St. Louis Cardinals Notebook – Week of June 20-26

Photo: Paul Goldschmidt (Billy Hurst/USA TODAY Sports)

The St. Louis Cardinals went 3-4 this week, splitting a four-game series with the Brewers and losing a series with the Cubs. The team moved a game back of the Brewers for the top spot in the NL Central. Our Blast from the Past recalls the “Ryne Sandberg game” of 1984.



Game recaps

Monday, June 20 – Cardinals 0 at Brewers 2

The Cardinals were blanked by the Brewers in the first game of a four game series in Milwaukee. Miles Mikolas got the start for St. Louis. The right hander pitched 6 1/3 innings, gave up two runs on four hits, struck out three and walked two. It was the fifth loss for Mikolas this season.

Johan Oviedo relieved Mikolas and tossed the final 1 2/3 scoreless innings.

The Brewers went ahead 2-0 in the fifth inning on a two-run home run by Milwaukee center fielder Tyrone Taylor.

The Cardinal offense was held to three hits by Brewer starter Corbin Burnes. The Redbird hitters struck out 12 times and were 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. The only extra base hit was a double by Juan Yepez in the second inning. Yepez was 2-for-3 in the contest.

Tuesday, June 21 – Cardinals 6 at Brewers 2

The Cardinals were victorious over the Brewers in the second game of the series on Tuesday. Jack Flaherty made the start but was out after three innings pitched. The right-hander gave up two runs on three hits, struck out one and walked five.

Zack Thompson relieved Flaherty and threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Drew VerHagen, Giovanny Gallegos, and Ryan Helsley combined to toss the final 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Thompson got the win, his first of the season.

St. Louis got on the board in the first inning with two runs. Brendan Donovan singled and Nolan Arenado doubled. Donovan scored on a ground out by Juan Yepez. Nolan Gorman plated Arenado on a single.

The Brewers scored two in the home half of the first to tie the game. The Cardinals regained the lead with one run scored in the fourth on a solo home run by Gorman. Gorman homered again in the seventh to make it 4-2.

Nolan Gorman

The Cardinals added their final two runs in the eighth. Edman singled and Donovan singled. Edman scored on an Arenado single. Gorman plated Donovan on a single.

Gorman went 4-for-4 in the contest with four RBI and two runs scored. Donovan and Arenado were each 2-for-4. Arenado had an RBI. Yepez drove in one.

On the base paths, Dylan Carlson stole his second base of the season.

Wednesday, June 22 – Cardinals 5 at Brewers 4

The Cardinals edged the Brewers in a 5-4 contest at American Family Field on Wednesday. Adam Wainwright got the start for St. Louis. The right hander pitched 4 2/3 innings, gave up four runs on seven hits, fanned seven and walked one.

Johan Oviedo relieved Wainwright and threw 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Genesis Cabrera tossed the final two scoreless innings. Oviedo earned his first career win.

The Cardinals took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on a two run long ball by Paul Goldschmidt. The Brewers answered with one run in the home half of the first.

St. Louis increased the lead to 3-1 in the fourth. Nolan Arenado doubled, Juan Yepez singled, and Albert Pujols plated Arenado on a sac fly. Milwaukee cut the lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth.

The Brewers took the lead with two runs in the fifth to make it 4-3. The Cardinals responded by scoring two in the sixth to regain the lead at 5-4.

Arenado was 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Yepez was 2-for-3. Goldschmidt drove in two.

Juan Yepez

On the base paths, Tommy Edman stole his 16th base of the season. Dylan Carlson swiped his third bag.

Thursday, June 23 – Cardinals 4 at Brewers 6

The Cardinals lost the final game of the series and earned a split. Dakota Hudson took the mound and pitched 4 1/3 innings, gave up five runs on seven hits, struck two and walked three. Hudson took the loss, his fourth of the season.

Junior Fernandez relieved Hudson and threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Zack Thompson hurled a scoreless seventh. Drew VerHagen surrendered one run in the eighth without recording any outs. Nick Wittgren finished the eighth with no further damage.

