Sunday’s Game Report: Angels 6, Cardinals 4
By Rob Rains
Anybody looking for a clue as to why the Cardinals offense has struggled so much this season need look no further than the most recent sample size, Sunday night’s game at Busch Stadium.
The team had 10 hits in the loss to the Angels, but four of them came out of the ninth spot in the batting order.
Five of the Cardinals hits, and all of the runs, came with two outs in the ninth after the Angels had increased a 2-0 lead to 6-0 with four runs in the top of the inning.
During the first seven games of the homestand, the hitters batting ninth – including pitchers and pinch-hitters – collected more hits than any other spot in the batting order.
Albert Pujols, in what almost certainly was the final game of his career at Busch, was 2-of-5 with a pair of singles. He had a near-dramatic ending when he came to bat with the bases loaded in the ninth but popped out, still getting another hug from Yadier Molina, one more standing ovation as he headed back to the dugout and one final curtain call.
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals were one out away from being shut out for the sixth time this season when Jose Martinez hit his fifth homer … They added three more runs in the ninth on a single by Molina and a walk to Harrison Bader, both of whom scored on a double by Kolten Wong, and a pinch-hit single by Dexter Fowler that scored Wong, the fourth hit out of the ninth spot. Matt Carpenter then got an infield single but Paul DeJong grounded into a force out to end the game … Until the ninth the Cardinals had been held to only five hits, three by the ninth-place hitters (Miles Mikolas, Yairo Munoz and Tommy Edman, who hit a one-out triple in the eighth but was left stranded) … Edman has hit for the cycle in the first five hits in the majors, including two singles, a double, a triple and a home run … According to the Elias Sports Bureau it was the first time the Cardinals had four hits out of the ninth spot in the order by four different players since June 23, 2003 … Bader was 0-of-3 before his walk and has one hit in his last 29 at-bats.
On the mound: Mikolas allowed one run on seven hits in five innings as his record fell to 5-8 … The Angels added a run in the sixth off John Brebbia before sending 10 hitters to the plate in the ninth, scoring four times. All of the runs were charged to John Gant, who retired only one of the seven hitters he faced. He left with the bases loaded, and one of the runs scored on a walk issued by Genesis Cabrera before he got the final two outs … Gant’s ERA went from 1.54 coming into the game to 2.40 … The 15 hits by the Angels were the most allowed by the Cardinals in a game this season. They had allowed 14 hits three times.
Key stat: In the seven games so far on this homestand, the ninth-place hitters (pitchers and pinch-hitters) have collected nine hits. The team’s fifth and sixth place hitters combined have had eight hits and the fourth place hitters have had seven hits.
Worth noting: Alex Reyes has another injury problem. The perennial prospect who has had multiple injury issues over the last few years had to come out of his start for Memphis in the second inning Sunday night at Oklahoma City. The Cardinals announced that he was suffering from right pectoral discomfort and would be re-evaluated on Monday. Reyes has missed time this season because of a broken little finger, suffered when he punched a wall in frustration, after missing almost two years because of Tommy John surgery and a lat injury … The Cardinals are going to see how Jordan Hicks responds to treatment the next couple of days before considering whether to place him on the injured list. Their hope is that he will be able to pitch by Wednesday or Friday.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals have their first of two days off this week on Monday before hosting the Oakland A’s on Tuesday and Wednesday in another interleague matchup. Jack Flaherty will pitch on Tuesday night and Adam Wainwright on Wednesday night.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains