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Bader (3 hits) paces Cards' 8th straight W

Center fielder makes outstanding catch, picks up RBI, run scored
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- It was not a white flag they were waving, but rather a spark the Cardinals were seeking when the organization made the surprising decision to part ways with their Opening Day center fielder last month.

Tommy Pham's exit offered Harrison Bader an entrance, as well as a stage to showcase the sort of skill set the Cardinals haven't flashed in years. Given the chance to prove himself worthy of regular playing time, Bader has run with the opportunity.

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ST. LOUIS -- It was not a white flag they were waving, but rather a spark the Cardinals were seeking when the organization made the surprising decision to part ways with their Opening Day center fielder last month.

Tommy Pham's exit offered Harrison Bader an entrance, as well as a stage to showcase the sort of skill set the Cardinals haven't flashed in years. Given the chance to prove himself worthy of regular playing time, Bader has run with the opportunity.

View Full Game Coverage

Literally.

Showcasing his elite speed to save one run and add another, Bader's fingerprints -- or, perhaps more accurately, his footsteps -- were all over the Cardinals' 4-2 win against the Nationals on Wednesday.

"He's just such a high energy player," said Matt Carpenter, who dodged an injury when X-rays of his bruised right hand came back negative. "He can ignite an offense. He can ignite a defense. He can ignite a pitching staff with his play. You see like what Billy Hamilton can be, we think Harrison Bader can be and is that same guy."

The victory ran the Cardinals' winning streak to eight games and assured the club a sixth straight series win, the franchise's longest such streak in four years. The Cards remain a game back of the Brewers and Phillies in the National League Wild Card race and four games behind the Cubs in the NL Central.

They are 11 games over .500 for the first time since 2015.

"We've known all year that we were capable of playing this type of baseball," Bader said. "Everything is just rolling together and we're trying to preserve that as best we can for these final games."

Situated second on the center-field depth chart until the Cardinals decided to move on from Pham two weeks ago, Bader made an impact in the air and on the ground Wednesday.

He added another defensive gem to his growing list when he laid out to rob Bryce Harper of a hit in the fourth inning by covering 68 feet in 4.2 seconds, according to Statcast™. With a 55-percent catch probability, it was Bader's 26th catch of at least three stars this season.

"Unbelievable," said starter Austin Gomber. "Obviously, I feel like he's making one of those a game for me, but he's making them for everybody."

"He's the best outfielder I've ever played with," added Carpenter.

Bader, not nearly as impressed, shrugged off the praise.

"Not to sound cocky or anything like that, but off the bat, I just knew I had it," he said. "The dive was just to level my eyes because I was running for a while. It was just another one."

That out was key, though, as was the one Gomber notched shortly afterward with a bases-loaded strikeout to preserve a 1-0 lead. Gomber went on to finish six scoreless innings.

Video: WSH@STL: Gomber fans 6 in 6 scoreless frames

"We're just trying to pass the ball on," Gomber said. "You don't want to be the guy that loses it, so just go out there and try to be better than the guy before you."

As for Bader, he pestered the Nationals all night. Bader opened the fifth with a double, hustled to third on Gomber's sacrifice bunt and dove into home safely on a wild pitch. In his next at-bat, Bader drove in a run.

Video: WSH@STL: Bader dives to the plate after a wild pitch

Over the last six games, Bader has six RBIs and three multi-hit efforts.

"Like I've always said, you're not going to hit a home run every time. You're not going to get a hit every time," Bader said. "But if there's a way to apply pressure on the basepaths, good things are going to happen."

Video: WSH@STL: Bader drives in Wong with an RBI single

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gomber escapes trouble: Gomber maneuvered his way through a messy top of the fourth not only with an assist from Bader, but also by freezing Michael A. Taylor on an 0-2 fastball. The strikeout followed a two-out, eight-pitch walk to Daniel Murphy, and it stranded the bases loaded in a one-run game.

"Murphy has done a lot of good things in the league, and I just felt like I wasn't going to give in to him," Gomber said. "If I got him to chase, I got him to chase. The first thing that [catcher] Yadi [Molina] said when he came out there was, 'All right, this was our guy.' And we were able to get him."

Four of Gomber's season-high six strikeouts came with a runner in scoring position.

"I just think it speaks to his confidence and his competitive spirit," Cardinals interim manager Mike Shildt said. "He just continued to make good pitches and stayed aggressive and made quality pitches."

Other defensive standouts: Bader wasn't alone in dotting the highlight reel with defensive gems. For the second consecutive night, Jedd Gyorko robbed Trea Turner of a hit, this time with a leaping grab to snare a high chopper.

Video: WSH@STL: Gyorko makes a leaping stop on a chopper

In the eighth, shortstop Paul DeJong left his feet to grab a 93.6 mph line drive from Juan Soto.

"Of course, the play Bader makes in center field is special," Shildt said. "But a lot of defensive plays were special tonight."

Video: WSH@STL: DeJong leaps up and snags a liner from Soto

SOUND SMART
Shildt's 19-9 start is the best by a Cardinals manager through his first 28 games. The club is a Major League-best 12-2 in August.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Ozuna snapped a string of 62 consecutive homerless plate appearances with his second-inning solo shot off Jeremy Hellickson. With an exit velocity of 113.8 mph, Ozuna's home run was the second-hardest by a Cardinals player since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015. Ozuna also owns the record (117.2 mph), as well as three of the four highest home run exit velocities for the club in the last four years. He has posted an average exit velocity of 107.9 mph on his 14 home runs this season.

Video: WSH@STL: Ozuna hooks a solo shot around the foul pole

"I thought in my mind that I hit it harder," Ozuna said afterward. "'Maybe 113 [mph]?' That's what I was thinking running the bases. When I go in the second inning and look up and ask the video guy, and he said 'Yeah, 113.8.' I was right."

HE SAID IT
"I was pleading my case to be ready to go tomorrow, and I told [head athletic trainer] Adam Olsen that if I can go in there and open a jar of salsa, I should be fine. … I was able to do it. I don't know if it necessarily has healing powers. But if I can open it, I can play." -- Carpenter, after X-rays on his bruised right hand came back negative

UP NEXT
The Cardinals moved Luke Weaver's start up to Thursday, when he'll close out the team's four-game series against the Nationals. Weaver, who was scratched from his last start due to a cut on his right index finger, will be pitching on eight days' rest. He'll be opposed by Tanner Roark in the 6:15 p.m. CT game at Busch Stadium.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

St. Louis Cardinals, Harrison Bader

Carp takes pitch off hand, exits; X-rays negative

First baseman expected back in lineup Thursday
MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- A Cardinals 4-2 victory Wednesday night appeared costly when Matt Carpenter exited in the seventh inning. Nationals reliever Matt Grace's 0-1 sinker hit the back of Carpenter's right hand, and the Cardinals removed him for precautionary reasons, according to the team, with Patrick Wisdom taking his place at first.

But there was relief after the game in the Cardinals' clubhouse. Carpenter is expected to be in interim manager Mike Shildt's Thursday lineup after X-rays were negative and a deciding strength test: opening a jar of his own fully-sealed salsa.

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ST. LOUIS -- A Cardinals 4-2 victory Wednesday night appeared costly when Matt Carpenter exited in the seventh inning. Nationals reliever Matt Grace's 0-1 sinker hit the back of Carpenter's right hand, and the Cardinals removed him for precautionary reasons, according to the team, with Patrick Wisdom taking his place at first.

But there was relief after the game in the Cardinals' clubhouse. Carpenter is expected to be in interim manager Mike Shildt's Thursday lineup after X-rays were negative and a deciding strength test: opening a jar of his own fully-sealed salsa.

View Full Game Coverage

"I was pleading my case to be ready to go tomorrow and I told [head athletic trainer] Adam Olsen that if I can go in there and open a jar of salsa, I should be fine," Carpenter said.

"This one was sealed, and I was able to do it. So I'm able to go."

Carpenter grimaced holding his hand walking to first. There were lace marks on the back of his palm, he said. He was worried considering the hand injury to shortstop Paul DeJong earlier this season. DeJong missed seven weeks after being hit on his left hand.

