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Joining a starting rotation that featured future Hall of Famers Jesse Haines and Grover Cleveland Alexander, rookie Fred Frankhouse strung together a September winning streak that nearly lifted the Cardinals to a second consecutive National League pennant.

fred_frankhouseFrankhouse, 23, won each of his first five starts after being promoted from the minor leagues to the Cardinals in September 1927.

In April 2015, Michael Wacha became the first Cardinals pitcher 23 or younger to win each of his first four starts in a season since Frankhouse.

Stretch run

Frankhouse, 5 feet 11 and 175 pounds, was the ace of the Cardinals’ minor-league Houston affiliate in the Texas League in 1927. The right-hander with the sidearm delivery was 21-9 with a 3.24 ERA in 261 innings for Houston.

The defending World Series champion Cardinals, in a four-way race with the Pirates, Giants and Cubs for the 1927 pennant, called up Frankhouse and gave him a start in his big-league debut in the opener of a doubleheader against Chicago on Sept. 7 at St. Louis. The Cardinals started the day in third place, 2.5 games behind the Pirates, 1.5 behind the Giants and a half-game ahead of the Cubs.

Using a sweeping curve, Frankhouse held the Cubs to two runs in seven innings before being relieved by Haines. A 24-game winner in 1927, Haines, making his second and last relief appearance of the season, shut out the Cubs over the final two innings, earning the save and preserving the win for Frankhouse in a 6-2 Cardinals victory. Frankhouse also contributed two hits in three at-bats. Boxscore

Four days later, on Sept. 11, Frankhouse got his second start. He responded with a four-hit shutout, pitching the Cardinals to a 5-0 victory over the Dodgers at St. Louis. The game finished in 1:48. Left fielder Harvey Hendrick got three of the Dodgers’ hits (two singles and a double). The win lifted the Cardinals into a second-place tie with the Giants, two games behind the Pirates. Boxscore

On a roll

Cardinals manager Bob O’Farrell started Frankhouse for the third time on Sept. 15 in the second game of a doubleheader against the Giants at St. Louis. The Giants had five future Hall of Famers in the No. 2 through No. 5 spots in the batting order: Freddie Lindstrom, Edd Roush, Rogers Hornsby, Bill Terry and Travis Jackson.

Frankhouse yielded five runs, but got the win and his second consecutive complete game in an 8-5 Cardinals victory. The game was called after the top of the eighth because of darkness. Frankhouse retired another future Hall of Famer, Mel Ott, with a runner on base to end the game. The Cardinals, who had lost the opener, closed the day still tied with the Giants for second place, but 4.5 behind the Pirates. Boxscore

The Pirates, featuring a lineup with Pie Traynor and brothers Paul and Lloyd Waner, were distancing themselves from the Cardinals and Giants, winning 11 in a row from Sept. 9 through Sept. 17.

On Sept. 19, Frankhouse made his fourth start and pitched his third consecutive complete game, a 12-5 Cardinals victory over the Phillies at St. Louis. Backed by five RBI from his catcher, Frank Snyder, Frankhouse improved his record to 4-0, even though he yielded nine hits and walked five. The Cardinals trailed the Pirates by four with 10 to play. Boxscore

Five days later, on Sept. 24, the Giants beat the Pirates. The Cardinals, behind a fourth consecutive complete game by Frankhouse, defeated the Braves, 4-3, at St. Louis. With Frankhouse improving to 5-0, the Cardinals were within two of the Pirates. Boxscore

NL staple

St. Louis won five of its last six _ the lone loss was by Frankhouse, a 3-2 setback at Cincinnati against the Reds _ and finished the season in second place at 92-61, 1.5 behind the champion Pirates (94-60). The Giants (92-62) finished third, a half-game behind the Cardinals, and the Cubs ended up fourth at 85-68.

In six starts for the 1927 Cardinals, Frankhouse was 5-1 with a 2.70 ERA. The Sporting News called him a “sensational flash.” He pitched a total of 311 innings that season, including 50 for the Cardinals.

Frankhouse was 3-2 in 21 games for the NL champion 1928 Cardinals and 7-2 in 30 games for the 1929 Cardinals. After a rough start to the 1930 season (2-3 with a 7.32 ERA in eight games), Frankhouse and pitcher Bill Sherdel were shipped to the Braves for pitcher Burleigh Grimes on June 16. In four years with the Cardinals, Frankhouse was 17-8 with a 4.05 ERA.

