Good morning. We have some day baseball on the carte de jour, with a 1:15 p.m. start for the Cardinals at Chicago, with the White Sox going for a three-game sweep.
A pleasant welcome to The Redbird Review for Wednesday, May 26.
NO FUN. ANOTHER UGLY LOSS: No getting around it; the Cardinals (26-22) were a mess in Tuesday’s 8-3 thrashing by Team La Russa. Three official errors by shortstop Edmundo Sosa, right fielder Tommy Edman and third baseman Nolan Arenado that set up four unearned runs.
There were other miscues in the field including a runner scoring from second on center fielder Dylan Carlson’s bobble-fumble while gathering a single. (Third base coach Joe McEwing didn’t send the runner home until noticing Carlson’s misplay.)
There were two walks, two hit batters, two wild pitches, a two-run homer (Jose Abreu) and three earned runs filed against starter Jack Flaherty in his 3.2 innings. When Chicago broke the game open in the second inning, the damage included a bases-loaded walk and a run scored on a wild pitch.
Because of the sloppy defense, Flaherty’s control issues and the visiting team’s general lethargy, the White Sox led 5-0 by the time their 14th batter of the game ended his at-bat.
Paul Goldschmidt was thrown out at second base while trying to stretch a single into a double. Cardinals hitters went 3 for 14 with runners in scoring position, which only increased the tedium.
After Carlson’s third-inning sacrifice fly gave the Cardinals their first run, they went 2 for 12 from that point through the top of the sixth. They scored their second run on a wild pitch. By the end of the sixth the White Sox were up 8-2, and it was OK to switch to an NBA or NHL game on the television.
ACCURATE SUMMATION: Despite the considerable build-up, there was no pitching duel between Flaherty and his high school chum Lucas Giolito. The Cardinals (and Flaherty) pretty much ruined that possibility.
Giolito’s analysis: “The way the game went early on, I don’t want to speak too much on the other team’s defense, but it made the game very weird,” he said via post-game video conference. “It wasn’t exactly what we were expecting, but that’s just how it went. Baseball’s weird sometimes. Our team took advantage early, and I was able to do my job.”
MIKE SHILDT’S VERSION OF REALITY: “I thought (Jack) made a lot of quality pitches,” the STL manager said in the post-game Happy Talk session. “This just wasn’t a night when we helped him out and that’s very atypical. Typically we help all our guys out but tonight we weren’t as clean as we needed to be. I thought Jack was fantastic … and pitched way better than the line.”
Flaherty was fantastic?
THE OVERVIEW: The Cardinals clearly are playing their worst all-around baseball of the season. They’re 8-10 in their last 18 games, and 4-8 over the last 12. They’ve lost seven of 10 since winning the recent series at Milwaukee. And with today’s game still to play, they’re 1-4 in a sequence of six games against the Cubs and White Sox, getting outscored 28-10.
“This is probably the most inconsistent we’ve been the whole year,” Arenado said via video conference after Tuesday’s loss. He also cited uncharacteristic “mental lapses.”
The Redbirds drag a three-game losing streak into Wednesday’s game.
They’re now 11-12 on the road, and 6-12 against opponents with winning records.
The St. Louis pitching staff has a 5.02 ERA over the last 10 games, and shaky defense is responsible for 10 unearned runs during that time.
The offense is averaging 3.3 runs per game over the last 10.
During their current 8-10 stretch the Cardinals have gone 5-0 vs. the Rockies and Pirates — and 3-10 against other teams.
CHECKING THE STANDINGS: The Cubs won again Tuesday, beating Pittsburgh 4-3. It was their seventh win in the last nine games, and the Cubs are 14-7 in May. Heading into Wednesday the Cubs trail the first-place Cardinals by a half-game in the NL Central. The Cubs were 4.5 games behind the Cardinals on May 12. Elsewhere in the Midwest, the Brewers must be smiling. Despite losing 14 of its last 17 games Milwaukee is only two games out of first place. This is the NL Central, where you can lose and lose and lose and still stay close in the standings.
LET’S TALK ABOUT THE ST. LOUIS OFFENSE AGAIN: Pardon my redundancy. The Cardinals have scored only 36 runs in their last 12 games, an average of 3 runs per encounter. They’ve scored 3 runs or less in five straight games, and in nine of the last 12.
Their performance with runners in scoring position has come up terribly short over the last 12 games: .171 batting average, .210 slugging percentage, .479 OPS.
What about home runs? This: since Arenado homered in the first inning at San Diego on Sunday May 16 the Cardinals have popped only two home runs in their last 68 innings.
TRACKING TOMMY EDMAN AND HIS OBP: Through his first 34 games, the Cards leadoff man and all-purpose energizer was batting .297 with a .358 onbase percentage. With Edman helping to set up run-scoring opportunities, the Cardinals averaged 4.7 runs per game through May 8.
