With the season ticking away, the Cardinals were dominated again by another good pitcher having a good night. Chicago’s Jon Lester became the latest in a growing line of pitchers – famous and otherwise – who have silenced the once-potent St Louis offense with 6.2 innings of 3-hit shutout ball. The baby bears went on to a 3-1 victory (box score). The Cards have seven games left and sit a half game out of the last playoff spot.
The loss is extra-damaging in light of the unfortunate decision to give tonight’s start to erratic lefty Jaime Garcia.
Along the way, the Cards went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. Since the All-Star break, St Louis is hitting .232 (111 for 479) with ducks on the pond. That is about what the team is hitting for the month of September (.239 on 179 hits in 750 at bats). Over the first 23 September games, the Cards are scoring 3.87 runs per game.
While the general batting attack has been mostly moribund since the All-Star break, the bat of Yadier Molina continues to try and carry the team. He had two hits last night, including the Cardinal’s only extra-base hit. Yadi is now hitting .436 (17 for 39) during an eleven-game hitting streak. He now has had multiple hits in 5 of the last 6 games – hitting .500 (12 for 24) over his last six games. Yadi is now a .375 hitter (27 for 72) in September.
Unfortunately, in the dysfunctional Cardinal offense, wherever he hits in the lineup is almost always the wrong place. He was up with the bases empty in all four of his at bats last night, and is batting with no one on 66.1% of the time since the All-Star Break.
Yadi had 2 of the 3 hits that St Louis had against untouchable Cub left-hander. In general, Cardinal right-handed hitters have floundered against lefties. But not Yadi. He is 9 for 19 (.474) against lefties this month.
Beyond Molina the news was pretty bleak.
Stephen Piscotty, a dynamic hitter after being called up in the second half of last season, and a .295 hitter at the break, has spent the entire second half of the season in a prolonged batting slump. Over his last 238 at bats, Stephen has managed 57 hits – a .239 batting average. Piscotty went hitless in 4 at bats last night.
Piscotty came up twice with the bases empty, popping out to second in both the first and fourth innings. Since the All-Star break, Piscotty has been a .199 hitter (28 for 141) when hitting with no one on base.
Mike Matheny keeps writing Brandon Moss’ name in the lineup, and Moss keeps putting up 0 for 4s. He now has no hits in his last 6 games – totaling 19 at bats – and is now 6 for his last 86 (.070) with 2 home runs and 31 strikeouts. Brandon has fallen to .191 (33 for 173) in the season’s second half.
Brandon is 0 for 14 this month with runners in scoring position. He ended the eighth inning last night, lining to center with the potential tying runs at third.
That lineout came against right-handed reliever Justin Grimm. Since the All-Star Break, Brandon is 21 for 126 (.167) against right-handed pitchers.
Jedd Gyorko slides to 0 for 13 after a hitless night. He has 6 strikeouts in those at bats. He is 15 for 73 (.205) this month.
Carlos Martinez lost for the second time in his last three starts to the Cubs, but mostly pitched very well. He walked 4 (one intentionally), but allowed only 2 runs and silenced a couple of long-time nemesis: Anthony Rizzo went 0 for 3, grounding into a double play; and Lester (who has 3 lifetime hits against Carlos) also went 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts. Carlos is 5-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 51 innings over his last 8 starts. This was his nineteenth quality start of the season, and his sixth in those last 8 starts.
While he looked, overall, much more like the Carlos Martinez we have seen all year, he still invited a fair amount of trouble. The Cubs put two runners on base in four of the six innings Carlos pitched. One of those was the sixth-inning, when Chicago scored its second run when Addison Russell’s double kicked up the chalk on the left-field foul line. Carlos extracted himself from the other three jams, getting Russell to ground out with runners at first and second and two out in the first; getting Rizzo to end the fifth by grounding into a double play with runners at first and third; and striking out Lester with runners at first and second to end the sixth. For the season, 87 batters have faced Martinez with two runners on base. They are hitting .171 (13 for 76).
Russell’s double was the only hit Carlos allowed in 7 at bats against him with runners in scoring position. In his five September starts, opposing hitters are 6 for 29 (.207) with runners in scoring position.
Right-handed batters were just 2 for 9 against Martinez, but both of those hits cost him runs – the Russell double and David Ross’ home run. For the season, righties are hitting .208 against Martinez (67 for 322). Ross’ home run was only the fourth that Martinez has served up to a right-handed batter this season.
After Martinez left the game, Cub righties went 2 for 4 against the Cardinal bullpen. For the month of September, right-handed batters are thumping St Louis to the tune of .302/.360/.478 with 18 home runs.
The Cards did get another strong inning from Kevin Siegrist. He has been unscored on in 8 of his last 10 games, covering 10 innings. With 2 strikeouts last night, Kevin has 14 in his last 10 innings with a 1.80 ERA.
After his 3-up-3-down inning, Kevin has now faced 24 of his 36 batters this month with the bases empty (66.7%).
Two of the three batters Siegrist faced were right-handed. Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant both struck out looking. Kevin is annually among the toughest lefthanders for righties to solve. For the season, they are hitting .181 against him (26 for 144) – although with 7 home runs.
Zach Duke invited trouble by putting the first two runners on in the eighth inning, before Jason Heyward struck out attempting to bunt. Duke’s numbers are similar to Martinez’ when he gets at least two runners on base against him. Batters with those opportunities are 2 for 24 against Duke since he became a Cardinal.
Heyward was also the only lefty that Duke got to face. This month, left-handed hitters are 1 for 12 (.083) against Zach.
St Louis has scored the game’s first run three times in the last 16 games. Not surprisingly, therefore, they have trailed at some point in 17 of their last 19 games. The only exceptions here have been Alex Reyes’ last two starts.
For all the disappointment of going 5-5 on that final important road trip, the Cards did finish the season with a pretty good road record of 48-33. Had they played that well at home, this would have been a 96 win team. They finished scoring 424 runs on the road (an average of 5.23 per). With 7 home games left, they have scored 315 runs at Busch this season (an average of 4.26). The runs allowed are fairly even. They have surrendered 328 at home (4.43) and 352 on the road (4.35). In the 26 road series played, St Louis finished with 14 wins, 6 losses and 6 splits. They had 9 chances to sweep a series on the road, succeeding 5 times. They were in danger of being swept on the road 5 times, but managed to avoid that fate in 4 of those occasions. The Cards lost the first three games of the season in Pittsburgh and were never swept on the road again. Last night’s loss was only the second rubber game they lost on the road all season. The other was in Cincinnati – a 7-0 loss to Brandon Finnegan on August 4.
The Cubs were the twenty-fifth team the Cards have played this year that had won its previous series. Even with last night’s loss, St Louis is still 44-37 against those teams, winning 12 of the series, losing 10 and splitting 3. Fresh off of winning its last two games against Milwaukee, Cincinnati will be the third consecutive (and fifth of the last six) team the Cards will play that has won its previous series.