"The color of it, initially, that's what worried me," Carpenter said. "And as [athletic trainer] Chris Conroy was tugging on it, it didn't feel great. But I think that was just the initial kind of shock. Once I got in, that pain started to go down a little bit and the swelling started to go down."

Carpenter was wearing a pink pad to limit the inflammation in the clubhouse after the game.

Video: WSH@STL: Shildt discusses Carpenter's early exit

Carpenter is in the midst of a 33-game on-base streak while emerging as a serious National League MVP candidate. He was 0-for-2 with a walk before being hit.

Sean Collins is an associate reporter based in St. Louis.

St. Louis Cardinals, Matt Carpenter

Cards tweak rotation, flip Flaherty, Weaver

Rookie righty now set up to face Brewers in Milwaukee; Fowler's foot reexamined; Cecil activated, Webb optioned
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- Intrigued by the opportunity to have rookie Jack Flaherty start the opening game of a key weekend series against the Brewers, the Cardinals used their flexibility with Luke Weaver's schedule to realign their rotation plans.

Initially slated to start on Thursday, Flaherty will now go on Friday against a team that sits ahead of the Cardinals in both the National League Central and Wild Card races. Weaver moves up to take Thursday's start. He'll be pitching on eight days' rest after skipping a start on Sunday due to a cut on his right index finger.

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ST. LOUIS -- Intrigued by the opportunity to have rookie Jack Flaherty start the opening game of a key weekend series against the Brewers, the Cardinals used their flexibility with Luke Weaver's schedule to realign their rotation plans.

Initially slated to start on Thursday, Flaherty will now go on Friday against a team that sits ahead of the Cardinals in both the National League Central and Wild Card races. Weaver moves up to take Thursday's start. He'll be pitching on eight days' rest after skipping a start on Sunday due to a cut on his right index finger.

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"It serves a lot of purposes," interim manager Mike Shildt said of the swap. "[It's] so [Weaver] doesn't go so long. He's physically able to do it. Gives Jack an extra day. It just made sense across the board." And? "It happens to line up where Jack pitches against the Brewers."

There's reason for the Cardinals to pursue that matchup. Flaherty has struck out 22 batters and limited the Brewers to two earned runs on seven hits and three walks in 12 innings at Miller Park this year.

Video: STL@MIL: Flaherty K's 13, takes no-hitter into 7th

Fowler to stay the course
Team physician George Paletta examined Dexter Fowler's fractured left foot and recommended that Fowler continue with the rehab plan initially prescribed to him. That includes putting no weight on his foot for the rest of the month and then moving into a cast for a period of two to three weeks.

Based on those time frames, the best-case scenario is for Fowler to shed that boot with two weeks left in the season. The Cardinals have not yet made a determination about the likelihood of Fowler returning to play in 2018.

Webb optioned
The Cardinals swapped one lefty reliever for another on Wednesday by optioning Tyler Webb to Triple-A Memphis and activating Brett Cecil from the 10-day disabled list.

Webb made a strong impression during his first stint in St. Louis. He scattered six hits and did not allow a run in 7 2/3 innings. Webb will be back with the club when roster expands in September, if not sooner.

"Tyler did all that he needed to do to stay on this ballclub," Shildt said.

Video: STL@MIN: Cecil strikes out Kepler to escape a jam

Cecil returns following four scoreless rehab appearances. He has compiled a 5.70 ERA in 27 appearances with the Cards this season

Rehab roundup
In what could be their final test before heading out on rehab assignments, right-handers Carlos Martinez (right shoulder strain) and Michael Wacha (left oblique strain) threw off the mound at Busch Stadium on Wednesday.

Martinez, who will return from the DL as a reliever, is expected to start his rehab assignment before the end of the week. That sets him up to rejoin the club during next week's road trip.

Wacha's return isn't so imminent. He will need multiple rehab appearances in order to stretch out his arm to be able to carry a starter's workload. Wacha hasn't pitched since June 20.

Shildt said that Adam Wainwright is scheduled to throw another inning for Class A Advanced Palm Beach (Fla.) on Thursday. Wainwright, who has been sidelined by a right elbow injury since May, threw nine pitches in a rehab appearance on Monday and then completed his work by throwing 11 more pitches in the 'pen.

Reliever Dominic Leone made his sixth appearance for Memphis on Tuesday as he continues a rehab assignment with the Triple-A club. Leone walked one and struck out one in a scoreless inning.

Hall of Fame weekend
The Cardinals will induct three new members -- Ray Lankford, Vince Coleman and Harry Brecheen -- into their Hall of Fame on Saturday. The 3 p.m. CT ceremony at Ballpark Village will be open to the public, and admission is free on a first-come, first-served basis.

Guests can begin touring the Cardinals' Hall of Fame and Museum at 10 a.m., and Ballpark Village will open one hour later. Following the induction ceremony, the honorees will relocate to Busch Stadium, where they will be recognized during a pregame ceremony ahead of the 6:15 p.m. first pitch.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

St. Louis Cardinals, Jack Flaherty, Luke Weaver

Cecil credits Carpenter, new approach in return

O'Neill activated off DL; Garcia optioned to Triple-A
MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- Brett Cecil returns from the disabled list on Wednesday not only encouraged by how he feels physically, but also rejuvenated by a reworked mental approach that sprouted out of a recent conversation with Chris Carpenter.

Cecil said he sought out advice from Carpenter, who was in town during the team's last homestand as part of his role as special assistant to the president of baseball operations. The two spent most of their time taking about the mental side of pitching and the importance of focusing on the next pitch, instead of a previous one that didn't go as planned.

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ST. LOUIS -- Brett Cecil returns from the disabled list on Wednesday not only encouraged by how he feels physically, but also rejuvenated by a reworked mental approach that sprouted out of a recent conversation with Chris Carpenter.

Cecil said he sought out advice from Carpenter, who was in town during the team's last homestand as part of his role as special assistant to the president of baseball operations. The two spent most of their time taking about the mental side of pitching and the importance of focusing on the next pitch, instead of a previous one that didn't go as planned.

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It was an approach that Cecil was intentional about implementing during a rehab stint with Triple-A Memphis that concluded Sunday.

"I know they're Triple-A games, but at the same time, I've never really been able to slow the game down like I have the last four rehab outings," said Cecil, who did not allow a run with Memphis. "You don't really realize how important it is until you really do it. It's just a mental thought process of what you need to do to slow the game down, think a little bit clearer, focus on the right things."

Cecil hopes that changes, as well as a more aggressive strength and conditioning regimen, will help him be more successful as he comes off the DL for the second time this year. He'll re-enter a 'pen that has posted a 1.55 ERA in his absence. Cecil has a 5.70 ERA in 27 appearances this season.

"Honestly, the way this 'pen looks right now, I want meaningful innings, but at the same time, I don't want them," Cecil said. "Because if I'm getting meaningful innings, that means somebody has had a tough time. These guys are rolling right now, and I want them to keep going. I want to get in games wherever they need me and continue to work on this mental process that I'm doing."

Webb returns to Memphis

Left-handed reliever Tyler Webb was optioned to Triple-A Memphis following Tuesday's game in advance of Cecil's return. Webb pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings in six relief appearances for the Cardinals.

O'Neill activated

After a 10-day stint on the disabled list, outfielder Tyler O'Neill was activated prior to Tuesday's game. To create room on the roster, the Cardinals optioned Adolis Garcia to Triple-A. Garcia went 1-for-11 in five games (two starts) during his first big league stint.

Video: STL@KC: Garcia collects 1st career hit in Kansas City

Though O'Neill had been earmarked for everyday playing time at the time a groin injury sent him to the DL, he returns without that guarantee. Jose Martinez drew Tuesday's start in right field and will continue to split time in right with O'Neill.

Wacha on the mend

In addition to throwing off the mound, Michael Wacha is testing his healing left oblique by taking light swings and participating in fielding drills this week. "The early reports are encouraging," said Wacha, who added that, "the pain is gone.