However: in his last 14 games Edman is hitting .210 with a .242 OBP. In a related note, the Cardinals have averaged only 3.1 runs per game since May 9.
A LOOK AT NOLAN ARENADO’S DEFENSE: Do players have slumps on defense? Arenado’s error in Tuesday’s game was the seventh of the season for the eight-time Gold Glove winner at third base.
>> In the short-season 2020 for Colorado Arenado made three errors in 48 games and 417.1 innings; this season he’s made seven errors in 48 games and 414 innings.
>> In his 417.1 innings last season Afrenado was credited with 13 defensive runs saved above average according to Baseball Info Solutions (BIS.) In his 414 innings this season, Arenado has no defensive runs saved according to BIS.
>> Arenado’s current fielding percentage is .942; that would be the worst of his career. (But I think it’s safe to say we can expect that percentage to improve as the season goes along.) Arenado’s worst fielding percentage for an entire season (.959) came in 2014, his second season in the majors.
>> Coming into the season, Arenado had converted 88.2 percent of balls fielded into outs. Through his first 48 games this year Arenado has converted 82% of balls fielded into outs.
WILD PITCHES & YADIER MOLINA: According to the data kept by the trusted Baseball Reference, the Cardinals have been assessed with 31 wild pitches this season. That’s the most in the National League and second-highest in the majors to Detroit’s 33.
Curiously the Cardinals have been charged with only one passed ball. That’s interesting. According to the data at Baseball Prospectus, Yadier Molina ranks 39th among 40 catchers (2,500-pitch minimum) in blocking runs. That simply means he hasn’t scored very well in the task of blocking pitches.
Molina is rated 25th among the 40 catchers with his minus 0.3 in Fielding Runs Above Average. He’s 21st among the 40 catchers in pitch framing.
In St. Louis pointing out this stuff probably will lead to a felony indictment. Please don’t arrest me. But I demand that the authorities launch an immediate investigation of that operation at Baseball Prospectus!
Seriously, do I need to retain an attorney?
MY FRIENDS, IT’S TIME FOR SOME BIRD BYTES!
— Matt Carpenter: Two hits (including a double) and a walk in Tuesday’s 8-3 loss. This raised Carpenter’s batting average to .137, his onbase percentage to .289, and his slugging percentage to .274. Shildty will probably move Carpenter to the cleanup spot.
— Tyler O’Neill: It’s been only seven games, but it’s fun to play with inadequate sample sizes. Since Bro’Neill went on the IL, the Cardinals outfield as a group is hitting .154 (29th), slugging .167 (30th) and has a .397 OPS (30th.) Plus, a .230 OBP (28th), no home runs and four RBIs.
— Dylan Carlson: Back on April 7, the rookie outfielder percussed a grand-slam homer in the top of the ninth to seal a 7-0 win at Miami. Young DC hasn’t homered since then, going 163 plate appearances without a bambino. But Carlson is batting .302 with a .387 OBP since his last home run, and he’s reached base at a rate of .371 percent since moving into the No. 2 lineup spot. We’ll take that. An occasional homer from Carlson would stimulate a dull offense.
— Lane Thomas: Getting a chance to play more because of injuries to other outfielders, he’s 3 for 24 this season. Since the start of last season Thomas is 7 for 60 (.117) with a 29 percent strikeout rate.
— Junior Fernandez: Finally, a fresh reliever comes to the aid of a weary, soot-coated bullpen. Junior looked good Tuesday, giving the Cardinals 2.2 innings of three-hit, no-walk, no-runs relief. Perhaps this can be the beginning of a more positive career track for the 24-year-old righthander who has a 7.85 ERA in 18.1 career MLB innings.
NEXT ON THE SKED: In an attractive pitching matchup, John Gant (3-3, 2.04 ERA) goes for the Cardinals against Chicago left-hander Carlos Rodon. This looms as a rather onerous assignment for a diminished St. Louis lineup. In seven starts this season Rodon is 5-1 with a 1.27 ERA and spun a no-hitter in his second jaunt of the season. Rodon has struck out 37.3 percent of his batters faced over 42.2 innings. What about a platoon split? Don’t get your hopes up. Rodon has gone against RH batters 133 times this season; they’ve hit .168 with a 36.8% strikeout rate. LH batters are hitting .067 against Rodon with a 39.3% strikeout rate.
I hope the Cardinals give you many reasons to enjoy watching the game. This much is absolutely certain: win or lose, Danny Mac will offer plenteous energy and enthusiasm and analysis while calling the game on Bally Sports Midwest!
Thanks for reading …
Please check out Bernie’s sports-talk show on 590-AM The Fan, KFNS. It airs Monday through Thursday from 3-6 p.m. and Friday from 4-6 p.m. You can listen live online and download the Bernie Show podcast at 590thefan.com … the 590 app works great and is available in your preferred app store.
For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.
While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.