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Forget the excuses, Cardinals, just play better

It’s difficult to find positives to take away from an embarrassing series sweep for the St. Louis Cardinals at the hands of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Cardinals’ hitting, pitching and defense all weren’t good enough to win. And it’s difficult to understand how a team that is so talented can be so unprepared.

For third third game in a row, the Redbirds racked up double digits in strikeouts. For the third game in a row, their starting pitcher racked up too many pitches and struggled to limit the damage and for the third game in a row, the defense made a devastating error at a pivotal point of the game.

It’s not panic time. But the Cardinals definitely need to quickly take a look at themselves and find a way to right the ship before they dig themselves too deep a hole from which to escape.

These games count no more -- but no less than any other three-game losing streak during the season. They’re magnified because of the small total of games played. But it’s not the 0-3 mark that upsets me. It’s the sloppy mess the team has been on the field.

If the Cardinals thought they could overcome the Chicago Cubs hype just by showing up and throwing their gloves on the field, they’re terribly wrong. At this point, they don’t appear to be able to hang with the smaller budget -- but fundamentally sound -- Pirates.

The Redbirds are successful because they typically play cleaner than the other team, focus for all nine innings and do the little things right. That’s exactly the opposite of what we’ve seen from this current edition of the team.

Hitters need to become more focused and concentrate in making contact and getting on base. Of the starters, only Yadier Molina (.273) and Kolten Wong (.222) are batting better than .200.

Their approach is awful. The execution is worse.

The starting pitchers were supposed to be the anchor of this team. Ace Adam Wainwright posted a mediocre 4.50 ERA -- a run every other inning -- in his debut. Michael Wacha and $80 million free agent acquisition Michael Wacha have twin 8.31 ERAs -- or nearly a run surrendered EVERY INNING.

Everybody is entitled to a bad game here and there. But the team is counting on this team to be dominant.

I don’t have any words of boundless optimism. Because at this point, they’d only be an attempt to make excuses.

There is nothing to say except that this team needs to play better. And soon. Otherwise, a comfortable situation is going to quickly unravel and changes are going to have to be made.

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