The trade was significant for the Cardinals. Grimes helped them win consecutive pennants and a World Series title. Grimes was 13-6 for St. Louis in 1930 and 17-9 in 1931. He also earned two wins against the Athletics in the 1931 World Series, including the decisive Game 7.

Frankhouse pitched seven years with the Braves (63-61) and three years with the Dodgers (26-28). In 13 big-league seasons, his overall record was 106-97 with a 3.92 ERA.

He died on Aug. 17, 1989, at 85.

Previously: Cardinals home opener links Michael Wacha, Jerry Reuss

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Ken Boyer is the only Cardinal to twice hit for the cycle. Each time, he enhanced the feat by raising the degree of difficulty.

ken_boyer10Boyer first achieved the cycle on Sept. 14, 1961, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Cubs at St. Louis. Boyer led off the 11th with a home run, giving the Cardinals a 6-5 victory and becoming the first big-league player to complete the cycle with a walkoff homer.

Three years later, on June 16, 1964, against the Colt .45s at Houston, Boyer achieved another rarity, completing a natural cycle by getting a single, double, triple and home run in that exact order in his first four at-bats.

Cubs tormenter

In the 1961 doubleheader, Boyer had a spectacular night, going 7-for-11 with 5 RBI against the Cubs.

Boyer was 2-for-5 in the opener. He hit a two-run triple in the fifth off starter Don Cardwell. The Cardinals won, 8-7. With the score 7-7 and the bases loaded in the ninth, Cubs reliever Barney Schultz delivered a pitch the Chicago Tribune described as a “puzzling knuckler” that “slithered away” from catcher Sammy Taylor as a passed ball, enabling Bob Lillis to scamper home from third with the winning run. Boxscore

“The Cubs claimed Taylor’s recovery throw nailed Lillis at the plate, but they weren’t winning arguments _ or anything else _ on this night,” the Tribune reported.

That ending was a fitting prelude to Game 2.

Boyer was 5-for-6 and delivered dramatic extra-base hits in the ninth and the 11th.

In the first inning, Boyer hit an RBI-single off starter Jack Curtis. He singled again off Curtis in the third.

After grounding out in the fifth, Boyer tripled off Curtis in the seventh.

Facing Bob Anderson in the ninth, Boyer produced an RBI-double with one out, tying the score at 5-5.

In the 11th, Boyer led off the bottom half of the inning with his game-winning home run off Don Elston. The victory gave the 1961 Cardinals an 11-0 home record against the Cubs. Boxscore

Since Boyer, four others have completed a cycle with a walkoff home run: Cesar Tovar of the 1972 Twins, George Brett of the 1979 Royals, Dwight Evans of the 1984 Red Sox and Carlos Gonzalez of the 2010 Rockies, according to Wikipedia.

Hot in Houston

Boyer’s second cycle overshadowed the first Cardinals start of Lou Brock, who was acquired by St. Louis the day before in a trade with the Cubs.

Boyer that night became the 19th big-leaguer to hit for the cycle twice and the seventh to hit for the natural cycle, according to Wikipedia.

In the second, Boyer beat out an infield single off starter Bob Bruce. He had an RBI-double against Bruce in the third and an RBI-triple off him in the fifth.

Boyer completed the natural cycle with a home run off Don Larsen leading off the seventh.

After flying out against Larry Yellen in the eighth, Boyer finished 4-for-5 with 3 RBI in a 7-1 victory that snapped a five-game Cardinals losing streak. Boxscore

Boyer was the first National League player to hit for the cycle in 1964.

Previously: Lou Brock hit the ground running in first start with Cardinals

Previously: Unstoppable: How Cardinals scored in each inning vs. Cubs

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mark_grudzielanek2Batting leadoff for one of the few times in his Cardinals career, Mark Grudzielanek hit for the cycle. Ten years later, he remains the last Cardinal to achieve the feat.

On April 27, 2005, Grudzielanek, a second baseman in his lone season with St. Louis, became the 15th Cardinal to hit for the cycle, collecting a home run, triple, double and single against the Brewers at Busch Stadium II.

Grudzielanek is one of three Cardinals to hit for the cycle at Busch Stadium II, the team’s home from 1966-2005. The other two to do so _ Lou Brock in 1975 against the Padres and Ray Lankford in 1991 versus the Mets _ also batted leadoff in those games.

