The St. Louis Cardinals entered the final week of the regular season in a three-way fight for one of two Wild Card spots. Their play in this game hindered that effort. The blowout was embarrassing and poorly timed.
Jaime Garcia was back on the mound after temporarily losing his spot in the rotation. The lefty did not help matters with his worst start of the season. The short leash he was given was justified, as Garcia gave up back to back home runs out of the gate and was done after one inning.
Michael Wacha came in and pitched even worse, as the floodgates opened for seven more runs in his 2 2/3 innings pitched. Luke Weaver followed with 2/3 of an inning and surrendered five additional runs before the bloodbath ended with a 2/3 scoreless inning by Dean Kiekhefer.
Mike Mayers allowed one run in two innings following Kiekhefer. Sam Tuivailala and Jerome Williams finished the final two frames without further scoring. Garcia earned his 13th loss of the season against 10 wins.
The Cardinals offense put a mere two runs on the board in seven innings against Reds rookie starter Tim Adelman. The first run came in the fourth inning after Stephen Piscotty hit a triple into center field and scored on Yadier Molina’s sac fly. In the fifth, a Jhonny Peralta RBI double followed by a Jedd Gyorko single.
Perhaps in an effort to erase the memory of the previous night’s debacle, the Cardinals came out for game two of the series with bats blazing.
It was a memorable game in more ways than one. Aledmys Diaz, in his first start since the tragic death of his childhood friend, Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, in a boating accident, gave baseball one of the most emotional moments of the season by hitting his first grand slam of his major league career. The tearful Diaz was embraced by his teammates in the dugout and raised his eyes to heaven as he gave the crowd a curtain call before heading out of the dugout followed by a few of his teammates. It almost seemed anti-climactic that the Cardinals won this game.
In addition to Diaz’ grand slam, other Cardinals hitters blasted four home runs. Prior to Diaz’s shot in the fourth inning, Matt Carpenter hit a solo home run in the third. Jhonny Peralta thumped a three run long ball in the fifth inning, and Matt Adams and Randal Grichuk hit a two-run home run and a solo shot, respectively, in the sixth. The long balls accounted for 11 of the Cardinals’ 12 runs. The final run in the sixth inning scored on a Peralta single to plate Yadier Molina from third base. Three Cardinals had multi-hit games; Grichuk and Molina were 2-for-5, Peralta was 3-for-4.
Adam Wainwright earned his 13th win in an indifferent start. Wainwright gave up five runs on 10 hits, including two home runs, in 5 2/3 innings pitched. Zach Duke, Matt Bowman, Trevor Rosenthal, and Dean Kiekhefer combined for the remaining 3 1/3 scoreless innings.
In game three of the four-game series, the Reds edged the Cardinals in this low scoring affair. The Cardinals scored their only run in the fifth inning on a double play started by Matt Adams that plated Aledmys Diaz. The shortstop had reached base via a walk and advanced to third on a ground ball single by Greg Garcia. The Cardinals stranded eight runners. Stephen Piscotty and Jhonny Peralta were 2-for-4 and were each stranded twice.
Starter Mike Leake pitched well, giving up two runs on five hits in five innings of work. Matt Bowman, Kevin Siegrist, Seung-Hwan Oh, and Zach Duke pitched the remaining four scoreless innings. Leake took the loss, his 12th.
In this final game of the series, the Cardinals squeaked by to salvage a split of the four home games against the last-place Reds.
The victory came on a controversial double by Yadier Molina in the bottom of the ninth inning. With Matt Carpenter on first base via a walk, and two outs in the inning, Molina hit a line drive to left field that hit the ground just shy of the wall, and bounced up to strike an advertising sign just behind the wall, then bounced back on the field. The Reds left fielder fielded the ball and attempted to throw out the running Carpenter but was unsuccessful. The run scored by Carpenter gave the Cardinals the lead and seemingly the walkoff win.
However, the Molina hit was a ground rule double under the rules but was not called so by the umpires. After waiting a short time to see if the Reds manager was going to indicate a challenge, the umpires then left the field when no challenge appeared to be requested within the time allowed by the rules. The Reds manager did come out in an effort to challenge after both the Cardinals and the umpires had left the field. The Cardinals won the game, and the ultimate ruling was that Manager Bryan Price had not challenged the call in sufficient time and further, the rules did not allow the Reds to protest the game.
Before the controversial ending, the Cardinals scored three runs, one each in the second, fourth, and fifth innings. Jedd Gyorko hit a solo home run in the second, Aledmys Diaz scored in the fourth inning on a ground out by starter Alex Reyes, and Yadier Molina followed with a solo home run in the fifth. Molina was 2-for-5; Diaz was 2-for-3.