"I didn't realize how much you needed your oblique for basically everything," Wacha said. "It was a struggle getting out of bed, getting off the couch, you feel it on everything, every breath, every sneeze, every cough. Once that went away after a couple weeks, it's been nice. I've been able to get in the weight room working out and getting strong. It's been feeling really good."

Wacha, who has been sidelined since June 21, will throw his fourth bullpen session of the month Wednesday or Thursday. Afterward, he'll be reevaluated to determine his readiness for a Minor League rehab assignment. The Cardinals plan to have Wacha make several Minor League appearances so he can build up to return as a starter.

Video: STL@PHI: Wacha exits in the 4th with oblique strain

Report card

Tuesday marked one month since the Cardinals handed over managerial duties to Shildt. Since replacing Mike Matheny, Shildt has led the club to 17 wins, tying him with Eddie Dyer (1946), Frankie Frisch (1933), Vernon Rapp (1977), Ray Blades (1939) and Rogers Hornsby (1925) for the most managerial wins through the first 26 games in franchise history.

But has the new position and increased public profile changed how he's noticed around town?

"I don't know. I don't go out," Shildt said. "I eat after the game. I go home. I sleep. I come back here. I suppose maybe one day I'll get out and people will recognize me. It may be a little awkward. I don't shun it, but I don't look at myself as any kind of public figure. It'd be kind of weird to think that's the case."

Worth noting

• Fox Sports Midwest will have its annual 'This One's For You' telecast Wednesday, during which FSM will interview members of the 35th Engineer Brigade of the Missouri Army National Guard deployed to the Middle East. Members of that brigade will watch the Cardinals game from Kuwait, and several of their family members and friends will be present at Busch Stadium.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

St. Louis Cardinals, Brett Cecil

Gant homers, earns Cards' 7th straight victory

MLB.com @LangoschMLB

ST. LOUIS -- Matt Carpenter may be leading the Cardinals' sprint up the standings, but it's been a supporting cast of unlikely contributors filling in the gaps around him as the club continues to surge.

Boosted by a home run from the previously hitless John Gant on Tuesday, the Cardinals ran their season-best winning streak to seven games with a 6-4 victory over the Nationals at Busch Stadium.

View Full Game Coverage

ST. LOUIS -- Matt Carpenter may be leading the Cardinals' sprint up the standings, but it's been a supporting cast of unlikely contributors filling in the gaps around him as the club continues to surge.

Boosted by a home run from the previously hitless John Gant on Tuesday, the Cardinals ran their season-best winning streak to seven games with a 6-4 victory over the Nationals at Busch Stadium.

View Full Game Coverage

Arms That Hammer Sweepstakes

One month after initiating a full club makeover by firing their manager, the Cardinals find themselves only one game back of the Phillies, who currently have a hold on the second National League Wild Card spot. In the NL Central, the Cardinals trail the Cubs by four games.

That's as close as they've been to Chicago since June.

Tweet from @MattCarp13: These birds are flying!!! #ItsGottaBeTheSalsa 🍅🌶🔥

"Things are starting to click for us," said second baseman Kolten Wong after his three-hit, three-RBI night. "We're playing confident. We're out there playing aggressive. This is the kind of baseball that I think Cardinals fans have been waiting for."

Video: WSH@STL: Wong leads off the frame with a solo homer

Since hovering the line between buyer and seller at last month's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Cardinals have won more games (11) than anyone in the NL, and they are 10 games over .500 for the first time since 2016. Over the last eight days, they've leaped three teams in the Wild Card race while shaving 3 1/2 games off their deficit.

And despite what the highlight reels may suggest, Carpenter, who has 17 homers during an on-base streak of 32 games, hasn't carried the load on his own. Two days ago, it was newcomer Patrick Wisdom who delivered the game-tying hit. On Monday, rookie Dakota Hudson netted the biggest outs of the game. Tyson Ross, Austin Gomber and Jack Flaherty -- none of whom began the year in the Cardinals' rotation -- have tallied wins over the past week. On Tuesday, it was Gant.

"We have a 25-man roster and we have confidence in all of them," said interim manager Mike Shildt, whose 18 wins are the most in franchise history by a manager in his first 27 games. "Some of it is not in bolded print. But everybody is doing their part."

Video: WSH@STL: Shildt on Gant, victory over Nationals

Gant's pick-me-up moment may have been the most improbable of them all.

Hitless in 30 career at-bats and facing a starter who had never allowed a homer to an opposing pitcher (325 at-bats), Gant drilled a pitch from lefty Gio Gonzalez into the left-field seats to turn a one-run lead into a 3-0 advantage in the second inning.

It was the first time in 36 career plate appearances that Gant had ever reached base. And it showed, too. While everyone else knew the ball was headed for the seats, Gant sprinted out of the box thinking double. He stumbled as he rounded first base and realized he could slow to a trot.

"We were all kind of losing it," Wong said. "These guys are constantly talking about how they want to hit home runs, and you watch their batting practice and it's just them trying to hit home runs the entire time."

In fact, Gant had flashed his power one day earlier by depositing a BP ball into the seats.

"That's just about all we do during batting practice is try to hit home runs," he said. "I do alright for myself."

With his first homer since his senior year of high school, Gant joined Carlos Martinez and Miles Mikolas as Cardinals pitchers to go deep this year. Mikolas, like Gant, had never tallied a Major League hit before homering in April.

"We were jumping up and down in the dugout hooting and hollering," Mikolas said. "He'll probably take that bat out of the rotation. I took mine out. It's in the apartment to get ready for a little shrine in my office with the ball and bat. You can look back however many years from now and say 'I went deep once. It was nice.'"

Gant delivered on the mound, as well, limiting the Nationals to one run over 5 1/3 innings. Wong helped pad the lead with a two-run double and solo homer, a cushion the Cardinals needed after the Nationals knocked the 'pen for three eighth-inning runs.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
After opening the eighth with a five run lead, the Cardinals watched it shrink to two, thanks in large part to another Bryce Harper home run. Hudson, who stranded the potential go-ahead run on third in the series opener, stopped the unraveling again by freezing Matt Adams on an 0-2 curveball. The strikeout ended the inning with two runners left stranded on base.

Video: WSH@STL: Hudson strands runners at the corners in 8th

An inning later, Jordan Hicks stepped in for an unavailable Bud Norris and garnered his fourth save of the season by inducing a flyout with Harper looming on deck as the potential go-ahead run.

Video: WSH@STL: Hicks retires Turner to seal the Cards' win

SOUND SMART
Before this season, the last time three different Cardinals pitchers homered in the same year was in 1973 when Rick Wise, Bob Gibson and Scipio Spinks did so. With his homer, Gant joins Stephen Vogt (2013) as the only players since 1920 to snap an 0-for-30 start to their careers by homering.

HE SAID IT
"Everybody is eating the salsa, right? It's delicious." -- Shildt

"I have not had a single bite of that salsa. I'm saving it for our hitters." -- Gant

UP NEXT
The Cardinals are expected to add Brett Cecil back into the bullpen on Wednesday as they continue their four-game series against the Nationals with a 7:15 p.m. CT game at Busch Stadium. Lefty Austin Gomber (2-0, 3.45 ERA) will face Jeremy Hellickson (5-2, 3.54) as the Cardinals try to secure their sixth consecutive winning series.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

St. Louis Cardinals, John Gant

Cardinals' nicknames for Players' Weekend

MLB.com

For the second consecutive year, Major Leaguers will put their personalities and passions on the field when Players' Weekend takes center stage during all games from Friday, Aug. 24, through Sunday, Aug. 26.

Shop for Players' Weekend gear

For the second consecutive year, Major Leaguers will put their personalities and passions on the field when Players' Weekend takes center stage during all games from Friday, Aug. 24, through Sunday, Aug. 26.

