Cardinals make significant changes in wake of losing streak
In a Friday press conference, St. Louis Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak announced changes to the coaching staff and roster, in an effort to shake up the team to perform better going forward.
The coaching staff was a particular focus. Third base coach Chris Maloney is being reassigned within the organization, and Quality Control coach Mike Schildt replaces Maloney as third base coach. Additionally, two minor league coaches were promoted. Mark Budaska, Triple-A hitting coach for the past nine seasons, will be the assistant hitting coach in the wake of Bill Mueller’s leave of absence. The Cardinals also promoted assistant minor league field coordinator, Ron “Pop” Warner, whose title and duties on the MLB staff are unclear at this point.
Mozeliak also announced that third baseman Jhonny Peralta has been designated for assignment, to make room for Kolten Wong, activated from the 10 day disabled list. Peralta was in the last year of a four-year contract, and had been relegated to the bench due to his poor results and much better play from Jedd Gyorko.
Mozeliak expressed disappointment in the recent performance of the team, and stated that everyone, including himself, manager Mike Matheny, and the players and coaches are put on notice that improvement must occur. Mozeliak said he will be looking at the overall results in the next 4-6 weeks to determine if more drastic measures need to be taken.
In the first of a four-game series, the Cardinals were the victims of the big inning, losing to the Reds by two runs. Starter Carlos Martinez was cruising until the seventh inning, when the wheels came off the bus for the right hander. Martinez gave up two runs, and with one out and two more runners on base, Kevin Siegrist was brought in to relieve. Siegrist surrendered a double to Joey Votto that scored the two inherited runners. John Brebbia pitched a scoreless eighth. Martinez suffered his fifth loss of the season.
The Redbirds scored both of their runs in the fifth inning. Yadier Molina, who was 2-for-4, lead off with a double. Tommy Pham followed with an RBI double. Paul DeJong singled, moving Pham to third, and Martinez’ bunt single scored Pham.
Molina stole his fifth base of the season.
The Redbirds were destroyed by the Reds in the second game of the four-game set. The offense was essentially non-existent. The only St. Louis run came on a seventh inning solo home run by Stephen Piscotty, who was 2-for-3. Jedd Gyorko was 2-for-4.
Adam Wainwright made one of his worst starts of the season. The veteran right hander lasted just 3 2/3 innings, and gave up nine runs on seven hits, including a grand slam by Reds left fielder Scooter Gennett. Gennett went on to hit four home runs in the game. Wainwright was replaced in the fourth by John Gant, who went the next 3 1/3 innings. Gant gave up home runs to Gennett in the fourth and the sixth innings, totaling three runs, two charged to Gant and one to Wainwright. John Brebbia pitched the eighth, and he gave up Gennett’s final long ball, a two run shot.
The opponent's big inning once again dealt the fatal blow to the Redbirds chances. The Cardinals established a lead but blew it in the later frames to lose the third consecutive game to the Reds.
A three-run third inning for St. Louis began with a two-out solo home run by Matt Carpenter. After Tommy Pham drew a walk, Stephen Piscotty popped an RBI double to left field. Jedd Gyorko’s RBI single scored Piscotty. The Cardinals added a run in the sixth on an RBI double by Dexter Fowler. Pham was 2-for-3; Piscotty was 2-for-4.
Starter Lance Lynn pitched five strong innings, allowing only one run on three hits, while fanning four and walking two. Matt Bowman pitched a scoreless sixth. Aginst Brett Cecil in the seventh, the wheels came off the bus. Cecil gave up four runs in 2/3 of an inning, and his replacement with two outs, Trevor Rosenthal, gave up a fifth. Cecil was tagged with the blown save and the loss. Kevin Siegrist pitched a scoreless eighth.
The fourth game of the series was the final humiliation for the Cardinals, capping an abysmal seven-game road trip in which the team failed to win a single game.
The Redbirds offense was stymied by Reds starter Scott Feldman. They were held hitless until the fourth inning, when Matt Carpenter led off with a single. The offense scattered four hits across Feldman’s seven innings, getting two hits in an inning only once, in the seventh. Finally, in the eighth, the Cardinals touched reliever Austin Brice with a two run home run by Matt Carpenter. It was too little, too late. Carpenter was 2-for-4, as was Yadier Molina.
Mike Leake remained unable to win a game against his former team as a Cardinal. Leake pitched five innings, giving up three runs, two earned, on 10 hits. The right hander struck out five and walked two. Tyler Lyons surrendered a two run home run to Joey Votto. John Brebbia and Seung-Hwan Oh pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth.
Molina made a throwing error, his sixth miscue of the season.
The Cardinals returned home from the disastrous road trip to face the Phillies in a weekend series. With wholesale changes in the coaching staff and the loss of a veteran player, the Cardinals began the series with a new sense of urgency. The team responded.
