Things got testy in Friday afternoon’s game between the Cardinals and Cubs. Cubs starter Dan Haren hit Matt Holliday in the head with a fastball, forcing the outfielder from the game in the fifth inning. Both benches were promptly warned by home plate umpire Dan Bellino. Nevertheless, Cardinals reliever Matt Belisle attempted to exact revenge in the seventh, throwing a fastball at first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Belisle was tossed from the game.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon wasn’t happy about the Cardinals’ attempt to get revenge. He defended Haren, saying his pitch to Holliday was “an absolute mistake” and that there was “no malicious intent whatsoever”.
Following that, he criticized the book of unwritten rules that the Cardinals purport to follow. Maddon said, “I never read that particular book that the Cardinals wrote way back in the day. I was a big Branch Rickey fan, but I never read that this book that the Cardinals had written regarding how to play baseball.”
Maddon was saying that in reference to the Cardinals playing their first baseman behind Chris Denorfia, who had walked and was on first base with one out in the bottom of the eighth with the Cubs leading by five runs. He threatened that, in the future, he would have his runner steal second base. According to the book of unwritten rules, teams shouldn’t take advantage of that situation given their lead. But, as Maddon explained, playing for an extra run would help them in the next inning as it would prevent them from having to warm up closer Hector Rondon.
Maddon also said about the Cubs, “We don’t start stuff, but we will stop stuff.” Here’s video from the Chicago Daily Herald:
It didn’t seem like it took long for the Cubs/Cardinals rivalry to heat up again. Following Friday’s win, the Cubs are 86-61, six games behind the first-place Cardinals in the NL Central. The Cubs trail the Pirates by 1.5 games for the first NL Wild Card slot.
St. Louis’ injury wrecked outfield is now a little healthier, as the Cardinals activated center fielder Jon Jay from the disabled list after he missed the past two months with a wrist injury.
Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk remain on the disabled list, but the Cardinals can now use Jay in center field flanked by Jason Heyward and Stephen Piscotty in the corners. Brandon Moss figures to see more of his time at first base.
Jay hit just .223 with one homer and a .576 OPS in 57 games before the injury, but from 2010-2014 he had a combined .295 batting average and .755 OPS in 678 games.
St. Louis has kept rolling along to the best record in baseball despite an assortment of injuries to key players, but the Cardinals would sure like to have All-Star left fielder Matt Holliday available for the playoffs.
Holliday, who’s been on the disabled list since late July with a right quadriceps strain, felt good enough to take live batting practice Tuesday at Busch Stadium. By all reports his bat looked just fine, but Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that he’s not close to running at full strength yet and the plan is to hold off on activating him until that’s no longer an issue.
There’s no timetable for his return and the Cardinals can certainly afford to be patient with his recovery timetable, but for now at least Holliday seems optimistic about being fully healthy for October.
Good news here for the Cardinals, who began Monday’s action with a 3 1/2 game lead over the Pirates in the National League Central.
Adams has been out since May 26 with a full tear of his right quad. The injury required surgery and was originally expected to end his season, but he began ramping up baseball activities earlier this month. He could begin a minor league rehab assignment as soon as Tuesday.
With the injuries to Adams and Matt Holliday, the Cardinals acquired Brandon Moss from the Indians before the trade deadline. The 31-year-old has batted just .170 with zero homers and a .491 OPS over 54 plate appearances while splitting time between first base and left field. Adams disappointed to the tune of a .243/.281/.375 batting line over 43 games prior to the injury, but his return could give Matheny an appealing alternative.
Randal Grichuk, whose emergence in the Cardinals’ lineup came as an injury replacement for Matt Holliday, is now headed to the disabled list with a strained elbow.
Grichuk has been fantastic for St. Louis–first replacing Holliday in left field and recently stepping in as the primary center fielder–hitting .284 with 15 homers and an .894 OPS in 85 games as a 23-year-old rookie.
He joins Holliday and Jon Jay on the disabled list, so the Cardinals figure to stick with Stephen Piscotty in left field and turn back to Peter Bourjos in center field, with Triple-A call-up Tommy Phan arriving to provide depth. Jason Heyward playing center field is also an option.