The Cardinals used to have an offense, but I don’t know where to find it. The whole shebang apparently disappeared into the mist, and we can only see traces now … the vestiges of what used to be.

Of course, the lost St. Louis offense can return at any time – perhaps even Wednesday night in San Diego. I don’t believe that this offense is lost forever. It will come back. It might be 2023 when it comes back … but I digress.

Tom Petty was right: waiting is the hardest part.

Well, on second thought the hardest part is probably watching this offense falling apart and falling down and reaching an absurd level of futility.

“We’re just not putting together quality at-bats,” Cards manager Oli Marmol said Tuesday, after his team lollygagged through a second consecutive shutout loss. 

This time it was a 5-0 dropkick by the San Diego Padres.

Here are a few of the ugliest details:

— Since scoring five runs in the first three innings in Game One of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Reds, the Cardinals have not scored an earned run in their last 34 innings.

— The fellers did manage to land one unearned run on home plate, thanks to Andrew Knizner’s rascal-move baserunning in the 11th inning of Saturday’s second game vs. Cincinnati. Wonderful. But nothing but a dinky little unearned run in the past 34 innings? From a lineup that employs – among others – Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Albert Pujols, a resurgent Tommy Edman – and one of the NL’s best rookies in Brendan Donovan?

— In the last 34 innings the Cardinals have 16 hits in 110 at–bats for a .145 batting average. They have only one extra-base hit, a double, during the famine. They whiffed the night away by striking out 17 times in Saturday’s second game. They don’t have a home run in their last 126 plate appearances. They’ve batted .106 on two-strike counts.

Of course, as this big palooka has been telling you for a while now, the evaporation is nothing new. The Cardinals have been running on fumes offensively since the early part of the month.

Over their 16 games since Sept. 4, the Cardinals have scored two runs or fewer seven times and have been held to four runs (below the league average) on four occasions. During this wretched stretch the Cardinals have averaged 3.3 runs, homered only 14 times, batted .215, gotten on base only 29 percent of the time, and slugged a temperate .354. An opponent .642 OPS doesn’t scare pitchers.

The Cardinals crushed baseballs in August and put on an impressive and entertaining show. But were the Redbirds just a one-hit wonder? I won’t vote “yes” on that right now, but if this goes on much longer … well, the anti-Jeff Albert protestors must be very happy these days.

Slumps are slumps are slumps. Not exactly a new trend in baseball. Teams trudge through plenty of death-valley days and weeks over the long season. We should understand that by now. Yeah, and teams get tired. All teams. Not just the Cardinals. But the Cardinals sure do like to tell us – a lot – about how tired they are, and how they could use a day off. As battle cries go, this ain’t exactly “Alba gu bràth!” … know what I mean?

Here’s what bugs me about their no-show on offense: where’s the urgency? I don’t see it. Do you? My feelings on this matter were intensified after reading about the San Diego Padres. They recently went through a zonked-out 4-7 stretch in which they averaged 2.8 runs and batted .196. Manager Bob Melvin went off following his team’s 4-0 loss at Arizona last Thursday, questioning the players’ effort and competitiveness.

Since Melvin challenged his team directly – and through the media – two things happened: First, there was a team meeting Friday. The players aired it out and challenged each other to jump into games with increased purpose and passion. Next, the Padres have won four straight games, outscoring the Diamondbacks and Cardinals 25-4 in the process.

Said infielder Ha-Seong Kim, who homered off Adam Wainwright in Tuesday’s win: “It looks like everybody in this clubhouse is hungry, even more than the middle of season, including me. We’re just on the same page every night.”

Melvin didn’t take the “Everything Will Be OK” approach. He was ticked off. He got proactive. He made it clear to his team: the priority should be getting out to fast starts, and the players rallied around that.

“Something that we’ve been doing better in this stretch here is scoring early in the game,” Melvin told reporters Tuesday night, after the Padres breezed to an easy win over the listless Cardinals. “That gives you the momentum right away. It seems like the at-bats are kind of a little more fierce in the first inning than maybe they have been for some time, and then every time you add on a run after that it just feels like with our pitching you’re gonna have a tough time coming back on us.”

Melvin amplified on his push for the importance of grabbing early leads.

“We’ve had a tough time early in the game for a while now,” Melvin said Sunday. “And you see these guys out here early now. I think there’s just a little bit more sense of urgency from the first pitch of the game on, and I think that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Take notes, Oli Marmol.

Over the last 16 games, the Cardinals have scored four runs in the first inning. But three of those first-inning runs came in one game … which means the Cardinals scored only one first-inning run in the other 15 games. And the Cards haven’t homered in the first inning in their last 16.

The Padres aren’t the model. This enigmatic franchise is hardly trustworthy in the challenge of keeping a sharp competitive edge. But Melvin is a highly respected manager, and the Padres were smart to hire him after last season’s debacle. He can get players going.

I’m just offering one example of what can happen when a manager – and the team leaders – step up and take the initiative to change the collective mindset. Melvin also asked his players to be in the dugout and organized in time for the playing of the national anthem instead of straggling. He wanted them mentally locked in and ready to go instead of wandering around.

Sometimes this stuff actually works. At least for a while. Anything to jump-start your team. I’m just waiting to the Cardinals grind out tough at-bats again. Until they do, that peppermill in the dugout is a gimmicky joke that means nothing. (Bah humbug.)

Locally, I’m always reading and hearing about the Cardinals’ remarkable, legendary team leaders who keep everyone focused.


OK, so with the Cardinals failing to score an earned run in the last 34 innings, I must ask: where is the focus? And who is taking charge?

Yeah, I’m going with the lack-of-urgency narrative. And I won’t let go until the Cardinals make it rain with homers, doubles and runs.

Thanks for reading …


Bernie invites you to listen to his opinionated 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 by streaming online or by downloading the show podcast at or the 590 app which is available in your preferred app store.

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All stats used here were sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, Stathead, Bill James Online, Fielding Bible, Baseball Savant, Brooks Baseball Net and Spotrac.

Bernie Miklasz
Bernie Miklasz

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.