Pujols sits as Cardinals finish season with 5-3 loss to Pirates

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

PITTSBURGH – Miguel Andujar had three hits, Diego Castillo added two and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the playoff-bound St. Louis Cardinals 5-3 on Wednesday in the regular season finale.

Kevin Newman, Rodolfo Castro and Ji Hwan Bae drove in runs for Pittsburgh. Manny Banuelos (2-1) picked up the win in relief and Johan Ramirez worked the ninth for his second save of the season – first with the Pirates.

Pittsburgh finished 62-100, a one-victory improvement over 2021. This is the first time since the 1950s that the Pirates have posted consecutive 100-loss seasons.

St. Louis finished 93-69, a three-game improvement from 2021 (90-72), while cruising to its first NL Central title since 2019. The Cardinals reached the playoffs for the fourth straight year and will host Philadelphia in the best-of-three wild-card round starting on Friday at Busch Stadium.

Tommy Edman had three of St. Louis’ eight hits. Matthew Liberatore (2-2), recalled from Triple-A Memphis earlier in the day, took the loss after allowing five runs in five innings.

The Cardinals gave Albert Pujols the day off to rest up for the playoffs. Pujols finished his 22-year career with 703 home runs (fourth all-time), 2,218 RBIs (second all-time), 6,211 total bases (second all-time) and 3,384 hits (10th-all-time).

St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina, who like Pujols is retiring, lined out to second as a pinch hitter in the seventh in his 2,224th and final regular season game.

The Cardinals took a 3-0 lead in the third on Edman’s RBI-double but the Pirates jumped ahead with a four-run fourth that started with a double by Andujar, brought over from the New York Yankees earlier this month.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: Activated RHP Jordan Hicks off the injured list after he missed 18 games with right arm fatigue. Hicks allowed two hits in a scoreless sixth inning.

Pirates: C Roberto Perez, who missed most of the season with a hamstring injury, is expected to be cleared to return to baseball activities on Nov. 4. Perez will be a free agent this winter but has said he wants to return to Pittsburgh.

ATTENDANCE DIP

The first regular-season finale since 2007 between the two longtime division rivals brought 15,319 to PNC Park. The Pirates averaged 15,524 fans in 81 home dates this season, down from 18,412 in 2019, the last full season that did not have COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

UP NEXT

St. Louis: will try to advance in the playoffs for the first time since 2019, when they reached the NL Championship Series before getting swept by Washington.

Pittsburgh: Start Grapefruit League play on Feb. 25 against Toronto.

Bonds, Clemens left out of Hall again; McGriff elected

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
9 Comments

SAN DIEGO – Moments after Fred McGriff was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, almost two decades after his final game, he got the question.

Asked if Barry Bonds belonged in Cooperstown, a smiling McGriff responded: “Honestly, right now, I’m going to just enjoy this evening.”

A Hall of Fame committee delivered its answer Sunday, passing over Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling while handing McGriff the biggest honor of his impressive big league career.

The lanky first baseman, nicknamed the “Crime Dog,” hit .284 with 493 homers and 1,550 RBIs over 19 seasons with six major league teams. The five-time All-Star helped Atlanta win the 1995 World Series.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot in 2019. Now, he will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the writers’ vote, announced Jan. 24.

“It’s all good. It’s been well worth the wait,” said McGriff, who played his last big league game in 2004.

It was the first time that Bonds, Clemens and Schilling had faced a Hall committee since their 10th and final appearances on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. Bonds and Clemens have been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, and support for Schilling dropped after he made hateful remarks toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

While the 59-year-old McGriff received unanimous support from the 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee – comprised of Hall members, executives and writers – Schilling got seven votes, and Bonds and Clemens each received fewer than four.

The makeup of the committee likely will change over the years, but the vote was another indication that Bonds and Clemens might never make it to the Hall.

This year’s contemporary era panel included Greg Maddux, who played with McGriff on the Braves, along with Paul Beeston, who was an executive with Toronto when McGriff made his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 1986.

Another ex-Brave, Chipper Jones, was expected to be part of the committee, but he tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by Arizona Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall.

The contemporary era committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A player needs 75% to be elected.

“It’s tough deciding on who to vote for and who not to vote for and so forth,” McGriff said. “So it’s a great honor to be unanimously voted in.”

In addition to all his big hits and memorable plays, one of McGriff’s enduring legacies is his connection to a baseball skills video from youth coach Tom Emanski. The slugger appeared in a commercial for the product that aired regularly during the late 1990s and early 2000s – wearing a blue Baseball World shirt and hat.

McGriff said he has never seen the video.

“Come Cooperstown, I’ve got to wear my blue hat,” a grinning McGriff said. “My Tom Emanski hat in Cooperstown. See that video is going to make a revival now, it’s going to come back.”

Hall of Famers Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also served on this year’s committee, which met in San Diego at baseball’s winter meetings.

Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy rounded out the eight-man ballot. Mattingly was next closest to election, with eight votes of 12 required. Murphy had six.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their final chances with the BBWAA. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs, and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) on the 2021 BBWAA ballot. The right-hander went 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA in 20 seasons, winning the World Series with Arizona in 2001 and Boston in 2004 and 2007.

Theo Epstein, who also served on the contemporary era committee, was the GM in Boston when the Red Sox acquired Schilling in a trade with the Diamondbacks in November 2003.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.