Your Daily Redbird Review…
(Aka, “Speed the Collapse,” the song by Metric.)
FIRST PITCH: The Cardinals winless, joyless trip to the Best Coast came to a crashing end Wednesday with a soul-draining 2-1 loss to the Dodgers on a sun-splashed afternoon atop the hill at Chavez Ravine.
Dodger Blue? No, the Cardinals were blue after the Dodgers rallied for a walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth. More on that in a bit.
When the first-place Cardinals began their California tour on Saturday, they led the Cubs by a half-game in the National League Central.
After scoring only seven measley runs in losing all five games to the A’s and Dodgers, the 58-55 Cardinals flew home in third place, 3 and ½ behind the Cubs, and a half-game in back of the second-place Brewers.
The NL wild-card scramble is hectic and filled with many aspiring contenders including the scorching-hot Mets, who have pulled even with St. Louis in the WC race.
In testing themselves against the Astros, Cubs, A’s and Dodgers the Cardinals went 3-8, averaged 2.36 runs per game, and lost three of four series.
The 0-5 trip left the Cardinals with a 27-32 road record on the season.
BASEBALL HERO: Jack Flaherty was magnificent for the Cardinals, suppressing the NL’s best offense over seven innings. No runs, only four hits, just one walk, and 10 strikeouts. Flaherty has a sensational 0.94 ERA in his last six starts, giving up only two homers in 38 and ⅓ innings, with a nasty strikeout rate of 34.3 percent.
But because of a horrendous shortage of run support, Flaherty has been credited with only one win in the last six starts.
And this is why imbeciles who make performance-value judgments based on individual starting-pitcher win counts are, well, imbeciles.
Baseball = team sport.
BLAME GAME: Yeah, Andrew Miller and Carlos Martinez yacked it up in the bottom of the ninth, and it was a sickening way to lose a game.
But please allow me to step outside of the Short Attention Span Theater for a second to point out he Cardinals scored one run in nine innings Wednesday. This, hours after wasting a quality Miles Mikolas start by scoring one run in Tuesday’s 3-1 loss.
The dangerous Dodgers average 5.4 runs per game this season and Cardinals pitchers held those bats to five total runs in 18 innings — only to lose twice.
The Cardinals scored two runs, total, losing all three games to the Dodgers. Monday’s loss (8-0) was a blowout. And had the offense showed up, the Cardinals could (should?) have won the last two games.
In Wednesday’s loss, the Cardinals had chances to add to Marcell Ozuna’s sixth-inning solo homer. But later in the sixth Matt Wieters flew out with two on and two runners on.
In the top of the ninth the Cardinals had men on first and third with one out. At minimum, they should have increased their lead to 2-0. But Jose Martinez hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning and the threat. And with two down in Wednesday,’s fifth inning, Tommy Edman flew out to strand a runner on second base.
TURNING POINT: With one out in the ninth, A. Miller hit Corey Seager in the back with a pitch with one out and nobody on in the ninth; that’s all the Dodgers needed to get the mojo rising.
HEY, YOU DID GOOD: Flaherty. Ozuna. And Matt Carpenter reached based four times (two hits, a walk and a HBP.) Reliever Giovanny Gallegos was as dependable as usual in protecting Flaherty’s lead in the eighth inning.
LOOK, YOU NEED TO DO BETTER: Let’s get to the list:
1. The Cardinals batted .170 in the Dodger series, and scored two runs in 103 plate appearances over 27 innings. They struck out 30 percent of the time. They went 2-for-17 (.118) with runners in scoring position.
2. Over the entire 0-5 roadkill trip, the Cardinals scored seven runs in 177 plate appearances over 45 innings. They batted .180. Had a .250 onbase percentage. Slugged .273. Had a strikeout rate of 29 percent. Batted .143 with RISP. And never scored more than a single run in any of their 45 innings.
3. Paul Goldschmidt, Tommy Edman, Jose Martinez, Marcell Ozuna, Kolten Wong, Matt Wieters and Yairo Munoz combined to go 12-for-96 (.125 average) with two runs batted in and 27 strikeouts.
SECOND-GUESSING SHILDTY: Edman had a .118 onbase percentage in five games vs. Oakland and LA. In his last seven games Edman reached base three times in 26 plate appearances with no walks and five strikeouts.
Doesn’t matter. Performance is irrelevant. Shildt continues to play Edman, start Edman, use Edman in the top part of the lineup, and deploy this infielder in the outfield.
GOOD MOVE SHILDTY: Well, I guess it could be worse. The skipper could have batted Edman cleanup … or maybe used Edman to pitch the ninth inning Wednesday.
Pardon my cheapjack sarcasm.
But I’m having some harrowing Matheny flashbacks and I really need my meds.
SUMMING IT UP: The Dodgers have 10 walk-off wins in 61 home games this season. And that includes seven walk-off wins in their last 21 contests at Dodger Stadium.
So when the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the ninth, the visitors may have had more anxiety than the home team.
When Cody Bellinger opened the bottom of the ninth with a ground-out, manager Dave Roberts still expected his team would rally and win the game.
“Yeah, yeah,” Roberts told reporters that cover the Dodgers. “It’s something that I think the other dugout feels as well. The crowd gets into it, we start feeling it, seems like everyone in our lineup has been in that spot and has come through, so once you have that history and that feeling, that’s tangible, we keep showing it’s real.”
ON DECK: The Cardinals are off today. They’ll host the Pirates at Busch Stadium for three games beginning Friday night.
ABOUT THE PIRATES: Is manager Clint Hurdle losing his team? Is he in jeopardy of losing his job? Could be, according to the respected Rob Biertempfel, who covers the Pirates for The Athletic.
Pittsburgh is 4-21 in its last 25 games. And as Biertempfel points out, at 48-66 the Pirates are 18 games under .500 for the first time since the end of the 2011 season — Hurdle’s first year as the Bucs’ manager.
Hurdle seems stressed.
“It’s not a reality TV show,” Hurdle barked in response to one media question asked of him this week. “I’m not going to flash my deck to you on every move we make and everything we do (in the clubhouse) because some of isn’t really anybody’s business but ours.”
The Pirates averaged only 12,686 fans at PNC Park for the three-game series against visiting Milwaukee.
Thanks for reading …