Photo is credited to Getty Images.
The Rangers and the Cardinals met at steamy Busch Stadium this weekend for a three-game series, their first since 2013. The Rangers won all three, as they did back in ’13, too.
Prior to Friday’s game, the Cardinals recalled Kolten Wong from Triple-A Memphis and optioned Jeremy Hazelbaker. In seven games with the Redbirds, Wong batted .429 with four home runs.
Game One: Rangers 1, Cardinals 0 — WP: Cole Hamels (7-1) LP: Michael Wacha (2-7) SV: Sam Dyson (12)
A pitcher’s duel in the purest sense, the Cardinals’ Michael Wacha and the Rangers’ Cole Hamels each exceeded the seven-inning mark on Friday night, and Rougned Odor’s thirteenth homer of the year was the only run of the ballgame, leading to a 1-0 victory for Texas in the first game of the series.
Hamels and Wacha each lasted 7.2 innings on Friday and combined to allow a total of nine hits and whiff thirteen batters. Hamels walked three and Wacha walked two, but the only mistake of the night came in the top of the fifth.
On the first pitch of the fifth frame, Odor sent a 92 MPH pitch from Wacha to the grass in center field, the only long ball Wacha has surrendered in nearly 20 innings of work this month.
Other than that home run, the bats were pretty quiet on both sides. The Cardinals failed to get a runner to third base, and the only reason the team got a runner to second was because Aledmys Diaz stole a base.
The Rangers’ bullpen pitched 1.1 clean innings, including a perfect ninth inning from Sam Dyson.
-Before the second game of the series, the Cardinals demoted Randal Grichuk to Triple-A. Grichuk was batting .132 over his last fifteen games with fourteen strikeouts. Replacing Grichuk on the active roster is Tommy Pham. Pham strained his left oblique in the Cardinals’ first game of the regular season and has been rehabbing and playing on the farm since.
Game Two: Rangers 4, Cardinals 3 — WP: Shawn Tolleson (1-2) LP: Trevor Rosenthal (2-2) SV: Jake Diekman (2)
As Cardinals starting pitcher Carlos Martinez’s outing came to a close, the Cardinals carried a three-run lead to the eighth inning. The Rangers were able to plate four runs — two off of Trevor Rosenthal — and held on for a 4-3, series-clinching victory.
Nick Martinez started for Texas on Saturday, his first major-league start since last season. Martinez gave the Rangers 4.1 innings and allowed three earned runs, coming on three RBI singles from Yadier Molina, Kolten Wong, and Stephen Piscotty.
Martinez went seven innings for St. Louis, holding the Rangers to four base hits and adding four to his whiff total of 66, which is second on the Cardinals’ pitching staff.
The Rangers scored twice with Seung Hwan Oh on the mound in the eighth inning, one on a fielding error by Matt Adams. Texas had three knocks in the inning, including Ian Desmond’s nineteenth double of the year.
In the ninth, Trevor Rosenthal surrendered two singles and hit a batter to load the bases without recording an out. Kevin Siegrist was brought in to work out of the mess against the Rangers’ batting order that was looping over to the top; the lineup features two left-handed hitters within the first three batters. Pinch-hitter Ryan Rua flew out before Shin-Soo Choo drew a walk to tie the score. Desmond hit a deep sacrifice fly to score the go-ahead run for Texas, and Jake Diekman closed the door on the Cardinals in the ninth.
-Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos was hit by a pitch on his right wrist. Post-game X-rays were negative, and he was in Texas’s batting order in the series finale.
-Before the series finale on Sunday, the Cardinals activated RHP Seth Maness off the disabled list and optioned LHP Dean Kiekhefer to Triple-A Memphis.
Game Three: Rangers 5, Cardinals 4 — WP: Tony Barnette (4-2) LP: Matt Bowman (1-2) SV: Sam Dyson (13)
Despite 4-3 entering the game’s final two innings, the Rangers scored twice in the eighth off the Cardinals’ bullpen to complete a series sweep in St. Louis.
The Cardinals trailed by one entering their half of the sixth after Nomar Mazara broke the 2-2 in top half with his eleventh homer of the season off Cardinals starter Mike Leake. Matt Holliday’s twelfth long ball of the year tied the game at the three. Texas starter Martin Perez exited the game with one out and the bases full and was replaced by Tony Barnette. After recording an out, Barnette walked Eric Fryer, pushing across the go-ahead run.
With Rougned Odor on second and two outs, the Cardinals and reliever Matt Bowman intentionally walked Mitch Moreland, who had homered in the fourth to tie the game. Elvis Andrus reached on a play that was overturned and scored a fielder’s choice, one that no out was recorded in. Pinch-hitter Jurickson Profar promptly lined a single up the middle, scoring two runs. Moreland, who the Cardinals intentionally put on base, scored the Rangers’ fourth run of the game, which proved to be the game-winning tally.
-With a loss on Sunday, the Cardinals failed to win a game on a home stand of more than one series for the first time since 1983; the Cardinals are 15-21 at Busch Stadium in 2016.
-The Cardinals are 4-11 in one-run games this season, whereas the Rangers are 16-4.
Rangers: The Rangers will return home to Arlington to play a make-up game with the Orioles on Monday before welcoming in the Reds for three games on Tuesday.
Cardinals: The Cardinals will pay a visit to Chicago for a three-game date with the Cubs. This is the third series of the season between the two teams and the first at Wrigley Field.