The Cardinals once again took the early 2-0 lead in the first inning. Nolan Gorman singled. Paul Goldschmidt doubled, and Gorman scored. Goldschmidt scored on throwing errors by the Brewers shortstop and pitcher.

The Brewers scored one in the bottom of the first, just as they did in the previous day’s game. They added three more run in the fourth to go up 4-2. The Cardinals made it 4-3 in the fifth on a solo home run by Lars Nootbaar, but Willy Adames did the same in the home half of the fifth to increase their lead.

Lars Nootbaar

The Cardinals scored again in the sixth to get within one run for the second time. Goldschmidt walked, then Nolan Arenado doubled. Juan Yepez plated Goldschmidt on a sac fly.

The Brewers added their final run in the eighth to cement a 6-4 victory.

Gorman and Arenado were both 2-for-4. Nootbaar was 2-for-3 with an RBI. Goldschmidt and Yepez each drove in a run.

In the field, Nootbaar had an outfield assist at home plate.

Friday, June 24 – Cardinals 0, Cubs 3

The Cardinals took on the rival Cubs in a three game series at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals allowed themselves to be blanked by the fourth place Cubs on Friday. Starter Andre Pallante pitched six innings, gave up three runs on seven hits, struck out two and walked three. Pallante took the loss, his third of the season.

Junior Fernandez relieved Pallante and threw a scoreless seventh. Nick Wittgren tossed the final two scoreless innings.

The Cubs took a 2-0 lead in the second on a two run home run, then added their third run in the fifth. The Cardinal offense was held to five hits by Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks, with the only extra base hit being a double by Harrison Bader. The other hits, all singles came from Tommy Edman, Brendan Donovan, Juan Yepez, and Dylan Carlson. The offense was 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position.

Saturday, June 25 – Cardinals 5, Cubs 3

The Cardinal cemented what turned out to be the only win in the series against the Cubs. The win didn’t come easy as the winning runs didn’t’ come until the final innings. Miles Mikolas got the start and pitched well, going six innings and giving up only one run on four hits, and fanning nine with only one walk. Unfortunately, he got a no decision.

Giovanny Gallegos relieved Mikolas and blew his fourth save of the season. The right hander surrendered two runs in 1 1/3 innings. Ryan Helsley came in to save the game and tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings to earn his third win of the season.

The Cardinals scored two runs in the first inning to take the lead. Paul Goldschmidt singled and Nolan Arenado followed with a double. Brendan Donovan plated Goldschmidt and Arenado on a single.

The Cubs made it 2-1 in the fifth, then went up 3-2 in the eighth. St. Louis answered with two runs in the home half of the eighth to regain the lead and take the game. Juan Yepez doubled. Edmundo Sosa pinch ran for Yepez. Sosa advanced to third on a wild pitch. Harrison Bader was hit by a pitch. Sosa scored on a sac fly by Ivan Herrera. It was Herrera’s first major league RBI. Tommy Edman then plated Bader on a single.

Arenado went 3-for-4 with two runs scored. Goldschmidt was 2-for-4. Donovan drove in two.

Nolan Arenado

On the base paths, Edman stole his 17th base of the season, leading the NL in that category.

Sunday, June 26 – Cardinals 5, Cubs 6 (10 innings)

The Cardinals were unable to take the series against the Cubs in St. Louis. Starter Jack Flaherty made an early exit, and the bullpen blew a five-run lead.

Flaherty pitched two scoreless innings with one hit allowed, two strikeouts and two walks. Flaherty did not return to pitch the third due to shoulder tightness.

Nick Wittgren came in to relieve Flaherty and gave up four runs in one inning pitched. Johan Oviedo surrendered one run in relief of Wittgren. Packy Naughton and Junior Fernandez combined for three scoreless innings. Zack Thompson gave up the winning run in the 10th and took the loss, his first.