Shop for Players' Weekend gear

Here are the nicknames the Cardinals will wear on their backs while sporting colorful, non-traditional uniforms featuring alternate designs inspired by youth-league uniforms:

:: Players' Weekend presented by Valspar Stain ::

Shop for Players' Weekend gear
2018 Players' Weekend nicknames
Best nickname for every team
All you need to know about Players' Weekend

Harrison Bader: "TOTS"

Bader rhymes with "tater," and that was enough for his high school friends to conjure up the nickname. He said the nickname feels personal, since his friends still call him 'Tots' when he returns home. He has found that folks in other places don't always catch onto it immediately.

Matt Carpenter: "CARP"
Brett Cecil: "SQUINTS"
Paul DeJong: "PAULY"
Jack Flaherty: "FLARE"
Dexter Fowler: "DEX"
John Gant: "GANT"
Adolis Garcia : "EL BOMBI"
Greg Garcia: "GG"
Austin Gomber: "BIG G"
Luke Gregerson: "DUKE"

Video: Get ready, 2018 Players' Weekend is August 24-26

Jedd Gyorko: "JERK-OH"

"That's not a nickname," Gyorko said, smiling. "That's a pronunciation key."

He added that he's heard his name butchered so many times, so he's just giving fans what they want.

"It's just something different."

Jordan Hicks: "HICKS"
Dakota Hudson: "DAK"
Dominic Leone: "DOMINATOR"
Carlos Martinez: "TSUNAMI"
Jose Martinez: "CAFÉ"
Mike Mayers: "MAYERS"
Miles Mikolas: "MIK"
Yadier Molina: "YADI"
Yairo Munoz: "PALITO"
Bud Norris: "BUDMAN"
Tyler O'Neill: "O'NEILL"
Marcell Ozuna: "THE BIG BEAR"
Francisco Pena: "PINITA"

Pena has a couple nicknames. His father, Tony Pena, who played in the Major Leagues for 17 years, calls him "Frank" or "Franky" when he's back home. His clubhouse name is different.

"Every time I was in a club or clubhouse they always called me 'Pinita -- little Pena,'" Pena said. "I like when guys call me Pinita. I think it's pretty cool."

Daniel Poncedeleon: "PONCEDELEON"
Alex Reyes: "A.REY"
Tyson Ross: "FREEWAY"
Chasen Shreve: "SHA-REEF"

Shreve's nickname will be new for everyone in St. Louis. The lefty was called Sha-Reef in New York with the Yankees, where the nickname originated.

"It's fine," Shreve said. "There's really nothing behind it so it's kind of a boring story, but that's what they called me."

No member of the Cardinals has called Shreve that yet, so this could re-ignite the trend.

Michael Wacha: "WACHAMOLE"

Wacha's nickname is one of the more unique entries in the clubhouse. The first important detail is the pronunciation. Wachamole rhymes with guacamole, as opposed to the arcade game where you take a plastic hammer to the elusive mole.

"I got called Wachamole by Carlos [Martinez] when I first met him five years ago. It just kind of stuck," Wacha said. "It's a good one and it's known around the clubhouse now."

There's still some confusion, though. The name shorted up to just 'Mole', and that makes for some fuzzy encounters.

"Carlos will just be like, 'Hey Mole'," Wacha said. "And people will look and be really confused as to why he's calling me Mole, so you just have to explain that it comes from Wachamole."

Adam Wainwright: "WAINO"
Luke Weaver: "DREAM"
Tyler Webb: "WEBBY"
Kolten Wong: "THE PEBBLE"

He's traded "Wonger" for a new nickname, one he used to recruit Giancarlo Stanton during the offseason. When he saw San Francisco's Hunter Pence come up with a clever social media plea, Wong followed suit.

"I knew him and The Rock met, so I said, 'Hey, man, I know I'm not The Rock, but if you come to St. Louis, you can play with The Pebble.'"

The nickname stuck.

"I know I'm a short guy; I know I'm little. It is what it is. I'm a little guy playing in the big leagues, so I'm going to love it and live it up and be proud of who I am."

St. Louis Cardinals

Carpenter's incredible surge? MVP worthy

MLB.com @RichardJustice

To understand why Matt Carpenter has emerged as the National League's best offensive player and why he's suddenly smack dab in the middle of the NL Most Valuable Player Award conversation in a season that started so poorly, we should begin with the mental side of things.

Is that what this remarkable season is all about? Actually, it's what a lot of seasons are about. Funny how it always comes back to that. What was it Yogi Berra once said?

To understand why Matt Carpenter has emerged as the National League's best offensive player and why he's suddenly smack dab in the middle of the NL Most Valuable Player Award conversation in a season that started so poorly, we should begin with the mental side of things.

Is that what this remarkable season is all about? Actually, it's what a lot of seasons are about. Funny how it always comes back to that. What was it Yogi Berra once said?

"Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical."

Gant homers, earns win in Cardinals' 7th straight victory

Virtually every baseball player on the planet understands what Yogi meant. In Carpenter's case, that might be the larger message of his entire career, from his final two years at TCU to his earliest days in the Cardinals' organization.

Carpenter was the 399th player taken in the 2009 Draft, a fifth-year senior who endured some injuries and needed some time to understand the importance of conditioning, diet, etc.

Video: Matt Carpenter: A tale of two seasons

Looking back on it, Carpenter might see that being the 399th player taken in that Draft ended up being a good thing. Again, the mental side of it. As his buddy and former teammate Allen Craig, himself an eighth-round pick, put it: "When you're a lower Draft pick, they're looking for a reason to release you. I think Matt and I both thought we came close to being released out of Rookie ball. Whether it's true or not, it's how you feel. You have to overperform everyone else just to stay on the roster. You develop an attitude."

Carpenter had remade his body and his work ethic during his final two years at TCU, and so Rookie ball was a continuation of that change. Pretty much everything he has done since then -- three All-Star appearances, 969 hits and this incredible season -- is a byproduct of that.

Like his college teammate, Phillies ace Jake Arrieta, Carpenter has developed a routine that is both physical and mental: film study, weightlifting and (in Carpenter's case) hour after hour hitting in indoor cages.

Tweet from @Cardinals: Matt Carpenter had a massive serving of salsa before yesterday���s game and then hit another HUGE home run... #ItsGottaBeTheSalsa🔥 pic.twitter.com/i4jaZCmu7z

Another point: Carpenter's entire life has been spent around baseball. His dad, Rick, is a legendary and beloved Texas high school baseball coach, and some of Matt's earliest memories are celebrating state championships with his family.

Matt, 32, needed all the support he could get for a season like this one, which was unlike anything he'd ever experienced early on. He was lost. What else is there to say about a .140 batting average and a .286 OBP on May 15?

This from a player who had been one of the NL's best players in his first six seasons, averaging 37 doubles, 16 home run and a .378 OBP (and a .840 OPS).

Around that time in May, Carpenter asked the Cards' analytics group to see if they could help him get back on track. Here's what they told him:

"You're fine."

Tweet from @MattCarp13: These birds are flying!!! #ItsGottaBeTheSalsa 🍅🌶🔥

How's that for advice? They showed Carpenter that he was pretty much the same player he'd always been, that he'd hit into some bad luck, that his hard-hit contact rate and other quantifiables suggested a turnaround was inevitable.

So Carpenter changed nothing. He went back to his usual routine with the confidence that there would be a return to normalcy.

"I'm not really making it up when I said I never really panicked in May when I was struggling," Carpenter told reporters recently. "I felt like I was close. I knew I was going to turn it around."

Video: Carpenter named National League Player of the Week

Heading into Tuesday's game, Carptener's numbers since May 16 are the stuff of a video game. Sample size? Plenty large enough. He has 100 hits in the Cardinals' past 79 games. In that stretch, Carpenter is hitting .332 with 27 doubles, 30 home runs and 52 walks. Also: a .433 OBP and a 1.154 OPS. From a season that started with six of the toughest weeks he has had, here are the categories he's now leading the NL:

• 33 home runs
• .598 slugging percentage
• 160 wRC+
• 5.1 Wins Above Replacement
• .409 wOBA

"I couldn't imagine the stretch that I'm putting together," Carpenter said. "It's uncharted territory for me. I couldn't have guessed this. But it's been fun."