Reyes pitched six innings, allowing only one run on seven hits. Matt Bowman added a scoreless seventh. Zach Duke started the eighth and allowed a leadoff single. With one out, Duke was lifted for Kevin Siegrist, who allowed the inherited runner to score but got the remaining two outs of the inning. Seung Hwan Oh surrendered the tying run to earn a blown save, but was awarded the win after the offense took the lead in the bottom of the ninth.
The Cardinals entered this final series of the regular season one game out of the second wild card. Each game was a must-win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Redbirds accomplished that goal in the opener.
In his final start of the regular season, Carlos Martinez pitched brilliantly, tossing seven scoreless innings, giving up five hits while fanning nine and walking one. Martinez earned his 16th win of the season. Jonathan Broxton and Miguel Socolovich combined for two scoreless innings of relief.
Cardinals hitters launched four long balls. Jedd Gyorko hit his 29th home run of the season, a solo shot in the third inning. Brandon Moss broke his month long slump with a two-run blast in the sixth.
Finally, Matt Holliday, just reactivated from the disabled list following surgery for a fractured thumb, hit a solo home run in his first at bat as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. The home run was especially poignant for Holliday, as it was announced before the game that the Cardinals were not likely to pick up Holliday’s contract option for the 2017 season. The tearful Holliday was greeted at the top of the dugout steps by hugs from teammates Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina.
Additional Cardinals runs were scored on doubles by Molina and Stephen Piscotty in the sixth inning, and a double play ball by Molina plated a run in the seventh.
The Cardinals edged the Pirates to get the must win in the second game of the series on a solo home run by Jedd Gyorko in the bottom of the eighth. It was his team-leading 30th home run of the season.
The Cardinals fell into an early deficit via a three-run home run in the first by Jung Ho Kang off starter Michael Wacha. Wacha did not last past the first, but what followed was eight brilliantly pitched innings by the Cardinals bullpen, all scoreless, and highlighted by a three-inning scoreless outing by Trevor Rosenthal. Miguel Socolovich followed Wacha, then Rosenthal. After Rosenthal came Matt Bowman, Kevin Siegrist and Seung Hwan Oh. Siegrist was the winning pitcher; Oh earned his 19th save.
The Cardinals scored their first three runs in the sixth inning, starting with a wild pitch. Matt Holliday made a second pinch hit appearance with his RBI single scoring Brandon Moss from third. Matt Carpenter’s sac fly plated Randal Grichuk, who had advanced to third on the Holliday single. On the night, Aledmys Diaz, Yadier Molina, and Gyorko were each 2-for-4.
St. Louis pulled off the sweep in this final series of the regular season, but in the end, it did not matter. The Giants also won all three of their games against the Dodgers, so the Cardinals could not make up the needed one-game. A long season ended with the Cardinals packing up their bags and going home, the first season since 2010 in which the Cardinals did not play in the postseason.
Starter Adam Wainwright pitched well, going six innings and allowing two runs on five hits while fanning eight and walking three. The veteran righty pitched well enough to earn the win, but that did not happen. Reliever Jonathan Broxton followed Wainwright, and due to the vagaries of the rules, earned both a blown save and the win that should have been Wainwright’s. Broxton surrendered two runs in his one inning of work, on two hits, including the game-tying home run. The offense bailed Broxton out, and Dean Kiekhefer entered in the eighth to pitch two scoreless innings to finish the game.
The offense started sluggish, scoring only one run in the first five innings, in the third on a Yadier Molina single. Matt Carpenter hit a three-run home run in the sixth to give the Cardinals the lead, though the Pirates tied the game the next inning against Broxton.
A six-run bottom frame, however, put the game out of reach, and ensured the sweep. It began with a Stephen Piscotty RBI single. The next run scored on a fielding error. Randal Grichuk followed by doubling in two runs before successive sac flies by Matt Adams and Carpenter concluded the scoring. Two Cardinals had multiple hits; Molina was 3-for-5 and Piscotty was 2-for-5.
Holliday entered the game to take his customary left field position in the ninth as a farewell to the fans, before being substituted out prior to the first pitch.
The Cardinals were 5-2 in the final week, and finished 17.5 games out of first place. The Cardinals finished one game out of the Wild Card behind the Mets and the Giants.
|NL Central||W||L||%||GB||NL Wild Cards||W||L||%||GB|
|Chicago Cubs||103||58||0.639||---||San Francisco||87||75||0.537||---|
|St. Louis||86||76||0.531||17.5||New York Mets||87||75||0.537||---|
In the final week of the season, here is who was hot:
Yadier Molina had an OPS of 1.102 with one HR, three doubles, and five RBI.
