Cardinals Catch-Up: Split for the week, high on upside

Since last Monday, May 14th, the Cardinals have seen their fair share of struggles. The list of players unavailable due to injury keeps increasing. They managed to go .500 at 3-3, which at this point is a considerable success. Fortunately, there were several guys who stepped up and are either getting back to form, or showing that they belong at the big league level.

Tuesday, May 15th @ Minnesota Twins

Cardinal prospect Jack Flaherty got the call up and started the series opener for his third start of the season. He had a solid outing, hurling 98 pitches in 5.2 innings of work. He gave up 5 hits and 1 run as the result of a trio of singles in the 6th. The Padres stayed hot and did most of their damage in the bottom of the 7th, scoring 3 runs off of 4 hits.  

More: Cardinals Catch-up: You win some, you lose some; if you are slumping, you will be replaced.

More: Cardinals Catch-up: Team plays plenty of free baseball while dominating the city of Chicago. Back in first place.

On the offensive front, the Cardinals earned their only run in the top of the third courtesy of a Harrison Bader single and Carson Kelly RBI hit. Unfortunately, these were the only two hits of the game. Being an interleague game at an opposing park, Matheny elected to start Carpenter at first and slid Jose Martinez into the DH slot. Little good that this did.

Brett Cecil earned the loss since he was responsible for the Twins’ second run of the game. Luke Gregerson pitched a third of an inning and gave up two hits and two runs. The Cardinals ended up losing this game by a score of 4-1.

Wednesday, May 16th @ Minnesota Twins

The Cardinals’ bats showed up in full force on Wednesday to back their most consistent starter, Miles Mikolas. Unfortunately, this was Mikolas’ shortest outing of the year. He only made it through 4 ⅔ innings before being pulled. During that time he gave up 7 hits and 2 runs. Uncharacteristically for him, he also walked two batters to his two strikeouts. These walks were his 4th and 5th of the season (51 IP). 

via GIPHY

There is a litany of very good things that took place during this game. At the top of the list is the fact that Matt Carpenter, who was bumped down to 7th in the lineup, earned 3 hits in the game including 2 doubles. Fowler also recorded a multi-hit/multi-RBI performance. I didn’t look it up, but I am just assuming this is the first time in a long time that both of these guys have multiple hits in the same game this season. For the game, the Cards hit .342 as a unit. In addition, Tommy Pham got himself a homer and all the starters except Marcell Ozuna recorded a hit.

I forgot to mention that former Cardinal Lance Lynn was the starter for the Twins. He was responsible for 4 runs on 4 hits, 4 walks and only tossed 3 innings.

Jordan Hicks earned the win in his 1 inning of work (7th), in which he gave up 1 walk. After this performance he moved to an ERA of 0.92 on the season in 19 innings of work.  

Greg Holland let the Cards get into a bind late in the game by walking 2 batters and giving up a pair of singles. Bud Norris came in to try and pull the team out of the jam and threw a wild pitch to allow an additional runner to score. However, he pitched a masterful 9th to earn his 9th save of the year. Cards secured the final game of the series with a final score of 9-5. 

Thursday, May 17th vs Philadelphia Phillies

Injuries, man.

To open a four game series at home against the Phillies, it was Luke Weaver’s turn in the rotation. Weaver retired the Phillies in order their first time through the lineup and didn’t give up a run until the 5th inning, when he surrendered a blast to Carlos Santana. Weaver ended up going 7 innings while giving up 4 hits and a walk while striking out 6.

Jordan Hicks came in to relieve in the 8th and struggled. This was his worst outing of the year as he gave up 3 runs without recording an out. The Phillies got three singles off of him and capitalized. Previously he had only given up 2 runs in over 19 innings. Tuivailala came in to finish the 8th and John Brebbia pitched in the 9th. Brebbia gave up 2 runs of his own off of a Pedro Florimon homer.

Matt Carpenter hit in the 7th slot again and got a hit for the second game in a row. Francisco Pena and Jose Martinez had the hot bats with 3 hits a piece. This was Pena’s first multi hit game of the season. The Cardinals went into the 8th inning down 4-0 and were able to make up 2 runs from Ozuna and Gyorko RBI’s. However, the 2 additional runs given up by Brebbia in the 9th kept the game out of reach and the Phillies won the first game of the series 6-2.

In a very unfortunate event, SS Paul DeJong was hit on the hand in Thursday night’s game. At the time we didn’t know the severity, but now know he will be placed on the DL after requiring surgery. 

