On the day we learned about the passing of Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog, the Cardinals had only one hit in scratching out three runs.

The timing was perfect, because the Cardinals played a little Whiteyball to fabricate a 3-2 win over the Oakland A’s. They manufactured. They concocted. They cobbled. They scrounged and scrimped.

They pecked away at the grains of birdseed, and made it a meal. The Cardinals made a lot – or at least enough – out of not much at all for their second straight victory.

The sweet narrative was set.

A tribute to Whitey Herzog!

Yes. I love the sentiment. But here’s the thing …

The Cardinals have been playing their version of ‘Whiteyball’ all season.

If this is an ode to Herzog, it isn’t a one-night special. The Cardinals don’t steal many bases, so they can’t go all the way to impersonate Herzog’s style of offense. No team can. Those days are over. But the Cardinals’ resourcefulness is commendable. And it’s Ialso necessary.

The triumph on Tuesday wasn’t just a one-game nod of appreciation to the iconic manager and St. Louis legend. This is something that manager Oli Marmol likes to do, and wants to do, when his team’s offense is stagnating and moribund.

When you keep scoring three runs or less per game, you have no choice. You gotta try and make something happen. You must do the small-scale parts of baseball and chip away. If you’re hungry for offense, then find a little birdseed.

First run, third inning: a walk by Masyn Winn, a steal of second by Winn, a sacrifice bunt by Michael Siani to move Winn to third base, and a ground-ball RBI from Brendan Donovan that tied the game 1-1.

Sixth inning, two more runs: The Cardinals were down 2-1. Nolan Arenado singled, followed by consecutive walks to Ivan Herrera and Lars Nootbaar to load the bases. The tying run scored on a sac-fly RBI by Winn, with Herrera tagging up from second base and hustling into third base. A second sac-fly RBI, by Jordan Walker, put Cardinals ahead 3-2. That was the winner.

And that was three runs on a single, four walks, a sac bunt, a ground-ball RBI, and two sac-fly RBIs. Impressive. Timely. And desperately needed.

Well done, fellows. What we saw Tuesday was nothing radically different from similar scenes in 2024. But the display was appreciated.

Here’s what I’m talking about:

The Cardinals lead the majors this season in extra-bases advanced, with 37.

The Cardinals lead the majors in sacrifice flies.

The Cardinals lead the majors in sacrifice bunts.

The Cardinals lead the majors in moving the runner from second base to third with no outs, getting it done in 67.6 percent of their opportunities.

The Cardinals are in the top half of the majors (13th) in scoring a runner from third with less than two outs, coming through in 55 percent of those situations.

The Cardinals rank second in the majors with a productive-outs percentage of 38.8%. The only team better at this are the Padres at 40.3 percent. San Diego is managed by former Cardinals lifer Mike Shildt. No surprise. It’s another Herzog connection.

What’s a manager to do?

The Cardinals are 14th in the National League and 26th overall with an average of 3.72 runs per game. Through Tuesday, they’ve hit 0.78 home runs per game, which is the worst in the NL, 28th overall, and down from 1.29 homers per game in 2023.

The Cardinals have scored three or fewer runs in nine of their last 10 games. This season they’ve scored three or less times in 12 of their games, tied for the most in the majors.

But because the Cardinals can pitch, play good defense and have a workable small-ball offense, they’ve managed to go 4-8 when scoring three or fewer runs in a game. So what’s the big deal about a 4-8 record? Isn’t that bad?

No, it isn’t bad. It’s actually quite good for a team that has scored three or fewer runs in 12 games this season. The other three teams that have scored no more than three runs in a game 12 times have a combined 2-34 record when it happens.

Let’s see … 4-8 as opposed to 2-34 …

I’d say the Cardinals are making the most of their low-scoring problems.

Marmol deserves credit for cultivating some old-time baseball to finesse the team’s  way to some runs when their own pitchers give them a chance to win.

Not that I would expect any praise directed at Marmol from the unhinged haters. That would get them attacked in on the Twitter machine.

