Yesterday afternoon the cross-state neighbors dropped by for their annual visit to St Louis. The entire St Louis portion of the matchup between the Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals played out in a double-header yesterday – thanks to the unyielding rain that washed out Tuesday’s scheduled contest.
As the Cardinals have been two entirely different teams this year, it is only fair that the Royals got to play them both. For the afternoon tilt, the home team trotted out its May version – a team that was appropriately spanked 8-2 (box score). In the night-cap, the vintage March/April version of the team dropped by, orchestrating a 10-3 victory (box score).
What to make of the schizophrenic Cardinals will be a mystery that we will probably be all summer unravelling. The question of this teams’ character, though, continues to hover over this franchise. The victory in the second game brought a temporary respite to a losing streak that had reached 14 of their previous 18 games. The Cubs went through an early season skid in which they lost 8 of 10 before regaining their footing. Sometime later, the Brewers lost 12 of 18 before rebounding.
It remains to be seen when (or if) the team in St Louis can turn itself around.
This is one reason I’m fond of the “After a Loss” statistic. In baseball, everybody loses games from time to time. That’s unavoidable. But teams with championship character are hard to saddle with a second loss. That’s the test. How do they respond?
In the Cardinals’ case, the answer here is as schizophrenic as their season has been. The March/April Cardinals were 7-3 the game after a loss. In May, that team is 5-9 after a loss – leaving them an even 12-12 for the season.
Much of the recent damage has come at the hands of the Braves, Phillies and Cubs. Those three teams are next up, so if St Louis has a response in them, this would be a good time.
Marcell Ozuna had a productive double header. He drove in the Cards only two runs in the first game, then drove in 3 more in the night-cap with a three-run first-inning homer. With 2 hits in the last Texas game, Marcell is hitting .417 (5 for 12) over his last three games. He has only 8 hits over his last 8 games, but 6 have been for extra-bases (3 of them home runs). He has driven in 11 runs in those games.
If there is one recurring theme in this lost month of May – especially when it comes to games after a loss – it is the continuing struggles of the rotation. Michael Wacha was, in this sense, a microcosm of the season in yesterday’s first game. He lasted almost 5 (4.2 innings to be precise), but after the Royals battered him for 6 in the third, the outcome was never in doubt. In the 14 games after a loss this month, Cardinal starters hold a 6.26 ERA, with a .281 batting average against. This is no way to stop a skid.
As for Wacha, he is now 2-2 in 4 starts this month with a 6.64 ERA. Three of those starts have followed a Cardinal loss. He has lasted 15.1 innings in those three starts, yielding 16 runs (14 earned) on 22 hits and 8 walks. It’s an 8.22 ERA with a .349/.417/.556 batting line against. Certainly a trend to be concerned about.
Adam Wainwright struggled through 5 innings in the second game. He gave 6 hits and 4 walks, but only 3 runs to be awarded the victory – however shaky. This hasn’t been Adam’s best month. He threw 7 excellent innings against the Pirates on May 10, but his other three starts have been more or less a mess. He is 1-2 in his 4 May starts with a 6.43 ERA.
Additionally, the three worst starts have come after a Cardinal loss. He has lasted just 14 innings in those 3 games, allowing 14 runs. For the season, Adam has made 5 starts after a Cardinal loss. He is 2-2 in those games with a 7.13 ERA and a batting line against of .287/.387/.494.
More consistency on offense would be greatly welcomed. However, without notable exception, everyone close to this team understands that the Cardinal fortunes hinge on the development of the starting pitching.
With the paid crowd of 42,529 in the second game, the Cardinals surpassed the 1,000,000 mark in home attendance (1,038,590) in their twenty-fifth home game. They average 41,543.6 per home game.
Marcell Ozuna’s first inning home run stood up as the game-winning RBI. He has 7 already this year. No other Cardinal has more than 3.
Marcell doubled in both games – bringing him to 11 for the season. He doubled just 16 times all last season.
He also grounded into double plays in both games. Marcell has now tied his double-play total from all of last year at 10.
Kolten Wong’s late home run brought his season RBI total to 25. He drove in just 38 all of last year.