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Cardinals offense stagnant in 5-1 loss to Royals

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Jason Hammel shut down the Cards offense and it was depressing just writing that sentence.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at St. Louis Cardinals Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals play a lot of baseball games over a full season and they will lose a fair amount of them, whether they are a good or bad team. Some of those losses are understandable. Some make you scratch your head. This one makes you scratch your head. Jason Hammel came into this game with an 11.4 K% and a 4.78 FIP and he was actually getting slightly favorable results when it comes to homers per fly ball percentage (9.7% compared to 11.3% career). He left this game with 6 strikeouts to the 29 batters he faced, which for him is like a 14 strikeout game.

There’s no way around it: this game sucked. The Cardinals ended up getting 11 hits, but that sort of overstates how good their offense was today. I didn’t keep a track of the type of hits they got, but it seemed like the majority were aided by BABIP more than actually good hits. All of them were singles. They also didn’t walk a single time.

So what happened today? Well, Hammel was able to take care of the Cards’ two hottest hitters, Matt Carpenter and Tyler O’Neill. The rest of the offense can be best described as “eh” so it’s less of a surprise that they didn’t come through for the Cards. Lots of hits though!

The two main contributors to the hit column were Marcell Ozuna and Yairo Munoz. Ozuna was still Ozuna of the 2018 season, making bad swings, but the balls happened to find a hole today. I think I saw two bloop singles out of his three hits. Sorry if I’m being negative on a 3-hit day by Ozuna, but it really wasn’t any different from the rest of this season by his approach and how the ball came off his bat. Munoz didn’t exactly have a more impressive arsenal of hits, but I’m excited for the kid, because one of his major traits in the minors was not striking out and I don’t know if you noticed, but he struck out a lot in his first MLB stint. Luck on his hits tonight or not, he has not struck out since he got promoted for the second time.

Luke Weaver pitched for the Cardinals and he pitched pretty good, but with a case of homeritis dampening his numbers. He allowed a very Jon Jay single to Jon Jay to begin the 1st, but had no trouble from the next three hitters. Matt Carpenter made a nice play on a bunt by Ryan Goins to get the first out. In the 2nd, Alex Gordon swung at the first pitch he saw and homered. This is just unfortunate. Gordon hasn’t gotten a hit since May 16 and has an wRC+ of 81 for the season. If there’s a hitter you throw a meatball to for a first-pitch strike, it’s this guy. He allowed another single, but also struck out two guys, including Hammel, to end the 2nd.

Weaver had a quick 1-2-3 inning in the 3rd for the Royals top of the order, but admittedly that sounds more impressive than he got out Jay, Goins, and a good hitter (Mike Moustakas). After striking out Salvador Perez in the 4th, he fell behind Whit Merrifield and couldn’t recover, walking him on five pitches. He also fell behind on Gordon and Gordon hit a line drive single. After Abraham Almonte lined out, Alcides Escobar lined a double to score another Royals run. Getting bested by Gordon and Escobar? Not great, Luke.

He again had a quick 1-2-3 inning in the 5th against the Royals top of the order, throwing a total of 8 pitches, including back-to-back 3 pitch strikeouts to Goins and Moustakas. Perez hit a first-pitch homer in the 6th. He then struck out Merrifield, and after giving Gordon his third hit of the night, he induced an inning-ending double play ball. His last inning, the 7th, included another quick easy 1-2-3 inning. I know you can’t do this, but take away the homers and this is a really good start. Two of the five flyballs hit by the Royals went over the fence. He’s just got to be careful about those first-pitch strikes.

The Cardinals scored in the very first inning, and despite having 11 hits, it wasn’t from a hit. With two outs, Jose Martinez singled and Ozuna followed with a single of his own. With runners at the corners, the Cardinals made a planned double steal to try to fool the Royals. It didn’t really, but then Perez threw it wild and allowed Martinez to score. The scorekeepers are apparently calling this two stolen bases and not an error so I don’t know how they reached that conclusion, but sure Jose Martinez stole home.

In the 2nd, Munoz and Francisco Pena singled with one out, but Weaver was up and he bunted them over. Dexter Fowler struck out to end the inning. In the 3rd, Ozuna and O’Neill singled with two outs, but Kolten Wong popped out to end the inning. In the 4th, Munoz singled. With one out and an 0-2 count on Weaver, Munoz attempted to steal, but Weaver struck out and Munoz got thrown out. In the 5th, the Cards again started a rally in with two outs with Martinez getting hit by a pitch and Ozuna hitting another single, but O’Neill struck out. In the 7th, Munoz singled and then a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out for the second time in the game. This one is on Pena. On a 3-2 count, he swung at a pitch in the dirt. Takes the pitch and there’s two on and one out.

The bullpen was a mixed bag. Brett Cecil came in to replace Weaver for the 8th. He struck out a guy and walked a guy. He got replaced by Mike Mayers who struggled. Perez lined out and he walked Merrifield, but then got Gordon to pop out. Somebody named Brad Keller got a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the inning.

Greg Holland came into the game and it was not a mixed bag. Here was his outing: single, single, walk, single. So he didn’t get a batter out. John Brebbia then proceeded to get the next three batters out without allowing another runner to score. Holland should buy him a year supply of beer, because come on, that’s chump change for him.

The Cardinals had a mini-threat in the 9th with a leadoff single by Wong and an infield hit by Munoz, but then Pena hit into a double play ball and pinch-hitter Jedd Gyorko struck out. Oh well, can’t win them all.

Notes

  • Weaver line: 7 IP, 8 Ks, BB, 3 ER, 2 HRs, 7 Hs - Let’s cool it on the Weaver to the bullpen talk please? Especially since that is a good game. And hey if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I kind of envy you.
  • Sometimes pitchers dominate a hitter and it makes sense. Hammel has dominated Carp for his career and I do not get it. At all. Carpenter now has 12 strikeouts in 31 PAs with zero walks and only three hits. Against Jason Hammel.
  • This has to be the first game the Cardinals haven’t had an extra base hit in a little while right? I mean Carpenter has hit a double per game for the past week it seems.
  • Dex buddy, I hope you can figure it out.

Tomorrow the Cardinals go for the series win. It is Jakob Junis against Michael Wacha. Junis has had some good results so a Royals series win is not out of the....cards. Sorry.