For the second straight day, the Cards faced the Royals and mustered only one run in the process. Unlike Monday afternoon in Busch, though, one run wasn’t nearly enough to win last night in Kansas City. Perhaps the club can find a recently deceased tauntaun to put them in, because heaven knows they need to warm up. (Last year, I used Star Wars Day to run through 66 various references to the saga. Much like the Cardinals, I don’t seem to have it in me to be that productive this year, but we’ll still have some I’m sure.)
We talked about the quietness of the bats in the post yesterday and there are a lot of caveats and possible reasons. The humidors may be doing their job too well. The typical “ball carries when it gets warmer” reasoning. The fact that offense is down across the league. All of that probably plays some role, but I don’t know that we can assign all the blame there and just expect that everything will eventually get better in time.
The Cardinals have seven games this season where they have 10 or more hits, which is pretty good. One of those was the 15-single attack against the Diamondbacks, but it still mustered eight runs. You get double digits in hits, you are probably in business. On the flip side, though, they have 10 games where they have six or fewer hits, including last night. You can win games with a low number of hits but it’s really difficult. The Cards are 2-8 in those games, with one of those wins being Monday’s game that turned on Paul Goldschmidt‘s first inning homer.
Goldschmidt has started to hit but that’s been counteracted some by Nolan Arenado cooling off, which was eventually going to happen. You’ve got Tommy Edman that’s still producing regularly but that’s really about it. Andrew Knizner‘s done pretty well when he’s played, I feel like. He’s at .250 BA which is really good for this squad! Dylan Carlson has shown some signs of maybe turning things around, but it feels like it’s going to be a process with him, not a switch being flipped.
The club started slow last year and got better as the year went on, so there’s going to be some hope but it’s tough to watch offensively right now. Thankfully the pitching has usually been able to keep games competitive, though things got out of hand late last night. Dakota Hudson played Houdini, working his way in and out of jams. Eleven baserunners in six innings often would produce more than three runs (and one of those scored after T.J. McFarland came into the game). With Hudson being a ground ball pitcher, for the most part, and the defense still being outstanding, he was able to get some help and get bailed out from time to time. He doesn’t have the strikeout stuff that allows for nights when the ball gets through the defense more often, as it did last night.
As for McFarland, that’s another topic we touched on yesterday but was magnified last night. He was able to lower his hard hit rate from 77.8% to 75%, which is about the only positive you can find out of that outing. He gave up a double that brought in one of Hudson’s runners, then a single that brought in his own before getting Salvador Perez to strike out. He’s been better on righties than lefties this year, as left-handers are reaching him for a .500/.546/.800 line in 11 PA. It’s a small sample, but given all the factors, there’s a decent chance that McFarland is done. Hopefully not and he’ll figure things out, but having these results when offense is supposedly suppressed doesn’t bode well for what happens if the league starts to hit.
Jake Woodford didn’t look much better, allowing an inherited runner to score and giving up two of his own. By time the dust settled, the Royals had scored five in that inning. The Cardinals have only six times scored more than that in an entire game. The offensive explosion of last August and September seems to have faded into memory while those memories of feeling hopelessly down when the other team scores more than a run have returned.
Hero last night was Tyler O’Neill, who found his form long enough to single in the only run of the game for St. Louis. We’ll give the Goat to T.J. McFarland–the game was probably already over when he came in, but that was a really rough performance.
Cards made roster moves yesterday, most notably promoting Juan Yepez for a least a little while as Edmundo Sosa recovers from COVID. If Yepez is able to bring the bat that he was flashing in Memphis to the big leagues, this stay is going to be a lot longer than a few days. He’s in the lineup for this afternoon’s tilt so we’ll quickly get to see!