The Cardinals wasted a great opportunity Monday night to seize sole control of first place in the National League Central due to an unfocussed and unproductive offense.
Going into the game the Redbirds were handed a present when the Colorado Rockies substituted a right handed junk baller for their best lefty starter who figured to be a handful for St. Louis hitters.
I guess the Cardinals figured they were going to hit a bunch of homers against substitute hurler Colin McHugh who has made seven MLB starts with an 0-6 record and an ERA over 10.00 before the game. They hit the ball pretty squarely all night. But they came up just short again and again with a parade of fly balls that landed in Rockies gloves just shy of the warning track.
It's a shame that the offense couldn't do anything with McHugh. Because St. Louis starter Lance Lynn, supposedly one bad start from losing his spot in the rotation, made his second strong start in a row. Pitching in the intimidating atmosphere of Colorado, Lynn allowed two runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings.
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The Cardinals tied the game in the top of the eighth when David Freese finally found the outfield gap to drive home Matt Adams. But two runs was all the St. Louis offense could muster. The Rockies then were able to break open the game in the bottom of the inning against a seemingly tired Trevor Rosenthal.
The Redbirds setup man walked the first batter he faced and then allowed Colorado to get runners on second and third with a single. He got a strikeout to give hope of getting out of the inning. But a line drive to shortstop was just over Daniel Descalso's outstretched glove.
The Pirates, meanwhile, were one-hit in a 2-0 loss at home to San Diego. It's an outcome the Cardinals can't count on repeatedly. So, again, St. Louis has wasted a gift and put itself in a tougher situation if it wants to win the division title.