Carlos Martinez (Jeff Curry/USA TODAY Sports Images)

A recap of St. Louis Cardinals-related news from the period of April 25-May 1, 2016

The St. Louis Cardinals entered the second month of the season on a four-game losing streak and in third place, a game under .500.

Game recaps

Monday, April 25---Cardinals 7 at Diamondbacks 12

A slugfest n Phoenix ensued, with the Cardinals coming out on the short end.

The Cardinals benefitted from two long balls, a two-run blast by Jeremy Hazelbaker and a solo shot from Matt Carpenter.  There were triples as well, three to be precise, one each from Matt Holliday, Randal Grichuk, and Hazelbaker.  All of these extra base hits were inflicted on D-backs’ ace starter Zack Greinke.  Stephen Piscotty was 2-for-5 on the night; Aledmys Diaz was 2-for-4.

Unfortunately, for Cardinals pitching, the D-backs slugged better.  All five St. Louis pitchers yielded runs.  Starter Jaime Garcia gave up four, three unearned.  Matt Bowman was tagged with two runs, Kevin Siegrist three, and he was given with a blown save.  Seth Maness allowed two scores, one unearned, and Tyler Lyons surrendered one.  Bowman took the loss.

 

Tuesday, April 26---Cardinals 8 at Diamondbacks 2

The long ball was again the featured attraction in this second game of the series.

Brandon Moss plated three runs on a fifth-inning blast off D-backs starter and former Cardinal, Shelby Miller.  Stephen Piscotty drove in two on a home run in the seventh.  Moss was the offensive star, going 4-for-5 and Piscotty was 2-for-4, his other hit being a double.  Jeremy Hazelbaker was 2-for-4.

Starter Carlos Martinez was terrific, pitching eight shutout innings, striking out four and avoiding the long ball.  Reliever Tyler Lyons did not fare as well in the ninth, giving up both of the D-backs runs on solo shots.

 

Wednesday, April 27---Cardinals 11 at Diamondbacks 4

The Cardinals continued their slugfest into the third game of the series.

This time, it was extra base hits from unusual quarters.  Starting pitcher Adam Wainwright contributed a triple to the cause, his first of the season and only the second triple of his major league career.  Moreover, it was a bases clearing triple.  The long ball was not as prominent, though there was one, a fifth-inning solo shot from Aledmys Diaz.  Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina doubled, the sixth double of the season for each.  Also providing significant offense was Stephen Piscotty, who went 4-for-5 with two RBI.  Matt Carpenter was 1-for-3 and plated two.

http://www.scout.com/player/68830-adam-wainwright?s=321

Wainwright did not fare as well on the mound, however.  There was some improvement over previous starts, as he did strike out five, but he yielded four runs, including two home runs.  Wainwright pitched 5 1/3 innings and earned his first win of the season. 

Seung-Hwan Oh, Jonathan Broxton and Matt Bowman pitched a combined 3 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.

 

Thursday, April 28---Cardinals 0 at Diamondbacks 3

The fourth and final game of the series was much quieter offensively.  Perhaps the Cardinals had exhausted their store of slugging, as they left Phoenix as the victims of a shutout.

The Cardinals managed only three hits against Arizona starter Rubby De La Rosa, a double from Matt Holliday and singles from Yadier Molina and Stephen Piscotty.  The offense was 0-for 4 with runners in scoring position and left six runners stranded.

http://www.scout.com/player/158182-michael-wacha?s=321

Michael Wacha pitched a quality start, going seven innings and allowing three runs on five hits. He struck out nine batters, his highest strikeout total of the season so far.   The three runs came from two home runs. 

Kevin Siegrist pitched a scoreless inning of relief.  Wacha was tagged with his first loss of the season.

 

Friday, April 29---Cardinals 4, Nationals 5

In the opener of a big weekend series against 14-7 Washington, the Cardinals took an early lead 2-1 in the first, but gave up the lead in the fourth.  The offense staged a rally in the bottom of the eighth, but fell one run short at the end.

Starting pitching was again the undoing for the Cardinals, as Mike Leake absorbed his third loss of the season.  He tossed seven innings, but up five runs on five hits, including a pair of home runs, a first-inning solo shot from Michael Taylor, and a fourth-inning, two-run blast off the bat of Danny Espinosa.

Matt Bowman and Seung-Hwan Oh combined for two innings of scoreless relief.

Offense from the Cardinals came via doubles by Matt Holliday, Jedd Gyorko and Stephen Piscotty; the Holliday double resulted in a score, the other two did not.  Holliday had two singles as well, bringing him to 3-for-4 on the night.  The remaining three runs were plated by Matt Adams, who was 2-for-4 with an RBI single, and a two-run home run in the eighth that brought the Cardinals within one run.

 

Saturday, April 30----Cardinals 1, Nationals 6

Most of the damage inflicted on the Cardinals came in the first inning, as the Nats put up a four-spot against starter Jaime Garcia, which included a three-run long ball from Jayson Werth.  Garcia settled down after the first inning, striking out six and walking three, but the offense didn’t bail him out.

Jonathan Broxton added to the woes by giving up two additional Nats’ runs in the eighth, after he came into relieve Garcia in the seventh with one out.  Seth Maness entered with two outs in the eighth and got the final out of that inning.  Rosenthal pitched a scoreless ninth.

Matt Carpenter drove in the only Cardinals run on a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Yadier Molina was 2-for-4.

Defense was again a problem for the Cardinals, as they committed three errors, throwing and fielding miscues by Jeremy Hazelbaker and a fielding error from Ruben Tejada.

 

Sunday, May 1---Cardinals 1, Nationals 6

The Cardinals were unable to avoid the series sweep at home against the Nats.  For the first time since opening week, the Cardinals fell below .500 at 12-13.

