Series Preview 9/26-29: Reds vs. Cardinals

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Photo is credited to Getty Images.

On Monday night, the Reds and Cardinals will begin a four-game series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis that figures to play wonders in the National League Wild Card race.

As play commences on the final Monday of the regular season, the Cardinals are a half-game removed from the second Wild Card spot and a full game behind the Mets, who hold the first. The Giants are off on Monday, and with a win, the Cardinals could tie San Francisco for that coveted second spot.

The Cardinals will be without shortstop Aledmys Diaz for at least a fraction of this series, as he has traveled to Miami to be with the family of the late Jose Fernandez. At 24 years old, Fernandez, a right-handed starting pitcher for the Marlins, was killed in a boat accident on Sunday morning. Diaz, 26, grew up with Fernandez in the Cuban neighborhood of Santa Clara, where the future All-Stars began their studded baseball careers.

In the first game of the series, Jaime Garcia will pitch for the Cardinals. Garcia has served as a long reliever out of the bullpen since lasting under two innings in his September 13 start. Over his last seven games, including two relief appearances, Garcia has a 6.99 ERA and pitched to just a 1.55 WHIP in the span. Luke Weaver started in place of Garcia twice since Garcia was flipped to a reliever’s role, and now the right-handed rookie will have to find his work out of the ‘pen, as Garcia’s return to the rotation prompts a reliever’s role for Weaver.

To counter Garcia, the Reds will roll with right-handed pitcher Tim Adleman. Two of the 28-year-old rookie Adleman’s three most recent starts have been quality. Since being promoted on August 16, Adleman is 2-4 with a 4.06 ERA in 57.2 innings, all of which have come in a starting pitcher’s role.

In the second game of the four-game series, Adam Wainwright will get the nod for the Cardinals. Wainwright has allowed eight runs over his last eleven innings, during which the right-handed hurler has allowed sixteen hits and walked four batters.

Taking the mound for the Reds opposite of Wainwright is slated to be Robert Stephenson. Stephenson has allowed eighteen earned runs across six big-league starts, during which he has allowed seven doubles and as many home runs. Stephenson has made four starts since returning to the majors on September 2; Stephenson has been a member of the Triple-A Louisville Bats since late April.

In the third game of the series, former Cincinnati Red Mike Leake will make the start for the Cardinals. Leake was lit up for five runs in his start against the Cubs on September 23, although five of Leake’s last eight starts have been quality.

Taking the mound for Cincy will be Anthony DeSclafani, who is 2-4 with a 3.80 ERA over his last seven games and starts. Overall this year, DeSclafani is 8-5 with a solid 3.38 ERA, given his home ballpark. DeSclafani has whiffed 102 batters in 117.1 innings across nineteen starts for the Reds this season.

Alex Reyes will toe the rubber in the series finale on Thursday evening at Busch Stadium. Reyes, who allowed three runs in his five-inning outing against the Cubs on September 24, saw his ERA actually jump to 1.58; that’s not too shabby for a 22-year-old in his first 40 big-league innings.

Dan Straily is expected to get the start for the Reds in the fourth and final game of the series. Straily is having a very respectable season for Cincy this year, as the 27-year-old right-handed hurler is 14-8 with a 3.74 ERA in 185.1 innings in 33 games, including 30 starts.

Series Summary 9/23-25: Cardinals @ Cubs

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Photo is credited to Getty Images.

On the north side of Chicago this weekend, Wrigley Field served as the venue for a three-game series between the Cardinals and Cubs, the teams’ final meeting of the regular season.

With two losses over the weekend to the Cubs, the Cardinals find themselves a half-game out of the second National League Wild Card spot, held by the Giants, and a game out of the first spot that’s captained by the Mets. The Cardinals have seven games remaining on their slate, while the Mets and Giants both have six lined up.

Game One: Cubs 5, Cardinals 0 — WP: Jake Arrieta (18-7) LP: Mike Leake (9-11)

Four first-inning runs and one of Jake Arrieta’s best starts of the second half ignited the Cubs’ engine for a 5-0 win over the Cardinals on Friday to kick off the clubs’ three-game series at Wrigley Field.

