Friday, June 2, 2023

MLB Preview: St. Louis Cardinals (12-24) at Chicago Cubs (17-18)


RECENT REDBIRDS: The Cardinals continue a six-game road trip over seven days to Chicago and Boston. Tonight, the Cardinals play the second of a three-game series against their National League Central rivals the Chicago Cubs. With a win tonight, the Cardinals would win their third series of the season and first since April 10-12 at Colorado. St. Louis is 2-8 in their last 10 games and has diminished their run differential to -17 with a +8 over their last two games.

THE FRIENDLY CONFINES: The Cardinals have won 12-of-their-last-16 games at Wrigley Field dating back to July 10, 2021, averaging 6.0 runs a game over that stretch. Over that period, the two rivals have played two five-game series (8/22-25/22 & 6/2-5/22) and a four-game series (9/24-26/21). This will be the first time there has not been a doubleheader between the two squads in Chicago since July 9-10, 2021, when a rain out cut short a three-game series prior to the All-Star Break.

ROAD TRIP RELICS: The Cardinals continue a three-city road trip through the three oldest active ballparks in Major League Baseball all in succession on the road. The journey started with Dodger Stadium (1962) April 28-30 during their most recent road trip. Wrigley Field, opened in 1914, continues the trip on this stop of a three-game series, before St. Louis barnstorms into Boston for the completion of the road trip with three at Fenway Park (1912) from May 12-14. WRIGLEY NIGHTS: The Cardinals will be playing three night games at Wrigley Field for the first time since Sept. 22-24, 2014. Since the Cubs installed lights at the Friendly Confines in 1988, St. Louis is 35-49 (.417); although the
Cardinals started 1-13 in their first 14 night games, before going 34-36 since.

LONGBALL LEGENDS: The Cardinals have hit 767 home runs at Wrigley Field since the stadium opened. Only the Pittsburgh Pirates (768) have hit more than the Cardinals over the stadium’s history and reside one longball ahead. BIRTHDAY WEEK!: The Cardinals will celebrate three birthdays on this road trip beginning today as Tommy Edman celebrates his 28th birthday tonight. Tomorrow, Nolan Gorman turns 23 and on Saturday in Boston, Willson Contreras will turn 31.

SAVE DEPRAVED: With a perfect four-out performance last night, Ryan Helsley locked down his 4th save and the Cardinals 5th save of the season. St. Louis went 22 games without a save and were the only team in MLB without a save since April 14, the last time they recorded a rescue vs. Pittsburgh, as Giovanny Gallegos was the closer.

ARENADO SCRATCHED: Prior to last night’s game, third baseman Nolan Arenado was scratched from the lineup for precautionary measures with neck stiffness.

OH, BROTHER!: Willson Contreras and his brother William Contreras, who plays for the Brewers, rank first and second in the National League in two-out batting. William leads the Senior Circuit with a .400 BA (12-30), while Willson ranks 2nd at .385 (15-39). Last night, Willson hammered a ball at 117.5 MPH, the hardest ball hit in his career and 4th-hardest in the Major Leagues this season.

ROMERO OPTIONED; PALLANTE RECALLED: The Cardinals optioned LHP JoJo Romero to Memphis (AAA) today and recalled RHP Andre Pallante from Memphis. Pallante was leading the Cardinals with eight appearances when he was optioned to the minors on April 18. He made five relief appearances in Memphis posting no record with a 2.79 ERA and 14 strikeouts over 9.2 innings.

IT’S CALLED A WINNING STREAK: The Cardinals have not put together three straight wins this season and have a chance to do that tonight. In franchise history, the Cardinals have gone into the 37th game of the season without a three-game win streak six times before, most recently in 1995 when they went 45 games before winning three straight games. The club record was set by the 1907 Cardinals who went 104 games without a three-game win streak. Elias Sports Bureau

SURELY YOU CAN’T BE SERIES-OUS?: St. Louis snapped their streak of 11 series without a series opening win with a 3-1 victory at Wrigley Field last night. The Cardinals have a chance to with their first series since April 10-12 at Colorado.

CUB-LIC ENEMY NO.1: Brendan Donovan has hit safely in each of his first 10 games at Wrigley Field, the longest streak to begin his career since Willy Adames hits safely in his first 11 from 2021-23. Orlando Cepeda hit safely in his first 21 games as a Cardinal at Wrigley Field for the franchise mark.

