The St. Louis Cardinals are moving out of “frustrating” territory and they’re headed quickly toward “embarrassing.”
This team has finding ways to lose games down to a science. Step one, get an early lead. Step two, let the other team hang around by failing to convert scoring opportunities into runs. Step Three, get the bullpen involved and wait for the lead to be coughed up like a hairball. On the rare occasion the club needs that little extra to get the job of stealing a loss from the jaws of victory accomplished, an untimely error by the defense is usually just what Dr. Kevorkian ordered.
It’s not a lot of fun to watch a team when there are two choices: It starts the game flat and never finds a way to get its rear in gear or else it gets ahead but you can never feel comfortable that the advantage is large enough that the club can’t blow it.
The Cardinals enjoyed early leads in all three games of their road trip to Wrigley Field to take on the Chicago Cubs. And they blew those leads. Every. Single. Time. Disgusting.
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In the series finale Sunday, the Redbirds showed some signs of life by putting up four runs in the top of the fourth to go ahead 4-1. Of course, then they couldn’t help but give up FIVE runs in the bottom half of the frame.
It’s miserable watching this team because it makes you feel like the other shoe is just waiting to drop. I hear some Cardinals apologists complain that people who turn off the television to avoid the heartburn of the local team’s sloppy play aren’t “real fans.” Let me put it to them this way: I might be a fan of my mother, for example. And I like to spend time with her. But I’m not interested in sitting there and watching someone slap her around for three hours.
If we want to get beyond the general fact that the Cardinals stink lately, it’s worrisome that starting pitcher Michael Wacha turned in another clunker Sunday.
Since the Cardinals skipped his turn in the rotation with the excuse that they were just trying to get him some extra rest, he’s been awful with an earned run average over 6.00 and more hits allowed than innings pitched with a batting average against over .325. It’s sure starting to look like he just isn’t going to be able to sustain successful mechanics because of the stress reaction issue with his pitching shoulder.
Then there is the fact that the offense just can’t get things going. At all.
Matt Carpenter’s batting average has dropped all the way to .213 despite manager Mike Matheny’s decision to move him from the three slot in the batting order to second. He’s got a .204 batting average since the month of May and seems to spend more time arguing over called strikes with umpires these days than he spends standing on first base.
Dexter Fowler, who was supposed to spark the St. Louis offense by getting on base and adding the element of speed to the lineup, has but two stolen bases more than one-third of the way through the 2017 schedule. Fowler hit .234 the first month of the season, .221 in May and is batting .222 in June. At least his inconsistency is consistent.
General Manager John Mozeliak told the media over the weekend that he’s patiently waiting for the offense to click. But I think a lot of fans have lost patience after waiting through the entire 2016 season in vain for this team to come together.