The Cubs got to Cardinals starter Mike Leake for four tallies in the game’s opening frame, which featured a walk, two wild pitches, and four hits. Arrieta, in contrast, seemingly suffered no control or command issues like his counterpart, as Arrieta logged seven shutout innings and punched out ten Cardinals.

After throwing 99 pitches, Arrieta was removed from the game to begin the eighth inning in favor of Pedro Strop, who was making his first appearance since suffering a left meniscus tear in early August. Strop issued a walk and struck out a batter in what was his first inning in over a month.

Game Two: Cardinals 10, Cubs 4 — WP: Alex Reyes (4-1) LP: Jason Hammel (15-10)

A day after being shut down by Jake Arrieta and the Cubs’ bullpen, the Cardinals erupted for ten runs in the series’ second game, evening the series at a game apiece with a 10-4 victory on Saturday at Wrigley Field.

Similar to the Cubs and opposing hurler Mike Leake on Friday, the Cardinals plated four runs in the top of the first off Cubs starter Jason Hammel, who saw his earned run average balloon to 3.83 by allowing six runs before pulled with one out in the third inning.

Cardinals starter Alex Reyes actually saw his ERA rise, too, as the Cubs managed three runs off the young right-hander through five innings; nevertheless, his 1.58 mark through 40 big-league frames — including four starts — is not a metric that would cause heads to shake in negative response.

The Cardinals received a big four-RBI day from catcher Yadier Molina, who, by going 3-for-4 on Saturday, was batting an even .300 entering Sunday’s rubber game.

Game Three: Cubs 3, Cardinals 1 — WP: Jon Lester (19-4) LP: Carlos Martinez (15-9) SV: Aroldis Chapman (36)

For the second time in less than two weeks, Jon Lester and Carlos Martinez squared off in the rubber game of a three-game series between the Cubs and Cardinals. And for the second time in two weeks, Lester and the Cubs came away winners, as Chicago, offensively supported by catchers David Ross and Wilson Contreras and shortstop Addison Russel, took Sunday night’s matchup at Wrigley Field, 3-1.

Lester, who pitched eight scoreless innings against Martinez and the Cardinals on September 14, was tagged for just a run by the Cardinals in his otherwise blemish-free outing, one that lowered his ERA from 2.36 to 2.28.

In the batter’s box, the Cubs saw Ross delight the Wrigley Field faithful with his tenth home run of the season, a 413-foot blast that broke a scoreless tie in the fifth frame. Ross announced earlier this year that this season is his last, and the 39-year-old backstop is making the most of his limited opportunities, especially so in the power department, as, for the first time since 2007, Ross’ home run count is represented by a double-digit number.

The Cubs went on to score the eventual game-winning run in the sixth inning on Russel’s 94th run batted in of the year and got an insurance tally from Contreras, who picked up his 33rd.

As for Martinez, recipient of his ninth loss in 24 decisions this season, his nineteenth quality start of the year for the Cardinals proved to be too little of an effort, despite dealing with a baserunner in five of his six frames yet only surrendering a couple of runs.

What’s next?

Cardinals: The Cardinals will return to Busch Stadium in St. Louis to begin their final homestand of the regular season with a four-game date against the Reds. The Cardinals currently sit a half-game out of the National League’s second Wild Card spot and have to take advantage of the struggling Reds before the half-game deficit becomes insurmountable.

Cubs: By picking up their 99th win on Sunday, the 100-win plateau is definitely on the Cubs’ radar as the regular season dwindles down, and the team will look to achieve and surpass the feat as they play four games at PNC Park with the Pirates over the week.

Series Preview 9/23-25: Cardinals @ Cubs

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Photo is credited to Getty Images.

The Cardinals and Cubs will play three games at Wrigley Field this weekend in a series that is their last of the regular season.

