Good, Bad and Ugly: St. Louis Cardinals avoid getting swept by Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates are the worst team in the NL Central, but you wouldn’t know it when they play the St Louis Cardinals.
Coming into this series, fans were hoping to see the St. Louis Cardinals sweep and maybe gain some ground in the wild card race. Instead, the Cardinals struggled to score or even look like the good team we had been catching glimpses of late.
The Cardinals lost Friday 4-0, they lost Saturday 5-4 and won Sunday 3-0. Disappointing.
Let’s discuss the good, the bad and ugly of it all.
Paul Goldschmidt and Adam Wainwright showed up big time on Sunday.
In the first, with Goldschmidt aboard, Yadier Molina singled to left field allowing Goldschmidt to score. In the fifth, Goldschmidt blasted a 414 foot home run to Big Mac Land at 104.9 mph. This was his 19th homer of the season.
In the eighth, Harrison Bader singled to center field allowing Molina to score.
Wainwright threw eight innings giving up only two runs and striking out 9 batters. He induced 12 swing and misses. He is now 12-7 on the season. It was the 298th start for the combination of Wainwright and Molina. Amazing.
Alex Reyes, then, tried his hardest to make things interesting in the ninth inning.
Reyes started the inning with Wilmer Difo popping out to Nolan Arenado. Yoshi Tsutsugo struck out swinging. Then the drama ensued. Ke’Bryan Hayes singled to left field. Bryan Reynolds singled to right field.
With the tying run at the plate, Colin Moran stepped up to bat. Thankfully, Moran lined out sharply to right field and Cardinals Legend Lars Nootbaar made a spectacular, game saving catch at the right field wall. Take a look here:
The was Reyes’ 28th save of the season.
In his first start back with the Cardinals since a months long stint on the injured list, Miles Mikolas threw five innings on Friday, gave up two walks, two hits and two runs – neither of which were earned thanks to two fielding errors by Bader. He did strike out five on the night. Andrew Miller pitched two innings of relief giving up one hit, one earned run, a walk and he struck out one. Daniel Ponce de Leon pitched two innings, striking out two but gave up a homer to right center to Tsutsugo.
Bader has provided so many defensive gems this season it was rough to see him give up two costly errors, especially on a night when the team really couldn’t get anything else going.
On Saturday, J.A. Happ pitched six innings, striking out eight but giving up six hits and two home runs to Kevin Newman and Tsutsugo. While the the lineup was trying to scratch together some runs to get into the game, Genesis Cabrera pitched the seventh inning giving up four hits, one walk and three runs. Nootbaar, who has been starting in right field due to Dylan Carlson hitting the injured list, having two fielding errors did not help matters at all.
Luis Garcia pitched the eighth, giving up one hit but striking out two. T.J. McFarland pitched the ninth, giving up one hit and striking out one.
Nootbaar is young and has a lot of passion for the game. He’s made some pretty spectacular plays as well so you really hate to see him have blunders because he makes good plays in the field, at the plate and on the base path. Much like the rest of the team, it’s just frustrating to see.
The lack of hits and advancing baserunners is becoming increasingly more frustrating as we get deeper into the season. The losses because of this are awful when your team has a pretty talented lineup. You cannot blame this on anyone but the players as they are the ones not making contact or moving.
On Friday, when they were shutout, the team was zero for seven with runners in scoring position. They left 12 on base. Really. Think of what could have been on Friday. That’s ridiculous. On Saturday, the team was 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position. They left nine on base. Even on Sunday, the team was 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 10 on base.
It will be interesting to see how this is addressed in the offseason. With this being an issue for several seasons now, they must address the matter or risk alienating a pretty mad fan base tired of seeing this kind of play annually.
With these glaring issues apparent verses the worst team in the division, the hot seat will be scorching if the team remains status quo.
The Cardinals are now 62-60 on the season. They are 12 back of the Milwaukee Brewers and 4.5 back of the Cincinnati Reds, who have slid into the second wild card spot with a loss from the San Diego Padres. The Los Angeles Dodgers have a nice 10-game lead on the first wild card position.
Jack Flaherty will take the mound Tuesday as the Cardinals play a two-game set against the Detroit Tigers in St. Louis. Hopefully they can build a little confidence as the have a pretty big road trip beginning Thursday in Pittsburgh before heading off to Cincinnati and Milwaukee.
Get your beverages and snacks ready, this next week will be huge for the Cardinals.