THE REDBIRD REVIEW

I have a jumble of feelings about the Cardinals going 3-4 on the road trip to Milwaukee and Anaheim.

It began poorly, with three straight losses to the Brewers. But yeah, it could have been worse. The Cardinals did something positive by winning three of the last four games. But then came their no-show in Wednesday’s series finale against the Angels.

The Cardinals took two of three from the Halos but failed to make it a three-game sweep by losing poorly (7-2) in a low-energy yawner of a loss. The Cards are now 0-5 this year when positioned to win the final game of a three-game series to complete a sweep. This only reaffirms their status as one of the worst teams in the National League.

What bothers me is how these lost-sweep opportunities played out. Most were sorry, no-account walkthroughs. And there’s no excuse for that. Do you think I’m being too hard on the fellers? Well, I’m not. In losing the five games with a sweep on the line, the Cardinals were outscored by 18 runs. They batted .187, averaged 2.5 runs and 10 strikeouts per game, and hit a pathetic .139 with runners in scoring position. That’s just making it too easy for their opponent.  Why is this team so shaky under pressure?

Wednesday’s 7-2 loss was submissive. Entering with a shot to sweep and secure a winning road trip, the Cardinals should have come out with a don’t-mess-with-us attitude on a mission to put away the Angels for a third straight night. Instead the Cardinals went flat again. They fell behind 4-0 in the first inning, went 1 for 10 with RISP, and stranded 11 runners. It was nearly three hours of boredom. The Cardinals put us to sleep early by rolling over for the Angels. I can understand losing this way in a game against the Dodgers. But not the Angels.

Sure, it was good to see the regressive St. Louis offense score a heap of runs (17) to win the first two games at Anaheim. But let’s not forget about the other games. St. Louis scored 21 runs in winning three straight but only banked eight runs (total) in the four losses.

The Cardinals batted .151 and struck out 25 percent of the time when batting with runners in scoring position during the trip. But aside from their 4 for 13 showing with runners in scoring position during Monday’s win, the Cardinals went 7 for 60 (.117) with a 29.4 strikeout rate in RISP situations in the other six games.

Bottom-line time: The Cardinals were six games under .500 (15-21) before the trip. They came home seven games under .500 (18-25.) The Redbirds were 6 and ½ games out of first place at the start of the trip – and were 8.0 games out at the end of the trip.

During their two-city trip the Cardinals lost ground in the standings. Their record got worse instead of better. For a team that has so much catching up to do, that won’t cut it. We can say the Cardinals avoided a total disaster by winning three of the last four games, and I suppose that’s OK. But I don’t want to make more of it than it should be … which is just OK.

Manager Oli Marmol was upbeat after Wednesday’s game. But I don’t believe we saw any kind of meaningful turning point when the Cardinals just because the Cardinals won three in a row. There’s no need to debate; we’re about to find out a lot more.  Because after Thursday’s off day the Cardinals resume Friday by opening a nine-game home stay against the Red Sox, Orioles and Cubs.

ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT: Since sitting at 9-9 on April 16 – their last time at .500 – the Cardinals have won only nine of their last 25 games for a .360 winning percentage … St. Louis hasn’t been over .500 since beating the Marlins on April 6 to improve their record to 5-4. Since then STL is 13-21 for a .382 winning percentage … the Cardinals are 6-6 against American League opponents.

FINAL-DAY HAZE: This season the Cardinals are 2-11 in the final game of their 13 series. But first a note: the Cardinals recently lost two games to the Mets at Busch Stadium and the third game was postponed by rain. The teams will play it on Aug. 5. Technically that Mets-Cards series isn’t complete, so I excluded it for now.

* As mentioned, the Cardinals are 0-5 going into the final game with a chance to sweep a three-game series.

* With a chance to win a three-game series the Cardinals are 1-5 in the final game. With the series tied 1-1, the Cardinals beat Arizona in the third game at home on April 24.

* The Cardinals are 0-1 when having a chance to split a four-game series. They dropped the final game of the opening series at Dodger Stadium to go 1-3 instead of 2-2.

* The victory in a series-ending game was Sunday at Milwaukee – a win that prevented a four-game series sweep by the Brewers.

CANNING THE CARDINALS: May I complain? Thank you. Angels starter Griffin Canning, who had a 5.75 ERA coming into the game, allowed one run in five innings. Canning got 21 called strikes, which was seven above his average in a start. But the Cardinals stood there against Canning and watched strikes go by. What were the Cardinals looking at? What was their approach? Only six major-league teams have taken more called strikes than St. Louis this season.

JUST THE FACTS

Interesting road trip for Nolan Gorman. In his six games he either stuck out (9) or walked (7) on 16 of his 24 plate appearances. But when Gorman wasn’t walking or striking out he went 5 for 8 with a double, homer and three RBI. He also led the Cardinals with five runs scored on the journey. It’s just unusual to see a hitter have a 37.5 percent strikeout rate and 29.2% walk rate over six games.

Cards rookie catchers Ivan Herrera and Pedro Pages combined for a .375 batting average, .500 onbase percentage and five RBIs on the trip.

— Nice road trip for Masyn Winn. It included a six-game hitting streak, .348 average, two walks and two steals.

Alec Burleson went 8 for 23 (.348) on the trip with four doubles and a homer. He closed strong, piling up two doubles and a homer while going 5 for 9 in the final two games. Since April 9, Burleson is hitting .324 with a .359 OBP and .541 slug with four doubles, four homers and 13 RBIs.

Lars Nootbaar was 7 for 25 (.280) on the trip with a double and a homer, four RBIs, and a .400 onbase percentage. Noot was effective with runners in scoring position:

After going 1 for 15 on the trip, Dylan Carlson is 1 for 20 with two walks and six strikeouts since returning from the IL.

Michael Siani went 6 for 20 (.300), swiped two bases, had a double and drove in a run. Siani is 12 for 32 (.375) in his last 12 games.

Tough road swing for Nolan Arenado. He went 3 for 27 (.111) with seven strikeouts and was 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. But Arenado did get the Cardinals going with a solo homer to lead off the team’s eight-run seventh inning against the Angels on Monday.

Paul Goldschmidt had some success during the trip, going 7 for 27 (.259) with two homers and four RBIs. But he also struck out on 41.4 percent of his plate appearances. And Goldy was 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position. He struck out on 50 percent of his plate appearances with RISP and grounded into a double play.

The rankings didn’t change much after the Cardinals road trip. The Redbirds are 29th overall and last in the NL in runs per game (3.6) and home runs per game (0.74). And they still have MLB’s worst batting average (.191) with runners in scoring position. Their slugging percentage with RISP (.296) is 29th overall and last in the NL. The batting average and OBP went up some, but the impact of that was negligible because of the failure to cash in runners.

Final note: Lance Lynn didn’t deliver Wednesday night and the St. Louis rotation is trending in the wrong direction. I’ll have an extra column on this for you at Scoops later this afternoon. Please subscribe to my blog. I appreciate your support.

Thanks for reading …

–Bernie

A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated and analytical sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. Friday. Stream it live or access the show podcast on 590thefan.com or through the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz and on Threads @miklaszb

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via 590thefan.com or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

Stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions, Spotrac and Cot’s Contracts unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 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. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, 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.