The Cubs have had the National League Central Division crown to their credit for over a week now; on the other hand, the Cardinals are fighting for one of two National League Wild Card spots. With wins over the Padres and Phillies on Thursday, respectively, the Giants and Mets remain tied atop the Wild Card standings, while the Cardinals find themselves a half-game behind them.

In the first game of the series – the final Friday matinee at Wrigley Field this season – Jake Arrieta will pitch for the Cubs. Arrieta has allowed eight earned runs over his last three starts against the Giants, Astros, and Brewers, which have equaled 17.1 innings. Though he won the National League Cy Young Award last season and is managing numbers worthy of high recognition again this year, Arrieta is statistically not even the best starter in his rotation; in fact, Arrieta’s season ERA of 2.96 and WHIP of 1.06 are third and fourth among the Cubs’ starting pitchers this season.

The Cardinals will send Mike Leake to the mound. Leake will be making his fourth start since recovering from shingles. In the three starts he has made, Leake has managed two quality outings, including three earned runs over six innings against the same Cubs that he’s assigned to deal with on Friday.

In the middle game of the series, Jason Hammel will start for the Cubs. Hammel is 3-4 with a 5.84 ERA over his last seven starts, but he looked pretty sharp in his most recent outing, as he held the Reds to two earned runs over seven innings and whiffed six.

Hammel’s counterpart for the second game of the three-game series at Wrigley Field will be Alex Reyes. Reyes, with seven scoreless innings over the Giants on Sunday, September 18, lowered his ERA to 1.03 in his 35 Major League innings since being promoted in early August. In the Cardinals’ rotation, Reyes is taking the place of Jaime Garcia, who was moved to the bullpen and serves as a long reliever.

Sunday’s series finale will be played at night and feature lefty Jon Lester for the Cubs. Lester was absolutely splendid in his start against the Cardinals on Wednesday, September 14, one where he shut the Cardinals out to three hits over eight innings and whiffed just as many. Over his last seven starters, Lester is 6-0 with a minuscule 0.72 ERA and 0.79 WHIP.

Carlos Martinez will take the mound for the Cardinals in opposition of Lester. Martinez has whiffed fifteen batters over his last eleven innings, including nine Cubs on September 14, although he allowed four earned runs in that game and two in his start against the Rockies that followed.

September UCB Project: My Top Seven Prospects

Ahh, Minor League Baseball: Drama, anticipation, inspiring stories, raw talent, 19-year-old athletes who can throw 100 MPH, and other 19-year-old athletes that can blast 400-foot homeruns. Baseball is a kid’s game, after all, and perhaps that’s why checking out prospects is so intriguing.

Every September, the United Cardinal Bloggers write about their favorite seven prospects in the Cardinals’ farm system. As I began preparing for this story, I effortlessly brainstormed 20 people to possibly include, but I managed to narrow that number down to seven for this list, which I have crafted in no particular order. For the record, I have decided to leave Alex Reyes, Luke Weaver, Carson Kelly, Sam Tuivailala, and Jose Martinez off of my list, simply because they’ve already debuted at the Major League level.

So, without further ado, enjoy!

~

Ryan Helsley, Pitcher

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Photo is credited to MILB.com.

Right-hander Ryan Helsley put up big numbers as a member of the Peoria Chiefs’ starting rotation in 2016. In seventeen games and starts as a Chief, the 22-year-old Helsley went 10-2 with a 1.61 ERA and 109:19 strikeout-to-walk ratio across 95 innings of work.

In particular, Helsley stands out because of the vast improvements he has made since drafted in 2015. Helsley, who was drafted without any real polished offspeed pitches, was able to make hay in the whiff department this year by tooling with his changeup, a pitch that was buried in his arsenal as a draft pick but far less superior than his hard-thrown fastball when it came to garnering swings and misses.

Magneuris Sierra, Outfielder

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Photo is credited to MILB.com.

