I’ll admit that I didn’t see much of last night’s Cardinals game. Then again, I think we have all seen that game plenty of times before.
I had a church meeting last night and afterwards checked the score. It was 2-0 in the bottom of the second with runners on. Not the best first inning for Carlos Martinez, I thought, but if he’s settling in there’s plenty of time left. I spent some time talking to people in the parking lot and the last I checked, that scoring opportunity had fizzled (as you might expect) and Cleveland had a runner on in the top of the third.
Soon after I got in the car and headed home, thinking that things were still fine. That is, until John Rooney said it was 5-0 and Martinez continued to give up hits. With Shane Bieber on the mound, even two runs were going to tough to recover. Five seemed impossible.
And, indeed, they were, though the Cardinals actually gave themselves a chance in the bottom of the fourth. Bieber turned into being a little bit of a human, with two outs walking Tyler O’Neill and hitting Matt Carpenter (barely) with a pitch. Edmundo Sosa, who as we have noted has been coming back to earth a bit over the last couple of weeks, singled in what turned out to be the only run. Andrew Knizner then walked to load the bases, but John Nogowski pinch-hit and grounded out, ending the threat. The sad thing was, of course, that Nogowski, who got his one hit of the season back on April 4, probably was your best option off of the bench.
Other than that, Bieber really didn’t have any problems. In the other five innings he pitched, he allowed just four hits and no walks. He only struck out five in his start, which perhaps is some sort of victory for this offense. Martinez, on the other hand, struck out seven in four innings, proving that strikeouts aren’t the only thing.
So a starting pitcher struggling, no offense to speak of, is there something I’m missing? Oh, yes, an ineffective bullpen!
It looked like Andrew Miller was going to get roughed up, but he allowed the first two men to single (and one was caught stealing) before retiring two more to get out of it. Jake Woodford then pitched an inning, allowing a run when a leadoff walk came around on a sacrifice fly. Daniel Ponce de Leon and Seth Elledge did fine in their inning each, but then Junior Fernandez was the bad Fernandez (perhaps this is Senior Bernandez?) and gave up four runs in the ninth. Not that it mattered, since losing by nine is the same in the standings as losing by five, but it sure doesn’t make for a fun ending. At least the Cardinals didn’t tempt Mike Shildt to use Yadier Molina, I guess.
On Twitter last night, it was indicated that the last time the Cardinals lost six games, they fired Mike Matheny at the end of it. That’s not actually true, from what I can tell. They lost the last three games under Matheny. (Went back and checked the tweet, it was the last time they’d lost six in a row at home since then, which is a key difference.) This is the longest losing streak since 2017, when the Cards lost seven in a row from June 2 to June 8 and did some serious staff shuffling at the end of it. The problem is, it’s starting to be hard to see where people are underperforming and where this team just isn’t good. The offense should be stronger, especially with Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado in the lineup and O’Neill starting to become the player the club thought. The pitching, though? With all the injuries and the arms that are out there, it should be able to keep you in games but I don’t know that it’s a staff you expect a lot out of.
We’ll give the Hero to Matt Carpenter, as he went 2-3, though Sosa did get two hits along with the only RBI. The Goat goes to Carlos Martinez for getting the team behind so early.
Can the club avoid losing seven in a row? Adam Wainwright at home is probably your best chance for it. Otherwise, this train could get seriously derailed. Going into Wrigley with Johan Oviedo, John Gant, and perhaps Angel Rondon as your starters? That’s not really how you draw it up. The Cubs and Brewers both won last night, dropping the Cards to 3.5 back. They have to stop the bleeding and if it doesn’t happen today, I’m not sure when it will.