Bernie’s Redbird Review: Cardinals Get Wrecked In A Lost Weekend At Wrigley

Good morning, and I hope you all had a better weekend than the Cardinals.

Here’s the Monday edition of the Daily Redbird Review.

This version will concentrate on the entire weekend series instead of Sunday’s game.

FIRST PITCH: The Cardinals went into Wrigley Field and got knocked around by the Cubs for three days, getting swept by a rival that reinforced its superiority. This was a rout. The Cubs won all three games, outscoring the Cardinals 23 to 10, and shoved the Cards out of first place in the NL Central. After a 2-7 start to the season the Cubs have won 17 of their last 22, going back to April 8. Since that day, the Cubs have the best team ERA 2.48, in the majors. After winning the first three games of their two-city trip to Washington and Chicago, the Cardinals staggered to four consecutive defeats and finished with a 3-4 record. It’s home sweet home for the Cardinals, who are 12-4 at Busch Stadium this season.

CARDS KILLER: Too many choices here. I’ll go with Kris Bryant, who crushed the Cardinals all weekend, batting .444 with a grand-slam homer, five RBIs and four runs. There was nothing boring about his bat. In the rivals’ first meeting since Bryant called St. Louis boring last winter, Round One went to Bryant.

BASEBALL HERO: When a team gets swept and slapped around by its despised rival in the first series of the year, there are no baseball heroes on the St. Louis side. Not this weekend, anyway.

BLAME GAME: I think it would be picky to focus on two or three people. Really, if we’re going to do the blame game then it needs to be put on the entire team. The Cardinals were feeble offensively in the series opener, losing 4-0 and making Kyle Hendricks throw only 81 pitches. The Cardinals coughed up a 5-1 lead, left a bunch of runners on base and lost 6-5. Sunday was a blowout. As we noted earlier, the Cubs are playing excellent baseball, and that’s legit. It isn’t easy for any team to beat the Cubs right now. Still … come, on. The Cardinals certainly had a big chance to win at least one game. And losing two of three doesn’t sting as much as losing all three. The Cardinals played a major role in their own demise with some shaky defense and poor judgment in running the bases. It was just a lost weekend. Get ‘em next time, right?

TURNING POINT: I think everyone was feeling pretty good about the Cardinals’ shot at winning Saturday when the boys opened a 5-1 lead going into the bottom of the fourth. But the good times ended quickly, with a sudden collapse that ended on a game-tying grand-slam homer by backup catcher Taylor Davis. Michael Wacha threw a nothing cutter on the first pitch, and Davis blasted it. And if you don’t know who Taylor Davis  is … well, exactly.

HEY, YOU DID GOOD: It’s a short list here … but at least Matt Carpenter got something going at Wrigley, with 4 hits in 11 at-bats and two runs batted in … Paul DeJong continued his quiet storm of season by going 4-for-11 with three walks, a homer and two RBIs … Yadier Molina had a two-run double Sunday that temporarily gave the visitors hope.

LOOK, YOU NEED TO DO BETTER: I have to mention one prominent hitter, Paul Goldschmidt. It was a weekend he’d like to forget after going 2 for 13 with five strikeouts … the Cardinals left 20 runners on base over the final two games…The real problem is pitching … the Cardinals were hammered for 22 earned runs in 24 innings in this series for an 8.25 ERA. Their pitchers walked 14 Cubs, and were popped for five home runs. Cardinals starting pitchers Jack Flaherty, Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright walked 10, allowed three homers, and had a combined 6.89 ERA in 15 and ⅔ innings. And a rock-steady bullpen imploded, with the Cubs going off for 10 earned runs in 8 and ⅓ innings against St. Louis relievers. The Cardinals can’t keep the baseball in the yard, having been smacked for 58 homers in 34 games. That’s the most home runs yielded by a National League staff this season. … in 25 plate appearances with runners in scoring position over the weekend, the Cubs walloped STL pitching for a .588 average, 1.961 OPS, three homers and 20 RBIs.

SECOND GUESSING SHILDTY: We all know that Shildt has a soft spot for Adam Wainwright, and that’s true of most people who love the Cardinals. But Sunday night, with the Cardinals down by one run, 3-2, Wainwright opened the sixth by giving up a smoked single to Ben Zobrist. That was followed by another hard-hit single by Kris Bryant. That should have been it. It made absolutely no sense for Waino to face Anthony Rizzo there. Understand that LH batters are putting up violent stats against Wainwright this season: 67 batters faced, four homers, six doubles and a 1.066 OPS. Shildt made the classic mistake of thinking with his heart instead of his head, and Rizzo ripped the game back open with a two-run double off the tiring Waino to make it 5-2. Shildt brought in John Gant after the Rizzo double … sorry, Shildty … too late.

GOOD MOVE SHILDTY: I really can’t come up with anything that’s legitimate… I’d be forcing it … so let’s just move on. The manager and his team had a lousy weekend. It happens.

BREATHLESS: The Cubs are really, really, really good.

SUMMING IT UP: “You normally don’t have this quick rebound under these circumstances,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said of his team’s climb from 2-7 (and last place) to first in the NL Central. “Nobody in that room believed we were going to maintain that negative approach. We just don’t do that.”

TRASH TALK FROM THE WINDY CITY: Here’s Andy Dolan from The Athletic’s Chicago bureau, dissing the Cardinals’ powder-blue throwback uniforms, which they’ll wear for Saturday road games this season…

“Speaking of uniforms, how about those powder blue abominations the Cardinals wore on Saturday,” Dolan wrote. “There were a lot of terrible trends in the ’70s: disco, the Pet Rock, eight-track tapes, the Cubs trading Bill Madlock (who had just won consecutive batting titles) to the Giants for Bobby Murcer and Steve Ontiveros, and powder blue baseball uniforms. Powder blue uniforms were basically baseball’s leisure suit. The Cubs were not immune. They had one, and they even added some really awful white pinstripes to it for a couple of years. It was so bad it made poor Jerry Morales look like Navin R. Johnson in The Jerk after he got the Opti-Grab money.”

ON DECK: Bryce Harper and the Phillies are in town for three games starting tonight at 7:05. Righthander Vince Velasquez (1-1, 2.73) starts for Philadelphia against Cards RH Miles Mikolas (3-2, 4.73.) The Cardinals have to put the lost weekend behind them ASAP and win a series from the Phils.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie