Cardinals Catch-up: St. Louis cools off, falls to third place in division after getting swept by Pirates

Going into the week, the Cardinals were riding a wave of momentum after a sweep of the Reds put them into a tie for first place in the NL Central with Milwaukee. Seven days later, St. Louis now sits in third place behind the Pirates and Cubs. During the past week the Cardinals took two out of three at home against the Mets and finished the week up letting themselves get swept by the Pirates.

Tuesday, April 24th vs Mets

Tommy Pham started off the game for the Cardinals with a 2 run blast in the first that brought in Matt Carpenter to put St. Louis up 2-0 early. The Cardinals grabbed 2 more runs in the 4th off of a Wong RBI double and Luke Weaver RBI single.

On top of giving up an RBI triple in the 2nd, Cardinals starter Luke Weaver walked two batters with 2 outs in the top of the 5th and the Met’s slugger Cespedes crushed a 463’ bomb to tie the game at 4. After walking another batter, that was all for Luke Weaver who left the game after 4.2 innings after giving up 4 runs on 2h, 6 BB’s, and 4 K’s.

In the 5th, Dexter Fowler stretched a 2 out single into a double, which allowed him to score on a Paul DeJong double. In the 8th inning my guy Jordan Hicks gave up his first ER of the season on a sac fly. It hurt me but it had to happen at some point. The game went into the tenth where the Mets had the final say with a go ahead homer by Jay Bruce that was given up by Matt Bowman. Mets took the first game of the series 5-4.

I know this wasn’t a happy moment in the game, but it sure was impressive.

Wednesday, April 25th vs. Mets

Pirate starter Steven Matz began the game mowing down the Cards until the bottom of the third, when the Cardinals took advantage of an infield hit by Kolten Wong, an error by Matz that allowed Wacha to reach, and a Bader walk. Bader entered into the game via a pinch hit for Pham because of an accidental head laceration that was supposedly received while hitting in the underground cage. 

In the bottom of the third, Fowler drove in Wong on a sac fly, followed by a Martinez hit. Then came the moment we have all been waiting for. Marcele Ozuna broke out of his slump and drove in two runs with an outfield single.

The Cardinals added to their lead in the 4th with a whole slew of activities that included a sacrifice bunt by Wacha, that brought home a run and induced a throwing error to allow him to stay on base.

In the fifth, Gyorko hit a 383 foot dinger that drove in DeJong and that was all the Cardinals needed to close out the game 9-1.

Wacha went 6 innings in this one and gave up 1 run while striking out 8. Michael has won his last 4 starts after a rough opener to the season against this same Mets team.

This was the 15th quality start of the season for this ball club, which makes them tied for 4th in that category. The consistent starting pitching has been very helpful this season so far and a major contributor for many wins since this offense is middle of the pack.

More: Yadi is having the best power season of his career

More: Cardinals Catch-up: Split with Cubs, Sweep the Reds

Thursday, April 26th vs. Mets

Dexter Fowler was our hero in this one. Though the Cardinal outfielder is having a sub-par year and still not hitting above .200, he came through in the clutch with a big walk- off hit in the bottom of the 13th inning.

The St. Louis pitching staff continued their solid season. It took 7 pitchers to close out this extra inning affair, but they contained the Mets and only gave up single runs in three innings. Even though Luke Gregerson struggled in the tenth inning and gave up a 2 hits and 2 walks, allowing the Mets to go ahead, the Cards were able to answer to keep the game going. Jose Martinez scored Tommy Pham to on a double to keep the home team alive in the bottom of the 10th.

Pham had an awesome game at the plate, hitting safely 4-6 times with three singles and a double. Paul DeJong and Marcell Ozuna each had multi-hit games as well. From April 14th to 24th, Ozuna only collected one hit in twenty seven at bats. Over the last two games he has seen three hits on ten at bats. Even with all the batting order shuffling this year by manager Mike Matheny, Ozuna has stayed cemented in that cleanup slot through all the changes.

Carlos Martinez pitched a heck of a game in this duel against Met’s Ace Noah Syndergaard. Martinez went six innings and gave up one run on 3 k’s and no walks. This is the least amount of walks and strikeouts he has earned in a game this season. Though he did not earn the W, his ERA for the season is now at a staggering 1.43, which is good enough for 3rd in the NL.

Cardinals win in walk off fashion in extras 4-3.

Friday, April 27th @ Pittsburgh Pirates

Miles Mikolas drew the start on Friday against the Pirates. Mike went into the game with a 3.46 ERA and 3-0 record in his four starts. He has done this while maintaining a K/BB ratio of 10, which is top three in the NL.