The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the first. Brendan Donovan tripled and scored on a single by Nolan Arenado. St. Louis increased the lead to 2-0 in the second. Dylan Carlson was hit by a pitch and advanced to third on a single by Ivan Herrera, his first major league hit. Carlson scored on force out by Tommy Edman.

In the third the Cardinals widened the lead to 5-0 on three solo home runs by Donovan, Paul Goldschmidt, and Juan Yepez.

Brendan Donovan

The five-run lead quickly evaporated when Wittgren came in to relieve Flaherty. Wittgren allowed four runs on four hits. Wittgren was pulled for Oviedo, who surrendered the tying run. What was a 5-0 lead became 5-5 in a half inning.

The Cardinal offense essentially shut down after that. The tie took the game into extra innings and the Cubs pushed a run across to take the 6-5 lead. The Cardinals offense whiffed in the bottom of the 10th and the Cubs took the series.

Donovan went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Herrera was 2-for-3.

On the base paths, Edman was picked off and caught stealing. Donovan was also caught stealing

In the field, Paul Goldschmidt made his first fielding error of the season. Flaherty had a throwing error.

NL Central Standings

Team                                        W                                     L                               Pct                                    GB

 

Milwaukee

 

          42

 

            33

 

         .560

 

          ——

 

St. Louis

 

          41

 

            34

 

         .547

 

              1

 

Pittsburgh

 

          29

 

            43

 

         .403

 

            11.5 

 

Chicago

 

          28

 

            45

 

         .384

 

             13

 

Cincinnati

 

          25

 

            47

 

         .347

 

            15.5 

Big Picture

The Cardinals finished the week with a record of 3-4. They split a four game series with the Brewers and lost 2-of-3 three to the Cubs. The Brewers are now in first place in the NL Central by one game.

The offense was inconsistent during the week. They were shutout twice, once by the Brewers and once by the Cubs. It appears certain pitchers, in this case Corbin Burnes and Kyle Hendricks, leave the offense stumped. The performance against Burnes, the reigning NL Cy Young winner, is forgivable. Their bafflement at the hands of Hendricks, who came into the game with a 5+ ERA is not. Hendricks is not new to the Cardinal offense, and why they continue to perform badly against him while other teams do not have the same issues, is a puzzle.

The top offensive performers during the week by OPS were:  Paul Goldschmidt (1.000), Brendan Donovan (.989), Nolan Arenado (.966), Ivan Herrera (.829 in five games), and Lars Nootbaar (.818 in six games).

Andrew Knizner continues to struggle with the bat, with an OPS of .237. The biggest performance drop was that of Harrison Bader, who has an OPS of .317 for the week, and Tommy Edman at .328. Bader had good career numbers against the Cubs coming into that series. He had the only extra base hit in the 3-0 shutout and had a single in Saturday’s win but was 0-for-4 in Sunday’s loss.

Despite the inconsistency, the offense is basically fine. It is the pitching that continues to be the major problem. At this point in the season, the Cardinals pitching staff ranks 23rd out of all 30 teams in baseball. This is incompatible with a winning team, even in a weak division like the NL Central.

The rotation is plagued by injuries, much like it was last season. Even with that history, the front office allowed the team to start the season with little depth in the rotation. Even worse is the bullpen, which continues to blow leads right and left. Again, the front office put together this yard sale bullpen, so some of the responsibility lies there.

The Cardinals have three games left in this homestand against the Marlins. The Marlins have very good pitching in Sandy Alcantara and Pablo Lopez. Good pitching has been the Achilles heel for this offense. A series win is a must.

After the Marlins series the Cardinal leave on a road trip where their first opponent is the Phillies. The Phillies’ early season struggles have ended, and they have been playing well. However, they just lost their best player, Bryce Harper, to a fractured thumb, which could keep him out for a considerable time. This is important not just for this series, but for the series coming soon after with the Phillies in St. Louis. Even without Harper, the Phillies will be tough.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors.