After an overall poor 2015 campaign, speedy outfielder Magneuris Sierra spun things around at the tail end of last year and performed very well as the primary center fielder for the Chiefs this summer. Sierra made some dazzling defensive plays and showed plenty of range, but the most prominent takeaway from this year is his bat.

A meager .191 batting mark transpired over 51 games at the Class-A level for Sierra last year, and that forced a demotion to Johnson City, where he seemed to get back on track to close out 2015. In turn, Sierra batted .307 this year in 122 games as a Chief, and, in correlation to the raised batting mark, his on-base percentage jumped up over 30 points to .335, allowing the 20-year-old to successfully steal 31 bases.

Junior Fernandez, Pitcher

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Photo is credited to MILB.com.

Although the numbers aren’t great, 19-year-old Junior Fernandez had a pretty solid year as a starting pitcher for the Chiefs and Palm Beach Cardinals in 2016.

Fernandez appeared in 24 games (20 starts) between the two levels this season and went 8-8 with an ERA of 4.06. Fernandez was only tagged for seven home runs in his 122 innings of work, but, in theory, the number of runs he allowed (66) came as a result of a high WHIP (1.42), more specifically many walks. Pitching to a less-than-mediocre K/BB ratio of 88:54, Fernandez experienced many deep counts as result of his slider, a developing pitch that the fiery right-handed hurler adopted due to his lack of an effective curveball to mingle with his mid-90s fastball and deceptive changeup. Several of those deep counts turned into walks and trouble for the developing, yet promising young pitcher, who will have to embrace the natural tilt of his work-in-progress slider to morph it into a proficient third pitch.

Harrison Bader, Outfielder

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Photo is credited to the Springfield Cardinals.

If a 22-year-old completely bypasses the High-A level and needs just over 70 games to force a promotion to the Triple-A club, it’d be fair to say they are special.

Harrison Bader is special.

Drafted in the third round of The 2015 First-Year Player Draft, Bader smashed thirteen home runs in 73 games with the Double-A Springfield Cardinals to force a promotion to the Memphis Redbirds by early July of this year. Although we saw Bader’s power numbers dip — only three home runs in 49 games as a Redbird — Bader still managed to swat nineteen bombs in 465 at-bats last year, as he played nine games at Springfield to close out the season and picked up right where he’d left off. The bat’s obviously there, but I seldom forget to appreciate Bader’s fine defense and speed, too.

Bader’s speed presents unique versatility in the outfield because it gives him a big boost in either of the corner positions and allows him to patrol center field very effectively. His speed has only translated into 30 stolen bases in 49 chances in his Minor League career, but his extra-base hit total — 24, not including his home runs — and so-so on-base percentage (.335) still prompted Bader to score 70 runs in 2016.

Austin Gomber, Pitcher

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Photo is credited to the Springfield Cardinals FANatic Photos.

I feel that many have not fully appreciated Austin Gomber, but perhaps his second consecutive season with an ERA under 2.70 and a strikeout count that has reached well above 100 both years will begin to correct the narrative.

In seventeen and four games and starts at the High-A and Double-A levels this year respectively, the 23-year-old lefty pitched to a 2.69 ERA and managed a very sturdy WHIP of 1.06. The 21 total starts totaled 127 innings, during which Gomber pitched to a 116:33 K/BB ratio. Gomber’s pitch arsenal is based around a low-90s fastball, one that is complemented quite well by a tight slider and easy-going changeup.

With Alex Reyes and Luke Weaver pretty well stealing the Cardinals’ Minor League show over the last couple of years, guys like Gomber — who weren’t drafted in the first or second round — find themselves set aside. Nonetheless, it’s getting difficult to disregard what Gomber has done in his first two full seasons in the organization, especially since both seasons were very solid.

Darren Seferina, Second baseman

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Photo is credited to the Midwest League Traveler. (This was taken in 2015, when Seferina was a Peoria Chief.)

Though his season was cut to 70 games due to injury, Palm Beach second baseman Darren Seferina put up some flattering numbers in his playing time this year.

