St. Louis Cardinals: Another game, another blown lead
There is always a bad taste in a team’s mouth after getting swept by a divisional opponent. It felt 10x worse this past weekend when the St. Louis Cardinals fell three times in three days to their rival Chicago Cubs.
Keeping a lead has been tough for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2017. It is the same old story almost every game. The Cardinals will jump out to an early lead, the starting pitcher will go at least six innings deep, and the bullpen will blow the game. All the blame should not be placed on the ‘pen, as the offense is deserving of a large chunk of blown leads.
Two runs is not enough of a lead. A team should never feel safe with just a two run lead, especially if it is the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals. In the three games versus the Cubs this past weekend, St. Louis had at least a two run lead in each game. Eight of the eleven runs scored came in the 4th inning or earlier. The offense needs to find ways to contribute to the scoreboard late in games when it matters.
Monday night’s loss against the last place Cincinnati Reds should not be placed on the bullpen. Carlos Martinez managed to get through 6.1 innings pitched, however, was responsible for all four runs that came across the plate in the bottom of the seventh.
Kevin Siegrist relieved Martinez after he allowed a two RBI double off the bat of Eugenio Suarez that tied the game up, leaving runners on second and third. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Siegrist gave up a double to Scooter Gennett that plated both Joey Votto and Suarez. No further damage was done in the inning.
Especially relevant that all of this action came after the St. Louis Cardinals jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth. Back-to-back doubles by Yadier Molina and Tommy Pham plated the first run while the second came across on a bunt single by Martinez.
The St. Louis Cardinals seemed to have momentum in their favor after plating those two runs. In the first two innings, Molina flashed his defensive brilliance throwing out two runners trying to steal, one of which was speedster Billy Hamilton. Hamilton is now 24-27 on steal attempts against the seven time Gold Glove winner. The second runner mowed down was Adam Duvall in the bottom of the second.
Reds starting pitcher Asher Wojiciechowski (say that five times fast) had a relatively successful outing as he threw three hitless innings before Matt Carpenter and Stephen Piscotty attempted to start a one out rally with back-to-back singles in the fourth. Wojiciechowski then managed to induce a ground ball double play off Jedd Gyorko‘s bat.
Martinez looked to be moving right along through the game before the seventh inning disaster hit. He finished with the loss dropping his record below .500 to 4-5. His line was 6.1 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs (all earned), two walks, and eight strikeouts.
After Martinez exited, the bullpen did their job to keep the game in reach. Siegrist went 0.2 innings with a hit and a strikeout. John Brebbia took care of the home half of the eighth only allowing one hit.
However, credit is due to the Cincinnati Reds bullpen as they worked three strong innings after a nice outing by Wojiciechowski. His final line was 6.0 IP, 8 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts. He was credited with a no decision.
The Reds brought in a trio of Lisalverto Bonilla, Michael Lorenzen, and Raisel Iglesias to finish off the final three innings. None of them allowed a hit and recorded a combined four strikeouts, three of which came from Iglesias in the ninth. Bonilla is credited with his first win of the season while Iglesias notched his 10th save on the year.
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I have to admit that I thought this year’s version of the St. Louis Cardinals had a chance to be a potential division winner after they went on that hot streak after a slow start. These are the real Cardinals. Their best hitter is Jedd Gyorko. Most of the positive things that can be said about the offense comes from the bats of two rookies, Magneuris Sierra and Paul DeJong. Veteran “leaders” have had terrible approaches at the plate, terrible base running, and terrible defense.
As a result of this game, the St. Louis Cardinals fall to 26-29. However, they remain in third place of the NL Central ahead of the Reds by half a game.
Next: Time to shake up the offense
This team needs revamping. If it were not for the starting pitchers having one of the best ERA in the entire league, this team would probably be contending for the worst record in MLB. But, I am ranting out of frustration at this point, but the bottom line is that the 2017 St. Louis Cardinals are not good and it could be a long second half of the season.