This first game was hard fought, but ended in a win. The Redbirds fell behind by two runs initially, but responded in the bottom frame of the third inning with two runs to tie it up. Those runs came on a Stephen Piscotty sac fly and a Jedd Gyorko RBI single. They were aided by Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler getting on base in front of them with a single and a double, respectively. Aledmys Diaz homered in the fifth to give the Cardinals the lead and the victory.
Starter Michael Wacha pitched six innings, giving up two runs on five hits while fanning two and issuing two free passes. Matt Bowman followed with a clean seventh, striking out the side. Trevor Rosenthal and Seung-Hwan Oh added a scoreless eighth and ninth.
In the field, Kolten Wong made a fielding error, his eighth miscue of the season.
The Cardinals shut out the Phillies in the second game of the series behind a pitching gem by starter Carlos Martinez. It was Martinez’ first complete game of his MLB career. The hard throwing right hander was masterful, allowing only four hits in nine innings, and striking out 11 Phillies and walking only one, for a game score of 95 and his fifth win of the season.
St. Louis’ offense responded to Martinez’ stellar pitching by backing him up with seven runs and error-free defense. The only blemish was pickoffs of Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham, by a pitcher with a questionable throw over move. In a bit of irony, the pitcher was later called for a balk, allowing a run to score.
The offense put up four runs in the fourth inning, and three more in the seventh. In the fourth, Dexter Fowler walked, and Stephen Piscotty doubled. Jedd Gyorko then doubled to plate the two. With Gyorko on third, the Phillies starter balked, and Gyorko came home. Kolten Wong grounded into a force out and advance to second on a wild pitch and to third on the balk. Eric Fryer then singled him home.
In the seventh, Wong singled, Fryer walked, and Martinez was hit by a pitch. Carpenter doubled, plating Wong and Fryer. Piscotty walked, and Gyorko hit a sac fly to score Martinez from third. Only Wong had multiple hits in the game, going 2-for-4.
The Cardinals completed the sweep of the Phils, but it didn’t come easily. Adam Wainwright was not sharp, but kept the game close enough for the offense to do its job. Wainwright pitched only five innings, giving up two runs on six hits while fanning four and walking two. Tyler Lyons pitched a scoreless sixth. Matt Bowman had a hiccup, giving up a home run, a solo shot, in the seventh. Trevor Rosenthal pitched a clean eighth, striking out the side. Then came Seung-Hwan Oh in the ninth, and the game became a nail biter. Oh was not sharp, as he gave up two runs before getting the final out to preserve the win. Wainwright received his seventh win, while Oh got his 15th save, on shaky pitching by both.
On the offensive side, Dexter Fowler had the big hit, a three-run home run in the fifth to give the Cardinals the lead. Fowler was 2-for-4. Tommy Pham was also 2-for-4, as his RBI single in the sixth gave the Redbirds a two-run lead. Eric Fryer followed up with another RBI single in the sixth to put the Cardinals up 5-2. In the eighth, a Kolten Wong double to score Pham was the run that ultimately gave St. Louis the edge in the scary ninth. Wong was 2-for-4 as well.
Tommy Pham stole his sixth base of the season and had an outfield assist, throwing out a runner at third base.
The Big Picture
Needless to say, the Cardinals’ seven game losing streak that began with the weekend series against the Cubs and ended with the fourth loss to the Reds on Thursday, was the lowest point in the season so far. The usual issues remained, lack of offense, shaky bullpen, with inconsistency from starting pitching added to the mix. There were some defense and base running mistakes, but for once they did not predominate.
The sweep of the Phillies over the weekend gives signs of hope that better baseball is ahead. However, the Phillies are not a good team, and it remains to be seen whether the Cardinals can continue the winning ways against winnng teams, against which they are just 12-22 to date in 2017. The Cardinals play the Brewers next, and this may be the test series.
The Cardinals ended the week with a record of 3-4 and moved up to third place in the NL Central, 2.5 games behind the first-place Brewers.
NL Central Standings
Over the past seven days (does not contain recent Sunday game results):
Stephen Piscotty is batting .348 with an OPS of 1.124 and has two HRs, two doubles, and six RBI.
Aledmys Diaz is batting .286 with an OPS of .937 and has one HR, four doubles, and two RBI.
Kolten Wong is batting .500 with an OPS of 1.125 in eight plate appearances.
Lance Lynn has an ERA of 1.80 and a WHIP of 1.00.
Carlos Martinez has an ERA of 2.35 and a WHIP of 0.72.
Seung-Hwan Oh has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.50.
Kevin Siegrist has an ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 1.20.
Over the past seven days (does not contain recent Sunday game results):
Jose Martinez is batting .125 and has an OPS of .250 in eight plate appearances.
