Cardinals Catch-up: The Birds sweep the Reds, split with Cubbies, sit in first place.

The MLB season seems to move at a breakneck speed while simultaneously taking forever. It’s nearly impossible to catch all the games on TV and daily recaps are usually challenging to keep up with. Fortunately for you, we have a few Cardinals fans at The BarnBurner that will do the work for you.

The St. Louis Cardinals started last week 2.5 games back of the Pirates in the NL Central. Over the past 7 days, the Cardinals have played five games and were winners of 4 of them. They only were able to play 2 of the 3 scheduled games in Chicago against the Cubs due to weather. That rain out has been postponed until July. Following the shortened series at Wrigley, the Cardinals swept the Reds at home in a three game weekend series while outscoring them 17-7.

April 17th @ Chicago Cubs

Since the game at Wrigley on Monday, April 16th was postponed, the series started up on Tuesday night with Adam Wainwright on the hill for St. Louis. He pitched a strong 5 innings and gave up one unearned run that was his fault on a throwing error. Matt Carpenter had a solid game at the plate by driving in 3 runs on 2 hits. Slugger Paul DeJong went yard late to give the Cardinals a late cushion. Bud Norris collected his fourth save of the season to help St. Louis extend their win streak to 5.

April 19th, @ Chicago Cubs

With more crazy weather in Chicago, the game that was supposed to be played on Wednesday got pushed to Thursday, which was originally scheduled as an off day for the Birds. Luke Weaver started for St. Louis and he went into the game with limited experience against this Cubs roster. Before the game, their combined roster was hitting .393 (11 for 28) against the Cardinal starter. Unfortunately, this sample size grew and the trend continued as Weaver gave up 9 hits and 6ER over only 4 innings work. St. Louis’ hitting was not good either. Fowler, Carpenter, DeJong, Ozuna, and Yadi all went hitless in the game as the Cardinals somehow mustered 5 total runs on 5 hits and lost 8-5. In fun news, Cardinal prospect Tyler O’Neill got the call up from AAA Memphis. O’Neill was leading the PCL in home runs at the time of the call up. Please see below for an example of his power. 

April 20th, Cincinnati Reds

Michael Wacha drew the start on Friday at home and pitched a solid 6.2 innings while giving up 1 run on 6 hits. Wacha is now 3-1 on the young season with a 4.22 ERA. This was definitely his best start of the season and his longest of four outings. The Cardinals jumped out in front early in this one, snagging all four of their runs in the first two innings. Jose Martinez and Tommy Pham continued to lead the team by collecting half of the team’s 8 hits and scoring 3 of 4 runs. St. Louis left a total of 11 men on base during the game, which will not work against stiffer competition. Tyler Lyons pitched well in relief and Bud Norris completed his fifth save in five tries in this one.

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April 21st, Cincinnati Reds

On Saturday, Carlos Martinez took the hill and threw 6 shutout innings to bring his season ERA down to 1.42. Unfortunately, Luke Gregerson and Tyler Lyons could not get it done on the back end of the game and Martinez did not earn the W. However this gave stud rookie pitcher Jordan Hicks a chance to earn his first MLB win. If you don’t know anything about him, please read this. He is quickly developing into one the more enjoyable Cardinals to watch and I get legitimately excited when he comes into the game. All of the offense from this game came courtesy of the long ball as DeJong, Molina, and Fowler all went yard to squeak by in a 4-3 game. Yadi’s bomb in the 7th was the go ahead run and ultimately the winning hit of the game for St. Louis.

April 22nd, Cincinnati Reds

In the series finale, St. Louis took care of business early and late as they crushed the Reds 9-2 at Busch and helped Mike Mikolas earn his 3rd win of the season during a 7 inning outing. He gave up 5 hits and earned 6 strikeouts while not giving up any walks. Carpenter was the only starting fielder to not get a hit in this one. Not too much else to report.

Cards Stats

Over the past seven days Paul DeJong crushed 3 home runs to put him towards the top of the league in the long ball category. He also lead the team in K’s during this time period and half of his total hits were dingers. Molina and Harrison Bader also had solid weeks at the plate, earning 7 and 6 hits respectively.

So far this season, there is a reason to be concerned with the plate performance of Kolten Wong, Dexter Fowler, and Matt Carpenter. They are all hitting below .200 for the season and have yet to hit their stride. However, if they are able to get in a groove, this team could be very impressive.

3 2B Kolten Wong* 19 57 48 7 3 7 0.146 0.281
5 3B Matt Carpenter* 20 87 69 12 10 16 0.174 0.322
8 RF Dexter Fowler# 19 87 73 14 9 12 0.192 0.310

Here is a quick glance at the starting rotation for the Cardinals and their accomplishments so far this season.

Carlos Martinez 26 2 1 1.42 31.2 17 37
Miles Mikolas 29 3 0 3.46 26 2 20
Luke Weaver 24 2 1 4.22 21.1 6 20
Michael Wacha 26 3 1 4.22 21.1 11 15
Adam Wainwright (10-day dl) 36 1 2 3.45 15.2 8 12

The St. Louis bullpen has hit both sides of the spectrum this season. Norris and Hicks have pitched excellent with only 3 earned runs between the two of them in 23 IP. Below is a snapshot of where the relievers with 6 or more appearances sit.

Tyler Lyons* 0 0 6.48 12 1 0 8.1 12 6
Bud Norris 0 0 2.38 11 7 5 11.1 11 3
Jordan Hicks 1 0 0 9 4 0 11.2 5 0
Dominic Leone 1 2 4.5 9 4 0 8 9 4
Matthew Bowman 0 0 6.23 9 0 0 8.2 13 6
Greg Holland 0 1 6.23 6 2 0 4.1 2 3

At the time of writing this, the St. Louis Cardinals currently are tied in first place in the NL Central with the Milwaukee Brewers. Over the past 10 games, the Birds have been victors of 8, with 7 of those coming against the struggling Cincinnati Reds. On a high level, St. Louis has not been too impressive at the plate, ranking slightly out of the top third in many offensive categories. Their team ERA sits at 3.29 currently, which is good for top 7 in the MLB right now. Of course, this early into the season it is challenging for us to predict where things will shake out in September, but much of the success thus far has come without production from some of the bats that we would expect to see leading the pack. The good news is that so far, St. Louis has taken care of teams that they should be taking care of (Cincy).

The next two series will see St. Louis face better competition as they square up against two clubs who are above .500. This week, the Cardinals host the NL East leading Mets at home for a trio of games. After that, the Cardinals travel to Pittsburgh to take on fellow NL Central foe, the Pirates, for a weekend series.


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Featured image courtesy of @Cardinals Twitter account

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