Jeremy Hazelbaker and Greg Garcia (Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images)

A recap of St. Louis Cardinals-related news from the period of April 4-10, 2016

Rookie role players are igniting a St. Louis Cardinals offense that swept Atlanta after being swept in Pittsburgh.

Game recaps

Monday, April 4---Off day

The day after the opener is traditionally held in reserve in case the game has to be postponed.

Tuesday, April 5---Cardinals 5 at Pirates 6 (11 innings)

Michael Wacha took the mound and struggled, pitching only 4 1/3 innings while giving up five runs, four earned, on 10 hits.  The right-hander struck out three and walked one.  Wacha’s early exit, and the extra innings, necessitated a heavy use of the bullpen, but they were up to the task.  Tyler Lyons finished the fifth inning for Wacha in perfect fashion, on no runs and no hits.  Seung-Hwan Oh, Kevin Siegrist, Jonathan Broxton, and Trevor Rosenthal each pitched scoreless sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth innings.  Seth Maness pitched the 10th and 11th, gave up the winning Pirates run, and took the loss.

The offense was a mixed bag.  Five runs were scored, two on a home run by Jedd Gyorko, and most notably two more via non-hits by Matt Holliday, a ground-out and a throwing error that allowed Holliday to reach base.  The fifth run came home on a single by Stephen Piscotty, though no RBI was earned, as a fielding error allowed the run to score.  The negatives offensively were 13 Cardinals strikeouts, and 17 runners left on base.  Gyorko and Piscotty had multi-hit games, and Piscotty hit his first triple of 2016.

On defense, Aledmys Diaz bobbled a double play ball that allowed a run to score.  Stephen Piscotty had an outfield assist, gunning Andrew McCutchen out at home with a laser throw.

Wednesday, April 6---Cardinals 1 at Pirates 5

This was another game in which the starter did not have his best stuff.  Mike Leake was out after 4 1/3 innings, after surrendering four runs on seven hits, and walking three.  Tyler Lyons, Jonathan Broxton, and Matt Bowman, the later making his major league debut, followed Leake on the mound.  Lyons allowed an additional run, while Broxton pitched one scoreless inning, and Bowman tossed two strong innings, the only blemishes being one hit and one walk.  Leake was the losing pitcher.

As the score reveals, the Cardinals’ offense was scarce.  One run was scored on only four hits; the one run was a sixth inning solo home run off the bat of Jeremy Hazelbaker.  The only other hits were singles from Yadier Molina and Kolten Wong, and a double by Greg Garcia, pinch hitting for Leake and then remaining in the game at shortstop.

Defense was sloppy. There were three Cardinals errors, one by Leake on a pickoff and two from Wong, a throwing and a fielding error.

Thursday, April 7---Off day

Friday, April 8---Cardinals 7 at Braves 4

Jaime Garcia was next in line in the series of first-week struggles for starting pitching, though this one ended in a team win.   Garcia tossed six innings, allowing four runs on five hits, striking out six and walking three.  Oh, Siegrist, and Rosenthal combined for three scoreless innings of relief.  Siegrist earned the win, and Rosenthal, the save, his first of the season.

This was a game that made MLB history, as it featured three pinch-hit home runs, something that had never occurred before in a regular season game.  The three pinch-hit home runs were struck by Jeremy Hazelbaker, a solo shot in the seventh inning, Aledmys Diaz, another bases-empty in the eighth, and Greg Garcia, one more solo shot in the ninth.  In addition to the pinch-hit home runs, Stephen Piscotty hit his own solo long ball one batter after Garcia in the ninth inning.  Pitcher Garcia had an RBI, driving in a run on an infield single. Yadier Molina plated a run on a ground out.  Matt Holliday had the only multi-hit game, going 2-for-5 with a double.

Other notable happenings were two defensive errors by Jedd Gyorko at shortstop, and Kolten Wong was picked off first base.

Saturday, April 9---Cardinals 12 at Braves 2

The first regular season start of 2016 by Carlos Martinez was memorable in that it was the first blowout for the Cardinals of the young season.  It was no doubt memorable for Martinez in that it was the first win of the season for a St. Louis starter.  It also featured Martinez with the bat, driving in two runs.  As for the pitching, Martinez went six innings, surrendering two runs on four hits.  He struck out five and issued three free passes.  Tyler Lyons and Seth Maness pitched in relief, combining for three scoreless innings.

Where to start with offense?  12 runs on 14 hits, all without the aid of the long ball.  Extra base hits included a triple by Aledmys Diaz, and doubles by Matt Carpenter and Brandon Moss.   The Carpenter double resulted in a run.  Moss drove in a run on a sacrifice fly.  Stephen Piscotty was 2-for-4 with an RBI; Kolten Wong went 3-for-6 and scored three runs.  Jeremy Hazelbaker also plated a run on a sac fly.  Martinez drove in runs on a fielder’s choice and a ground ball single.  Backup catcher Eric Fryer came in for Molina after the top of the eighth and plated a run on an infield single in the ninth.