Tweet from @MLBStatoftheDay: .@MattCarp13 has SEVENTEEN dingers while riding a 31-game on-base streak.No other NL player has double digits. #ItsGottaBeTheSalsa 🔥 pic.twitter.com/GQqZ3pJuZR

The NL MVP Award race is wide open, with cases to be made for Freddie Freeman, Javier Baez, Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Lorenzo Cain and Carpenter. For Carpenter to even be in this conversation after how this season started is incredible on its own.

"Clearly, he's a special player, a special guy," Cards interim manager Mike Shildt said. "I'm just happy to see him get the fruits of his labor."

Carpenter's candidacy could get a boost from being part of a team that's playing its best in the stretch run, having won 10 of 12 games to get within five games of first place in the NL Central and within two games of the NL's second Wild Card berth.

As MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch reported, before Carpenter's 33rd home run on Monday -- a three-run shot in the bottom of the eighth inning that turned a 4-3 deficit against the Nationals into a 6-4 lead -- Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong turned to teammate Harrison Bader and said:

"This is Carp's MVP moment right here."

The Cards won, 7-6, on DeJong's walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth. Carpenter could have another one or two before it's over.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

St. Louis Cardinals, Matt Carpenter

Who was the Cards' best August pickup?

MLB.com

While the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline rightfully garners the lion's share of attention when it comes to each year's trade season, there have been numerous deals struck during the month of August that have been impactful down the stretch and in subsequent years. Here's a look at the best August trade each team has ever made:

ANGELS
Acquired: LF Justin Upton from DET
Gave up: RHP Grayson Long and a player to be named or cash
Date: Aug. 31, 2017
The Angels acquired Upton in the midst of their playoff push last season, giving the club a middle-of-the-order bat to slot behind Mike Trout in their lineup. While the Angels ultimately fell short in the American League Wild Card race, Upton posted an .887 OPS with seven home runs in 27 games before deciding to re-sign with the club on a five-year, $106 million deal during the offseason. 

While the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline rightfully garners the lion's share of attention when it comes to each year's trade season, there have been numerous deals struck during the month of August that have been impactful down the stretch and in subsequent years. Here's a look at the best August trade each team has ever made:

ANGELS
Acquired: LF Justin Upton from DET
Gave up: RHP Grayson Long and a player to be named or cash
Date: Aug. 31, 2017
The Angels acquired Upton in the midst of their playoff push last season, giving the club a middle-of-the-order bat to slot behind Mike Trout in their lineup. While the Angels ultimately fell short in the American League Wild Card race, Upton posted an .887 OPS with seven home runs in 27 games before deciding to re-sign with the club on a five-year, $106 million deal during the offseason. 

ASTROS
Acquired: 3B Jeff Bagwell from BOS
Gave up: RHP Larry Andersen
Date: Aug. 30, 1990
As impactful as the Astros' trade was last year to land Justin Verlander, the club's 1990 trade netted a player who would don an Astros uniform for all 15 years of his Major League career and end up in the Hall of Fame. Bagwell is the greatest slugger in Astros history, winning the 1991 National League Rookie of the Year Award and the 1994 NL Most Valuable Player Award, being named to four All-Star teams and belting 449 career home runs. The first baseman led a resurgence of baseball in Houston in the 1990s and helped take the franchise to new heights in the early 2000s.

Video: Jeff Bagwell reflects on conversation with Andersen

Andersen was a 16-year-veteran who had a 1.95 ERA in 50 appearances on the season for Houston at the time of the trade. With Bagwell, a third baseman at the time, blocked by future Hall of Famer Wade Boggs at the position, Boston made the deal for a reliever who would appear in 15 games with a 1.23 ERA. That winter, Andersen signed as a free agent with the Padres, and pitched for two seasons with San Diego before his final two seasons with the Phillies.

ATHLETICS
Acquired: SS Stephen Drew from ARI
Gave up: INF Sean Jamieson
Date: Aug. 20, 2012
The A's might have outdone themselves this year with the additions of relievers Fernando Rodney and Shawn Kelley, but their 2012 trade for Drew gave them a significant upgrade at shortstop, which was a vital piece at the time. Drew collected 16 RBIs in 39 regular-season games, then came up with four hits in 19 at-bats during the AL Division Series against the Tigers, including an RBI double in a one-run Game 4 victory that sent the series to a winner-take-all affair.

BLUE JAYS
Acquired: 3B/OF Jose Bautista from PIT
Gave up: C Robinson Diaz
Date: Aug. 21, 2008
The Blue Jays weren't expecting big things from Bautista, but they needed a temporary replacement for the injured Scott Rolen and he fit the bill. Toronto had to part only with a fringe prospect to get the deal done, and his versatility at first base, right field and second base kept Bautista on the team even after Rolen returned. Two years later, Bautista made franchise history by hitting 54 home runs in a single season, and he ultimately turned into one of the best players to ever wear the blue and white.

Video: TEX@TOR Gm5: Bautista hammers go-ahead three-run shot

BRAVES
Acquired: RHP John Smoltz from DET
Gave up: RHP Doyle Alexander
Date: Aug. 12, 1987
The Tigers won each of Alexander's 11 remaining regular-season starts and captured the American League East title in 1987; the 36-year-old would pitch two more seasons for Detroit, including an All-Star campaign in '88. Meanwhile, Smoltz was just a year removed from high school ball, but would end up constructing a Hall of Fame career as he helped the Braves win 14 consecutive division crowns and the 1995 World Series. He also won the NL Cy Young Award in 1996, and was an eight-time All Star, becoming one of the most successful postseason pitchers in baseball history with a 2.67 ERA over 41 appearances, and the 1992 NL Championship Series MVP Award. A year earlier, he tossed a six-hit shutout of the Pirates in Game 7 of the NLCS to send Atlanta to its first World Series.

Video: 1991 NLCS Gm7: Smoltz shuts the door, Braves to WS

BREWERS
Acquired: RHP Don Sutton from HOU
Gave up: Players to be named and cash (OF Kevin Bass and pitchers Frank DiPino and Mike Madden)
Date: Aug. 30, 1982
Bass went on to have a solid 14-year career but the deal was worth it to land Sutton, the future Hall of Famer who represented the final piece of the finest team in Brewers history. Sutton's shining moment for Milwaukee was the '82 regular-season finale in Baltimore, when he allowed two runs in eight innings of a must-win game opposite Orioles ace Jim Palmer. It clinched the American League East and moved the Brewers a step closer to their only World Series appearance to date.

CARDINALS
Acquired: OF Larry Walker from COL
Gave up: RHP Jason Burch, LHP Luis Martinez and LHP Chris Narveson
Date: Aug. 6, 2004
In the penultimate year of Walker's career, he accepted a trade to the Cardinals and then helped the club reach the World Series. After hitting .280/.393/.560 with 11 homers in 44 regular-season games, Walker hit six homers and slugged .707 in his second postseason appearance.

CUBS
Acquired: 1B Randall Simon from PIT
Gave up: OF Ray Sadler
Date: Aug. 17, 2003
The Cubs had made a blockbuster deal at the non-waiver Trade Deadline to get Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton from the Pirates, then added Simon, who batted .282 with six home runs and 21 RBIs in 33 games. Simon provided the spark and the Cubs went 24-16 after he joined the team to win the NL Central. Simon would go on to hit .333 (8-for-24) with three doubles and a homer in the postseason.

D-BACKS
Acquired: RHP Livan Hernandez and cash from WAS
Gave up: LHP Matt Chico; RHP Garrett Mock
Date: Aug. 7, 2006
While Hernandez didn't pitch the D-backs to the postseason in 2006, he did stick around to be a valuable contributor and staff leader the following year when the D-backs won the NL West and swept the Cubs in the NLDS before losing to the Rockies in the NLCS.