The first two innings went by quickly without either team putting any runs on the board. The top of the third saw some excitement as Jedd Gyrko smashed a solo home run to left field to put St. Louis up 1-0. Later in the inning, Tommy Pham doubled in Kolten Wong, who reached with a walk. The rally kept going as Jose Martinez was walked and then hit in by Marcell Ozuna to put the Cards up 3-0.

In the fourth inning, the Cardinals capitalized on an error by the Pirates third baseman to tack on another run on a sac fly from Wong.

The fifth inning came around and things continued to go St. Louis’ way. Jose Martinez reached base on a one out double and then was driven in with an Ozuna base hit. This game marks the first time this season that Ozuna has posted back to back multiple hit games. Miles Mikolas continued to roll as the 5th ended 5-0 in favor of the good guys.

In the 6th, Miles gave up some ground as the Pirates got on the board with a solo home run and a sac fly to make the score 5-2. The 7th was uneventful as neither team scored and Mikolas continued to dominate.

The 8th inning came around and Matheny brought in Bud Norris, who did his job and recorded three outs in four batters.

Greg Holland came in to pitch the 9th and the wheels fell off for the Cardinals. After an E3, the Pirates summoned a few hits and scored 3 runs. It took four Cardinal pitchers to make it through the inning. All said and done, at the end of regulation the game was tied 5-5 as we headed to extra innings. Ultimately, the game made it to 11 innings, where Jordan Hicks gave up the loss on a sequence of K-BB-WP-Groundout-Single. Our wonderkid is slowing down.  Final score 6-5, Pirates. 

Overall, Mikolas pitched another gem as he hurled 102 pitches in 7 innings and gave up 2 runs and earned 7 K’s and gave up no walks. Ozuna tallied 3 hits while Fowler, Yadi, and DeJong failed to get a hit in this one. Also it was Chris Carpenter’s birthday. Remember him?

Saturday. April 29th @ Pittsburgh Pirates

With Waino on the DL still, Jack Flaherty got the call-up from AAA Memphis, where he was 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 20 innings of work. On Saturday he went 5 innings and was responsible for 3 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks.

Paul DeJong achieved a multi hit game but the rest of the lineup was fairly quiet with O-fers from the usual crew (Carp, Fowler, Wong)

In the third inning, Paul DeJong got on base with a single to left and then was bunted over by Kolten Wong. Tommy Pham then drove in DeJong with a double to deep right field.

Marcell Ozuna drove in Jose Martinez in the 6th with a single to put the Cardinals ahead 2-1 but that was the end of the scoring for the Birds.

The Pirates finished the game out strong as the Cardinals’  pitchers struggled towards the end and gave up 5 runs in the last three innings.

Luke Gregerson continued to struggle on the hill as he gave up his third and fourth runs of the year in less that 4 overall innings of work this season.

The game ended with a score of  2-6, in favor of Pittsburg.

Sunday, April 30th @ Pittsburgh Pirates

The St. Louis starter, Luke Weaver had a tough 6th inning, where he gave up all of his runs. In total, he allowed 4 runs on 6 hits in 5.1 innings. In relief, Hicks and Gregerson performed well and made it out unscathed, but Holland gave up an additional run in the 8th to let the Pirates go up 5-0.

There was essentially no St. Louis offense, as the Cardinals struggled to even get on base until the 7th inning when Paul DeJong broke up the perfect game bid for Pirates’ pitcher Nick Kingham. To make things more embarrassing, this was Kingham’s major league debut.

Pittsburgh completed the 3 game sweep by winning this one 5-0.

Weekly Player Spotlights

Pham continues to be a bright spot in this Cardinals’ lineup as he had 9 hits in 22 ABs last week with 5 RBI’s. Right now he holds the best BA and third best OBP in the NL with a .318/.468/.553 line.

Paul DeJong also had a solid week at the plate, with a .320/.370/.440 line over the past seven games. The new guy, Marcell Ozuna, looks to have broken out of his slump and settled in as he hit safely 7 times and drove in 6 runners. Fowler, Molina, and Carpenter each had two hits or less over the week. I must have jinxed Yadi, and for that I am very sorry. 

From the bullpen, Holland, Gregerson, and Leone got the call the most, at four appearances each. Of that group, Leone pitched the best, giving up 4 hits and one run over 3.2 innings of work. Holland and Gregerson didn’t do so well as they gave up a combined 6 earned runs in 5.1 innings pitched.

Upcoming

This week, the Cardinals begin a seven game home stand with games Tuesday and Wednesday against the White Sox courtesy of inter league play. They have another off day Thursday and then host a three game series with other Chicago squad, the Cubs.

@barnburnerbro

Featured Image: https://www.foxsports.com/midwest/story/st-louis-cardinals-tommy-pham-exits-early-head-laceration-042518

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