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

Transactions

  • 6/20 The Cardinals recalled LF Lars Nootbaar from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 6/20 The Cardinals placed LF Tyler O’Neill on the 10-day injured list. Left hamstring strain.
  • 6/21 The Cardinals sent RHP Jordan Hicks on a rehab assignment to the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 6/22 The Cardinals recalled RHP Junior Fernandez from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 6/22 The Cardinals placed T.J. McFarland on the Covid injured list.
  • 6/24 The Cardinals recalled LHP Packy Naughton from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 6/24 The Cardinals placed RHP Drew VerHagen on the 10-day injured list. Right shoulder impingement.
  • 6/25 The Cardinals recalled RHP Jake Woodford from the Memphis Redbirds.
  • 6/25 The Cardinals placed LHP Genesis Cabrera on the Covid injured list.

Injury Report

  • RHP Alex Reyes (frayed right labrum) remains on the 60 day IL. The right hander received a second opinion and has had surgery on the shoulder. Whether the injury is season-ending is yet to be determined.
  • LHP Steven Matz (left shoulder stiffness) threw off a mound on June 18 and June 21. Matz is expected to be sent on a rehab assignment soon.
  • RHP Jordan Hicks (right forearm flexor) was placed on the 15-day injured list on May 26, retroactive to May 25. The right-hander has made two rehab assignments at Memphis and will make back to back appearances on Tuesday and Wednesday. If the rehab assignments are successful, Hicks may make the road trip with the team to Philadelphia and Atlanta.
  • OF/DH Corey Dickerson (strained left calf) was placed on the 10-day injured list on June 5. Dickerson was sent on a rehab assignment to the Memphis Redbirds on June 16 but made only one appearance before his rehab assignment was paused. He returned and played back to back games with Memphis on June 21 and June 22 but hasn’t made an appearance since.
  • C Yadier Molina (right knee inflammation) was placed on the 10-day injured list on June 17, retroactive to June 16. Molina is rehabbing in Puerto Rico. No date for Molina’s return has been specified.
  • LF Tyler O’Neill (left hamstring strain) was placed on the injured list on June 20. The outfielder will be evaluated early this week to determine his readiness for a rehab assignment.
  • LHP T.J. McFarland was placed on the Covid injured list after testing positive for Covid-19. No specific date of return was announced.
  • RHP Drew VerHagen was placed on the 10-day injured list on June 24 with a right shoulder impingement. VerHagen’s last appearance was on June 23, where he was unable to record an out in the eighth inning in the final game against the Brewers. No return date has been specified.
  • LHP Genesis Cabrera was placed on the Covid injured list on June 25. No specific date of return was announced.
  • RHP Jack Flaherty came out of Sunday’s game after two innings with right shoulder tightness. Manager Oli Marmol said the removal was precautionary and that the pitcher’s shoulder was not painful but was more like dead arm. The team is hopeful this is not a recurring problem and Flaherty is being evaluated.

Looking Ahead

The Cubs series ends on Sunday. The Marlins come to St. Louis for a three game series beginning Monday. Adam Wainwright is scheduled to make the Monday start with Dakota Hudson to follow on Tuesday and Andre Pallante on Wednesday.

Beginning July 1, the Cardinals travel to Philadelphia for a weekend series with the Phillies. The road trip concludes with four games in Atlanta against the Braves.

The Cardinals then return home for a 10 game homestand that begins with a weekend series against the Phillies. The homestand continues with three games with the Dodgers, followed by a weekend series against the Reds before the start of the All Star break on Monday, July 18.

After the All Star break, the Cardinals travel to Cincinnati for a weekend series with the Reds.

The regular season schedule can be found here.

Blast from the Past.

This week’s Blast from the Past looks back on a memorable game from the 1984 season. This game that took place on June 23, 1984, is sometimes referred to as the “Ryne Sandberg game” due to two game tying home runs hit by the Cubs slugger. The game was a 12-11 loss for the Cardinals but the performance of Cardinals favorite Willie McGee stands out.

