I could go on and on about how great Jaime Garcia looked in his first game back from a long stint on the disabled list due to shoulder trouble and how much of a boost it is for the Cardinals to add a high quality starter for the stretch.
But that's not going to do a thing to solve the problems of the Incredible Shrinking Offense.
The Cardinals AGAIN on Sunday allowed themselves to be shut down by the Pirates, losing a game in 19 innings that should have easily been won several times over. And when Pittsburgh rolled into town, it's rotation was struggling terribly. James McDonald had managed to give up as few as four runs in only one of his previous seven starts. The Redbirds could do nothing but put up goose eggs against him.
Sunday starter Jeff Karstens had an ERA pushing 5.50 in road games before he held the Cardinals to a pair of earned runs in the rubber game of the Pittsburgh series.
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The middle of the St. Louis line-up, the guys that the Cardinals are counting on to put up runs -- Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran and David Freese -- combined on Sunday to go 2-for-22.
Although he carried the offense for a substantial part of the season, Holliday's a mess now. He's hitting .222 over the last month and .120 over the past two weeks with 12 strikeouts and three walks. Over the last month Beltran is hitting .232 with 27 strikeouts and four walks. Freese is batting .140 over the last two weeks with 13 strikeouts and four walks.
Every time the Cardinals take two steps forward by getting Jaime Garcia or Jon Jay or Allen Craig back from the disabled list they take 2 1/2 steps back with boneheaded play, stunning come from ahead losses and another injury or two.
So how much longer can we look under every rock for a reason the Cardinals are going to turn things around?
Garcia did pitch great -- and so did jjust about everyone else for that matter on Sunday. I bet a 19-inning game does wonders for the bullpen's statistics. But the Redbirds need to find a way to turn stats into victories.
The Birds need to pound the Astros this week -- nothing less than a sweep will be acceptable. And if they can manage that, they need to win at least two out of three from Cincinnati over the weekend. Even if the division race is slipping from their grasp, the Cardinals need to prove that they're worthy of making the playoffs as a wild card.
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