The St Louis Cardinals began their most recent road trip on a very high note. Although closing out just a 3-3 homestand, the last game was an emphatic 8-0 trouncing of the Cubs that had put them in first place all by their lonesome.
As they pushed Chicago around, banging out 14 hits in the rout, no one would have suspected that those eight runs would be more than the team would score during the entire road trip. No one would probably have guessed that they would lose all five games on the trip, but no one who has been paying attention this year would have been surprised by that. There have been numerous times this year that the Cards had seemed to turn the corner, only to tumble back into the malaise that has more or less defined the season so far.
For reference, I’ll mention just one. The last time the Cubs were in town (May 31 – June 2), St Louis swept the three game series, stretching their then-winning streak to four in a row. During the streak, they had pulled themselves from two games under .500 and five back in the division, to two games over .500 and back to within three games of the top spot. For all the world, they looked like they had finally hit their stride.
They then promptly lost four of their next five to fall back under .500 and found themselves back to 5.5 games out.
On this particular road trip, they finished scoring 7 runs and hitting .180 over the five games. With only 9 extra-base hits (3 of them home runs), St Louis finished the trip with a team slugging percentage of .273.
The pitching during the trip was better than the numbers suggest. A couple of blow-out losses tagged them with a 5.31 ERA during the five games – much of that damage coming against the middle bullpen arms. Even so, that ERA continued a season-long trend of pitching struggles on the road.
The Cards are 31-23 at home largely due to a 3.33 ERA in their home ballpark. They carry a 4.83 ERA on the road – a primary contributor to their 27-32 road record. Since the All-Star Break, over 12 home games, St Louis has a 2.83 ERA. Over 13 road games since the break, the ERA is 4.95.
Combine the losses in 3 of the last 5 games of the previous home stand, and the birds are losers of 8 of their last 10 as they head home to face Pittsburgh. They are 1-5 so far in August.
For the ninth time in those ten games, the Cards failed to score at least 4 runs – they have scored a total of just 21 runs over their last ten. For the month of August, they are hitting .218.
Paul Goldschmidt is still seeking traction on this season. Hitless in 4 at bats yesterday, Goldy is 0 for his last 15. He has gone 7 games without a run batted in. Paul is off to a .130/.167/.174 start to August, and is hitting just .225 with 1 walk against 10 strikeouts over the last 10 games.
Paul hasn’t taken advantage of his opportunities to hit away from Busch. He was 2 for 18 on the road trip, and is hitting .241 on the road this year – including .217 (10 for 46) since the break.
Heroic, again, in defeat was young right-hander Jack Flaherty. After dominating the Cubs for 7 innings to close out the last home stand, Jack did much the same to close out the road trip – 7 shutout innings.
Since the All-Star Break, Jack has produced 4 quality starts in 5 games, courtesy of a tidy 0.86 ERA.
In the midst of his breakout season, Giovanny Gallegos has dropped his career ERA under the 3.00 mark. He is now at 2.99 lifetime through 84.1 innings. Over his 54 inning Cardinal career, Mr. Gallegos possesses an ERA of 2.00.
Two series ago, the Cards surrendered just 3 runs over 3 games against the Cubs. Over the 3 games against the Dodgers, they scored just 2 runs – their fewest in any series this year. Previously, they scored just 3 runs when Oakland visited St Louis June 25-26. That, of course, was just a two-game series. The previous offensive low for a three-game series were the 6 runs scored in Chicago June 7-9.
At 49,106 the average attendance of this series was the highest of the season for the Cards. St Louis’ previous best attended series was Albert-stock – the weekend (June 21-23) that the Angels spent in St Louis. Those three games averaged 47,416.
Swept in back-to-back series, the Cards have now been swept 5 times this season in 12 opportunities.