The 22-year-old Seferina robbed a whopping 32 bases in 38 attempts this season, upping his total to 75 stolen bases in 103 attempts across 228 games as a member of the Cardinals’ organization. Wow.

If there is one thing this Major League squad lacks, it’s speed. And though I’m not suggesting Seferina will reach the big-league plateau soon, seeing such a high stolen base rate — even in the minors — in this organization is certainly something worth gawking at.

Ryan Sherriff, Pitcher

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Photo is credited to the LA Times.

A 2.84 ERA in 49 relief appearances at the Triple-A level should open the eyes of many. Everyone, please meet Ryan Sherriff.

The 26-year-old left-handed Sherriff, who was a Triple-A All-Star this season, pitched to those numbers as a member of the Redbirds’ bullpen, and he did so by basically always using his sinker.

Though he lacks any Major League time, a year like Sherriff’s in 2016 will certainly put him in conversation for an invitation to spring training, and, assuming the Major League bullpen isn’t heavily altered and rebuilt over the winter, Sherriff very well may contend for a spot on the Opening Day roster, considering the logical assumption that he could be just as effective from the left side as Dean Kiekhefer and induce groundballs like Matt Bowman and Seth Maness. 

 

 

 

Series Summary 9/19-21: Cardinals @ Rockies

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Photo is credited to Getty Images.

On Wednesday, the Cardinals and Rockies wrapped up a three-game series at Coors Field, one that accounted for the teams’ final meeting of the regular season.

The Cardinals find themselves a half-game out of the National League Wild Card race that currently features a tie for the first Wild Card spot between the Giants and Mets. The Giants and Mets both play on Wednesday night and on Thursday, whereas the Cardinals will be catching a bit of a break as we transition into the second-to-last weekend of the regular season.

Game One: Cardinals 5, Rockies 3 — WP: Carlos Martinez (15-8) LP: Tyler Anderson (5-6) SV: Kevin Siegrist (3)

A two-run double off the bat of Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez led St. Louis to a 5-3 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field on Monday in the first game of the three-game series.

Martinez legged out his first double of the season to plate two runners in the top of the fourth inning, one that put the Cardinals ahead in the game for good. Martinez’s two-bagger followed a two-run homer by Randal Grichuk the inning before that opened up the scoring for St. Louis.

After logging five innings, Martinez was pulled from the game in favor of Matt Bowman, Zach Duke, Dean Kiekhefer, Jonathan Broxton, and Kevin Siegrist, respectively. The five relievers combined to allow just one run on three hits over the game’s final four innings.

Game Two: Cardinals 10, Rockies 5 — WP: Adam Wainwright (12-9) LP: Jorge De La Rosa (8-9)

With four RBIs on the night, Cardinals hurler Adam Wainwright fueled a 10-5 victory for St. Louis over the Rockies on Tuesday night at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado.

Wainwright, who surrendered four runs in 5.1 innings of work on the mound, lined a two-RBI double to cap off the first of the Cardinals’ three crooked-number innings in the middle game of the series. Wainwright played a role in his team’s three-run fifth, as the right-handed pitcher collected his seventeenth and eighteenth RBIs of the year with a single up the middle.

In what was likely his final start at Coors Field as a member of the home team, Rockies starter and impending free agent Jorge De La Rosa allowed eight runs (seven earned) and punched out eight over 4.2 innings. De La Rosa has been a member of the Rockies since the 2008 season and has managed a pair of sixteen-win seasons in his tenure in Denver.

Game Three: Rockies 11, Cardinals 1 — WP: German Marquez (1-0) LP: Luke Weaver (1-4)

After being held to a total of eight runs in the first two games of the series, the Rockies impounded Cardinals pitching in Wednesday’s series finale, stomping St. Louis for an 11-1 win to deny the Cardinals of a series sweep.

Colorado did quite a bit of damage to Cardinals starter Luke Weaver, who saw his ERA balloon from 3.21 to 4.54 in his clunker of an outing on Wednesday. The Rockies pounded the rookie right-hander for six runs through two innings, during which Weaver administered over 40 pitches.

