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Cards get shut down by Clayton Richard in 5-3 loss and yes that’s as bad as it sounds

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The Cards lost to the Padres again because they can’t hit the ball.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Confession: I watched maybe half this game. I spent the day with my mother, grandmother, and other family and as such, it didn’t really get my full attention. Sorry. I don’t really feel bad about it and not just because this game was bad. It’s obviously Mother’s Day and I assume or hope many of you went through the same thing I did. Sort of paid attention to the game, but more or less got to spend today with your mom and that took most of your attention. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms reading this.

Adam Wainwright started today and the Cardinals are going to need to have an awkward conversation with him now. He looks DONE. You know it’s bad when the optimistic outlook is that he’s still kind of playing hurt. If he’s completely healthy, time for one last gasp at the bullpen. He can’t really be an MLB starter. I don’t even mean that in the sense that Jack Flaherty deserves to be one over him, I mean he literally is no longer an MLB starter caliber pitcher.

It was rough early, and it never really got better. He allowed a one-out single and then struck out Jose Pirela. But then he walked the next two batters and only by the grace of Paul DeJong playing defense right behind second base was he able to escape the inning. The bases-loaded groundout by Corey Spangenberg was hit hard right to him. Wainwright had 33 pitches after one inning.

In the 2nd, Freddy Galvis walked to lead off the inning and then Manuel Margot reached on an infield single. He then was fortunate to face the opposing pitcher, Clayton Richard, who struck out looking on a 3-2 count. Travis Jankowski grounded into an inning ending double play ball. He had 49 pitches after two innings.

Like a one-inning relief pitcher trying to throw his 3rd inning in extra innings, Wainwright seemingly ran out of steam in the 3rd. He walked Eric Hosmer with nobody out. He walked Pirela right after him. He was able to strike out Franchy Cordero looking. But then he walked Raffy Lopez to load the bases. It was his third walk of the inning and 6th of the day. Mike Matheny kept him in because he hadn’t allowed a run yet. Well that certainly changed. He started Gavlis strong, getting to 0-2, but his pitches just weren’t missing bats and Spangenberg hit a line drive single to drive in one-run. End of Wainwright’s day. John Gant replaced him, and Galvis hit a sacrifice fly - since there was still just one out - and Margot popped out to end the inning.

Richard meanwhile is fast becoming my least favorite pitcher. He’s got the perfect set of traits to annoy you. He’s 1) not that great, but 2) when his stuff his working, he’s kind of great. Nothing worse than a not great pitcher capable of greatness. Although usually, he’s a more annoying bad pitcher. He gets lots of groundballs so normally the annoying part is you get the baserunners just fine but you keep hitting into double play balls.

Well, the Cards did hit into two double play balls, but that’s not exactly what happened today. Richard was weirdly utterly dominant. He has a career 15.1 K%. Before today, he was at his career high, but it was still just 19.7%. He struck out 35.7% of the batters he faced today. He was inexplicably for a day Max Scherzer. Only one of them was to either Dexter Fowler or Matt Carpenter so nobody easy to blame here. (Fowler pinch-hit and Carpenter sat)

The Cardinals did manage to get on the board. Tommy Pham walked with one out in the 6th. Harrison Bader then tripled using his speed to get to third base, driving in Pham. Jose Martinez then singled home Bader. One of the two double plays happened here with Marcell Ozuna grounding into a double play to end the inning.

Gant meanwhile pitched fine. He didn’t pitch that great, and he didn’t pitch poorly, but he pretty much pitched how you would expect him to pitch. In his first full inning of work, he allowed a one-out single to Jankowski, and the allowed a two-out double to Pirela and a two-out single to Cordero, giving the Padres two more runs. His line looks better than it was, not to say it was bad, but 2 of his 4 strikeouts were to Richard, who appears bad even for a pitcher swinging the bat. He last through the 6th, giving the Cards 3.2 IP in relief of Wainwright.

Brett Cecil replaced him and looked pretty great. He struck out two and the other out he got was a ground out back to him. Matt Bowman replaced Cecil and he did not look great. He allowed a leadoff double, who was then sacrificed to third on a bunt, who was then drove in with a sacrifice fly.

The Cardinals almost came back. Bader hit a lead off homer against the clearly tired Brad Hand. Hand is an elite relief pitcher who was asked to throw 2 innings yesterday and it showed. He walked Martinez after the homer. The last two guys of the inning are going to get a lot of the blame, but Ozuna had a truly horrible PA, swinging at a clear ball on 1-0, grounding out for the 1st out. Jedd Gyorko was walked and then Paul DeJong hit by a pitch on 1-2 count, putting the bases loaded with 1 out. But Carson Kelly and Kolten Wong were up and they aren’t exactly the best options against a lefty reliever. Both struck out, with Kelly swinging, and Wong literally never even taking the bat of his shoulder on his three straight strikes.

Notes

  • Wainwright line: 2.1 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 6 BBs, 3 Ks - The 3 strikeouts in 2.1 IP is a good example why K% is vastly superior to K/9. He had an elite 11.57 K/9, but a mediocre 20% K rate.
  • People are going to make a big deal out of splitting with the Padres, but this is sort of how baseball works. You’re not going to win 95% of the games against the bad teams, as annoying as the losses are. As a whole, the Cards have taken care of business against the bad teams.
  • DeJong couldn’t handle Richard, and returned to his old habits, striking out three times. Seems like that would have been a good matchup, but I guess not.

Tomorrow the Cards have yet another off-day, which is probably could, because the bullpen has sure thrown a lot of innings these past two games. After the break, they face the Twins in Minnesota for a short two-game series. It’s Jose Berrios against Jack Flaherty. That’s a good pitching matchup.