Matt Carpenter had an OPS of 1.246. He had two HRs, two doubles, and six RBI.
Jedd Gyorko had an OPS of 1.233, with three HRs and five RBI.
In two plate appearances, Matt Holliday and Kolten Wong had an OPS of 3.500 and 2.000, respectively. Holliday had one HR and two RBI; Wong tripled.
In five plate appearances, Jose Martinez had an OPS of 1.100.
Carlos Martinez had an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.86.
Alex Reyes had an ERA of 1.50 and a WHIP of 1.50.
Matt Bowman had an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.75.
Jerome Williams had an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 1.00.
Miguel Socolovich had an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.00.
Kevin Siegrist had an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.67.
Dean Kiekhefer had an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.82.
In the final week of the season, here is who was cold:
Randal Grichuk had an OPS of .548.
Brayan Pena, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Carson Kelly, and Alberto Rosario each had an OPS of .000.
Luke Weaver had an ERA of 67.50 and a WHIP of 7.50.
Jaime Garcia had an ERA of 18.00 and a WHIP of 4.00.
Michael Wacha had an ERA of 24.55 and a WHIP of 3.27.
Zach Duke had an ERA of 9.00 and a WHIP of 4.00.
A Look at Cardinals’ Lineups
In the last week of the season, the lineups were as follows:
The leadoff spot was occupied by Matt Carpenter, with one start by Greg Garcia.
The second spot in the lineup was a mixture of Stephen Piscotty, Aledmys Diaz, and Randal Grichuk.
The number three spot was occupied by Yadier Molina with one start by Jhonny Peralta.
The clean-up spot was Piscotty’s, with one start each by Brandon Moss and Matt Adams.
The number five hitter was Peralta, with one start by Molina.
The six hole was Moss, with two starts by Jedd Gyorko.
The seventh spot was a mixture of Grichuk, Gyorko, and Diaz.
The eighth spot was a mixture of Grichuk, Garcia, and Jose Martinez.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
Outfielder Matt Holliday was activated off the seven-day disabled list prior to the final three-game series against Pittsburgh.
Kolten Wong played very sparingly in the final days due to shoulder discomfort. Though Holliday appeared briefly in the final three games, his fractured thumb is not yet healed completely. Oh’s groin discomfort surfaced again, knocking him out of one game early.
As of the end of the Cardinals season, five players remain on the 60-day DL: Seth Maness (right forearm strain), Lance Lynn (Tommy John surgery, right elbow), Jordan Walden (right shoulder strain), Tyler Lyons (right knee stress reaction), and Mitch Harris (right elbow, Tommy John surgery). All players on the 60-day DL will be returned to the 40-man roster in November.
Additionally, two 40-man roster players who remain on the minor league DL: Marco Gonzales (Tommy John surgery, left elbow) and Tim Cooney (left shoulder surgery). Both will have to be returned to the 40-man roster should the Cardinals wish to retain them there for the 2017 season.
The Cardinals finished the season with a record of 86-76. They finally reached the 10-games over .500 plateau for the first time all season by winning their final four games. St. Louis failed to make the postseason for the first time since 2010.
One more month of postseason games will occur before baseball season is officially over and the Hot Stove season begins. It is unknown what, if anything, the Cardinals will do between now and the end of the World Series. Nothing needs to be done with respect to the roster until after the Fall Classic. Any changes with respect to the coaching staff, if they occur, can happen at any time.
From the 40-man roster, the following will become free agents unless re-signed by the Cardinals: Matt Holliday, Brandon Moss and Jerome Williams. Holliday’s contract includes a club option for 2017 but the Cardinals have already indicated they will not be exercising it. The club will have decisions to make on 2017 options for Seung Hwan-Oh, Jaime Garcia and Jordan Walden. Oh’s option will most likely be picked up, Walden’s most likely will not be, and Garcia’s St. Louis future is a toss-up. All other Cardinals are subject to team control for 2017.
Decisions will be made in November regarding which arbitration eligible players will be tendered contracts, and any additional players in the system to be protected from the Rule 5 draft (by adding them to the 40-man roster).
Also, any qualifying offers to the aforementioned three free agents would need to be made within a week of the end of the World Series. The Cardinals have already indicated no qualifying offer will be made to Holliday, and there is no likelihood Williams will receive one. The Cardinals may or may not make such an offer to Moss.
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