Oh the pain for some (many?) Cardinals fans. The St. Louis Cardinals returned home Monday after a less than stellar 2-4 road trip to add to their demise in May.
Due to severe weather in the St. Louis area on Tuesday, their Game One in the "I-70" split series was postponed. Double-header scheduled for Wednesday. Cardinals to face a sub-.500 team the Kansas City Royals.
Beautiful day for baseball Wednesday.
However, Cardinals fall to the Royals, 8-2, in the afternoon game. Did the Cardinals players go to the St. Louis Blues game the night before? Celebrating their win over the San Jose Sharks to advance to the final round for the Stanley Cup? Out too late?
Could have been. And it has been brought to attention of many that when both the Cardinals and Blues play on the same day/night - Cardinals have lost when Blues win. Well, in a bit of research - Cardinals have lost when the Blues lost, too. So there is no Blues curse. The Blues are closing their postseason on a very high note. Cardinals still have many games to be played in their regular season. In January, Blues were low team on the totem pole, counted out as 'contenders'. Here they are in the final round of the Stanley Cup Championship for a re-match against the Boston Bruins ~ 49 years in the making.
But, no matter, Cardinals fans see their Cardinals still in a slump. One fan stated, "a trend". One fan commented he doesn't even watch anymore because "all they do is lose". In my opinion, those types are not really fans of baseball - of our Cardinals.
This sub-par team, the Royals, were on cruise-control over the Cardinals Michael Wacha. He only saw 4.2 IP gave up 1 HR/6 ER/7 Runs/3 BB and only 4 SO. He was retired with a Royals 7-0 lead. Reliever Ryan Helsley, who followed for 1.2 IP, saw the lead grow to 8-0 in his watch.
However, all was not "lost". Marcell Ozuna stays a "shutout" with a 2-RBI double - a missile sent to the center wall in the eighth. Consoling? For me - yes. That broke the goose egg nestled up on the scoreboard.
Yes, Wacha was handed the loss. And Royals young Brad Keller earned the win in his second best outing, since his Opening Day appearance this season, going 7 IP only rendering "2 ER" to Ozuna. Cardinals do have a way of bringing out the best for a new starter faced.
GAME TWO - NIGHT BASEBALL
Evidently, there was enough time in-between the day and night game for the Cardinals to regroup and "Play Ball".
Two veterans facing one another, Cardinals Adam Wainwright and Royals Homer Bailey. Each having their own issues the begin this season. Wainwright giving up 1 HR/3 ER/4 BB with only 2 SO does earn the win. Bailey handed the loss as the Cardinals offense had Wainwright's back.
In Bailey's first, he issued a free pass to 'lead-off' Matt Carpenter, a hit to Paul Goldschmidt with his first out by Paul DeJong on a fly-ball. Then, Marcell Ozuna at the plate to face him. He made Bailey work. Eleven pitches. Bailey's twelfth pitch was the one he was waiting for. He sent the two-seamer out of the park for a three-run homer and a Cardinals 3-0 lead.
In Bailey's second, one out - with only his second strikeout of his game, Wainwright hits for a single. Carpenter back to face him. With five pitches, the last being a knuckle-curveball, Carpenter's lil' five iron shot connected for a two-run homer. Bailey was retired, 1.2 IP, after his second 'worst' outing this season, and a Cardinals 5-0 lead.
However, the Royals were not giving up. They chipped away at the lead and by the end of the fifth were within two runs.
In the sixth, top-of-the-order Dexter Fowler put a bit of breathing room between the Cardinals and the Royals. First pitch served up, a sinker, by reliever Richard Lovelady for a solo home run. Fowler was 3-4/1 HR/1 RBI/1-2B/2 Runs and just shy a triple in last night's game for a cycle.
In the seventh, two outs on the board, Cardinals broke the game open with Yadier Molina hitting for a RBI single. Fowler's double, and Kolten Wong top the inning off with a three-run home run. Cardinals lead and final score, 10-3, for the win and split the double-header.