Every manager that has followed Herzog as manager of the Cardinals has been ripped for being overly dependent on home runs to score. I’ve done some of that myself.

But here’s the difference:

Marmol actually has this team playing some of the finer aspects of Whiteyball.

That should be acknowledged, and it isn’t difficult to do that. Just pay attention and you’ll see it.

This wasn’t some sudden idea put into place Tuesday night as a tip of the cap to Whitey. This was the latest in a mandatory exercise.

This offense-challenged team must produce more runs to have a chance for a good season, and the endeavor will require more doubles and home runs and hits with men in scoring position. Presumably that will come. (But I must say, I wonder about that.) For now, Marmol is doing what he can to wrangle some runs.

WHERE THE BOYS ARE: A record of 9-9 and two games out of first place in the NL Central … 3-2 on the current six-game road trip that concludes Wednesday in Oakland … the Cards have a 4-1 record against teams with a losing record and are 5-8 against opponents with a winning record … by clinching a series win at Oakland on Tuesday, the Cardinals are 3-3 in their first six series … if the Cardinals can win a series finale for the first time this season, they’ll complete a sweep in Oakland and come home with a 10-9 record.

STARTING PITCHING, BETTER THAN YOU THINK: Even with the disappointing series at Arizona, the St. Louis starters have done well through the first 19 games. With the help of a more reliable defense, they’re doing better than anticipated.

Their 3.96 starter ERA ranks 11th overall, and 5th in the National League. Among the five NL Central teams, only Pittsburgh has a better starting-pitching ERA (3.39) than STL.

Since March 30, St. Louis has a starting-pitching ERA of 3.38 in 16 games. That ranks 7th in the majors and 3rd in the NL over that time.

After allowing five home runs in 9 and ⅔ innings in the first two games of the season at Dodger Stadium, Cards starters have yielded 10 homers in 88 innings over the last 16 games. On a rate basis, the starters allowed 4.7 homers per nine innings in the first two games. But they’ve conceded an average of 1.0 homers per nine innings in the last 16.

The collective numbers of Lance Lynn, Sonny Gray and Steven Matz this season: nine starts, 46 and ⅔ innings, eight earned runs, 1.54 ERA. In the first two games at Oakland, Gray and Lynn held the A’s to one earned run in 13 innings. Now it’s up to Matz to keep the positivity going in Wednesday’s start against the A’s.

The STL starters are averaging 5.4 innings per assignment, which is 7th overall and 3rd in the NL. The Cards bullpen has been asked to get an average of 3.2 outs per game; that’s tied for ninth lowest in the majors.

MONITORING PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT: Goldy went 1 for 3 with a strikeout in Tuesday’s win at Oakland. His hit was a single. He hits lots of singles. This is difficult to believe, but it’s true: Goldy has just one extra-base hit in his 74 plate appearances this season. His only extra-base hit, a home run, came on opening day at Dodger Stadium.

Since then, in his last 16 games, Goldschmidt has 11 singles, a .153 batting average, .153 slugging percentage and a 28.5 percent strikeout rate. There are 295 hitters in the majors with more extra-base hits than Goldy this season.

In 182 plate appearances since Aug. 30 of last season Goldschmidt has four homers, a .196 average, and .307 slugging percentage and has struck out 29 percent of the time. He’s 26 percent below league average offensively (per wRC+) since last Aug. 30.

Since last Aug. 30, in his 154 plate appearances batting second in the lineup, Goldschmidt has a .192 average, .303 onbase percentage and .292 slug. And he’s 31 percent below league average offensively.

A total of 132 MLB hitters have at least 150 plate appearances since last Aug. 30. Among the 132, Goldschmidt ranks 119th in extra-base hits, 123rd in OPS, 127th in batting average, and 127th in slugging. His onbase percentage over that time (.303) ranks 91st.

Since last Aug. 30, Masyn Winn has a higher batting average, slugging percentage, onbase percentage and OPS than Goldschmidt. And this season Victor Scott II and Goldy have the same number of extra-base hits (one.)

