Cheap Seats

August 28, 2014

The St. Louis Cardinals are still searching for runs

Cheap Seats

Looking at the Cards from a fan's perspective

St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright finally admits there is something wrong with his pitching arm.

The good news is he thinks he's just suffering through a "dead arm" period. There seems to be no structural damage that has caused him to struggle since the all-star break. The better news is that he thinks he's starting to emerge from the odd condition that causes pitchers to lose strength in their throwing arm, often resulting in reduced velocity and compromises mechanics which affects their control.

It would be nice if the ace's struggles would magically disappear and he'd become his usual dominant self as the calendar turns from August to September.

But, even if Wainwright does return to normal, that doesn't address the Cardinals' biggest problem: They're not consistently scoring enough runs to expect to win.

The Birds have scored three or less runs in 10 of their 25 games so far in August including their last four games. They average two runs per contest in their series loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. In their last five games they've reached double figures in hits only once and in one of those games they didn't collect their first hit until the sixth innings.

How are the Redbirds going to find enough offense not only to make the playoffs but to beat good teams with good pitching if they do manage to make it to the post season?

I'm encouraged about the bat of Randal Grichuk who had a clutch, game-tying pinch hit line drive to tie the Cardinals game against Pittsburgh -- although only temporarily -- Tuesday. On Wednesday he lashed a hit on his first trip to the plate. Later he was robbed when he ripped a ball down the line with a runner in scoring position only to have the Pirates third baseman make a ridiculous play to get to the ball and throw him out.

But it's difficult, after the veterans on this team have failed to hit all season, to expect a rookie call up to come off the bench and carry the offense to the promised land.

St. Louis, from top to bottom, needs to take better at bats. Too often its pitchers barely get a chance to sit down and catch their breath before the hitters get mowed down 1-2-3 and it's back to the mound.

The Cardinals need to learn, if they can't score runs in bunches, to manufacture them. Get a guy on base somehow and then move him around, if not without hits with productive outs, and then hit a ground ball to the right side or a sacrifice fly to push them across the plate. Move runners more than one base at a time with hit and run plays... At this point, I'd take a run here and there over waiting for a three-run homer that never comes.

Former Redbirds manager Whitey Herzog said when his team struggled to score that he wished it could be spotted three runs and then the other team could have 27 outs to see if it could top that total. That wouldn't be a bad scenario for the modern Cardinals who can pitch and field. But, despite the fact that it returned one of the most prolific offenses in National League history from 2013, it just can't consistently hit.



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About Cheap Seats

Scott Wuerz has reported for the Belleville News-Democrat since 1998​. He writes about the St. Louis Cardinals from a fan's perspective in his Cheap Seats blog.

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