DODGERS
Acquired: 1B Adrian Gonzalez, RHP Josh Beckett, OF Carl Crawford, INF Nick Punto and cash from BOS
Gave up: INF Ivan De Jesus, 1B James Loney, RHP Allen Webster, RHP Rubby De La Rosa and OF Jerry Sands
Date: Aug. 25, 2012
The word "blockbuster" is overused, but it should be defined by this nine-player trade. Guggenheim's new Dodgers ownership made a credibility statement that the tight-fisted ways of the McCourt era were over. The Dodgers never won a World Series because of it, but the veterans helped the club compete while buying time for young talent to mature. None of the prospects dealt away panned out, but Boston won a World Series anyway and dumped $262 million in salary.

GIANTS
Acquired: RHP Rick Reuschel from PIT
Gave up: RHPs Jeff Robinson and Scott Medvin
Date: Aug. 21, 1987
Reuschel stabilized the Giants' starting rotation, going 5-3 down the stretch to help San Francisco win the NL West for the first time since 1971. "Big Daddy" also finished 36-19 in the next two seasons and was the staff ace when the Giants reached the World Series in 1989.

INDIANS
Acquired: SP Mike Clevinger from LAA
Gave up: RP Vinnie Pestano
Date: Aug. 7, 2014
The Angels wanted a reliever for the stretch run, so they added Pestano and dealt Clevinger (a prospect with mechanical flaws and in the early stages of a Tommy John surgery comeback). Clevinger was a project, but he went to work with the Indians, rebuilt his delivery, broke into the Majors in '16 and is now fixture in one of baseball's best rotations. Pestano hasn't pitched in the Majors since '15, and Clevinger has a 3.59 ERA in 67 career appearances for Cleveland (54 starts).

Video: CLE@BAL: Clevinger dominates O's with two-hit shutout

MARINERS
Acquired: LF Vince Coleman from KC
Gave up: RHP Jim Converse
Date: Aug. 15, 1995
The Mariners immediately inserted the veteran speedster as their leadoff hitter for the final month and a half of their magical 1995 season, and he provided a huge spark. When Coleman was acquired by general manager Woody Woodward, Seattle was 51-50 and 12 1/2 games back in the AL West. It wound up winning the division and earning the first playoff berth in franchise history as the 33-year-old posted a .290/.335/.395 line with 16 stolen bases and 27 runs in 40 games.

MARLINS
Acquired: 1B/OF Jeff Conine from BAL
Gave up: RHP Denny Bautista, RHP Don Levinski
Date: Aug. 31, 2003
Pursuing the lone NL Wild Card spot at the time, the Marlins acquired Conine minutes before the midnight waiver deadline, with the deal completed while the veteran was on the Orioles' team plane. The Marlins were desperate for an established veteran the day after All-Star Mike Lowell broke his left hand. Conine hit five home runs and drove in 15 runs in September, and made an impact in the playoffs during the Marlins' World Series championship season.

Video: 2003 NLCS Gm5: Jeff Conine hits a solo home run

METS
Acquired: 2B Jeff Kent and a player to be named (OF Ryan Thompson) from TOR
Gave up: RHP David Cone
Date: Aug. 27, 1992
With the Mets well out of NL East contention and Cone set to become a free agent after the season, the team shipped him to the Blue Jays for Kent -- then just 24 years old. Although Kent would not develop into a National League MVP until after the Mets parted ways with him, he hit 67 of his 377 career homers over parts of five seasons in New York. Cone, meanwhile, went on to post a 2.55 ERA in eight appearances (seven starts) down the stretch for Toronto, helping the franchise win its first World Series title with a 3.22 ERA in four postseason starts.

NATIONALS
Acquired: Catcher Kurt Suzuki and cash considerations from OAK
Gave up: catcher David Freitas
Date: Aug. 3, 2012
On their way to their first postseason berth in club history, the Nats made the upgrade behind the dish for a veteran behind the plate. Suzuki would go on to bat .267/.321/.404 in 43 games with Washington down the stretch and served as the starting catcher in the postseason before he struggled at the start of the 2013 season and was traded back to Oakland.

ORIOLES
Acquired: OF Tito Landrum from STL
Gave up: Landrum was the player to be named from a deal made on June 14, 1983, in which the Orioles sent Floyd Rayford to St. Louis.
Date: Aug. 31, 1983
Landrum hit the game-winning home run for the Orioles in the final game of the 1983 ALCS in Chicago. He was such an unlikely hero that teammate John Lowenstein joked that he was not sure of Landrum's first name.

PADRES
Acquired: Brian Giles from PIT
Gave up: Jason Bay, Oliver Perez and LHP Cory Stewart
Date: Aug. 26, 2003
On the whole, this trade turned out pretty even. But there's no denying Giles' impact on the back-to-back NL West champion Padres teams in 2005 and '06. In parts of seven seasons with San Diego, Giles batted .279/.380/.435 with 83 homers. Bay would go on to have an 11-year MLB career over which he hit 222 homers, including 139 for Pittsburgh. Still, the trade helped San Diego get to the postseason in back-to-back years, and was worth the price.

PHILLIES
Acquired: RHP Jamie Moyer from SEA
Gave up: RHP Andrew Baldwin and RHP Andy Barb
Date: Aug. 19, 2006
The Phillies held a fire sale before July 31, 2006, trading Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, David Bell and Rheal Cormier, and designating Ryan Franklin for assignment. But afterward, the Phillies started to play well and acquired Moyer for an unexpected postseason run. They fell short in 2006, but Moyer helped the Phillies win the NL East in 2007 and the World Series in 2008.

PIRATES
Acquired: OF Jason Bay, LHP Oliver Perez and LHP Cory Stewart from SD
Gave up: OF Brian Giles
Date: Aug. 26, 2003
The deal worked out well for both sides, as Giles continued to produce in San Diego and finished ninth in NL MVP voting in 2005. But Bay was worth the price, winning the 2004 NL Rookie of the Year Award before earning two All-Star nods with Pittsburgh. Perez was also dominant in 2004 (12-10, 2.98 ERA, 239 strikeouts), and he's still pitching in the Majors as a reliever. 

Video: CHC@PIT: Bay records eight RBIs including grand slam

RANGERS
Acquired: RHP John Burkett from FLA
Gave up: RHP Rick Helling and RHP Ryan Dempster
Date: Aug. 8, 1996
This is the trade that put the Rangers over the top on their way to the first division title in franchise history. Burkett, reinforcing the rotation, threw a shutout against the Blue Jays in his first start and his biggest victory came on Sept. 21. The Rangers had lost five in a row and nine of 10 as their lead was down to one game. But Burkett pitched the Rangers to a 7-1 victory over the Angels in Anaheim to stop their skid for one of the biggest regular-season wins in franchise history. Dempster and Helling -- both prospects at the time -- went on to distinguished careers, but the price was worth it for Texas.

RAYS
Acquired: RHP Chad Bradford from BAL
Gave up: Cash
Date: Aug. 7, 2008
Bradford arrived to give the Rays a different look to their bullpen. The submariner of "Moneyball" fame appeared in 21 games and pitched to a 1.42 ERA. He made seven postseason appearances for the Rays, logging a 1.13 ERA in eight innings.

RED SOX
Acquired: INF Ivan DeJesus, 1B James Loney, RHP Allen Webster, RHP Rubby De La Rosa, and OF/1B Jerry Sands from LAD
Gave up: 1B Adrian Gonzalez, RHP Josh Beckett, OF Carl Crawford, INF Nick Punto.and cash
Date: Aug. 25, 2012
On paper, the Red Sox gave up three former All-Stars and received little in return. In reality, the club shed more than $250 million in guaranteed salary for players who were no longer performing at their prime levels. This trade is widely credited as one of the reasons for the Sox winning the World Series in 2013. General manager Ben Cherington used the newfound payroll flexibility to re-tool with free agents Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara, Ryan Dempster and David Ross. Those players fit perfectly on the field and in the clubhouse.

REDS
Acquired: 1B/manager Pete Rose from MON
Gave up: INF Tom Lawless
Date: Aug. 16, 1984
In a stunning move, the Reds brought back a hometown favorite in Rose to take on the rare role of player-manager. The deal immediately energized the Cincinnati fan base after losing seasons from 1982-84. Not only did Rose the player break Ty Cobb's all-time hits record in 1985 to great fanfare, Rose the manager was at the helm for a contender that had four straight second-place finishes from 1985-88. That helped create the foundation for the 1990 World Series title season.