The game between the Cardinals and the Cubs was played at Wrigley Field on June 23, 1984. It was a Saturday day game that went 11 innings and lasted 3 hours and 53 minutes. At that time, the Cardinals and the Cubs played in the NL East Division along with the Mets, Phillies, Expos and Pirates. Coming into that game the Mets were in first place with a record of 36-28. The Cubs had a record of 36-31 and were in third place. The Cardinals were in fifth place with a record of 34-36.

Manager Whitey Herzog’s lineup for the Saturday game was:  LF Lonnie Smith, SS Ozzie Smith, CF Willie McGee, RF George Hendrick, 1B David Green, 2B Tom Herr, 3B Art Howe, C Darrell Porter, P Ralph Citarella

Cubs’ manager Jim Frey’s lineup was:  CF Bob Dernier, 2B Ryne Sandberg, LF Gary Matthews, 1B Leon Durham, RF Keith Moreland, C Jody Davis, 3B Ron Cey, SS Larry Bowa, and P Steve Trout.

Here are the highlights from the 11 inning game.

Top of the 1stOzzie Smith walked and advanced to second on a ground out by McGee. George Hendrick singled and Smith scored.

Bottom of the 1stDernier singled and stole second base. Sandberg plated Dernier on a single. The game was tied 1-1.

Top of the 2ndHerr singled, then advance to second on a balk by Trout. Howe walked. Both runners advanced on a groundout by Porter. Citarella singled and Herr scored. Howe scored on a single by Lonnie Smith. Ozzie Smith walked. McGee tripled to score Citarella and both Smiths. Trout was replaced by Rich Bordi. McGee scored on a groundout by Hendrick. The Cardinals led 7-1.

Bottom of the 2ndCitarella retired all three Cubs hitters.

Top of the 3rdPorter drew a walk but was left stranded.

Bottom of the 3rdCitarella gave up a single to Sandberg but induced a double play from Matthews to end the inning.

Top of the 4thMcGee singled but was left stranded.

Bottom of the 4thCitarella gave up a leadoff single to Durham but retired the next three batters.

Top of the 5thGreen singled and Porter was intentionally walked. Both were left stranded.

Bottom of the 5thPinch hitter Jay Johnstone singled and Dernier singled. Sandberg plated Johnstone on a groundout. Matthews doubled and Dernier scored. The lead was cut to 7-3.

Top of the 6thOzzie Smith singled and stole second base. McGee hit a two run home run. Hendrick walked and Herr singled. Both were left stranded. The Cardinals led 9-3.

Bottom of the 6thThe Cubs scored five runs on Citarella and reliever Neil Allen. Sandberg hit an RBI single. The lead was 9-8.

Top of the 7thLonnie Smith walked and was left stranded.

Bottom of the 7thAllen pitched a scoreless inning with one walk.

Eighth inning – No hits or runs for either team

Top of the 9thSingle by Herr, IBB to Andy Van Slyke, who entered the game in the pitcher’s spot in the 6th. Both runners stranded.

Bottom of the 9thSandberg hits his first game tying home run. Score is 9-9.

Top of the 10thOzzie Smith singled and stole second base. McGee doubled and Smith scored. The double completes the cycle for McGee. McGee scored on a ground out by pinch hitter Steve Braun. The Cardinals lead 11-9.

Bottom of the 10thDernier walked. Sandberg hits his second game tying home run. The game is tied 11-11.

Top of the 11thVan Slyke walks but is stranded.

Bottom of the 11thDurham walks, steals second and advances to third on a throwing error by Porter. Pinch hitter Dave Owen singled to plate Durham and the Cubs win 12-11.

In addition to Citarella and Allen, the Cardinals used pitchers Bruce Sutter, Dave Rucker and Jeff Lahti. Lahti gave up the winning run, but Rucker took the loss because Durham was Rucker’s responsibility. There were three pinch hitters and four position player replacements used by the Cardinals. McGee had six RBI as well as hitting for the cycle.


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