The St. Louis Cardinals entered the week 21-14. Good enough for seven games over .500, two games in front of the NL Central, and the best record in the National League. As has been the case for the last three weeks, the guys wearing the Birds on the Bat have had solid pitching from both the rotation and the pen. They’ve also gotten solid offense not just in the "meat" of the lineup but in the lower half and a rock-solid defense.
The first series against the Brewers was a pitching clinic from both teams’ starters. The Cards flexed a little muscle and, with some solid defense, pulled out another series win.
Game 1 5/11 @ Milwaukee - Cardinals 6 Brewers 1
This game was a pitcher's duel from the start, as Freddy Peralta gave the Cards exactly one hit over seven innings while striking out eight and walking only one batter.
Likewise for St. Louis, Kwang-Hyun Kim spread out five Brewer hits, allowing only one run through 5 1/3 innings, striking out six and walking one.
The Brewers would get their lone run on an RBI double by Travis Shaw in the 6th inning. A quartet of Cardinals relievers would keep the Brewer bats silent for the remainder of the game.
The Birds tied the game in the 8th When Harrison Bader came home on a Dylan Carlson Sac Fly. It remained 1-1 until the 11th inning when, with a runner aboard, Paul Goldschmidt blasted a two-run shot well over the left-center field fence off of Brad Boxberger, making it 3-1.
After a single by Nolan Arenado and Andrew Knizner being hit by a pitch, Tyler O'Neill made Boxberger's night a little worse by slapping a 3 run shot to a straight-away center to make the score 6-1.
Alex Reyes gave up two walks in the bottom of the 11th but struck out 3 to get the win, starting the week off right 1-0 while tying the Giants for the best record in the majors at 22-14.
Game 2 5/12 @ Milwaukee -Brewers 4 Cardinals 1
This is one game where pitching and defense had some issues. Although, for the most part, it was another pitcher's game. Brandon Woodruff pitched 7 1/3 innings with 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, and 10 K. Redbird starter John Gant went 5 innings with 3 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, and 4 K.
Reliever Genesis Cabrera put up two strong innings with 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, and 1 K. The damage, however, was done in between.
The Brewers opened the scoring on a rare Harrison Bader fielding error in the sixth. They got three more in the 8th, started by a two-out, wild pitch strikeout from Ryan Helsley that allowed Daniel Vogelbach to reach base. A double by Pablo Reyes and a 442-ft. home run by Avisail Garcia to center field made it 4-1. The Cardinals lone run came in the top of the 8th When Tyler O'Neill hit his second home run in as many days, giving him seven for the year. Josh Hader closed the door for Milwaukee. Cards 1-1 for the week and 23-15 overall.
Game 3 5/13 @ Milwaukee Cardinals 2 Brewers 0
Captain Jack Flaherty went 6 innings, gave up 4 hits, 2 BB, and struck out 6 while shutting out the Brewers. Giovanny Gallegos, Genesis Cabrera, and Alex Reyes pitched a scoreless inning to preserve the shutout, combining only one hit and two walks while striking out five. Reyes earned his 11 save.
So far, in 18 games, Reyes is 2-2 and a perfect 11-for-11 in save opportunities with a .0.47 ERA and 27 strikeouts. I think he has firmly established himself as the go-to guy to finish a game this season, although rumors say he is a candidate for the rotation next year.
Early in the game, however, the attention was on Brewers starter Corbin Burnes. Coming into the game, he had 49 Strikeouts since his last walk, which had already bested the previous record for a starter (35 in 2013 by Adam Wainwright). He needed only four more strikeouts to break the overall record of 51 held by Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers in 2017. Burnes would strike out nine Redbirds to set the new mark of 58 before Tommy Edman received a two-out walk in the 5th inning.
The Cardinals did manage one run on Burns in the 1st when Nolan Arenado singled home, Tommy Edman. They got their second run in the 9th when Angel Perdomo made an errant throw trying to pick off Lane Thomas, who scored on the play. The win was Flaherty's 7th without a loss. The Cards are 2-1 for the week with yet another series win. They are 23-15 overall and tied again with San Francisco for the best record in the National League.
Then it was on to San Diego, and that is where the good times ended and ended hard!
Game 1 5/14 @ San Diego Padres 5 Cardinals 4
Johan Oviedo started for St Louis and literally could not find the plate, throwing 57 pitches and only 22 for strikes. He only lasted 2 innings while giving up 2 H, 5 BB, and 3 ER. The bullpen did not provide much help either, as four other pitchers combined for 7 walks over the next 6 innings for a total of 12 walks issued by Cardinal pitching. The only reason the score was close is due to the offense that would not lay down. The Cardinals had 10 hits for the game, including Nolan Arenado's 8th home run and Tyler O'Neill's ninth. The Cardinals had three players with a multi-hit game. Tommy Edman was 2-4, Arenado 3-5, and O'Neill 2-4. For Arenado and Edman, it was their 11th multi-hit game and O'Neill's 7th.
