12 days into September, the race for meaningful October baseball seems to be cloudier than ever. With the American League Standings very tight between 1st and 2nd place across the board, the National League divisions are a little more decided. However, the Wild Card standings are a little less so, with 5 teams within 5 games of a playoff spot with around 20 games to go for each team. Though the St. Louis Cardinals still control their own destiny, they certainly haven’t been helping their own cause lately.
Behind the Box Score: After Adam Wainwright faced the minimum through the first 3 innings, it looked like the St. Louis Cardinals mojo was back. Thanks to a double play grounder, and a fabulous throw by Yadier Molina to nab Everth Cabrera at 2nd, Waino looked great through the first third of the game.
The score was already 2-0 before the top of the 4th, in favor of the Redbirds, but that’s when everything started to unravel. After Everth Cabrera tried again to get cute with the Cardinals, Yadier Molina threw him out on a bunt attempt. Will Venable reached thanks to a Pete Kozma fielding error that should have been the 2nd out of the inning. Chase Headley then singled, sending Venable to 2nd. Yasmani Grandal had a single of his own, and Yonder Alonso drew a bases loaded walk to drive in the Padres first run.
Logan Forsythe then doubled home 2 runs, pushing the score to 3-2, a lead that the Padres wouldn’t relinquish. An Alexi Amarista triple drove home another 2, before mercifully, Edinson Volquez struck out. The inning ended with the San Diego Padres taking a 5-2 lead, and only after sending 9 men to the plate.
The closest chance the St. Louis Cardinals had was adding a 3rd run in the top of the 6th inning, when Jon Jay singled home Skip Schumaker. However, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday left Pete Kozma at 3rd with a chance at a rally.
David Freese & Co. Need More Timely Hits Like This One To Right The Ship
They did add a 4th run on David Freese‘s 19th homerun in the 7th to bring the score to 5-4, but inching closer was all they could muster, as they wasted a Skip Schumaker walk when Pete Kozma lined out to left to end the inning.
The San Diego Padres added an insurance run in the 8th, when Cameron Maybin singled home Yonder Alonso, putting the game out of reach for a Cardinals team that has struggled to earn crucial hits and runs late in games.
David Freese, Jon Jay, and Skip Schumaker had RBI for the Redbirds, while Logan Forsythe and Alexi Amarista had 2 each, and Yonder Alonso and Cameron Maybin had 1 for the Padres. All told, the Cardinals LOB (left on base) total was 30 (yes, THIRTY) last night, and with 7 hits and 8 walks, a few more runs could have been on the board with a few more timely hits.
It’s not as though the Cardinals are not hitting. Aside from Carlos Beltran’s .260 average, the next lowest in the starting lineup is the .290 average had by Skip Schumaker. The bullpen has been good, if not great in the second half, while the starting pitching and defense has left a lot to be desired.
Quick Look at the Standings: Call it unlucky, lack of timely hitting, poor fielding, pitching mistakes – whatever you will. The St. Louis Cardinals, quite frankly, need to get it together before it’s too late. As a fan, you like to see your team get right before the playoff run begins. The Redbirds are barely hanging on to the final Wild Card spot in the National League, and face an uphill climb if they hope to not only hold on to the spot, but also defend last year’s World Series title.
Coming up, the Redbirds continue their road trip against the team that trails them most closely in the Wild Card standings. This series could prove almost meaningless with a sweep of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but that seems like a far reach considering the fact that the St. Louis Cardinals are 4-6 over their last 10 games, and have seen their MLB best run differential dip to +84 after being in the 130s just a few short weeks ago. Let’s hope, Cardinal Nation, that our Redbirds can get right, before it’s too late. Kyle Lohse (14-2, 2.81) faces Clayton Richard (12-12, 3.78) tonight at 5:35 PM CST in hopes to stop the bleeding.