A four home run game for the Cardinals.
HOW DO CARDINALS CURE THIS SLUMP?
Currently the Cardinals fans are calling for heads to roll. The same 'beating the dead horse syndrome". Fire President of Baseball Operations, John "Mo" Mozeliak. Even Mike Shildt is now under fire in his first full season as manager. Cardinals have gone from a manager, former Mike Matheny, that every game the line-up was different, to our current manager who has held pretty much with the same players to start each game. With very little variance from top to bottom.
The Cardinals are only five games out of first in the NL Central and we are closing in on the end of "May".
"Firing" anyone is not the answer - only whining among the fan-base by those who seem to have all the answers from the "couch".
In my opinion, Schildt holds a great deal of faith and respect for his players. I feel he views each as an important part of the Cardinals team and he is going to put them out there until they 'get it right'. For one, I believe they will.
Even with that said, my concern lies with the Cardinals rotation. The bullpen, overall, has been solid. Yes, they too have had their off-days. It's amazing is it not? Go figure and why don't we have eight relievers with below a 2.00 ERA? Get real. They have proven to be a solid group ~ much better than we have had in the past, just my opinion.
The rotation, as a whole with moments of solid pitching, have given up runs 'early' and throughout their stands. It's the Cardinals rotation who hold a collective 4.78 ERA. Not one even close to a 3.00 ERA.
Miles Mikolas (4.88 ERA), rookie Dakota Hudson (4.40 ERA), Jack Flaherty (4.19 ERA), Michael Wacha (5.59 ERA) and Adam Wainwright (4.82 ERA). Not pretty at all. And not one left-hander in the group. That I have not agreed with since the off-season.
This is the unit that must - must give the Cardinals offense solid innings. Runs to a minimum - walks lowered to keep the runs off the board. On the flip-side, offense needs to reassure our starters, they have their backs as much as possible. Cardinals defense, thankfully, has been much stronger this season and that in part is having Paul Goldschmidt at first base.
Starting pitching consistency, command, control are definitely missing. First pitch strikes minimal. Deep counts in abundance. Walks issued a major concern. Not just one, but all of them. Strike zone varies from HPU to HPU. Yes, there have been questionable calls strikes vs balls. Players are professionals and must find a way to overcome the man behind the catcher. And we do have some dandies in the home plate umpire pool.
Going forward, I feel this is the area for Cardinals have to improve upon to be contenders come the end of September. For now, does the Cardinals organization look to their minor leaguers to be brought up? Or, plans to 'sign' from outside?
For those who think this situation is being ignored, you are sorely mistaken. Mr. DeWitt and "Mo" know exactly was is at stake. Moving too slowly? This is reality baseball - not fantasy ball.
We have seen the power, consistent power, from our offense. But currently, collectively, they have been sporadic at best. But feel, they will come into their own and be the force we expected to see.
We were excited to see solid performances from our possible starters in Spring Training. Encouraged by hitters and especially those to be chosen for our bullpen. Now, "Time for the Panic" button? No, I still hold faith in our Cardinals that they will turn their performance of late back to a positive direction.
Rose-colored glasses? Not at all. I realize a team can not win all games - even some of those that they should against sub-.500 teams. "Spoilers" have nothing to lose. They, too, want to do better and can not be taken for granted.
CARDINALS ANOTHER DAY OFF
Strangely enough as baseball schedules go. They had this past Monday off which turned into two days with the help of Mother Nature. Cardinals do have today off after only two games played. And, they will have another after they host the Atlanta Braves this weekend in a three game series before hitting the road again.
The Braves come into Busch Stadium, 3-1, against the Cardinals thus far this season. However, I personally look for the Cardinals to lay down some 'payback' and stronger played baseball on their home field against the visiting Braves.
Yes, the Cardinals have hit a May Slump. It's time to finish out this month on a positive note.
Thanks for reading. You may also follow me on Twitter @elichap822.