The game had a promising beginning.  Facing Max Scherzer, Matt Carpenter led off with a base hit.  It was the first of Carpenter’s two hits, as he would be the only Cardinal with multiple hits.  St. Louis was held scoreless until the bottom of the ninth with two outs, when Brandon Moss’ solo home run became the first and only Cardinals’ score.  It was too little too late.  The only other Cardinals to hit were Matt Holliday, Kolten Wong, and Matt Adams, the latter as a pinch hitter.

The game was a classic pitcher’s duel and starter Carlos Martinez was cruising until the seventh inning.  He had given up one run in the sixth on two singles and a sac bunt, but in the seventh, the wheels came off.  A single by Jayson Werth and back to back home runs from Clint Robinson and Danny Espinosa caused Martinez to be lifted with one runner on and two outs.  Kevin Siegrist escaped further damage.  Four runs were charged to Martinez, who had struck out eight and walked none until the seventh inning.

Seung-Hwan Oh and Tyler Lyons pitched the eighth and ninth, and each gave up an additional Nats score to cement Washington’s weekend sweep at Busch.

 

Martinez named in Florida civil suit

A woman who alleges a relationship with Carlos Martinez has filed a civil suit in Florida against the Cardinals pitcher.  Martinez was away from the team on Friday to travel to Florida to deal with the matter, but returned in time to make his start on Sunday.

http://www.scout.com/player/144067-carlos-martinez?s=321

The woman alleges that Martinez gave her sexually transmitted diseases, and she is claiming damages in the suit of more than $1.5 million for negligent transmission and fraud.

The Cardinals learned of the matter earlier in the week from Martinez’ agent.  The Cardinals are seeking more information before taking any action to deal with the matter.

Martinez has said that the woman’s allegations are “100% false”.

It is not clear whether the allegations against Martinez fall within MLB’s domestic violence policy.

 

NL Central Standings

  W L % GB
Chic. Cubs 17 6 0.739 ---
Pittsburgh 15 10 0.600 3
St. Louis 12 13 0.480 6
Cincinnati 10 15 0.400 8
Milwaukee 9 15 0.375 8.5

Who’s Hot

Jeremy Hazelbaker has been both hot and cold since getting a spot on the Cardinals opening day roster.  Over the last seven days, Hazelbaker has an OPS of 1.067 in six games.  The outfielder has one home run, one double and one triple in those six games.  His season average currently sits at .313.

http://www.scout.com/player/142384-jeremy-hazelbaker?s=321

Matt Holliday has been in a slump for the past several weeks, but he has heated up in the last week.  He has a 1.000 OPS over the last six games with three doubles and a triple.  Holliday’s average is currently .256.

Aledmys Diaz has an OPS of .947 over his last seven games.  He has hit two home runs in that span and has an average of .405 for his rookie year.

http://www.scout.com/player/187201-aledmys-diaz?s=321

Over the last seven games, Matt Adams has a .947 OPS with one home run.  His average is currently .261.

Stephen Piscotty’s OPS over the last seven games is .936.  He has two doubles, one home run and a season average of .286.

 

Who’s Not

Randal Grichuk continues to struggle at the plate.  Over the last six games his OPS is .492.  His average is .179 and his strikeout rate is 27 percent.

Since coming off the disabled list on April 18, Ruben Tejada has not produced at the plate.  Over the last five games, the shortstop has an OPS of .364.  His season average is .200.

 

A Look at Cardinals’ Lineups

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny continues to shuffle his lineups on a regular basis, though there are a few consistencies.  Most of the shuffling has been more of who plays rather than where they play.

Matt Holliday continues to bat in the third spot on the days he is in the lineup.

Matt Carpenter continues to be the primary leadoff hitter, however, Jeremy Hazelbaker has gotten a look there in two games this past week, as Carpenter moved to the third spot in Tuesdays’ game, with Holliday on the bench, and to the second spot on Saturday.

Stephen Piscotty has hit in the second spot for the most part, but got some looks earlier in the season in the cleanup role.

There have been no changes to Aledmys Diaz’s role as the eighth place hitter when he is in the lineup.

Yadier Molina has been a mainstay in either the fifth or sixth spot.

The cleanup role has mostly been a mish mash of Randal Grichuk, Matt Adams, and Brandon Moss.

Kolten Wong, who expressed a desire to hit leadoff, has only been granted that role in one game this season so far.  He was 0-for-3 in that spot in San Diego on April 23.

 

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.

 

Transactions

There are no transactions to report.

 

Injury Report

Jhonny Peralta (left thumb ligament) could be sent on a rehab assignment by the third week of May.

Tommy Pham (left oblique strain) is expected to take practice catching fly balls next week, and if all goes well, he could be sent on a rehab assignment by the end of the week.

Brayan Pena (left knee surgery) has been working out on a treadmill, but is several weeks from further steps in his rehab.

Mitch Harris (right elbow) continues to experience discomfort in his elbow and has halted his throwing program. Harris will travel to St. Louis on Monday to be examined by physicians.  An earlier MRI had revealed no structural damage.

 

Looking Ahead

The Cardinals continue the home stand with a four-game series beginning on Monday, May 2, against the surprising 15-10 Phillies.  Adam Wainwright is scheduled to make the Monday start, followed by Michael Wacha on Tuesday, Mike Leake on Wednesday, and Jaime Garcia on Thursday.

The second-place Pirates come into St. Louis on Friday for a weekend series.   The Cardinals will have a travel day on Monday, May 10, to the West Coast for a three-game series in interleague play with the Angels, and then end the road trip with a weekend series at the Dodgers.

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