Stinging from a disappointing loss in the last game of the home stand, the semi-hot Cardinals invaded Boston last night, hoping to make a statement. They did, with a humbling 10-4 beating at the hands of the Red Sox (box score). At the end of the fifth inning, the Cards were already behind 9-0 and had grounded into a triple play.
For the season, St Louis is still 28-29 in games after a loss – something hard for an over-.500 team to do, although fairly consistent for a team that has already suffered through 8 losing streaks of at least 3 games.
With that being noted, it should also be pointed out that this team has been much better lately about responding after a loss. In twelve such opportunities since the All-Star Break, St Louis is now 8-4.
More concerning is the continuing slide of the pitching staff. With last night’s 10-run, 15-hit pounding in just 8 innings, the Cards are holding a 5.60 ERA over their last 6 games. The starters have contributed just 2 quality starts, and have borne the brunt of the assault with a 6.32 ERA over those games. The team ERA for the month of August swells to 4.13.
The offense has shown a bit of a spark recently, but any real hope that the Cardinals have of being significant in October depends on the pitching staff being the strength that we anticipated it would be in April.
Mike Leake has been a little bit in the epi-center of the recent pitching downturn. This was the second of the six games that Mike has started. He has now been slapped for 13 runs (12 earned) in his last 9.1 innings. In 3 August starts Mike is 0-2 with an 8.80 ERA. He now has just 2 quality starts in his last 8 trips to the mound. His ERA over those starts sits at 6.39 with a .371 batting average against. He has lost 9 of his last 11 decisions.
It has been a long time since Mike has been good.
Leake is also now 3-8 in 14 starts this season in games after a loss – although in fairness he’s pitched better in these games than that record would suggest. He has made 8 quality starts in those games, and his 4.00 ERA isn’t that bad. It should be pointed out that last night was the fifth time in Mike’s 24 starts that his offense scored no runs for him while he was in the game.
Other Starters After a Loss
Lance Lynn will take the mound tonight with the Cardinals riding a two-game losing streak. Lance has absolutely thrived in this role in the season’s second half. Since the All-Star Break, Lance has made 4 starts following a Cardinal loss. He has thrown quality starts in all four games, going 3-0 with a 1.48 ERA. He is 5-3 with a 3.57 ERA this year in 11 starts after a loss. Over his career, Lance has pitched in 84 games after a Cardinal loss (69 of them starts). He is 39-21 lifetime with a 3.47 ERA in those games.
While he has had intermittent struggles, Carlos Martinez has also excelled in the stopper’s role. He has taken the mound 10 times this year following a Cardinal loss. Carlos is only 4-3 in those games, but with 8 quality starts, a 2.51 ERA and a .196 batting average against. Over the last two years, Carlos has had 24 opportunities to pitch after a Cardinal loss. He has produced 16 quality starts, a 12-6 record, a 2.67 ERA, and a .212 batting average against.
They haven’t all been works of art (he has a 4.84 ERA in 11 such starts), but Adam Wainwright does lead the staff in victories after a defeat. He is 7-3 after a loss this year, and 71-34 in that situation over his career.
Overall, Michael Wacha hasn’t pitched as well in these games as he has following a victory. He has started ten times following a loss, with only 4 quality starts and a 4.58 ERA. He is, however, 4-2 in those games. Over his career, Wacha is 19-11 after a loss, albeit with only a 4.47 ERA.
The game really got away when Matthew Bowman couldn’t minimize the damage in the fifth inning. The ground-ball specialist came in with the Cards already trailing 5-0, with the bases loaded and one out. Bowman had only allowed 1 of his previous 17 inherited runners to score. But he gave three straight hits, allowed all of the inherited runners to score, and added a run of his own. By the time he did get that last out, the deficit had grown to 9-0.
Pitching now exclusively in low leveraged situations, Brett Cecil continues to search for answers. After serving up another run and 3 hits, Brett’s second half ERA rises to 7.07 in 14 innings with a .391 batting average against.
Fewer Runs, But Good At Bats
Only four runs – and all of them after the game had been decided – is little to get excited about. St Louis, however, collected 10 more hits before all was said and done. The team batting average rises to .289 for the month, and .274 in the second half.
Dexter Fowler continues to drive this offense. He supplied 3 hits last night, scoring one of the Cardinals 4 runs and driving in two others. He has been pretty scorching since his return from the disabled list. Over these last 8 games, Dexter has had 33 plate appearances, during which he has provided 4 singles, 5 doubles, 1 triple, 1 home run, 8 runs scored, 8 runs batted in, 9 walks and a stolen base. That translates into a batting line of .458/.606/.875. He is now hitting .297 in the season’s second half.
Luke Voit has only made one start so far this month, but he may be starting to adjust to life on the bench. He went 2-2 in the late innings last night, and his now 6 for 16 (.375) this month.
While these are all small sample sizes, Luke has been particularly effective in games after a loss. He is 5 for 7 this month, 7 for 23 (.304) since the All-Star Break, and 13 for 39 (.333) for the season in games after a loss.
Paul DeJong added two more hits last night, driving in a run. He now has a baby 5-game hitting streak, during which he has had multiple hits in all five games. He is 11 for his last 20 (.550). He has also now hit in 10 of his last 11 (.408 on 20 for 49 hitting).
After a slow start to August, Paul is now hitting .345 this month (20 for 58) and slugging .603 (he has 3 doubles and 4 home runs). He is up to .288 since the All Star Break (36 for 125).
Yadier Molina has as rough an offensive day as could be imagined – given how short it was. Yadi had only 2 at bats last night, but accounted for 5 outs as he grounded into both a double play and a triple play. Yadi is now 0 for 12 over his last 4 games.
Kolten Wong’s 8-game hitting streak came to an end last night. With his 0 for 4, Kolten has hit just .188 (6 for 32) in games after a loss in the season’s second half.
While Randal Grichuk’s numbers have been on the rise overall lately, he could still be a bit more of a force in games after a loss. With his 0 for 3 last night, Randal is now 0 for 9 this month, 6 for 28 (.214) in the second half, and 27 for 127 (.213) for the year in games after a loss.
Boston’s first inning run marked the third consecutive game – and the twelfth of the last fifteen – that the Cardinals have allowed the first run of the game to be scored against them.