Friday, May 18th vs Philadelphia Phillies

For the second game of the series, Michael Wacha was the man on the hill for St. Louis to start the game. Jake Arrieta started off the game for the Phillies. Wacha went toe to toe with Jake and threw 6 innings with 8 k’s. Wacha gave up two runs in the fifth and was the pitcher of record for this one. John Brebbia got St. Louis through the 7th and 8th innings and gave up a run off of a solo home run by Cesar Hernandez. In the 9th inning Pedro hit his second homer in as many games to give the Phillies their 4th run of the game.

Fortunately, 4 runs was not near enough for the Phillies to challenge St. Louis in this one. The Cardinals tallied a total of 15 hits and 5 walks in what resulted in 12 runs scored.

St. Louis started scoring in the 3rd inning when they put 4 runs on the board. They scored single runs in the 4th and 5th and then 3 runs each in the 6th and 7th innings. In Yadi’s absence, Francisco Pena has slowly been warming up on the offensive front. He hit safely for the 3rd consecutive game and hit his first hr in a Cardinal uniform. Also, Matt Carpenter seems to be warming up and thriving in the 7th spot in the lineup as he also got a hit for the third game in a row. Tommy Pham was on fire aas he got on base 5 times with 3 hits and 2 walks. Jose Martinez drove in almost half of the Cardinal runs on 4 hits. The final score was 12-4 in favor of St. Louis.

Jedd Gyorko started at SS in Paul DeJong’s absence. Tyler (br)O’Neill got his first major league hit finally and there is no doubt that he will play an increased role on this roster as players shift around due to injuries.

Saturday, May 19th vs Philadelphia Phillies

John Gant started on Saturday for St. Louis for his second big league start of the season. It was a pretty bleh performance where he gave up 5 runs(3 earned) over 4.1 innings while amassing 7k’s and 2 walks. In relief, Brett Cecil, Sam Tuivailala, and Jordan Hicks pitched 2.3 innings of shutout baseball. Greg Holland threw in the 8th and was only able to get two outs, and gave up two runs in the process as he blew a save chance and ultimately the lead for St. Louis. With his poor performance, Mike Matheny’s hand was forced and he brought in Bud Norris to pitch the final four outs, which he did brilliantly. This was Norris’ 5th appearance this season where he threw over an inning.

Catcher Steven Barron started his first game in a Cardinal uniform. The Cardinals acquired him in December of 2017 via free agency. With the injuries to Yadi and Carson Kelly, he was brought up to split time with Pena behind the dish. He hit in the 8th slot behind Tyler O’Neill while Carp moved back up to the 2nd position. The most explosive offensive inning for St. Louis came in the 4th when the Cardinals scored three runs off of 2 hits, a walk, and an error.

Jedd Gyorko started at SS and struggled while commiting two errors.

In the 6th inning came a big moment as Tyler O’Neill smashed his very first major league home run, less than one day after earning his first hit. He got the curtain call and no sooner had he sat down than Steven Barron smacked his first MLB hit. That was a fun inning, even though the solo shot was the only run scored.

The Cardinals were up 6-5 going into the 8th when the aforementioned Holland gave up the lead by allowing a pair of runs. After the game Matheny spoke to Holland’s struggles and told everyone that he has to find a place to slot him to get him back in a groove. So far this season, in 12 innings of work, Holland has given up 14 walks and has a WHIP of 2.270. He certainly isn’t fit to be closing games right now, and I question if he can be trusted in most situations that aren’t blowouts. The Cards couldn’t score in the 8th or 9th innings and lost 7-6.

Sunday, May 20th vs Philadelphia Phillies

This day was a happy day full of reasons to be optimistic about the Cardinals’ future. Jack Flaherty got the start and pitched awesome. He gave up only 2 hits in 7.2 innings pitched and fanned…13 batters! That tied him for the most k’s by a Cardinal rookie. This also was his first major league win and he topped that off by getting a base hit.

Not only did Flaherty (22yo) pitch awesome, but he was followed by Jordan Hicks (21yo) who closed out the game and set some records on the radar for the MLB this season. He came in throwing gas.

The Phillies struck first on the offense end, when Rhys Hoskins hit a homer off of Flaherty in the 4th. Philly was blanked by Cardinal pitching after that.

St. Louis scored two runs in the 4th and that was technically all they needed. Tyler O’Neill (22yo) stayed hot and hit safely three times including his second home run in as many days. Matt Carpenter tallied 3 hits and continued his hitting streak, still in the 2nd slot. The Cardinals didn’t let off the gas in this game and the game finished with a score of 5-1. It was nice for Matheny to only have to call upon 2 pitchers and be able to give the rest of the bullpen a day off. All in all, watching these young call-ups thrive and seeing Carp get back on track made this a good weekend.

@barnburnerbro

Feature image courtesy of Yahoo! Sports

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