A right-handed batter, Grudzielanek was the first Cardinal to hit for the cycle since John Mabry did it against the Rockies at Denver in 1996.

Mabry, a reserve with the 2005 Cardinals, witnessed Grudzielanek’s performance. “I was hoping for him to get it,” Mabry told MLB.com. “They say it’s more rare than a no-hitter. It’s special.”

The cycle by Grudzielanek was the 16th in Cardinals history. Ken Boyer is the only Cardinal to achieve the feat twice (in 1961 and 1964). Joining Boyer, Brock, Lankford, Mabry and Grudzielanek as Cardinals who hit for the cycle: Cliff Heathcote (1918), Jim Bottomley (1927), Chick Hafey (1930), Pepper Martin (1933), Joe Medwick (1935), Johnny Mize (1940), Stan Musial (1949), Bill White (1960), Joe Torre (1973) and Willie McGee (1984).

Top of the order

Shortstop David Eckstein normally batted leadoff and Grudzielanek sixth for the 2005 Cardinals. When manager Tony La Russa rested Eckstein against the Brewers on April 27, he put Grudzielanek in the leadoff spot against right-hander Victor Santos. Grudzielanek entered the game 7-for-16 (all singles) in his career versus Santos.

In the bottom of the first, Grudzielanek led off with a home run. He singled in the second.

With Santos still pitching, Grudzielanek hit a RBI-double in the fourth.

“It seemed like everything I threw to him he was right on it,” Santos said to the Associated Press. “As soon as I made a mistake, boom, he was right on it.”

Tough task

To complete the cycle, Grudzielanek needed a triple, or “the baseball equivalent of making an inside straight,” wrote Matthew Leach of MLB.com.

In his previous three seasons with the Dodgers (2002) and Cubs (2003-04), Grudzielanek had produced a total of two triples.

Facing left-hander Jorge De La Rosa in the sixth with one out and the bases empty, Grudzielanek said, “I was just trying to come up there and have the same approach that I did the previous at-bats and try to hit the ball hard.”

De La Rosa got two strikes on the batter. Then, Grudzielanek sliced a shot down the right-field line. The ball eluded right fielder Geoff Jenkins and rattled into the corner. Grudzielanek steamed into third with the coveted triple.

In the eighth, Grudzielanek grounded out against left-hander Tommy Phelps. He finished 4-for-5 with 3 runs and 2 RBI in a 6-3 Cardinals victory. The win boosted the Cardinals’ record to 14-5, their best start since the 1968 team had the same mark. Boxscore

Grudzielanek batted leadoff just six times in 2005, hitting .381 (8-for-21). Overall, he hit .294 for the 2005 Cardinals with 155 hits in 137 games.

Previously: Mark Grudzielanek fit a need for 2005 Cardinals

Previously: George Hendrick influenced hitting style of John Mabry

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While facing the Cardinals at St. Louis in 2008, Mark Reynolds of the Diamondbacks became the first big-league player to strike out 200 times in a season.

mark_reynoldsSix years later, Reynolds has joined the Cardinals as a role player.

A free agent who played for the 2014 Brewers, Reynolds signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Cardinals on Dec. 11, 2014. The Cardinals hope Reynolds will provide right-handed power. They know, though, he also will strike out a lot.

Starting in 2006, total strikeouts in the majors have increased each season, according to The Sporting News. Reynolds is the model for that trend.

Poor plate discipline

On Sept. 25, 2008, Reynolds struck out in the second inning against Cardinals starter Joel Pineiro. It was Reynolds’ 200th strikeout that season. He struck out again in the seventh. Boxscore

After the game, Reynolds told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “It’s obviously something I have to work on for next year. It’s not the greatest of records to have. It’s a matter of pitch recognition and being more patient and more selective. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten to 3-and-2 and swung at ball four.”

Reynolds finished the 2008 season with 204 strikeouts, breaking the big-league record of 195 set by Adam Dunn of the 2004 Reds. The record had been 189 strikeouts by Bobby Bonds of the 1970 Giants until Dunn topped the mark 34 years later.

“Records are made to be broken. Maybe somebody will come along and break my record,” Reynolds told Hummel.

Instead, Reynolds broke his own record the next season.

Whiffs pile up

In 2009, Reynolds struck out 223 times. That remains the big-league record.

