Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Weaver a tough-luck loser for young Cards staff

MLB.com @JoeTrezz

MIAMI -- The scope of the Cardinals' youth infusion came into focus Monday, when they filed into the visiting dugout at Marlins Park. The Majors' most overtly rebuilding team waited across the field. And yet, due in large part to injures to key veterans, the Cardinals sport a pitching staff more than a year -- on average -- younger than the Marlins do. No active member of St. Louis' rotation owns more than two years of big league service time.

These are circumstances that qualify Luke Weaver as a temporary -- and de facto -- staff elder, of sorts. Committed enough to Weaver, John Gant, Austin Gomber, et al., the Cardinals plan to use newly acquired Tyson Ross out of the bullpen, at least in the short term. Such was true even before Weaver fired six strong innings in a 2-1 defeat, a performance that seemed to reinforce his place among St. Louis' young crop.

View Full Game Coverage

MIAMI -- The scope of the Cardinals' youth infusion came into focus Monday, when they filed into the visiting dugout at Marlins Park. The Majors' most overtly rebuilding team waited across the field. And yet, due in large part to injures to key veterans, the Cardinals sport a pitching staff more than a year -- on average -- younger than the Marlins do. No active member of St. Louis' rotation owns more than two years of big league service time.

These are circumstances that qualify Luke Weaver as a temporary -- and de facto -- staff elder, of sorts. Committed enough to Weaver, John Gant, Austin Gomber, et al., the Cardinals plan to use newly acquired Tyson Ross out of the bullpen, at least in the short term. Such was true even before Weaver fired six strong innings in a 2-1 defeat, a performance that seemed to reinforce his place among St. Louis' young crop.

View Full Game Coverage

"We're definitely a young staff, but we like it," Weaver said. "The moment doesn't get too big for us. It's the same game, no matter what the situation, whatever the pressure people say is on us. We try to go out and put up zeros. Tonight was a battle, it just didn't work out."

Video: STL@MIA: Shildt on Weaver, Ozuna in tough loss

Coming off his shortest outing of the season, Weaver recorded a quality start while waiting for run support that never came. Fresh off a series in Pittsburgh during which they batted 48 times with a runner in scoring position, the Cardinals scattered just seven singles against winning pitcher Wei-Yin Chen and a quintet of Marlins relievers. They didn't threaten until the eighth, then squandered a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the ninth, when Yadier Molina followed Matt Carpenter's RBI walk by bouncing into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.

"We'll take that [situation] any time," interim manager Mike Shildt said. "Guys fought the whole way."

Video: STL@MIA: Guerra gets a double play, earns first save

Back in Miami for the first time since being traded to the Cardinals last offseason, Marcell Ozuna notched three of those hits.

Video: STL@MIA: Ozuna returns to Miami, singles in 1st AB

Ozuna was left stranded at first after his third, when Jedd Gyorko's long fly ball to center died in the thick Miami air, ending a potential rally in the eighth. Ozuna, who blossomed into a star over five seasons with the Marlins, had warned his teammates what a challenge lifting the ball at Marlins Park can be.

"Ozuna said that with the roof open, the ball doesn't go," said Gyorko, who tagged the Drew Steckenrider fastball with a 103.4-mph exit velocity per Statcast™. "That's one of the hardest balls I've hit all year, if not the hardest."

Added Shildt: "I'd like to find out how many ballparks can hold that ball. ... That's on the berm in St. Louis, but we're not in St. Louis."

Video: STL@MIA: Steckenrider escapes a jam in the 8th

The offensive struggles did much to overshadow the performance of Weaver, who allowed two runs in six innings: the first on an excuse-me single by Brian Anderson in the first, then on a homer from Starlin Castro in the fourth. But on the whole, Weaver responded at a time when his hold on a rotation spot appeared possibly tenuous.

Back in June, Weaver followed a career-high eight-run outing with eight sharp innings in his next start. As Cardinals general manager Michael Girsch said prior to first pitch, when discussing the acquisition of Ross: "Right now, we have three or four guys in the bullpen who can throw starters' innings, if we need to."

Weaver then went out and did not walk a batter for the third time in six starts. He owns a 3.31 ERA during that stretch. The 24-year-old pitched to a 5.16 ERA in his 17 starts prior.

Tweet from @Cardinals: Luke Weaver just doing his thing! 👊6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO#STLCards pic.twitter.com/UL2QsLOrLd

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Long after Weaver left, the Cardinals finally broke through thanks to Miami's erratic closer and former Cardinals farmhand, Kyle Barraclough. Tasked with holding a two-run lead in the ninth, Barraclough allowed consecutive singles to Paul DeJong and Harrison Bader to open the frame. He then walked Yairo Munoz on four pitches, setting up a bases-loaded, no-out situation for St. Louis. Carpenter walked home a run after Kolten Wong struck out looking. That led Miami manager Don Mattingly to replace Barraclough with Javy Guerra, who got Molina to bounce to short to end the game.

"When you see a guy at the end of the game who is not around the plate a lot, we're going to take what he gives us," Shildt said. "Every guy took a quality at-bat."

Video: STL@MIA: Carpenter walks, trims deficit to one

SOUND SMART
Lost in the box score was an impressive at-bat by Munoz against Tayron Guerrero in the seventh. Though it ended in a groundout to third, Munoz fouled off eight straight pitches with two strikes against Guerrero, who routinely reaches triple digits with his fastabll. The 14-pitch at-bat tied for the Cardinals' longest of the season. Munoz had one of equal length on June 25, and so did Molina on April 29.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Before his walk in the ninth, Carpenter extended the Majors' longest active on-base streak with a single in the eighth. The line drive to right off Steckenrider made it 25 consecutive games in which Carpenter has reached base. Carpenter is still a ways away from matching the Rangers' Shin-Soo Choo whose 52-game streak earlier in the year ranks as MLB's longest of 2018. More >

Video: STL@MIA: Carpenter singles to extend on-base streak

HE SAID IT
"I didn't know they were going to do that for me. I appreciate them, how they love me." -- Ozuna, on the ovation he received from the crowd at Marlins Park

Video: STL@MIA: Ozuna reflects on time in Miami, returning

UP NEXT
After being claimed off waivers from the Padres over the weekend, Ross is expected to be activated on Tuesday for the second of this three-game series from Marlins Park. He could be available immediately out of the bullpen behind Miles Mikolas (11-3, 2.75), who will start opposite Miami rookie righty Pablo Lopez (2-2, 4.67). It'll be a homecoming of sorts for Mikolas, who is from nearby Jupiter. First pitch is set for 6:10 pm CT.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Luke Weaver