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Cardinals Fail to Produce Fireworks, Lose 4-2 to Pirates

St Louis Offense Overpowered by Marginal Starter

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals lineup: (after a last minute scratch of Tommy Pham for right shoulder stiffness):

Matt Carpenter 2B

Aledmys Diaz SS

Matt Holliday LF

Stephen Piscotty CF

Jhonny Peralta 3B

Yadier Molina C

Brandon Moss RF

Jedd Gyorko 1B

Carlos Martinez RHP

Certainly not the most defensively effective lineup the Cardinals have put out there, but there isn't a second baseman in centerfield, so let's call it a wash.

The first few innings were relatively quick and quiet, as Martinez cruised.  Stephen Piscotty laid down a picture-perfect bunt in the 4th inning, but to no avail, as the Cardinals continued to line balls sharply at defenders.

In the top of the fifth, the Pirates found holes all over the infield, leading off the inning with three straight singles.  Martinez was able to strike out Erik Kratz on three straight sliders.  He then induced a 6-4-3 double play by Jon Niese to end the threat.  Here's that K of Kratz:

The Cardinals got on the board in the bottom of the fifth - a Brandon Moss single and a (second!) Carlos Martinez single gave Matt Carpenter the opportunity to get his 52nd RBI of the season with a single into right.  The Cardinals would be unable to capitalize the rest of the inning, stranding runners at 2nd and 3rd.

The Pirates would answer right back in top of the 6th: John Jaso doubled to lead off the inning, followed by Carlos Martinez giving up only his 7th home run of the season to Gregory Polanco.  El Gallo was able to work around a single and a stolen base by Starling Marte to otherwise limit the damage.

Bucs would add another to their lead in the 7th.  An infield single by Jordy Mercer led off the inning, and he would be batted in by actual pirate John Jaso.  Jaso would be easily thrown out at second by Piscotty trying to stretch his hit, but too late to erase the run.

Polanco would take another one deep against Seth Maness in the 8th.  Hopefully Polanco (who has just 31 total bases over the last month) doesn't use this series as his return to form after coming back from a hamstring injury.  Maness would proceed to load the bases, but would only allow the single run.  It's getting harder to justify a place on the roster for Maness - his induce groundouts/never walk batters approach only worked so long as he know, not walking people.  Unfortunately, his BB/9 in 2016 is sitting at double his career rate, and his K/BB is at a paltry 1.33.

A Pirates bullpen of Caminero and Nicasio was too much for the offense to overcome, as each rather handily set down the Cardinals.  The Pirates bullpen has been on fire recently, so this isn't quite as frustrating as being basically shut down by a starter with an ERA north of 5.00 (again).  The Cardinals managed to break the Pirates' bullpen scoreless inning streak with a RBI double by Matt Carpenter off Neftali Feliz, but were otherwise unsuccessful at getting a rally going.

Weather notes:  The game was delayed well over an hour as downtown saw intermittently strong rainstorms.  Heavy, rain-filled air suppressed the heck out of the ball, same as yesterday.  Peralta's sharply lined double in the 2nd would very likely have been out on a normal July day.

Other notes:  Sam Tuivalala had a much better outing than yesterday, pitching a solid 9th without allowing a baserunner.  Cardinals stranded 18 runners today, with Holliday, Diaz, and Gyorko accounting for 2/3rds of that total.  A brief glimpse of Matt Adams in the 9th as a pinch-hitter, but despite his .471 PH batting average, he popped out in foul territory.  Matt Carpenter tried his best.

WPA graph of disappointment:

Source: FanGraphs

Cards and Pirates do it again tomorrow night.