“Deep down inside, I’m sure it bothers him more than he likes to portray,” said 2009 Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch.

Reynolds has reached 200 strikeouts in a season three times: 204 in 2008, 223 in 2009 and 211 in 2010. He was with the Diamondbacks all three seasons.

Since Reynolds broke the barrier, three others have struck out 200 times in a season: Dunn (222 with 2012 White Sox), Chris Carter (212 with 2013 Astros) and Drew Stubbs (205 with 2011 Reds).

Jim Edmonds holds the Cardinals club record for striking out the most times in a season. Edmonds fanned 167 times in 2000, breaking the franchise mark of 162 set by Ron Gant in 1997.

Power potential

The reason Reynolds remains in the majors is he hits home runs. Reynolds has hit 20 home runs or more in each of his last seven seasons. He has 224 home runs in his eight-year career in the majors, ranking him ahead of contemporaries such as Nelson Cruz (197), Josh Hamilton (192) and Jayson Werth (186)

Reynolds hit 22 home runs in 378 at-bats for the 2014 Brewers. In 2009, when he established the strikeout record of 223, Reynolds produced 44 home runs and 102 RBI for the Diamondbacks.

“When that production is coming with the strikeouts,” Hinch said, “it (the record) is almost a moot point.”

In 1,118 career games, Reynolds has 871 hits and has struck out 1,398 times. He ranks 10th among active players in striking out. The leader among active players is the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez at 2,075.

“Guys that are good hitters and hit for a high average should probably be striking out 10 percent of the time,” Twins manager Paul Molitor told The Sporting News in 2014.

In a 21-year big-league playing career, Molitor produced 3,319 hits and never struck out 100 times in a season. In 2,683 games, he struck out 1,244 times, or 154 fewer times than Reynolds has fanned.

“I don’t know if it’s the mentality of the players,” said Molitor, “but they’re definitely not concerned about it.”

Previously: The 19-year-old who struck out 12 Cardinals

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(Updated Dec. 8, 2014)

In 1964, Ken Boyer showed the qualities one would expect in a Hall of Fame player. The Cardinals third baseman consistently excelled with the glove and with the bat. He was a champion and a leader. He achieved feats that ranked him among the elite at his position all-time.

ken_boyer8Boyer still hasn’t been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown, N.Y. The only other third basemen of the 1958-64 era who fielded and hit at the same level as Boyer were Brooks Robinson of the Orioles, Eddie Mathews of the Braves and Ron Santo of the Cubs. All three have been elected to the Hall of Fame.

Special player

Though one outstanding year doesn’t qualify anyone for the Hall of Fame, Boyer’s 1964 season is important because it caps a seven-year stretch of consistently high quality and puts into context how Boyer elevated himself into a special category of third basemen.

Boyer, 33, played in all 162 Cardinals regular-season games in 1964. He led the major leagues in RBI with 119. Boyer also ranked in the top five in the National League in triples (10) and walks (70). He hit .295 with 185 hits, 30 doubles and 24 home runs. He scored 100 runs. His on-base percentage was .365.

Among NL third basemen in 1964, Boyer ranked second in both assists and double plays turned.

Calm and steady

His immense value to the Cardinals was proven with these statistics: Boyer hit .335 with 91 RBI in the Cardinals’ 93 wins in 1964; .238 with 28 RBI in the Cardinals’ 69 losses.

Remarkably consistent, Boyer in 1964 hit .296 against right-handed pitching; .291 versus left-handers.

Boyer was at his best against the Cardinals’ closest competitors, the Phillies and the Reds. Each finished a game behind the pennant-winning Cardinals. Boyer hit .351 with 17 RBI in 18 games against the 1964 Phillies; .309 with 13 RBI in 18 games versus the 1964 Reds.

In a profile of the Cardinals team captain in the Nov. 14, 1964, edition of The Sporting News, Ed Wilks wrote that Boyer “does everything well, but in the calm, steady, unspectacular fashion of a professional.”

Said Boyer: “The (1964) season couldn’t have been more satisfying. I think I did just about everything I had hoped to do.”

Rewarding year

Among the feats Boyer achieved in 1964:

_ He won the NL Most Valuable Player Award. Boyer became only the second NL third baseman and just the fourth in the big leagues to win a MVP Award. The others were Bob Elliott of the 1947 Braves in the NL and Al Rosen of the 1953 Indians and Brooks Robinson of the 1964 Orioles in the American League.

