9.13.18

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09.13.2018 • Thursday • M 1

SERIES PREVIEW: CARDINALS VS. LA DODGERS

SCOUTING REPORT • The top two homer-hitting teams in the National League meet for four games. The Dodgers, who have homered in 20 consecutive games, the longest streak in LA Dodgers history, have 204 homers, with the club record of 221 set last year very reachable. The Cards are second, with 190. Ten Dodgers have at least 16 homers this season, including Manny Machado and Brian Dozier, who compiled most of their totals in the American League before being traded. ... Third baseman Justin Turner, who has 13 homers, is hitting .375 with eight homers, 16 doubles and 26 RBIs since coming off the disabled list on Aug. 2. Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw was given an extra day of rest so that he could start this series. Although the Cardinals are 4-0 in postseason play against Kershaw, who has an ERA of 6.21 against them in October, Kerhaw has a 6-5, 2.99 mark against them in the regular season. He is 2-3 at Busch in the regular season. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, whose heart condition precluded him from pitching at altitude in Colorado at the start of the team’s 10-game trip, has rejoined the club. Jansen, who has had an irregular heartbeat, has acknowledged that he will need surgery in the offseason but said he should be ready for spring training. The Cardinals won all three games played in Los Angeles this year so they would need to win one of the four games here to have any tiebreaker edge for potential postseason play. PITCHING MATCHUPS Thursday, 6:15 p.m. LH Austin Gomber (5-0, 2.93 ERA) vs. LH Clayton Kershaw (7-5, 2.42). Friday, 7:15 p.m. RH Jack Flaherty (8-6, 2.92) vs. RH Walker Buehler (6-5, 3.09) Saturday, 12:05 p.m. RH John Gant (7-5, 3.16) vs. LH Rich Hill (8-5, 3.88). Sunday, 7:05 p.m. RH Adam Wainwright (1-3, 4.70) vs. hurler to be determined

CARDINALS

sT. LOuIs POsT-dIsPaTCh • B5

NOTEBOOK

Shreve shows progress in relief Lefty hurls flawless inning in bid to get more chances BY DERRICK GOOLD st. Louis Post-dispatch

Cardinals reliever Chasen Shreve, used sporadically but gaining importance situationally, retired all three batters he faced Wednesday for a flawless appearance that fit snugly into his plan to enhance his presence. “Hopefully, down the stretch, I get used more — just to get lefties out or whatever they need,” Shreve said. “But that means if you pitch well, you’re going to pitch more. That’s what I want to do here: to pitch well and pitch more.” As the dust settled some from the latest bullpen renovation that installed Carlos Martinez as closer, the Cardinals have a blueprint for how they’ll close games. Closing down lefthanded hitters is another matter. Shreve was one of three lefties used Wednesday in the Cards’ 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh, and any of the three could emerge as the lefty specialist the club could use to counteract Cody Bellinger in the coming series against the Dodgers, Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis next week in Atlanta, or Christian Yelich in the upcoming pivotal games against Milwaukee. It’s a spot in which Shreve, Brett Cecil, and newcomer Tyler Webb have tried, stumbled, and tried again in recent weeks. Webb retired the lone lefthander he faced to strand two runners in the sixth inning. Cecil walked the first batter he faced Wednesday, then got a double play from a righthanded batter to get three outs from three batters. Shreve struck out the final two batters he faced, including lefthanded hitter Adam Frazier, in a perfect inning. The trio of lefties pitched 21/3 innings combined, allowed a walk, and faced the minimum to get those seven outs. “We talk about the spots and the spots presented themselves,” manager Mike Shildt said. “And the guys went out and got their outs.” Shreve, acquired at the trade deadline from the Yankees for Luke Voit, has been toying with a new slider to use against lefthanded

