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Cardinals notebook: Woodford to become 10th Cards starter this season
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Cardinals notebook: Woodford to become 10th Cards starter this season

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Pirates 7, Cardinals 2

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jake Woodford throws a pitch during the fifth inning of a game against the Pirates at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Sunday, June 27, 2021. Woodford gave up three hits and two home runs in the two innings he pitched. (Daniel Shular, dshular@post-dispatch.com)

The Cardinals’ starting pitching carousel will reach 10 for the season when righthander Jake Woodford is recalled from Memphis to start on Monday night here against the Chicago Cubs.

Woodford, who made one start in 2020 for the Cardinals, has been a starter for almost all his minor-league career and had made three starts for Memphis after being sent out. He worked 12 innings with a 4.50 earned-run average.

Although it hasn’t been announced yet, Johan Oviedo will be called up from Memphis to start Tuesday’s game against the Cubs. Oviedo has made 11 starts for the Cards without a victory this season, and 16 in his career without winning.

The other eight starters for the Cardinals this year have been Jack Flaherty, Kwang Hyun Kim, Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas (one), John Gant, Wade LeBlanc, Daniel Ponce de Leon and Carlos Martinez, who might be out for the season because of a right thumb ligament strain.

But, since eight-game winner Flaherty went out on May 31 because of a torn oblique muscle, only Kim (four), Wainwright (four) and Martinez (one) have scored victories out of this group.

In 17 relief outings for the Cardinals this season, Woodford is 0-1 with a 4.62 earned-run average. He has walked 14 in 25 1/3 innings

Manager Mike Shildt said that Woodford, 24, is “ready to get it up to 100” (pitches), if necessary.

To make room on the active roster for Woodford, the Cardinals optioned outfielder Lars Nootbaar to Class AAA Memphis.

The Cardinals have two days off in a span of four days next week, so their need for a fifth starter will be lessened for one turn.

Helsley takes the cake on birthday

Ryan Helsley gave the Cardinals a present on his 27th birthday, wriggling out of a first-and-third jam he inherited Sunday from starter Wade LeBlanc in the sixth inning Sunday. Helsley, who struck out two hitters in the inning, has allowed only four inherited runners to score out of 25 inherited.

Maintaining the Cardinals’ 1-1 tie with the San Francisco Giants, Helsley was involved in what probably was the key stretch of the game that the Cardinals won 2-1.

“I would say that’s probably accurate,” Shildt said. “(There were) clearly some big moments to it but Helsley was tremendous. First and third, nobody out. He’s got some serious firepower, boy. He has the heater going, touched 100, sitting on 98 plus. That was one fantastic job by ‘Hels.’”

Even though Darin Ruf had hit the ball halfway to the moon in his previous at-bat for a homer off LeBlanc, he was lifted for lefthanded-hitting Lamonte Wade Jr., who struck out on a 99.3 mph fastball from Helsley.

Wilmer Flores flied to short center and Donovan Solano was held at third, and Harrison Bader’s throw home sailed well off line.

The Cardinals pitched around All-Star Brandon Crawford, walking him on four pitches — the fourth of which was intentional. Helsley then fanned Mike Tauchman on a 99.8 mph fastball to end the inning.

“Maybe it’s type of situation that locks you in as a player and you’ve got to go right at guys,” said Helsley, whose own earned-run average s 4.78. “You just kind of have to trust your stuff and trust you’re going to be able to get those guys out.”

Shildt said, “He does have a strikeout pitch, which is important, obviously. But he’s got multiple pitches he can throw and typically gets a lot of softer contact or no contact.”

Helsley allowed that it might have been his best outing of the season.

“It’s definitely one to kind of lean on and feel good about it,” he said. “It’s always nice to have those reassurances as a pitcher, or in any sport you play. You need that confidence boost and today was one of those.”

Helsley said he didn’t necessarily “amp up” more to get a strikeout. He said he trusted in catcher Yadier Molina and the philosophy of “grip, rip and go at ’em.

“I know I have the ability. I just need to be more consistent,” he said.{strong style=”font-size: 1.5em;”}

Memphis on rampage

The Class AAA Memphis Redbirds ran their winning streak to eight and completed a six-game sweep of Baltimore’s Norfolk team Sunday with a 12-6 win in Memphis. Prized infield prospect Nolan Gorman had two homers and four runs batted in and finished the series nine for 24 with 10 RBIs.

Outfielder Lane Thomas is riding a seven-game hitting streak in which he is 11 for 29.

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