It's important to remember that the St. Louis Cardinals carried a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth inning on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Twins. Think of it as walking out your backdoor and seeing a freshly washed car before a pound of pollen falls on it during a rain storm.
Ten minutes later the lead was gone and 30 minutes later the game was gone. The Twins got to the Cardinals bullpen for three runs and won 4-1. Cut and dry, just like that.
The Cards bats remained silent for another game, this time at the hands of 23-year-old Jose Berrios. He had struggled in his past three starts, but was able to work the Cards over with a curveball that was equal parts relentless and deceptive. He struck out ten Cardinals in 7.1 innings of work before the bullpen slammed the door.
Let's look at five things one could take away from the loss that left the Cardinals with a 22-17 record.
5) Matt Carpenter hasn't entered the panic zone just yet, but he's close. The veteran went 0-4 and struck out twice, lowering his batting average to .140. In his last 31 games, Carpenter is 12-99 with 38 strikeouts, which is deplorable and would get most players sent down, designated for assignment, or directed a church or a voodoo doll. Against all wisdom, Carpenter remains in the top three spots in the lineup. Somewhere, there's a rule that due to his past and run of bad luck, he can't hit 6th or 7th. Mike Matheny puts that right next to beard growth in his bad book. Please, Matheny, drop him in the lineup.
4) I thought Tommy Pham's return would bring this offense back to life, but it appears the loss of Yadier Molina could weigh heavier. Since his injury, the Cardinals have struggled to put together a fine stretch of baseball. Carson Kelly may have driven in the only run last night, but Molina's ability at the plate remained underrated up until his injury. Molina's six home runs and ability to move the ball around made the lineup stretch out a bit. Maybe he didn't affect things that much, but they sure have gone silent since his absence.
3) How bad is it? The Cardinals went on a five game winning streak, which resulted in a sweep of the Chicago Cubs. Since that big walkoff win, the Cards have lost 5 of 7 games. In those seven games, they have averaged just over two runs per game. With the steady if not stellar starting pitching received, it's hard to win a lot of games on that. Berrios may be a crafty young pitcher, but he had allowed 18 runs in 18.1 innings during his previous four starts. He put it back together versus the Cardinals. Right now, any pitcher can.
2) Paul DeJong should hit higher in the lineup. If the Cardinals want to stay the course with the Carpenter rehab program, at least flip him and DeJong. The shortstop drew his 14th walk of the season Tuesday night, which pales in comparison to his 48 strikeouts. However, if he can work the count more and not strike out three times a night, I think his power can play in the second spot. It also drops Carpenter lower in the lineup. Try it. There's nothing to lose right now.
1) Jack Flaherty was the highlight of the night for the Cardinals. He only went 5.1 innings, but he presented the team with a chance to win a baseball game. He's started three games and given the Cardinals a chance to win. He'll only get better with his arsenal of pitches, so it's easy to feel comfortable about his next few games. If only the offense could score runs and the bullpen could not blow a game.
Bonus Takeaway: Hey Luke Gregerson, a little consistency would be nice. The once upon a time closer gave up two runs in an appearance for the second straight time. He sealed the game on Tuesday, painting a wall that the inept offense built.
Miles Mikolas, aka the rotation savior at the moment, takes the hill today to try and salvage a split. Let's hope we have better news tomorrow. Until then, take luck.
Thanks for reading,