AVERAGES Batting AVG AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB E J. Martinez .304 480 56 146 24 0 16 80 44 93 0 7 Munoz .281 256 31 72 15 0 8 37 25 60 5 12 Ozuna .279 526 61 147 14 2 21 80 31 100 2 3 .273 407 51 111 20 0 17 61 27 61 4 3 Molina Bader .270 326 53 88 16 2 10 32 28 108 15 2 Carpenter .269 509 99 137 40 0 35 77 95 138 4 14 .266 308 41 82 17 1 11 43 36 64 1 13 Gyorko O’Neill .250 116 22 29 4 0 8 20 5 52 2 2 .244 320 40 78 16 2 8 33 27 55 6 6 Wong DeJong .233 373 61 87 19 1 17 55 31 104 1 11 G. Garcia .220 177 15 39 6 0 3 15 19 36 3 5 .212 33 7 7 0 0 3 6 5 12 2 2 Wisdom Pena .202 124 10 25 2 0 2 8 6 40 1 1 .186 43 5 8 0 0 3 7 3 13 0 1 Adams A. Garcia .143 14 3 2 1 0 0 1 0 5 0 1 Kelly .118 34 1 4 0 0 0 3 3 7 0 0 .250 4963 682 1241 219 9 190 653 474 1233 61 112 Team Pitching W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO Webb 0 0 0.77 11 0 0 11.2 9 1 1 0 4 8 2 0 2.21 6 1 0 20.1 13 6 5 1 8 9 Ross Poncedeleon 0 2 2.81 10 4 1 32.0 24 10 10 2 13 30 8 6 2.92 24 24 0 132.1 91 46 43 17 50 160 Flaherty Gomber 5 0 2.93 25 8 0 61.1 55 23 20 3 27 51 Mikolas 15 4 2.99 29 29 0 180.2 175 65 60 14 28 126 7 5 3.16 23 16 0 102.2 77 46 36 7 47 86 Gant Hicks 3 4 3.17 67 0 6 71.0 54 27 25 2 37 63 1 1 3.18 14 0 0 11.1 11 4 4 3 5 13 Shreve C. Martinez 7 6 3.25 27 18 3 110.2 95 47 40 5 53 107 Hudson 4 1 3.26 19 0 0 19.1 12 7 7 0 14 11 3 5 3.51 60 0 28 56.1 48 25 22 8 18 65 Norris Brebbia 2 3 3.53 38 0 2 43.1 39 17 17 4 14 50 Leone 1 2 4.43 24 0 0 20.1 23 10 10 3 5 23 2 1 4.47 43 0 1 46.1 50 24 23 5 13 43 Mayers Wainwright 1 3 4.70 5 5 0 23.0 26 13 12 4 14 18 7 11 4.84 29 25 0 134.0 147 76 72 17 50 118 Weaver Cecil 1 1 6.37 37 0 0 29.2 35 23 21 3 24 17 Team 81 65 3.73 146 146 41 1313.1 1209 600 545 124 522 1182

batters. Dinged by home runs throughout the season, the slider gives him something that has a different, slashing movement from the sink of his splitter and fastball. Webb, acquired off waivers from San Diego, has been the most consistent of the trio retiring lefthanded batters. He’s held lefties to a .226 average and struck out four in 31 at-bats. At Class AAA Memphis, he had greater success against righthanded batters (.073 average against) than lefthanded batters (.273). Shildt stressed that not one of the three had the look of a true “situational lefty,” and that hyper-specified role has been limited in baseball — by shifts against lefthanded batters, by hard-throwing relievers. The Cardinals, likewise, could consider alternate options to neutralize lefties in upcoming series or, say, a one-game wild-card play-in contest.

Off the 40-man roster, there’s lefty Genesis Cabrera, who was part of the Tommy Pham trade with Tampa Bay. Already in the bullpen is Bud Norris, the former closer. Lefthanded batters have hit .182 and slugged only .273 against the righthanded pitcher who tests them with a cutter and sinker.

MOLINA ADVANCES, GYORKO ACTIVE

Catcher Yadier Molina’s increased activity Wednesday included “hitting baseballs, throwing baseballs, catching baseballs” Shildt said, and the veteran remains on pace to return at some point during the Cardinals’ four-game series against the Dodgers. Molina said he felt good, and he agreed that he might start catching bullpen sessions before returning to games. He has yet to run at full speed — a hurdle he’ll have to clear before being green-lighted for games. Jedd Gyorko, who was out for two weeks because of a groin strain, came off the disabled list Wednesday and could start as soon as Thursday’s game. Gyorko called the injury “worse than I had before” and the timing of the injury “tough.” He returned to St. Louis last weekend to receive focused treatment and catapult back into baseball activities. Once he was able to recover from sprinting, the Cardinals cleared him to be available as a batter off the bench. He flew out in his pinch-hit appearance Wednesday.

NORRIS ACHY

Norris, who felt a twinge of pain ripple through his hamstring Tuesday night, said that the soreness has come and gone throughout the past two months and he has no intention of having it limit him or shelve him in September. “I know the difference between good pain and bad pain,” Norris said. “My arm feels great. I’ll go out there out there and pitch as long as that’s true. I know my body well.” Staff writer Rick Hummel contributed to this article. Derrick Goold @dgoold on Twitter dgoold@post-dispatch.com