The Padres jumped on the board in the first inning on a Manny Machado RBI double. They would score again in the 3rd after three straight walks. Brian O'Grady drove home a run with a sacrifice fly. Tucupita Marcano reached on a fielder's choice, scoring another run.
The Cardinals finally got on the board in the 5th with a Yadier Molina sac fly. The Padres would come back in the 6th with an RBI single by Machado and again in the 7th when Ha-Seong Kim drove home the Padres 5th Run with yet another sac fly.
The Redbirds mounted a come-back in the 8th on Tyler O'Neill's two-run home run. Nolan Arenado hit a solo shot in the 9th, but that was all the Birds could do, evening their record for the week at 2-2 and setting an overall mark of 23-16.
Game 2 5/15 @ San Diego Padres 13 Cardinals 3
The pitching woes carried over in game two as Adam Wainwright only lasted 4 innings while giving up eight hits, including three home runs to Padre batters. He walked three, struck out two, and allowed six earned runs. The bullpen just fell completely apart.
The bullpen consisted of:
Junior Fernandez 1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 0 SO
Tyler Webb 1 IP, 2 H, 1 Run 0 BB, 0 SO
Jake Woodford 2/3 IP 3 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 0 SO
In a surprising twist, the only "pitcher" who did not allow a run was Matt Carpenter.
Yes, bench reserve Matt Carpenter came in to get the final out of the 7th, then pitched a scoreless 8th while only surrendering two hits. It was the first time that Carpenter ever pitched in a major league game. This bright spot for the much-maligned Carpenter, who has seen his woes at the plate, caused many fans to be very vocal about his place on the team.
The three Padre home runs came in consecutive innings. In the first inning, former Cardinal Tommy Pham hit a 2-run HR. Then, Ha-Seong Kim hit a solo shot in the second, and Austin Nola added a 3 run dinger in the third. The Padres scored four more runs in the 6th on singles by Manny Machado and Patrick Kivlehan, a double by Nola, and a ground out by Brian O'Grady. San Diego would score three more in the 8th on a Machado sac fly and a Nola two-run single.
Yadier Molina homered for the Cards in the 4th, his 6th of the year. Nolan Arenado homered for the second time in as many games in the 6th, giving him eight. Harrison Bader hit his 4th home run of the season in the eighth. Besides the three home runs, the Redbirds' only other hits could muster singles by Paul Goldschmidt, Tyler O'Neill, and Bader. The two-hit game for Bader was his second of the year and raised his average to .280 for the season. The Cards are 2-3 for the week and 23-17 overall.
Game 3 5/16 @ San Diego Padres 5 Cardinals 3
Three minor league call-ups paid dividends for the San Diego Padres on Sunday. In the 4th inning, Nolan Arenado made an uncharacteristic throwing error to fist, allowing Manny Machado to reach base. After a fielder's choice, a walk, and a single, the Padres had the bases loaded and one out.
Tucupita Marcano, just called up from AAA, was walked by Kwang-Hyun Kim, scoring a run. The next batter, Ha-Seong Kim, walked as well. Genesis Cabrera replaced cardinal pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim. He faced rookie call-up Patrick Kivlehan, who hit a sac fly to give the Padres a 3-2 lead, which brought up another AAA call-up in Ivan Castillo, who promptly hit a single to the opposite field for a 4-2 lead. The Padres final run came in the 6th on a Trent Grisham RBI double.
The Cardinals got the scoring started on Nolan Arenado's 9th home run, a two-run shot (his third home run in many games). They would get their 3rd run in the 6th on the double by Yadier Molina.
Arenado also had a double in the game, giving him 12 multi-hit games for the year. Dylan Carlson added two hits, giving him eight multi-hit games for the year. While KK didn't make it past the 4th inning, the bullpen only gave up one run in 4 2/3 to keep the game close. The Cardinals ended their worst week of the year going 2-4, bringing their overall record to 23-18.
All in all, the week started promising, but three consecutive bad starts and an inconsistent bullpen led to bad juju this week. Here is hoping that some home cooking gets the boys back on track. The cards play host to the
Pirates the 18th and 19th
Northside Chicago Cubs come to Saint Louis for a weekend series.
See you next week.