An up-and-down April marked by poor defensive play, healthy offense and spotty starting pitching has the St. Louis Cardinals sitting at 12-12 as the calendar turns to May.
The Cardinals were thumped 6-1 by Washington on Saturday at Busch Stadium as they tumbled to 1-7 against teams with above-.500 records.
St. Louis was charged with three more errors, swelling their total to a major league-high 24. The Cardinals’ 142 runs lead all of baseball, but their rotation owns a 4.76 ERA.
Last year, the Cardinals commited 96 errors, fifth-most in the National League. They ranked 12th in the league in runs scored with 647 and their rotation had a league-low 2.99 ERA.
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I’m surprised we don’t have a better record. But at the same time, we’re 12-12. We’ll play better as the months go along. But yeah, we could be better. I can’t really think of any games we won that we shouldn’t have, and there’s been some games that we probably could have won that we didn’t. That’s baseball.
Cardinals first baseman-outfielder Brandon Moss
With five months to play in the season, the Cardinals believe things will improve.
“I’m surprised we don’t have a better record,” first baseman-outfielder Brandon Moss said. “But at the same time, we’re 12-12. We’ll play better as the months go along. But yeah, we could be better. I can’t really think of any games we won that we shouldn’t have, and there’s been some games that we probably could have won that we didn’t. That’s baseball.
“The only record that matters is the one you end up with. Right now, it’s the end of April. Tomorrow starts May and we’ll try to do better.”
Defensively, 20 of the Cardinals’ errors have come from their infielders: rookie Aledmys Diaz (five), Kolten Wong (four), Matt Carpenter (three), Jedd Gyorko (three), Ruben Tejada (two), Matt Adams (one), Greg Garcia (one) and Moss (one).
Rookie Jeremy Hazelbaker committed two errors in center field Saturday, while pitchers Michael Wacha and Mike Leake have one apiece.
Diaz has been the surprising leader of the offense, batting .423 (30-for-71) with eight doubles, three home runs and 13 RBIs in 22 games. Yadier Molina is batting .341 and extended his hitting streak to 11 games Saturday. Carpenter’s 17 RBIs lead the team, while Hazelbaker and Moss are tied for the team lead in homers with five.
It’s the first month. We’ve got a long season to go. The good thing is we’re all working hard. We’re all pulling for each other and giving our best. But I definitely think we’re all going to be better. We’ve just got to continue to do our work and go out there and try to keep us in the ballgame.
Jaime Garcia on the starting rotation, whose ERA is 4.76
Carlos Martinez has been the Cardinals’ more effective starter. He will take a 4-0 record and a 1.93 ERA into his outing at 1:15 p.m. Sunday. Wacha is 2-1 with a 3.07 ERA.
Leake, however, is 0-3 with a 5.83 ERA, and Adam Wainwright is 1-3 with a 7.16 ERA. Jaime Garcia, the losing pitcher Saturday, is 1-2 with a 3.73 ERA.
“Each guy, individually, have all shown signs they are going in the right direction,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “I think the numbers are maybe skewed on a couple. I believe also that we’re better than what we’ve shown and I think they believe the same.”
Garcia, for one, certainly does.
“It’s the first month. We’ve got a long season to go,” he said. “The good thing is we’re all working hard. We’re all pulling for each other and giving our best. But I definitely think we’re all going to be better. We’ve just got to continue to do our work and go out there and try to keep us in the ballgame.”
Garcia not good enough
Garcia’s demise came in the first inning Saturday when he allowed an RBI single to Daniel Murphy that was followed by a three-run homer to left by Jayson Werth. It was the first homer allowed this season by Garcia, who has toiled 31 1/3 innings.
Garcia shed little light on his performance, which finished strong with five shutout innings during which he yielded only a bloop single to Werth in the fourth.
“I didn’t get the job done. I’ve got to do a better job next time,” he said. “I’ve just got to make better pitches in tough situations.”
Werth clobbered a 2-1 changeup and sent it 373 feet into the seats in straightaway left.
“It stayed too much in the middle of the plate. I’ve got to make a better pitch there,” said Garcia, who didn’t consider pitching around Werth with first base open to face switch-hitting Danny Espinosa. “I’ve got to make a better pitch there.”
Prior to Werth’s homer, the Cardinals had a chance to escape the first with just one run scoring.
Murphy’s RBI single went to center and was fielded by Hazelbaker, who fired home. Molina called for first baseman Adams to cut the throw, and replays indicated Adams would have had a great chance to throw out Ryan Zimmerman as he went to third.
But Adams let the throw go through, and it went wide and got behind Molina as Zimmerman gained third and Murphy went to second on the error. Werth then went deep to make it 4-0.
“We had a chance to get out of that,” Matheny said. “If we could possibly cut a ball and throw out the runner at third and concede one run ... It didn’t work out that way. Then the three-run homer. It’s been kind of that way (lately). We’ve had a big inning happen and it’s hard to recover from.”
Matheny said the noise of 42,723 fans might have impacted the play.
“Getting that translated isn’t the easiest thing,” Matheny said, referring of Molina’s communication to Adams. “And the ball might have been sailing. I can’t tell from our angle whether the ball was cutting away from him or not.
“A throw online would have made it close (at home). If it’s loud and you just can’t hear ... You’ve got your back to the play. You can’t tell what’s going on behind you.”
Martinez is facing a lawsuit that alleges he gave a woman a sexually transmitted disease in December.
The story was first reported by TMZ.
According to the report, the woman tested positive for multiple STDs after “reconnecting” with Martinez in the offseason. The lawsuit is for battery and negligent transmission of an STD.
Martinez has denied the allegations through his attorney.
“We are just learning of this matter,” Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak told mlb.com on Saturday. “I was notified by Carlos’ agent the other night. Until we learn more details, we will not be in a position to act until we have further information.”
Randal Grichuk didn’t start Saturday, but he struck out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, extending his slump to 0-for-17 that has dropped his average to .189. Grichuk previously endured a 1-for-14 skid. He has 23 strikeouts in 75 at-bats.
“You have times that you’re hot and times that you’re not,” Matheny said. “He’s just a click off on a couple of pitches. Randal’s such an impressive talent. We’re watching him not take his offense out in the field. He’s doing a great job on the defensive side. He’s got great power, he’s got a great swing. It’s just going to be (about) sticking with his approach.”
Nationals 6, Cardinals 1
Jayson Werth’s three-run homer in the first inning against Jaime Garcia (1-2) put Washington ahead 4-0 and pitcher Joe Ross (3-0) did the rest, holding the Cardinals’ to one run on six hits in six innings and striking out four. The Cardinals’ only run came in the fifth when Matt Carpenter’s sacrifice fly made it 4-1.
By the numbers
St. Louis slipped to 1-7 against teams with a record above .500. ... The Cardinals struck out 10 times, giving them 201 this season. ... Yadier Molina had a single and a double to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, during which he is batting .378 (14-for-37). ... Rookie Aledmys Diaz had a ninth-inning single to give him 30 hits in April, tying him with Albert Pujols for the franchise record. Pujols registered 30 hits in April as a rookie in 2001.
Carlos Martinez (4-0, 1.93 ERA) vs. Max Scherzer (2-1, 4.35 ERA), 1:15 p.m. Sunday