Will Marmol consider moving Goldschmidt down in the lineup? This is an awkward situation. We can keep saying that Goldschmidt will heat up and do better and be Goldy again … but when?

Goldschmidt turns 37 years old on Sept. 10.

LANCE LYNN, A CLOSER LOOK: The big man allowed one earned run, a solo homer, in seven sturdy innings Tuesday at Oakland. Through four starts he has a 2.18 ERA that ranks 12th in the majors among starting pitchers that have worked at least 20 innings this season. I’m not predicting that this will stay the same, but as of now Lynn has a better ERA than a collection of notable starters than Corbin Burnes, Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Tyler Glasnow, Yu Darvish, Hunter Greene, Logan Webb, Logan Gilbert and Merrill Kelly.

Last season Lance Lynn used his four-seam fastball on 44 percent of pitches thrown. But the pitch was a liability; in 2023 the Lynn four-seamer had a negative Run Value of minus 10. That’s brutal. In his first four starts this season Lynn has used his four-seam fastball 34.8 percent of the time. It’s a more effective pitch, with a Run Value of plus 3.

Lynn has increased his use of the cutter, up by seven percent from last season. He’s also throwing more sinkers.

His cutter is more effective now, with a positive Run Value of plus 3. This is another important change because Lynn’s cutter was awful last season.

In 2023, the combined Run Value for Lynn’s four-seam fastball and cutter was minus 17. This year, the combined Run Value on the two pitches is a plus 6.

Lynn is going with a four-seamer or cutter on 64.7 percent of his pitches. The enhanced quality of the two pitches is a substantial reason for Lynn’s early success in 2024.

This season opponents are batting .160 with a .280 slugging percentage against Lynn’s cutter. And they’re hitting his four-seamer for .154 average and .385 slug.

PITCHING AND DEFENSE GO TOGETHER: Imagine that! The season is only 18 games old, but the Cardinals are allowing an average of 4.06 runs per game. That’s seventh best in the majors, and third best in the NL. The Cardinals’ overall team ERA (3.69) ranks 9th overall and 4th in the NL.

STL’s adjusted ERA is 18 percent better than the MLB average and an improvement of 28 percent over last year. Even at this early stage of the campaign, I don’t know how many folks would have predicted this.

To repeat a point that I stressed frequently in 2023, defense really matters. And I’m going to stay on it. The ‘23 Cardinals had the team’s worst defensive efficiency rating since 1930. The 2023 Cards converted only 67 percent of balls in play into outs, tied for the worst rate in the majors.

Early on this season the Cardinals have turned just under 70 percent of balls in play into outs, ranking 4th in the NL and 11th overall.

The improvement is reflected in the team’s tighter run prevention. After giving up 5.12 runs per game in 2023, the 2024 Cardinals have reduced their runs-allowed average by 20.7 percent.

We can see the impact of the defense in another way: by looking at the fielding independent ERA, aka FIP. There’s a noticeable gap between the team’s standard ERA (3.69) and FIP (4.18). Loosely translated, the defense is saving runs for the pitchers.

The essential combination of upgraded pitching and a cleaner defense is a huge reason why the Cardinals are hanging in there with a 9-9 record despite their severe struggles on offense.

After last season’s debacle Marmol vowed to sharpen the defense in 2024, and so far he’s delivering on the promise.

BULLPEN SCROOGES: JoJo Romero and Ryan Helsley finished what Lynn started. The relievers handled the final two innings without incident, retiring all six batters faced and striking out two. The St. Louis relievers rank 10th overall and 3rd in the NL with a 3.28 ERA over 60 and ⅓ innings. And their 29.1 percent strikeout rate ranks third in the majors. STL’s late-inning enforcers have eight saves in 10 opportunities; the 80 percent success rate is No. 3 in MLB.

Thanks for reading, and I hope the Cardinals give you a reason to enjoy watching Wednesday’s day ball …


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 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 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.