Defense, however, was sloppy again, with Diaz, Carpenter, and Matt Adams all having defensive miscues.  Hazelbaker stole his first base of the season.

Sunday, April 10---Cardinals 12 at Braves 7

Adam Wainwright made his second start of the season against the team that traded him to the Cardinals in 2004.  It wasn’t a good one.  In fact, he looked bad.  Nothing was working.  Though the offense gave the ace a three-run lead, he gave it up fairly quickly.  Wainwright pitched five innings, gave up five runs on six hits, one a three run home run.  

Seth Maness came in for Wainwright in the sixth, pitched 1/3 of an inning, served up a double, and was replaced by Kevin Siegrist.  Siegrist finished the inning but allowed the Maness runner to score. Seung-Hwan Oh pitched a scoreless seventh.  Jonathan Broxton pitched 2/3 of the eighth but was pulled with the bases loaded and two outs for Trevor Rosenthal, who struck out the last batter to end the inning.  Though the offense scored five runs in the ninth, it was still a save situation and Rosenthal pitched the ninth, allowing one unearned run but getting the save.  Oh was the winning pitcher.

The offense scored 12 total runs on ten hits.  The game was close until the ninth inning, with the lead changing several times over the course of the afternoon.  The offense scored five runs in the top of the ninth, three of them on a home run from Matt Carpenter, his first of the season.  Brandon Moss hit a three-run home run in the third inning.  Jeremy Hazelbaker and Stephen Piscotty had multi-hit games, each going 2-for-5; Hazelbaker drove in one run and Piscotty drove in two.  Greg Garcia plated a run, and Aledmys Diaz scored two on a double.  Yadier Molina also doubled.

Jeremy Hazelbaker stole his second base in two attempts. Kolten Wong made his third error of the season, a ninth inning fielding error that allowed the Braves’ final run to score.

Lou Brock set to throw out first pitch at home opener

The home opener on Monday, April 11 will feature a familiar face throwing out the first pitch, but this is more than a routine Opening Day event.  Hall of Famer Lou Brock will have the honors, but what is significant about this is that Brock had the lower portion of his left leg amputated due to a diabetes-related infection during the winter.

The 76 year-old was unable to make his usual Spring Training appearance as an instructor in 2016 due to his health problems.  Opening Day will be Brock’s first appearance before fans since the surgery.

Busch Stadium is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2016 and gates will be open two and a half hours prior to first pitch at 3:15 CDT.   Brock’s ceremonial first pitch will be the cap on the day’s festivities.

NL Central Standings

                                W      L       %        GB

Chic. Cubs                 5       1     .833     ---

Cincinnati                   5       1    .833      ---

Pittsburgh                  4       2    .667      1.0

Milwaukee                 3       3    .500      2.0

St. Louis                   3       3    .500      2.0

Hot/Cold Players of the Week

Hot:  Jeremy Hazelbaker, 6-for 15, .400 AVG, 2HR, 4RBI; Aledmys Diaz, 5-for-10, .500 AVG, 4RBI; Greg Garcia, 3-for-5, 4BB, 2B, HR, 2RBI, 4R; Stephen Piscotty, 7-for-24, .292 AVG, 4RBI; Carlos Martinez, 1-0, 3.00 ERA, 5K, 1.17 WHIP; Seung-hwan Oh, 3 2/3 IP, 0H, 0R 4BB, 8K.

Cold:  Randal Grichuk, 1-for-15, .067 AVG, 8K; Matt Adams, 1-for 12, .083 AVG; Matt Holliday, 4-for-21, .190 AVG; Michael Wacha, 0-1, 8.31 ERA, 2.54 WHIP; Mike Leake, 0-1, 8.31 ERA, 2.31 WHIP; The defense, MLB-worst 10 errors in six games.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman speculates that OF Michael Bourn, who was recently released by the Braves, is a fit for the Cardinals. There has been no comment on the speculation by the Cardinals, and no reports that the Cardinals are actually interested in Bourn. With the emergence of Hazelbaker, this seems even less likely to be a fit.


Traded LHP Jayson Aquino to the Baltimore Orioles for cash. He had been designated for assignment last week.

Recalled SS Aledmys Diaz from Memphis Redbirds.

Placed CF Tommy Pham on the 15-day disabled list.

Injury Report

Tommy Pham (left oblique strain) was placed on the 15-day DL.

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals’ home opener is scheduled for Monday, April 11 against the Milwaukee Brewers.  Michael Wacha is the probable starting pitcher.  The Cardinals will have an off day on Tuesday, and then finish the three-game series on Wednesday and Thursday, April 13 and 14.  Probable pitchers are Mike Leake on Wednesday, and Jaime Garcia on Thursday. 

The Cardinals then start a three game series at home against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday, April 15.  Carlos Martinez is the probable pitcher for Friday.  The pitchers for Saturday and Sunday are yet to be announced but will likely be Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha.

There is a high threat of rain for the home opener.  If it is postponed, the game will be played on the scheduled off day on Tuesday.

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