Rick Hummel

PIRATES 4, CARDINALS 3 Pittsburgh AB R H BI BB SO Avg. Frazier 2b 5 0 0 0 0 1 .284 Marte cf 5 1 1 0 0 2 .274 Bell 1b 3 0 1 0 1 2 .263 Luplow rf 4 2 3 1 0 1 .233 Kramer 3b 4 0 0 0 0 4 .231 Reyes lf 3 1 2 0 1 1 .333 Newman ss 4 0 2 0 0 0 .170 Stallings c 3 0 1 3 0 0 .217 Taillon p 2 0 0 0 0 1 .059 1 0 0 0 0 0 .291 Dickerson lf Totals 34 4 10 4 2 12 Cardinals AB R H BI BB SO Avg. Carpenter 3b-1b 4 1 0 0 1 1 .269 O’Neill rf 4 0 1 0 0 1 .250 Adams 1b 3 0 0 0 0 1 .247 c-Martinez ph 1 0 0 1 0 0 .304 1-Flaherty pr 0 0 0 0 0 0 .150 Ozuna lf 4 0 1 1 0 1 .279 Munoz ss-3b 4 1 1 0 0 0 .281 Wong 2b 3 0 0 0 0 0 .244 d-Gyorko ph 1 0 0 0 0 0 .266 Bader cf 3 0 1 0 1 0 .270 Kelly c 1 1 0 0 1 0 .118 e-Wisdom ph 1 0 1 1 0 0 .212 Poncedeleon p 1 0 1 0 0 0 .111 a-G.Garcia ph 1 0 0 0 0 1 .220 b-DeJong ph-ss 2 0 1 0 0 1 .233 Totals 33 3 7 3 3 6 Pittsburgh 011 002 000 — 4 10 0 Cardinals 100 000 011 — 3 7 0 a-struck out for Poncedeleon in the 5th. b-singled for Cecil in the 8th. c-out on fielder’s choice for Adams in the 8th. d-flied out for Wong in the 9th. e-singled for Kelly in the 9th. 1-ran for Martinez in the 8th. LOB: Pittsburgh 7, Cardinals 7. 3B: Poncedeleon (1). RBIs: Luplow (6), Stallings 3 (4), Ozuna (80), J.Martinez (80), Wisdom (6). SB: Carpenter (4), Bader (15), Wisdom (2). SF: Stallings. S: Taillon, Kelly. RLISP: Pittsburgh 4 (Frazier 2, Reyes, Taillon); Cardinals 5 (Carpenter 3, Adams, Ozuna). GIDP: Stallings. DP: Cardinals 1. Pittsburgh IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA Taillon 7 4 2 2 2 4 97 3.37 Vazquez 2 3 1 1 1 2 36 2.61 Cardinals IP H R ER BB SO NP ERA Poncedeleon 5 5 2 2 1 7 86 2.81 2/ Mayers 2 0 1 19 4.47 3 4 2 1/ Webb 0 0 0 2 4.32 3 0 0 Leone 1 1 0 0 0 2 12 4.43 Cecil 1 0 0 0 1 0 12 6.37 Shreve 1 0 0 0 0 2 12 4.01 Taillon pitched to 2 batters in the 8th. Inherited runners-scored: Webb 2-0. Umpires: Home, Andy Fletcher; First, Laz Diaz; Second, Manny Gonzalez; Third, Jeff Nelson. T: 3:00. A: 39,606 (45,538).

HOW THEY SCORED Cardinals first • Carpenter walks and steals second. Adams grounds out, Carpenter to third. Ozuna singles, Carpenter scores. One run. Cardinals 1, Pirates 0. Pirates second • Luplow singles. Reyes singles, Luplow to second. Newman singles, Luplow to third, Reyes to second. Stallings hits a sacrifice fly, Luplow scores. One run. Cardinals 1, Pirates 1. Pirates third • Marte singles. Bell walks, Marte to second. Luplow singles, Marte scores, Bell to second. One run. Pirates 2, Cardinals 1. Pirates sixth • Luplow singles. Reyes singles, Luplow to second. Newman singles, Luplow to third, Reyes to second. Stallings singles, Luplow and Reyes score, Newman to second. Two runs. Pirates 4, Cardinals 1. Cardinals eighth • Kelly walks. DeJong singles, Kelly to second. O’Neill singles, Kelly to third, DeJong to second. J.Martinez grounds into a force out, Kelly scores, DeJong to third, O’Neill out at second. One run. Pirates 4, Cardinals 2. Cardinals ninth • Munoz singles. Bader walks, Munoz to second. Wisdom singles, Munoz scores, Bader to third. One run. Pirates 4, Cardinals 3.

LAURIE SKRIVAN • lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

Matt Carpenter (left) bangs his bat on the ground after being called out on strikes to end the Cardinals’ 4-3 loss Wednesday to the Pirates.

