Bernie’s Daily Redbird Review: Cards’ Sluggish, Low-Scoring Offense Needs More Slugging.

Good morning…

Time to grind…

Here’s your Daily Redbird Review:

FIRST PITCH: The Cardinals’ mini-run of success and happiness faded out Tuesday night with a 4-1 loss to the Reds. The Cards’ four-game winning streak came to an end because of a quiet offense, missed opportunities and a poor start by rookie lefthander Genesis Cabrera.

With the loss, the Cardinals have the worst record in the National League Central since May 2. Here are the team records since that date:

Brewers, 17-12
Cubs, 17-14
Reds, 15-15
Pirates 14-17
Cardinals, 10-19

CARDS KILLER: Reds starting pitcher Luis Castillo reaffirmed his status as one of the best in the National League. He gave the Cardinals one earned run in six innings with eight strikeouts. Through 13 starts, Castillo ranks third in the league among starters with a 2.38 ERA.

BASEBALL HERO: There were none for the home team.

BLAME GAME: I don’t want to be too hard on the rookie, Cabrera. He’s 22 years old, and before this season he’d never started a game above the Double A level. So it’s an understatement to say Cabrera is inexperienced. And I’ve liked watching him pitch. He has a live arm, flair, and you can see that he loves to compete. I think he has a future with the big club. But he’s not quite ready.

Cabrera lasted 4 and ⅔ innings in Tuesday’s loss, didn’t notch a strikeout, and failed to get a swing-and-miss on any of his 95 pitches.

In his two starts over the last week, at Philadelphia and last night against the Reds, Cabrera gave up 13 hits, four walks and six earned runs in 8 and ⅓ innings for a 6.48 ERA.

The kid has a chance to be good, maybe even very good.

The Cardinals hoped to catch lightning in a bottle with Cabrera.

Understandable. But it didn’t happen.

TURNING POINT: The Cardinals had chances to get to Castillo for multiple early runs but didn’t get it done. After Matt Carpenter’s leadoff homer in the first inning, the Cardinals stranded two runners. They left two more runners on in the second. Paul Goldschmidt opened the third with a walk — and the Cardinals couldn’t take advantage of it. After the Goldy walk, the Cardinals went 0 for 12 against Castillo and struck out six times. Castillo was removed after six with a 4-1 lead. Might have been a different game had the Cardinals gotten a couple of big hits with men on base in the first three innings.

The Cardinals went 1 for 5 with runners in scoring position.

HEY, YOU DID GOOD: Though Michael Wacha did give up a single to his first batter, which scored a run charged to Cabrera, he had a positive relief appearance striking out three and allowing two hits in 2 and ⅓ innings. Wacha’s fastball reached 94.7 miles per hour, so his recent inactivity may have freshened him up. You know where this is going, right? The management of this team, and the manager in the dugout will leap at any chance to reinstall Wacha in the rotation.

Just a few words on Matt Carpenter: he homered and walked to give the Cardinals a little zing at the leadoff spot.

LOOK, YOU NEED TO DO BETTER: The Cardinals struck out an embarrassing 14 times in this game. That marked the seventh time in the last 13 games that they’ve whiffed nine or more times. The Cardinals have scored three runs or fewer in five of their last eight games.

The Cardinals have to try something to shake it up, and Jose Martinez should go back into right field, with Fowler getting some down time. In his last 10 games Fowler is 3 for 31 for an .096 batting average. He’s also struck out in 34 percent of his plate appearances over that time.

Since the beginning of May, Fowler is batting .179 with a 27 percent strikeout rate.

And Center fielder Harrison Bader is 3 for his last 27, a .111 average, with eight strikeouts.

MORE ON THE STRUGGLING OFFENSE: Since May 1, the Cardinals rank 27th in the majors in slugging percentage (.376.)  They’re also 23rd in park adjusted runs created at 15 percent below league average offensively since May 1.

SECOND GUESSING SHILDTY: Nothing, really. Hitters gotta hit. But Shildty might want to talk to his batting coaches about the recent plague of strikeouts and ground balls.

GOOD MOVE SHILDTY: Best to go back to Matt Carpenter in the leadoff spot, which Shildt has done.

BREATHLESS: It’s just a little unnerving to look at the stats on the fifth day in June and see the Cincinnati Reds have a better rotation ERA, and bullpen ERA, than the Cardinals… and it isn’t even close. In the National League, only the Dodgers have a better team earned-run average than the Reds this season.

ON DECK: Rookie Dakota Hudson goes for the Cardinals tonight, facing Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani. Hudson has a 3.07 ERA in his last seven starts and has allowed only one homer to 173 batters over that time, with an outstanding ground-ball rate of 62.6%.

Thanks for reading…

–Bernie