A rookie himself, Rockies starter German Marquez fared much better than Weaver did on Wednesday, as Marquez — who was appearing in his fourth Major League game and making his first start — held the Cardinals to one run on four hits through five innings, enough to pick up the win.

The Rockies’ big day was ignited by third baseman Nolan Arenado, who went 2-for-3 with a grand slam, his National League-leading 39th home run of the season. Perhaps Arenado was due to have a fine day at the dish, considering the fact that the All-Star went just 2-for-9 with four strikeouts in the first two games.

What’s next?

Cardinals: After an off day on Thursday, the Cardinals will begin a three-game series at Wrigley Field against the Chicago Cubs on Friday afternoon. This series will serve as the Cardinals’ final road series of the regular season and the Cubs’ last home series until the postseason.

Rockies: Following their win on Wednesday, the Rockies will commute to Hollywood for a four-game series with the Dodgers that will commence on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.

Series Preview 9/19-21: Cardinals @ Rockies

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Photo is credited to Getty Images.

On Monday evening, the Cardinals will begin a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver, the clubs’ final meeting of the regular season.

The Cardinals are coming off a split of their recent four-game series at AT&T Park with the Giants, one that helped them maintain a sturdy position in the National League Wild Card race as the regular season dwindles down. Entering play on Monday, the Cardinals are one game out of the second Wild Card spot that is currently held by the Giants and two games out of the first spot that’s captained by the Mets.

In the first game of the series, left-hander Tyler Anderson will take the ball for the Rockies. Over his last two starts, Anderson has allowed seven earned runs, including five in 4.1 innings against the Diamondbacks on September 12. As a whole this season, the 26-year-old’s rookie year, Anderson is 5-5 with 91 punchouts and a 3.65 earned run average over 101 innings.

Taking the mound opposite of Anderson will be Carlos Martinez. Martinez is 4-1 with a 2.74 ERA over his last seven starts, six of which have been quality. The only start not considered quality came in his most recent outing against the Chicago Cubs on September 14, one where Martinez allowed four earned runs through six innings, including two home runs. This season as a whole, Martinez has surrendered fourteen homeruns in 177.1 innings.

Jorge De La Rosa will take the ball for the Rockies in the middle game of the three-game series at Coors Field. De La Rosa has been rocked for ten earned runs over his last couple of starts, and the subpar performance can be linked to his increased walk rate/ over his 14.1 innings, De La Rosa has issued nine walks.

The Cardinals are expected to go with Adam Wainwright. Wainwright has pitched beyond the sixth inning in just four of his nine starts dating back to August 2 and allowed fewer than four earned runs in four of them. In the span, the right-handed Wainwright is 2-4 with a 5.48 ERA.

The series finale will take place on Wednesday afternoon and should feature 21-year-old German Marquez on the hill for the Rockies. Marquez has made three relief appearances in his Major League career thus far, including his two latest, which were scoreless. Marquez was tagged fir three earned runs in his big-league debut on September 8, when the Padres did some damage off the young right-handed hurler in his 2.1 innings.

Taking the mound for the Cardinals is expected to be Luke Weaver. Weaver, after breezing through two innings, was removed from his start on Friday against the Giants with two outs in the third after being charged with six runs, none of which were earned. An error paved the way to six Giants runs and ultimately his third loss in four decisions thus far. In his seven starts at the Major League level, Weaver has pitched to a 3.21 ERA and posted a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 43:10.

Series Summary 9/15-18: Cardinals @ Giants

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Photo is credited to Getty Images.

On Sunday afternoon, the Cardinals and Giants wrapped up a four-game series at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California.

The Cardinals, who won two of the four games, sit one game behind the Giants for the second National League Wild Card spot and two out of the first spot held by the Mets, who capped off a three-game-series sweep of the Twins with a 3-2 victory on Sunday.