Cards go three for 14 with men in scoring position CARDINALS • FROM B1

DeJong struck out, the runner remained at third, and that moment joined two others as culprits in the Cardinals’ 4-3 loss to the Pirates at Busch Stadium. Three times in the game the Cardinals had a runner at third base and less than two outs — twice a runner reached third with no outs — and the Cardinals did not, situationally, put a ball in play to produce a run. Twice the batter struck out. The Cardinals selfdestructed, smoke hissing from their three-for-14 performance with runners in scoring position. In the ninth inning as Harrison Bader reached third as the tying run with one out, Vazquez opened with a changeup and struck out DeJong for an escape route. He caught Matt Carpenter looking at a tight slider to end the game. “We didn’t execute,” DeJong said. “They pitched it well. We had our chances. At the end of the day, we have to do the job. That was the reason we lost. We didn’t all join efforts and pass the baton.” The loss lessens the Cardinals’ edge as the Los Angeles Dodgers arrive for an essential fourgame series at Busch. LA finally solved Cincinnati on Wednesday and, with a win there, slashed the Cardinals’ lead to two games for the second National League wild-card playoff slot. Win the series and the Cardinals and could unplug LA. Lose it and the Dodgers are saved from syndication, their season renewed. Ten of the Cardinals’ 16 remain-

ing regular-season games are at home, and from here 13 of the 16 are against teams in the playoff mix. Nine are against teams with better records. The Cardinals (81-65) left a lot on the bases but still took plenty from the Pittsburgh series. They assured they wouldn’t have a losing season and are one win shy of 11 consecutive winning seasons, a feat not reached since 15 consecutive from 19391953. Rookies Dakota Hudson and Jordan Hicks did not throw a pitch in the three days, setting them up for available and aggressive use against the Dodgers. And, the Cardinals got two starts and five innings each from two pitchers who weren’t in the rotation a week ago, Adam Wainwright and Daniel Poncedeleon. Poncedeleon (0-2) slipped into trouble in the second inning Wednesday when the Pirates lashed him with three singles and a sacrifice fly to tie the game 1-1. He caught pitcher Jameson Taillon looking at a fastball to end that inning. The Bucs snapped the tie in the third with Jordan Luplow’s RBI single, the second of his three hits. Poncedeleon cooled that inning two with consecutive strikeouts. The righthander remained assertive with his fastball — which sped by at 96 mph for his final strikeout — and completed five innings. “If I keep attacking the hitters with my fastball,” he said, “I’ll eventually win.” The rookie turned a 2-1 deficit over the bullpen, though he

nearly played a starring role in knotting that game. Instead, he had the best view of the first of several missed opportunities. Self-deprecating when it comes to hitting, Poncedeleon yanked a hard grounder down the thirdbase line in the third inning. “Well, first I made contact,” he said, “so I was a little surprised.” The ball got past the third baseman, pinballed around in left field, and by the time the Cardinals’ starter had stopped running he had a leadoff triple. He’s the first Cardinals pitcher since Todd Worrell in 1986 to have a triple as his first bigleague hit. Poncedeleon circumnavigated 270 feet on his own, but needed a benefactor for the final 90. Carpenter lined out and the next two batters flew out. In the fifth, Bader stole third to get there with one out, only to have Greg Garcia strike out and Carpenter line out into the shift. Each moment dropped into a growing purse of anecdotes that suggests situational issues are mounting for the Cardinals. In back-to-back games last week, the Cardinals loaded the bases with no one out — and failed to score. Recent losses are littered with runners left at third, as, candidly, losses often are. “I don’t think it’s changed with us, (and) if you look at our style of play, we’ve done a nice job,” manager Mike Shildt said. “That’s why I don’t want to get too reactionary in short windows of time. This group has taken really good at-bats for a period of time now.

You can look at the numbers. They support that. Situational hitting has been really good. Approach is there — depending on the score, depending on the hitter, depending on the matchup. A guy may take a shot to do a little more damage. It is the situation.” He added: “We left some money on the table, that’s for sure.” Poncedeleon’s triple was the Cardinals’ second hit of the game, and Taillon remained in command through seven innings. He allowed four hits, two of which did not escape the reach of infielders. DeJong had one as a pinchhitter to chase Taillon (13-9) from the game in the eighth and bring in lefty Vazquez. A bases-loaded groundout nudged home the Cardinals’ second run. In the eighth, Yairo Munoz led off with a single and scored on Patrick Wisdom’s pinch-hit single. Bader gamely went from first to third on that hit to give the Cardinals a crack at situational redemption. A base hit would tie the game. A groundball could have tied the game. A deep fly ball definitely should tie it. They all proved impossible. “It’s not frustrating at all,” Bader said. “If every single game over the course of 162 games you could tell yourself that we’re going to be able to put ourselves in a position to be one swing away, one strike away, one pitch away, that’s going to be a hell of a season. It didn’t share out our way.” Derrick Goold @dgoold on Twitter dgoold@post-dispatch.com