The top five in balloting for 1964 NL MVP were Boyer, Johnny Callison of the Phillies, Bill White of the Cardinals, Frank Robinson of the Reds and Joe Torre of the Braves. Boyer received 14 of 20 first-place votes.

“That’s a lot when there are only 20 votes altogether and you have all that strong competition,” Boyer said. “Fourteen must be my lucky number. That’s my uniform number.”

_ The Sporting News named Boyer its Major League Player of the Year. He became the third Cardinals player to earn the honor, joining Marty Marion (1944) and Stan Musial (1946 and 1951).

_ For exemplifying the qualities of Lou Gehrig on and off the field, Boyer was presented the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award by the late Yankees first baseman’s Phi Delta Theta fraternity at Columbia University. He joined Musial (1957) as the second Cardinals player to receive the honor.

Run producer supreme

_ He became the first third baseman to lead the NL in RBI since Heinie Zimmerman (102) of the 1917 Giants. Boyer also was the first Cardinals player to lead the major leagues in RBI since Enos Slaughter (130) in 1946 and the first Cardinals player to lead the NL in RBI since Musial (109) in 1956.

_ Named to the all-star team for the seventh and last time, Boyer started at third base in the 1964 Midsummer Classic at Shea Stadium in New York and went 2-for-4, with a home run off Athletics reliever John Wyatt, in a 7-4 NL victory. Boxscore

_ Despite a hamstring injury, Boyer played in all seven games of the 1964 World Series against the Yankees. He hit a grand slam off Al Downing for all the Cardinals’ runs in a 4-3 Game 4 triumph Boxscore and produced three hits, including a solo home run against Steve Hamilton, in the Cardinals’ championship-clinching 7-5 victory in Game 7. Boxscore

_ The 1964 season was the last of seven in a row in which Boyer hit 23 or more home runs and produced 90 or more RBI.

Previously: If Ron Santo goes into Hall, Ken Boyer should, too

Previously: Ken and Clete Boyer: 1st brothers to each hit 25 HRs

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Seventy-five years ago, a Cardinal was National League batting champion, but it wasn’t the player who nearly hit .400.

don_padgettIn 1939, Cardinals first baseman Johnny Mize won the league batting title with a .349 mark in 153 games. At that time, a player needed to appear in 100 games in a season to qualify for the National League batting crown.

Mize’s teammate, catcher Don Padgett, hit .399 in 92 games for the 1939 Cardinals. Padgett produced 93 hits in 233 at-bats. No National League player with at least 200 at-bats in a season has had a higher batting average since then, according to baseball-reference.com.

If not for bad timing, Padgett, 27, would have hit .400 that season.

Untimely time out

On Oct. 1, the last day of the 1939 season, the Cardinals played the Cubs at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. Padgett, a left-handed batter, was sent by manager Ray Blades to pinch-hit for pitcher Max Lanier against the Cubs starter, right-hander Claude Passeau.

Padgett lined a single to center, according to author John Snyder in the book “Cardinals Journal,” but the hit didn’t count. First-base umpire Bick Campbell had called time out just before Passeau delivered the pitch because a ball had rolled from the bullpen onto the field.

The hit in his final at-bat of the season would have given Padgett a .402 batting average.

Instead, Padgett returned to the batter’s box and drew a walk, settling for the .399 mark. Boxscore

Ripping righties

Two years later, Ted Williams of the Red Sox became the last big-league player to hit .400 in a season with at least 200 at-bats. Williams hit .406 in 1941.

Padgett was used almost exclusively against right-handed pitchers in 1939. He hit .399  (89-for-223) versus right-handers and .400 against left-handers (4-for-10). He was especially productive at home, hitting .455 (46-for-101) for the 1939 Cardinals at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis.

Primarily a backup to starting catcher Mickey Owen, Padgett enjoyed a torrid June (.441 batting average) and July (.484). His batting average was .400 on Sept. 27. Then he went 1-for-3 against the Reds on Sept. 28, dropping his batting mark to .399 and setting up that final at-bat versus the Cubs three days later.

In five years with the Cardinals, Padgett hit .292 in 525 games. His career mark in eight big-league seasons with the Cardinals, Phillies, Dodgers and Braves was .288.

Previously: The strange case of Hugh Casey versus 1940 Cardinals

Previously: Baseball and romance: Cardinals’ Cuban adventures

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