When the Cardinals broke through last night with two second inning runs, I really wanted to believe. Surely it wouldn’t happen again. Not with Carlos Martinez on the mound. Not against Cincinnati. And yet, although they held the lead again after six innings, the Cardinals were batting in the eighth, trailing. And that, as they say, would be that.
Throughout this disappointing losing streak – which now totals 14 losses in the last 19 games – one of the constants has been that once the Cards fall behind, they stay behind. Over the course of the 19 games, the Cards have had a lead at some point in 14 of them. They have managed to lose 9 of those games. Including last night’s 4-2 come from ahead loss to the Reds (box score). St Louis has now scored 60 runs in the 19 games (3.16 per), and have scored less than 3 runs in 8 of them.
On the other hand, 19 times over the last 19 games, the Cards have surrendered a lead and only 5 times have they fought back to tie or re-take the lead. In all of those games, St Louis ended up losing. The only 5 wins they have over the last 3 weeks or so have been in games in which they have never trailed.
Once they have fallen behind during this rough patch, they have hit a microscopic .198/.269/.335. Last night the 7 batters (yes, there were only seven) who had plate appearances after the Cardinals fell behind were 0 for 6 with a walk (and 3 strikeouts).
Almost Never Behind
One of the strange patterns developing is that St Louis – in the midst of their 5-14 skid – have almost never trailed in the games. Of the last 708 Cardinals to come to the plate, 273 (39%) have batted with his team ahead, 215 (30%) have batted with the game tied, and only 220 (31%) have come to the plate with the Cardinals trailing.
Yadier Molina may be starting to heat up. He singled, doubled, stole a base and scored a run last night. He has four hits in his last nine at bats – including a home run in Chicago. That home run, by the way, was his sixth of the season. He hit only 8 all of last year.
Jedd Gyorko – still having a fine year – looked as lost last night as he has in recent memory. He struck out three times in five at bats in a game where he took strikes and went swinging at pitches well out of the zone. Jedd has now gone 5 games without drawing a walk, and has hit 2 home runs over his last 26 games.
His strikeouts included one against Raisel Iglesias leading off the ninth, with his team trailing 4-2. Over these last 19 games, Gyorko is only 1 for 17 (.059) when he hits with the Cards trailing in the game. He is now 13 for 53 (.245) for the season when his team is behind.
After his 0 for 3 last night, Aledmys Diaz is hitting .246 (16 for 65) since the beginning of the Boston series (which was the start of this tailspin). He has played in 18 of the last 19 games and has driven in 1 run.
About six games ago, he was moved to the eighth spot in the order. He is 4 for 18 (.222) since the move.
Last year, Aledmys was one of the team’s most productive hitters when the score was tied. In 138 such at bats, he slashed .316/.409/.513. This year Aledmys has had a much harder time generating offense in tied games. He is 13 for 64 (.203) and has drawn just 4 walks for a .250 on base percentage. Over his last 15 at bats in tie games (including his third-inning strikeout last night), Diaz has two infield hits (.133).
All season long, Carlos Martinez has struggled once he’s been given a lead. I know it’s hard to tell since he almost never has a lead (the 2 support runs scored for him last night – one of which he drove in himself – bring to 4 the total number of support runs he has been given over his last 4 starts), but last night has followed something of a pattern for Carlos that transcends the recent losing skein. He was brilliant for 6 innings (4 of them when there was no score and 2 when he held a lead) and then he didn’t survive the seventh as he gave it all back up.
For the season, Carlos has pitched 38.2 innings in which the score has been tied. In those innings, Carlos has a 1.86 ERA and a .162/.216/.269 batting line against. He has now worked 19.2 innings with a lead. In those innings, Martinez has seen his ERA leap to 5.49 with a batting line of .247/.289/.429 against.
Carlos’ struggles are a reflection of the entire staff. Through the last 19 games, the team ERA is 2.08 with a .202/.271/.323 batting line against over 56.1 innings while the score is tied. Over the 67.1 innings the pitching staff has worked once the offense has provided a lead, the team ERA jumps to 4.95 and the batting line against rises to .242/.304/.389. For the season, those numbers are 2.78 ERA, .229/.298/.374 when the game is tied; 419 ERA, .252/.308/.408 once they’ve been given a lead.
Long time bullpen stalwart, Kevin Siegrist has been a significant contributor to the recent struggles. He retired two of the three batters he faced last night to get out of the seventh inning without giving up a run charged to him. But he also served up the big double to Scooter Gennett that drove in the deciding runs of the game.
Kevin has now pitched in 7 of the last 19 games, totaling 5.1 very exciting innings that have featured 4 runs on 9 hits (including a home run), and 2 walks. He carries a 6.75 ERA over those recent outings, with a .409 batting average and a .636 slugging percentage against him.
Last year, Kevin was as dependable as anyone when pitching in a tie game. He worked 15 such innings in 2016 with a 1.80 ERA and a .170 batting average against. With Gennett’s game-winning double, Kevin has now served up the winning hit twice over the last 19 games (he also allowed the two-run double from San Francisco’s Christian Arroyo that broke up the 13-inning scoreless tie on May 20). The last 9 batters that Kevin has faced with the game tied have cashed in with 4 singles and 2 game-winning doubles. For the season, pitching in tie games, Kevin has served up 8 hits in 14 at bats (.571).
The Cardinals scored the game’s first run for the sixth time in their last seven games. They are 2-5 in those games.
On May 8 the Cards won 9-4 in Miami. That was the last time they have won the opening game of a series. Last night was the eighth consecutive first game of a series they have lost.
Tommy Pham has never driven in more than 18 runs in any major league season. He drove in 17 last year. Last night he drove in his fifteenth already this year.