CUB KILLERS: Paul Goldschmidt hit seven home runs off Cubs pitching in 2022, the most in Major League Baseball last season and one longball shy of tying Matt Carpenter (2018), Jim Edmonds (2004), Albert Pujols (2004), Stan Musial (1950), and Rogers Hornsby (1925) for most by a Cardinal in a season vs. Chicago.

NL Ranks: Losses (4, T-5th), Runs (34, T-1st), Earned Runs (24, T-5th), Ground Into Double Plays (9, 1st), GIDP/9 IP (2.36, 1st*), Walks (22, T-2nd)

• Making his 8th start of the season, 14th career start (16th app.) vs. Chicago-NL and 106th career start (110th app.).

• Was hit for a career-high 10 runs and 10 earned runs, while tying his career-high with nine hits in an 11-7 loss in his last start vs. LAA (5/4). Exited after 2.1 innings and 74 pitches, but struck out three batters moving past Howie Pollet into 26th place all-time in Cardinals history.

• Has walked just nine batters over his last five starts after leading the National League with 13 walks over his first two starts of the season.

• Owns a career mark of 7-4, 3.74 ERA in 16 career starts in the month of May.

• Trails only Wainwright & DeJong in years of Cardinals service on 40-player roster.

• Has held his opposition to a .210 career batting average, ranking 25th among MLB pitchers with more than 500 career innings pitched in the Live Ball Era (post-1920).

• Missed a total of 122 games in 2022 due to a right shoulder injury (64 games from April 7-June 14 and another 58 games from June 27-Sept.4). Missed 88 games in 2021 with an oblique injury.

• Since becoming a full-time starting pitcher in 2018, ranks 13th among MLB pitchers with a 10.33 strikeouts/9 IP (min. 500 IP).

• St. Louis sports a 55-50 overall record in Flaherty’s 105 career starts. In his first 51 starts from his MLB debut (9/1/2017) until the 2019 All-Star Break, St. Louis went 21-30 (.412). In his last 54 starts (July 16, 2019-present), St. Louis is 34-20 (.629).

• In 105 career starts, is 34-10 when receiving 2+ runs of support, 27-1 when receiving 3+ runs, and 23-0 with 4+ runs of support. Has received 2 or fewer runs of support in 64 of 105 (60.9%) career starts. Has 23 starts with zero runs of support.

• Is 20-15 in 52 career games (49 starts) at Busch Stadium. His .195 opponent batting average is the lowest in stadium history (min. 100 IP), while his 299 strikeouts (8th) ranks in the Top 10 among all pitchers in the ballpark’s history (since 2006). Trails Chris Carpenter (356) by 57 for 7th all-time in stadium history.

• Surrendered career-highs in runs, earned runs, tied his career-high in hits and was removed after 2.1 innings as the Cardinals lost 11-7 at home. Recorded three strikeouts to move past Howie Pollet into 26th place all-time in Cardinals history.

5/4 LAA L 11-7 L-4 2.1 9 10 10 1 3 1 74-42

• Allowed 7 hits in 4.2 IP last Fri. (4/28) at LAD, snapping his string of allowing six or fewer hits in 30 consecutive starts dating back to Sept. 20, 2020, longest such streak in Cardinals history. Jack hold the top three streaks in Cardinals history (22 from 2019-20 & 21 in 2018). His streak of 30 such games was one game shy of tying Shohei Ohtani and Nolan Ryan (31) for 5th place all-time in MLB history.

• Earned his 2nd win of the season and struck out a season-high nine batters allowing just three runs on five hits over 6.0 IP on 4/23 at SEA. All the action but one single occurred in the first two innings and he retired 12 of his last 13 batters faced including seven by strikeout.

• Took a 6-3 loss allowing four runs on four hits over a season-high 6.0 innings vs. ATL (4/17). Induced two double plays moving his National League leading total to seven on the season. Retired 10 consecutive batters from the 2nd-5th innings.

• Ran his streak of consecutive games with six hits or less to 27 in a 4-0 loss at MIL (4/7). Allowed just two runs on four hits. His 60th career start receiving two runs of support or less. Walked six batters in the game, first Cardinals pitcher to walk 6+ batters in consecutive games since Carlos Martínez (2018).

• Threw 5.0 innings of no-hit ball in his first start of the season vs. TOR (4/1), became the 16th pitcher since 1901 to issue seven walks in a scoreless and hitless outing of any length (Langs); and the 5th pitcher in Cardinals history to pitch exactly 5.0 innings without allowing a hit or a run in a start.


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