Medwick went 4-for-5 including a solo home run.

Ducky Medwick

The Cardinals lost Game 2, 3-2.  Medwick had an RBI single to left field.  Bill Hallahan was the starter but got a no decision.  The loss went to relief pitcher Bill Walker.

St. Louis bounced back to beat Detroit 4-1 in Game 3.  Like his brother in the opener, Daffy threw a complete game for the win.  He allowed only one run on eight hits, fanned seven and walked five.  Dean also contributed a sacrifice fly on offense.

Detroit won Game 4, 10-4.  Tex Carleton made the start but was relieved by Vance after 2 2/3 innings.  Bill Walker, the second of four relief pitchers, took the loss.  Dizzy appeared as a pinch runner in the fourth inning and was hit in the forehead by a throw from second while running from first base.  He was taken off the field in a stretcher and taken to the hospital.  From this incident came the memorable quote that “X-rays of his head revealed nothing”.

Game 5 was another loss for the Cardinals by the score of 3-1.  Dizzy was the losing pitcher, receiving no run support other than a solo home run by Bill DeLancey.

The Cardinals were undaunted and went on to win Games 6 and 7.  Game 6 was a 4-3 win with Daffy earning his second win of the Series.  In a complete game, he gave up three runs, only one earned, on seven hits.  He struck out four and walked two.  Medwick went 2-for-4 with an RBI.

Game 7 was an 11-0 trouncing.  Dizzy won his second game of the series, pitching all nine innings.  He allowed six hits and fanned five.  There was a fight of sorts in this game, initiated by Medwick.  With a 7-0 lead, Medwick tripled and slid into Tigers third baseman Merv Owen aggressively, which Owen took exception to, and the two got into it.  The fight didn’t last long, but Detroit fans responded by throwing bottles, scorecards, and anything else that would fly at Medwick as he came off the field.  The crew would clean it up and the fans would throw things again.  The game was delayed 20 minutes and Commissioner Kennesaw Landis ordered Medwick to shake hands with Owen to quell the crowd, but Ducky refused. So, Landis had Medwick removed from the game.

The Cardinals won Game 7 and the World Series title.  Dizzy had predicted they would win it, and once again, his prediction was realized.   He had said at the time he made the prediction that “It ain’t braggin’ if you do it”.  They did indeed do it – Dizzy, Daffy, Ducky, Dazzy, and all of the Gashouse Gang.


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