Paul DeJong is batting .167 and has an OPS of .389.
Eric Fryer is batting .167 and has an OPS of .452.
Adam Wainwright has an ERA of 22.09 and a WHIP of 2.73.
Brett Cecil has an ERA of 21.60 and a WHIP of 3.00
Tyler Lyons has an ERA of 10.80 and a WHIP of 1.20.
A Look at Cardinals Lineups
Note that Matt Carpenter has been moved out of the middle of the lineup, back toward the top with Dexter Fowler. Stephen Piscotty and Jedd Gyorko are settling in at three and four.
The lineups over the last seven games (does not contain recent Sunday game):
The leadoff hitter has been Dexter Fowler for three games, and Matt Carpenter for four games.
The number 2 hitter has been Carpenter for three games, Fowler for three games, and Tommy Pham for one game.
The number 3 hitter has been Stephen Piscotty.
The number 4 hitter has been Jedd Gyorko.
The number 5 hitter has been Yadier Molina for four games, Aledmys Diaz for one game, Tommy Pham for one game and Jose Martinez for one game.
The number 6 hitter has been Pham for five games, and Diaz for two games.
The number 7 hitter has been Paul DeJong for four games, Kolten Wong for two games, and Diaz for one game.
The number 8 hitter has been Eric Fryer for three games, Diaz for two games, DeJong for one game, and Greg Garcia for one game.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
6/6 The Cardinals sent 2B Kolten Wong on a rehab assignment to the Peoria Chiefs.
6/7 The Cardinals optioned RHP John Gant to Memphis Redbirds.
6/7 The Cardinals selected the contract of 1B Chad Huffman from the Memphis Redbirds.
6/9 The Cardinals activated 2B Kolten Wong from the 10-day disabled list.
6/9 The Cardinals designated 3B Jhonny Peralta for assignment.
Yadier Molina (lower back tightness) has missed the entire weekend Phillies series. Molina has not been placed on the disabled list, and no plans to do so have been announced.
The Cardinals have an off day Monday, June 12. Tuesday is the beginning of a home series with the Brewers that features a doubleheader on Tuesday, to make up a previously rained out game. Lance Lynn is scheduled to start Game 1 of the doubleheader. Marco Gonzales will be called up to make the start in Game 2. Mike Leake is scheduled to make the Wednesday start, followed by Michael Wacha on Thursday.
Following the four-game set with the Brewers, the Cardinals travel to Baltimore to take on the Orioles in a weekend series. No pitching probables for this series have been announced, but they will likely be Adam Wainwright, Carlos Martinez and Lance Lynn.
The Cardinals have another off day next Monday, June 19. The Cardinals travel to Philadelphia for a three-game series with the Phillies. Following that, the Cardinals return home for a weekend set against the Pirates.
The Cardinals’ regular season schedule can be found here.
Blast from the Past
The Cardinals returned home this week after suffering through seven losses in the seven-game road trip. The losing streak was painful for everyone involved, and resulted in changes to the roster and the coaching staff in an effort to shake things up. Time will tell if it works, though a three-game sweep of the Phillies over the weekend is a good start.
The losing streak segues into this week’s history lesson, which involved notable losing streaks of the past. The longest losing streak in the history of the Cardinals franchise occurred in 1909. In that year, from September 6 through September 24, the Cardinals lost 15 games in a row. 11 of the 15 games were on the road, nine of which were consecutive. From September 12 through the 24th, the Cardinals dropped a two game series to the Pittsburgh Pirates, a three game set to the Philadelphia Phillies, a three game series to the New York Giants, and the first game of a four game series against the Brooklyn Superbas. The first two losses of the streak were to the Cincinnati Reds on the road, followed by four losses to the Chicago Cubs at home in Robison Field.
The 1909 Cardinals finished the season with a record of 54-98 and were seventh in the eight-team National League, 56 games back of first place. The player-manager of that team was Roger Bresnahan, a catcher. He managed the Cardinals from 1909 to 1912. Bresnahan was hired by Stanley Robison and was signed to a five-year contract in 1911. Robison died shortly after and his niece, Helene Hathaway Britton, took over the team. Bresnahan and Britton did not get along, and she fired the manager after the 1912 season.
In the more modern era, the Cardinals had an 11-game losing streak from May 12-23 in 1978, and a 10 game losing streak from May 5-15 in 1980. While the current Cardinal losing streak of seven games was painful, it was certainly not unprecedented.
Bonus for members of The Cardinal Nation: Advancing to Double-A, Zac Gallen is on the Fast Track
Not yet a member?
Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system. Take advantage of our seven-day free trial.
Follow Marilyn Green on Twitter @Marilyncolor.
© 2017 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.