If the St. Louis Cardinals don’t start playing better at Busch Stadium, they can forget about their chances of competing in the postseason.
That was the opinion of first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss on Thursday after the Cardinals lost their seventh straight game at home, a 4-2 decision to the Kansas City Royals that dropped their record at Busch Stadium to 15-23.
“It’s surprising and it’s disappointing,” Moss said. “You want to play well in front of your home fans. You want to give them a reason to come out, a reason to get excited. Historically, this has been a team that’s always done really well at home. For some reason this year, we’re not playing our best games here.
“There’s no explanation or rhyme or reason for it. It just happens. But I think over the course of the season, it will even out more. I don’t think we’ll finish with a losing record at home. We have too good of a team to do that. But right now, we haven’t got anything going here.”
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We know we have to play better at home. You don’t see many teams go to the playoffs that don’t play well at home. It has to be a place that people don’t want to come and play you at. ... But right now, we haven’t play well (at home).
Brandon Moss of the Cardinals
St. Louis, which was 55-26 at home last season, hasn’t tasted victory at Busch Stadium since June 5, and it stands just two games above .500 at 40-38 as the calendar flips to July.
The Cardinals haven’t lost eight straight home games since 1958.
Moss said until the Cardinals tighten up their play at home, the playoffs are a pipe dream.
“That’s obvious,” he said. “I don’t think any team goes three games over .500 and makes the playoffs. We know we have to play better at home. You don’t see many teams go to the playoffs that don’t play well at home. It has to be a place that people don’t want to come and play you at. ... But right now, we haven’t play well (at home).”
Moss and Jhonny Peralta hit bases-empty homers for the Cardinals’ only runs, but the positives were far outweighed by three errors, two wild pitches and an RBI double by Kendrys Morales that could have been ruled an error on third baseman Peralta.
The Royals also won a replay challenge in the sixth that took away a double play from the Cardinals and led to the ejection of St. Louis manager Mike Matheny by plate umpire Mike Everitt.
Matheny, among other things, was upset that the Royals’ challenge came so late. The Cardinals already were off the field when the double-play call was overturned.
“That’s a hazy rule, if there is one,” Matheny said. “I know it would have been barked on if it was on the other side. The way I originally was told this had to happen was it had to happen right away. Part of it is my guys had already got off the field. They’re already getting their bats ready and have shut down mentally. I think that’s the purpose for having some sort of guidelines.”
Matheny acknowledged boiling over with frustration about the things that already had occurred in the game, including the three errors.
Mistakes happen. We’ve got to fix them. We’ve been saying this for a while. I know our guys hold themselves to a high level of expectations. Some of the plays that have happened aren’t in those expectations. We’ve got to continue to figure out how to get it right on a consistent basis.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny
“I lost it in a hurry with him,” Matheny said. “I don’t even remember what he said, but I didn’t like it. I didn’t like some of the things I was seeing, just like like most of our team didn’t like things we were seeing. It was a game of missed opportunities.”
The Cardinals finished with a season-low three hits and were unable to do much of anything against veteran Chris Young, who recorded one of the stranger lines of the season: four innings, one hit, one run, six walks and five strikeouts.
“I think we made some mistakes,” Mathenty said. “Mistakes happen. We’ve got to fix them. We’ve been saying this for a while. I know our guys hold themselves to a high level of expectations. Some of the plays that have happened aren’t in those expectations. We’ve got to continue to figure out how to get it right on a consistent basis.
“I would say we haven’t hit our stride on a consistent basis, and it needs to be on a consistent basis. I haven’t seen that. That’s what we expect and it’s going to happen.”
Moss’ long one
Moss’ home run against Young in the fourth was measured at 477 feet by the Cardinals, making it the longest in the history of Busch Stadium III.
ESPN, however, measured it at 452 feet.
The previous longest home run at Busch Stadium was hit by the Cardinals’ Matt Holliday, a 469-foot shot against the Chicago Cubs on July 20, 2012.
It was Moss’ fifth home run in 20 career at-bats against Young.
“It’s a 2-0 ballgame at the time and you know he doesn’t want to put you on and bring up the tying run. He doesn’t want to give you the bast,” Moss said. “So he’s going to come to you. I felt like I had good timing against him. I felt like I was seeing him well, so I just got ready to hit and got really aggressive. I got the pitch I was looking for.”
The Royals’ Morales launched a 456-foot homer to left in the the eighth, tying him with thee others for the longest home run hit by an opponent.
Mitch Moreland of the Texas Rangers, Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds and Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks also have hit 456-foot homers at Busch.
Morales was 12-for-16 in the four-game series against the Cardinals, and he is 16-for-24 in his last six games.
“He was a game-changer,” Matheny said. “This year and last year, we’ve had a hard time getting him out. He’s put together good at-bats.”
Rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz was available to play Thursday, but did not. Diaz could be ready for his first start since Monday when the Cardinals open a series against the Milwaukee Brewers at 7:15 p.m. Friday.
Diaz suffered a bruised right eye Monday when he fouled the ball off the ground and into his face in a game at Kansas City.
“It’s way better today,” Diaz said Thursday. “I think I can play now. It’s normal. This is part of the game. It’s OK. I can take it. (But) it was a scary moment for me. It’s a tough game.”
Pena gets start
Reserve catcher Brayan Pena got his first start of the season Thursday as Yadier Molina was idled after catching all 12 innings of the contest Wednesday.
Pena flied out to right as a pinch-hitter Wednesday in his first game action of the season. He began the season on the disabled list because of knee surgery.
“I’ve got to go out there and grind it out,” said Pena, who was 0-for-3 with a walk and had a costly throwing error in the first inning that enabled Kansas City to take a 1-0 lead. “I’ve been watching a lot of games, watching a lot of film. I talk to Molina a lot and rely a lot on his information.
“I know my role. I know we have a guy (Molina) who goes out there every single day, and that’s a blessing. At the same time, I’ve got to be ready when my name is called. ... I’m excited to be his backup because him and I have a good relationship. We’re very close. Hopefully, I can continue to learn from him.”
Royals 4, Cardinals 2
Kendrys Morales was 3-for-4 with two doubles and a home run as Kansas City won three of four in its interleague series against the Cardinals. St. Louis committed three errors and collected just three hits.
By the numbers
The Cardinals lead the major leagues with 62 errors. ... Mike Leake allowed three runs (two earned) in seven innings, with one walk and four strikesouts. ... The Royals’ Kendrys Morales was 12-for-16 in the four-game series and is 16-for-24 in his last six game. ... Brandon Moss and Jhonny Peralta homered for the Cardinals.
Milwaukee. Jaime Garcia (5-6, 4.09 ERA) vs. Matt Garza (1-0, 2.81 ERA), 7:15 p.m. Friday