You get swept by the Cubs in their ballpark. OK, not great, but even given how they are playing, they are still the World Champs. You can rationalize that a little bit.
Getting swept–in a four-game series, mind you–by the Reds in their ballpark? While scoring a total of nine runs against a statistically terrible pitching staff in a historically great hitter’s park? Come on, Scooter Gennett accounted for more runs in one game!
According to Derrick Goold’s article, this is the worst the Cardinals have been in 10 years. Ten years ago, the front office was going through this internal schism between the old guard and the new guard, the “proven veteran” camp vs. the “draft and develop” camp. Maybe that played into it a little bit then, without a solid direction to go, but now the focus and vision is there, folks just aren’t getting it done.
Mike Leake is starting to pay for that early spectacular run. He didn’t allow any home runs yesterday and allowing three runs (two earned, due to a Yadier Molina throwing error) isn’t real bad, but doing it in five innings isn’t wonderful. He danced around some trouble, allowing 10 hits and two walks, which meant he was at 86 pitches when his turn to hit came up in the top of the sixth. It’s a little surprising, given the bullpen, that Mike Matheny didn’t run him back out there to see if he could get through another inning, but it’s not like Leake was cruising and I’m sure the hope was to start the sixth with a leadoff runner, though Chad Huffman didn’t oblige.
Patron Pitcher of the Blog Tyler Lyons is going through a rough stretch as well, allowing a two-run homer to Joey Votto in his one inning of work yesterday. Lyons did strike out two, but letting Votto get to you puts a damper on the idea of using him as the lefty-killer while Brett Cecil and Kevin Siegrist struggle with those guys.
The Goat tag is a little tough in this one. I mean, Leake didn’t do great, but that line shouldn’t be the reason the team lost. I guess I’ll go with Tommy Pham, who went 0-3 and left three runners on, but really, who wasn’t the Goat in this one?
Oh, I guess that’d be Matt Carpenter, who gets to be the Hero. Carpenter, back in the leadoff role for the second day in a row, hit a home run for the second day in a row to be the bulk of the offense. Carpenter had two hits and, given how baseball works, will probably stay in that leadoff spot for a little bit. Which, given that Dexter Fowler isn’t quite to the OBP level that he’s been in the past, may not be the worst thing. We’ll see if they ever flip it back around, though.
So everything is going wrong. How do you fix it? As Dexter Fowler said, “If I had an answer, we’d be better.”
Look, we can talk and talk about this roster. We can talk about how Jhonny Peralta needs to go. We can talk about the return of Kolten Wong or whether Randal Grichuk‘s quick trip to Palm Beach (he’s back to Memphis now) will produce results. We can talk about a lot of things, but until Fowler, Carpenter, Cecil, and others start playing more like their career averages and less like….whatever this is here, it’s not going to matter. There are too many unmovable folks, for whatever reason, that aren’t playing up to par. If this offense could even get to the middle of the pack in baseball instead of hanging out around 28th, there’d be a lot more wins.
John Mozeliak is going to have to do something, but what that is, what that can be to really invigorate this team, I don’t know. Being that today’s the first day of a homestand, there could be a few things that’ll happen today (most likely the return of Wong/release of Peralta) but we’ll have to wait and see.
Maybe the best thing is what the schedule brings them–a weekend set with the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies are one of the few offenses worse than the Cardinals, which is something. Even as far gone as this current Redbirds team seems to be, you would feel that it’s a winnable series.
Facing a weak offense may be what Michael Wacha needs right now. He’s faced the Dodgers twice and the Cubs in his last three starts and has an 11.91 ERA to show for it. If he gets lit up by the Phillies, the injury talk will really ramp up and with good reason. Unfortunately, it looks like he’s had his issues with these guys in the past.
Jeremy Hellickson will go for the Phillies. Hellickson, who was expected to be a trade target last year at the deadline, has been going south as well as of late. He’s got a 4.50 ERA overall, but hasn’t allowed less than four runs in his last three starts, including seven against the Rockies at home. You’d like to think this is a great matchup to get some guys on track. They’ll have to overcome their past history to do it, though.
The Cardinals have to win this series. Losing two of three to the Phillies might be the thing that gets you to be a seller at the deadline instead of a buyer. Here’s hoping to a great weekend of baseball, especially Sunday when I’ll be on site!