ROCKIES
Acquired:RHP Jose Contreras from CWS
Gave up: Minor League RHP Brandon Hynick
Date: Aug. 31, 2009
Contreras went 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA in seven games, including two starts, and was one of two key veteran August pickups. The Rockies also picked up Jason Giambi, who had been released earlier in the month by the Athletics. Giambi hit .292 in 19 games as he and Contreras helped push the Rockies into the postseason as the NL Wild Card team.

ROYALS
Acquired: OF Josh Willingham from MIN
Gave up: Right-hander Jason Adam
Date: Aug. 11, 2014
It wasn't a blockbuster deal, but Willingham will be forever in Royals lore. He singled (his last big league hit) to spark a ninth-inning rally in the 2014 AL Wild Card game that tied the score. The Royals went on to win the game, the first off 11 straight playoff wins that year, and eventually advance to Game 7 of the 2014 World Series.

TIGERS
Acquired: OF Delmon Young from MIN
Gave up: LHP Cole Nelson, RHP Lester Oliveros
Date: Aug. 15, 2011
Young homered three times in the Tigers' 2011 ALDS win over the Yankees, then hit two more in the ALCS vs. Texas. A year later, he was named MVP of the ALCS after going 6-for-17 with two homers and six RBIs. He went 5-for-14 with a solo homer in the 2012 World Series against the Giants.

TWINS
Acquired: RHP Bert Blyleven from CLE
Gave up: INF Jay Bell, LHP Curt Wardle, OF Jim Weaver and a player to be named (RHP Rich Yett on Sept. 18, 1985)
Date: Aug. 1, 1985
The Twins reacquired future Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven in an August trade, as he had previously pitched in Minnesota from 1970-76. Blyleven made 120 starts with the Twins after the trade, including helping the franchise to its first World Series title in 1987. Bell went on to a solid 18-year career, but the Twins had Greg Gagne entrenched at shortstop at the time of the trade.

WHITE SOX
Acquired: 1B Ted Kluszewski from PIT
Gave up: Minor League IF Robert Sagers and RF/1B Harry Simpson
Date: Aug. 25, 1959
Nearing the end of his career, Kluszewski hit .297 with two home runs and 10 RBIs over 112 plate appearances and 31 games in the regular season for the AL champs. But the Big Klu hit .391 with three homers and 10 RBIs during a six-game World Series loss to the Dodgers.

YANKEES
Acquired: 3B Charlie Hayes from PIT
Gave up: RHP Chris Corn
Date: Aug. 30, 1996
Hayes rejoined the Yankees just in time for the birth of a dynasty, batting .284 in 20 games for his new team to supplement a fatigued Wade Boggs' production at the hot corner. Hayes was on the field to secure the final out of the World Series, a foul pop behind third base off the bat of the Braves' Mark Lemke. Corn never advanced past Double-A.

Video: WS1996 Gm6: Sterling, Kay call Yanks World Series win

Cards 'changing the narrative' on rocky season

Mozeliak breaks down St. Louis' back-and-forth year, postseason hopes
MLB.com @MikeLupica

You start the conversation with John Mozeliak, the Cardinals' president of baseball ops, this way: "Two out in the Wild Card all of a sudden. Five behind the Cubs."

Mozeliak said, "Looking more at the two. It's not like you can't find a way to make up five between here and October. But it's hard."

You start the conversation with John Mozeliak, the Cardinals' president of baseball ops, this way: "Two out in the Wild Card all of a sudden. Five behind the Cubs."

Mozeliak said, "Looking more at the two. It's not like you can't find a way to make up five between here and October. But it's hard."

The hard part for Mozeliak in the Summer of 2018 came a month or so ago, when he decided to fire his manager, Mike Matheny. The last time someone other than Tony La Russa or Matheny had managed the Cardinals was Mike Jorgensen in 1995, after Jorgensen had replaced ... wait for it ... Joe Torre.

"That's a long time," Mozeliak said. "But as things continued to go in the wrong direction for us, Bill [DeWitt, the Cardinals' owner] and I realized it was just a question of when [they'd make a change]. We knew we would wait, do things 'the Cardinals way,' wait until the offseason, when it would be a cleaner break. But we knew that if we did wait, and did do it that way, I felt we had no chance this season.

"And I believed we still did have a chance. I wasn't willing to concede anything at that point, even where we were [47-46, 7 1/2 games out of first in the National League Central]. I still felt as if we could win, but that we needed new leadership to give ourselves a chance to do that. So we pulled the cord."

So Matheny was out and Mike Shildt was named interim manager. Maybe Shildt will be a lot more than an interim if the Cardinals continue to play for him the way they have since he got the job. They are now 17-9 under Shildt. The Cards had won eight of their past 10 going into Tuesday. Over those 10 games, the only team with a better record is the Red Sox. The Cardinals were lost, and it looked like a lost season in St. Louis, one of the capitals of the sport. Lately they have been found.

Doesn't mean the Cardinals will catch the Cubs or pass the Brewers. Doesn't mean they will get one of the two NL Wild Cards. But they are in play again, that is what matters in St. Louis. If the Cubs' David Bote doesn't hit a two-strike, two-out grand slam against the Nationals on Sunday night, the Cardinals would have been four behind the Cubs on Tuesday morning. The 26 games since the firing of Matheny are a small sampling, of course. But a lot can change in a month. If you don't think so, ask the Yankees.

Video: Must C Comeback: Bote's grand slam completes comeback

"You play a tough game in April or May and you lose it, and you think, 'I hope that one doesn't come back to bite me in September,'" Mozeliak said. "That's always the thinking. But as a season goes along, the tough losses get worse, and a theme starts to play out with your team, positively and negatively. And what you ultimately look to do is run with the positive, and change the negative if you can.

"The problem with the Cardinals is that for two years, we couldn't change the negatives. We couldn't change the narrative that we weren't playing clean baseball, weren't being smart on bases, weren't a sound defensive club. There were too many times when we were giving up four outs an inning, or five. And that is so tough from which to recover. I felt as if we had spent too long trying to push a rock up the hill, but never making it up the hill."

Mozeliak paused and said, "For the last month, we've been able to change the narrative."

Video: WSH@STL: Carpenter rips go-ahead 3-run homer in 8th

Mozeliak then talked about the superb season Matt Carpenter has had since getting off to an almost shockingly slow start. He talked about his catcher, Yadier Molina, and how he has "run the dashboard" with all of the Cardinals' young pitchers, in a season when Carlos Martinez got hurt (and will pitch out of the bullpen for the rest of the way), and Michael Wacha and Alex Reyes. Mozeliak talked about how Miles Mikolas (12-3, 2.85 ERA) has become the star, rock and ace of the Cards' rotation, and about the 22-year old kid, Jack Flaherty. He talked about Marcell Ozuna, St. Louis' big addition in the offseason, starting to come on; Paul DeJong, the Redbirds' second-year shortstop, being healthy and hitting home runs again after missing more than a month; Jedd Gyorko feeling more sure of his status as the regular third baseman.

"You always have to look at the product you're putting on the field," Mozeliak said. "And lately our product hasn't just entertained our fans. It seems to have energized them."

Things will not be easy for the Cardinals the rest of the way, as they try to make up those five games on the Cubs and two in the NL Wild Card race. They are playing the Nationals on Tuesday, have the Brewers on the horizon, then go west to play the Dodgers and Rockies. Mozeliak knows all the reasons why they dug the hole for themselves they did over nearly the first 100 games. Now he watches, the way Cards fans, as good and loyal as they are, as the team tries to climb out of it and make a run in the 43 games they have left.

"Let's face it," Mozeliak said, "when you look at our league, the situation is murky at best."

A month ago, things were crystal clear for Mozeliak's team. It wasn't very good. Now the Cardinals have given their fans an entertaining, energizing month. If they do it for another month, just think how much murkier they can make things in the NL. Sometimes firing a manager does nothing. But sometimes it does a lot.

