It’s hard to say for sure what would have happened. It’s true that the Cardinal offense was nowhere near solving Cincinnati starter Matt Harvey, and while Cardinal starter Carlos Martinez wasn’t dominating, he was at least holding the game close. When he walked off the mound after getting Tucker Barnhart to end the fifth inning with a ground out, the Cincinnati lead was a manageable 3-1.
Then the bullpen took over.
Five pitchers, four innings, and 90 pitches later, the Reds had poured on 6 additional runs on 8 more hits – including four doubles and one crushing three-run homer – and 2 walks. Any hint of a comeback never materialized, and the Cardinals began their final brief home stand before the All-Star break with a telling 9-1 loss (box score).
The story of July is quickly becoming the rapidly dissolving bullpen. A sore spot all year, the recent spiral is fairly frightening. Through their first 31.1 innings of this month, the St Louis bullpen has hemorrhaged 26 runs (22 of them earned) on 39 hits. It works out to a 6.32 earned run average, coupled with a .302 opponents’ batting average.
Stretching back to early May, this team has lost 33 of its last 60 games – in large part due to a bullpen that has been saddled with a 4.91 ERA.
As the season slips away from them, the Cardinal bullpen still holds far more questions than answers.
This team last showed a spark of life with a four-game winning streak against Milwaukee and Cleveland from June 23 through June 26. At that point they were 42-36 and just 4 games behind the Brewers. Since then, they are 5-9 and are now 6.5 games back.
While a great many Cardinal hitters were dominated last night, Tommy Pham’s struggles continue to draw special attention. Only recently removed from an 0-31 streak, Tommy – after his 0-3 last night – is more than half-way to tying that streak. He is now hitless in his last 17 at bats.
Pham is now back down to .240 for the season, and back down to .201 (42 for 209) over his last 55 games.
With no extra-base hits last night, the team slugging percentage has slipped back below .400 (again). They are back down to .399
Recent Scoring Changes
In the first inning of the July 2 game against Arizona, ex-Cardinal Jon Jay reached base on a grounder to third. Originally ruled a hit, this has now been called an error by Jedd Gyorko. So add an error for Gyorko, remove a hit from Carlos Martinez’ record, and make the subsequent run scored by Jay unearned.