Game One: Giants 6, Cardinals 3 — WP: Johnny Cueto (16-5) LP: Adam Wainwright (11-9)

Johnny Cueto’s fifth complete game of the season and a trio of two-run frames lifted the Giants over the Cardinals at AT&T Park on Thursday night, 6-2.

Cueto’s five complete games this season are the most for any National League starting pitcher and second most in the sport, trailing only Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox, who has twirled seven. On the flipside, the Giants were able to score four runs off Adam Wainwright and two off Zach Duke.

Hunter Pence crushed a two-run homer, his twelfth of the season, Denard Span drove in a pair, and Angel Pagan and Cueto each batted in a run.

Game Two: Giants 8, Cardinals 2 — WP: Matt Moore (4-4) LP: Luke Weaver (1-3)

A six-run third inning fueled by a costly throwing error, four hits, and four walks powered the Giants to an 8-2 victory over the Cardinals in the second game of the four-game series at AT&T Park on Friday.

After Denard Span drew a walk with one out, Yadier Molina committed a throwing error — his second of the season — that allowed the batter, pitcher Matt Moore, to reach and Span to take second base. Angel Pagan walked to load the bases, and Span scored on Joe Panik’s sacrifice fly to open up the scoring. Buster Posey, Hunter Pence, Brandon Belt, and Brandon Crawford followed with four straight hits, as San Francisco knocked Cardinals starter Luke Weaver out of the game and put a six in their half of the run column.

Moore, who allowed two runs on seven hits, was pulled after completing the fifth inning, preceding four hitless innings from the Giants’ bullpen:

Game Three: Cardinals 3, Giants 2 — WP: Seung Hwan Oh (5-3) LP: Santiago Casilla (2-5)

Trailing by one run in the ninth inning of pivotal game, the Cardinals manufactured two runs off Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla to take Saturday night’s ballgame from the Giants at AT&T Park, 3-2.

With one down, Jedd Gyorko singled, ending Romo’s outing, and Yadier Molina drew a walk from Casilla, who followed Romo. Gyorko and Molina were pinch-ran for by Tommy Pham and Jose Martinez, respectively, and the speed of Pham and Martinez was displayed not long after, as Pham stole second base and scored on a Randal Grichuk single to account for the game’s tying run, allowing Martinez to take third base and later score on a sacrifice fly from Kolten Wong.

For the Cardinals, it’s their twelfth win this season when trailing after seven innings and a critical victory in the sense that it kept them very much in the thick of the National League Wild Card race, as the Mets were victorious on Saturday, implementing that a win for the Cardinals was all but necessary.

Game Four: Cardinals 3, Giants 0 — WP: Alex Reyes (3-1) LP: Albert Suarez (3-4) SV: Seung Hwan Oh (18)

It was a pair of rookies who paved the path to a 3-0 Cardinals win in Sunday’s series finale at AT&T Park against the Giants, a win that allowed the Cardinals to split the teams’ four-game series.

With the win, the Cardinals pulled to within one game of the second National League Wild Card spot, now held by Giants, and two within the first, captained by the Mets.

Starting pitcher Alex Reyes lead the way with seven shutout innings, lowering his earned run average to 1.03 through 35 career innings. Reyes, though he only threw 84 pitches, was able to escape many jams, including a bases-loaded jam in the sixth. With the bat, shortstop Aledmys Diaz did the bulk of the damage by way of a two-run homer in the third, his sixteenth of the season and second since returning from the disabled list.

What’s next?

Cardinals: The Cardinals will continue their three-city roadtrip with a stop in Denver, Colorado, to play three games with the Rockies. On the outskirts of a National League Wild Card spot, the Cardinals will look to use their significant power to the upmost advantage in this series at Coors Field, the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the majors.

Giants: The Giants will pay a visit to Dodger Stadium in Hollywood for a three-game date with the Dodgers, who own a five-game lead in the National League West division over the Giants. This series is expected to feature three splendid pitching matchups, and the best will come in the form of Madison Bumgarner versus Clayton Kershaw in the series opener on Monday night.