Mike Lupica is a columnist for MLB.com.

St. Louis Cardinals

The best outfielder you don't know enough about

Bader has added more fielding value than any other OF defender
MLB.com @mike_petriello

If you were asked who baseball's best defensive outfielders were, you might immediately think of Kevin Kiermaier or Mookie Betts. Maybe you'd go to the breathtaking speed of Billy Hamilton or Byron Buxton, or the regular highlight-reel appearances by Jackie Bradley Jr. or Adam Engel, or how easy Ender Inciarte makes everything look, or the consistent yearly success of Jason Heyward or Lorenzo Cain.

We're guessing that if you weren't a Cardinals fan, you probably wouldn't have included Harrison Bader in that list. It's time to fix that mistake. If it's maybe too soon to call him baseball's best defensive outfielder, we can at least describe him as the best outfielder you don't know enough about. He's been that good.

If you were asked who baseball's best defensive outfielders were, you might immediately think of Kevin Kiermaier or Mookie Betts. Maybe you'd go to the breathtaking speed of Billy Hamilton or Byron Buxton, or the regular highlight-reel appearances by Jackie Bradley Jr. or Adam Engel, or how easy Ender Inciarte makes everything look, or the consistent yearly success of Jason Heyward or Lorenzo Cain.

We're guessing that if you weren't a Cardinals fan, you probably wouldn't have included Harrison Bader in that list. It's time to fix that mistake. If it's maybe too soon to call him baseball's best defensive outfielder, we can at least describe him as the best outfielder you don't know enough about. He's been that good.

This is going to be one of those cases where the metrics and the eye test align very well, so while we'll throw all sorts of numbers at you in a second, let's start with some eye candy. Here's a diving Bader catch from last month, when he robbed a hit (and almost certainly saved a go-ahead run) from Buster Posey. It looked great. Most Bader plays look great.

Video: STL@SF: Bader races 92 feet for a diving catch

But merely having made a diving play doesn't make a catch great, because lots of diving plays can start off with unimpressive beginnings -- a bad route, a poor reaction, slow foot speed, and so on -- and this is where the metrics come in.

Based on the fact that Bader had 4.7 seconds to run the 92 feet required to get to the ball, and it wasn't a play impacted by direction or the wall, that catch had a 13 percent Catch Probability. Another way of saying that is that nearly nine times out of 10, other outfielders didn't convert similar chances. Compare that to this diving catch by Rhys Hoskins -- a converted first baseman with poor footspeed -- that looked nice but is caught 97 percent of the time. All diving plays aren't created equally. The eye test doesn't always work here.

That allows us to credit outfielders differently toward a season-long score, too. Despite the dive, Hoskins doesn't get a lot of credit for making a catch most fielders make (+.03, or the remainder of 97 percent). But Bader gets a ton of credit for making a nearly impossible play (+.87, or the remainder of 13 percent). Do that for every play over the course of a season, and that's how we get to Outs Above Average, our aggregate range-based metric.

Now, because outfielders don't all get the same amount of playing time, there's two ways to show how valuable they've been. One way is with a counting stat like Outs Above Average (think home runs or stolen bases), which tends to favor everyday players. Another is with a rate stat (think batting average or ERA) that allows for part-time players to rank highly.

Bader has started only 56 of the 119 St. Louis games so far this season. He's at the top of the leaderboards in both. In fact, he's at or near the top of so many leaderboards, we're just going to throw them at you in a row. There's a lot to like here.

Bader is elite in Outs Above Average

As we said above, OAA is the Statcast™ range-based metric for an outfielder's seasonal contribution. Bader is tied with Hamilton atop the leaderboard, despite having played nearly 400 fewer innings.

Outs Above Average leaders, 2018

+16 Harrison Bader
+16 Billy Hamilton
+15 Adam Engel
+14 Ender Inciarte
+13 Lorenzo Cain
+10 Jackie Bradley Jr.
+10 Albert Almora Jr.
+10 Michael A. Taylor

Video: STL@CIN: Bader lays out for five-star catch vs. Reds

Bader is elite in Catch Percentage Added

For players who aren't in the lineup every day, it's sometimes better to look at it in a way that's not a counting stat. In this case, it's relatively simple: You look at the difficulty of the balls hit to a fielder and say how many of those balls an average outfielder would have caught, compare those to how many balls the fielder in question did catch, and see how much value was added (or not).

In Bader's case, an average outfielder would have been expected to catch 84 percent of the balls hit to him However, he's actually caught 94 percent of the balls hit his way, meaning he's added +10 points of value. Among the 151 fielders with 50 chances, that's the best. (At the other end, Daniel Palka was expected to catch 86 percent of his chances, but he's collected only 71 percent, a worst-in-baseball minus-15 points.)

Most Catch Percentage Added, 2018

 +10 Harrison Bader (84 percent expected, 94 percent actual)
+7 Jake Marisnick (89 expected, 96 actual)
+5 seven players tied, including Inciarte, Cain, Hamilton, Engel

Bader is elite in Sprint Speed

So: How is Bader doing this? Obviously he's fast, because you can see he's fast with your own eyes. But you might not know just how fast he is. We measure that with a metric called "Sprint Speed," which is intended to find a player's top speed in feet per second. Bader is tied for third in baseball, right up there with the most notable speed demons in the game.

Highest Sprint Speed, 2018

30.5 ft/sec Byron Buxton
30.1 ft/sec Billy Hamilton
30.0 ft/sec Harrison Bader / Adam Engel / Delino DeShields / Trea Turner / Magneuris Sierra
29.8 ft/sec Ronald Acuna, Jr.
(Major League average: 27 ft/sec) 

When MLB.com's Joe Trezza asked Bader about elite speed in June, he received the perfect answer.

"What you need to be asking is, 'When did everybody else learn that I was fast?'" said Bader. "I've been fast for a really long time. These new metrics are helping everyone see that."

That's a lot of numbers, so let's go back to the video to show you just how impressive he's been. Last week, Bader came flying in from center to rob Martin Prado in Miami; as has become usual for him, it looked great and the data backed it up, calling it a mere 15 percent catch, because he needed to go 80 feet in 4.3 seconds.

Let's compare it side by side with a very similar opportunity that Kiermaier faced last September, when he needed to go 81 feet in 4.3 seconds, in the same direction, off the bat of Gary Sanchez. Kiermaier is undeniably one of baseball's great defenders, but he didn't get there. He didn't even come close. That's not to say that Bader is better than Kiermaier, but that he's making the kind of plays that even baseball's best defenders can't always get to.

Video: Kiermaier, Bader side-by-side plays

Bader also has the fastest individual Sprint Speed tracked by a Cardinal since Statcast™ came online in 2015, and 15 of the team's 20 strongest outfield throws this year, topping out at 98 mph to prevent Adalberto Mondesi from trying to score. Remember: three different Cardinals outfielders, Marcell Ozuna, the since-traded Tommy Pham and Dexter Fowler, have more playing time than Bader does this year.

Video: STL@KC: Bader's range, 98-mph throw prevents a run

Despite spending Spring Training making ridiculous catches in Florida, Bader didn't even make the Cardinals' Opening Day roster, losing out to Yairo Munoz. It's really only been since Pham was traded to Tampa Bay on July 31 that he's been in the lineup regularly, taking over center field, and while we've been focusing on his defense, his .275/.343/.425 hitting line makes him 10 percent better than league average. (Not to mention that he's apparently had something to do with Paul DeJong's recent hot streak.)

No one really saw Bader coming, as he never ranked terribly highly on any national prospect lists. Even on the Cardinals, he was somewhat lost in a flow of outfielders, not just Ozuna, Pham and Fowler, but also Jose Martinez and Tyler O'Neill. They wouldn't have thought that they had, essentially, "Billy Hamilton-but-if-he-could-actually-hit" on the bench. So far, it seems like they do. It's hard to see him going back there any time soon.

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast.

St. Louis Cardinals, Harrison Bader