Monday’s Game Report: Royals 4, Cardinals 1
By Rob Rains
The most critical week of the season in the Cardinals’ fight for a playoff spot did not begin the way they would have liked.
Adam Wainwright was victimized by a couple of well-placed hits in the sixth inning that produced two runs and turned out to be the difference in the game, which snapped the Cardinals’ four-game winning streak.
“The hardest part for me is I’m standing on the mound and I know our team needs me to get that zero right there,” Wainwright said. “I knew that was the biggest spot in the game. I slowed the inning down big time. Those guys just threw some really good at-bats on me.
“They found holes today. Sometimes that’s the key to winning, just putting the ball in play. The team needed me to win today and I didn’t do it.”
The loss dropped the Cardinals back into a virtual tie with the Reds for second place in the NL Central, which carries with it a guaranteed playoff spot in this year’s expanded postseason. The Reds beat the Brewers 6-3. The Cardinals do hold the tiebreaker against the Reds thanks to winning the season series.
“They all count,” said manager Mike Shildt. “The wins are important at the end of the year. The fact of the matter is a couple of balls bounced their way and that was pretty much the story of the game.”
The Cardinals had won their last eight games in Kansas City, dating back to 2016.
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals only run came on a home run by Matt Carpenter in the second. In 20 games in Kansas City in his career, Carpenter has six homers, all coming in the last 16 games … The Cardinals best chance to score more runs came in the fourth when they had runners on first and third with two outs but Dylan Carlson hit a line drive right directly at left fielder Alex Gordon … Carlson turned in the defensive play of the game, taking at least an extra-base hit away from Salvador Perez with a leaping catch at the top of the wall in the fourth … Dexter Fowler was back in the lineup and had one hit in four at-bats.
On the mound: Wainwright allowed just one hit through the first four innings before giving up two hits and a run, on a groundball, in the fifth and running into trouble in the sixth. Maikel Franco got the key hit, a two-out single just inside the first-base line that drove in two runs … The Royals added their final run in the eighth off Giovanny Gallegos, who was activated from the injured list before the game. That run broke a streak of 13 consecutive scoreless innings by the Cardinals’ bullpen, covering the last five games.
Key stat: Paul DeJong was in the cleanup spot and was hitless in four at-bats. Over the last seven games on this road trip, the team’s combined fourth-place hitters – Brad Miller, DeJong and Tyler O’Neill – have been held without a hit in 20 at-bats with 10 strikeouts.
Worth noting: To make room for the return of Fowler and Gallegos from the injured list, the Cardinals optioned Justin Williams and Nabil Crismatt to the taxi squad. They had to open a 40-man spot for Fowler, and designated right-handed pitcher Roel Ramirez for assignment … Another reliever, Kodi Whitley, could be ready to return later this week, according to John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations. Whitley was one of the players who tested positive for COVID-19 in the original outbreak and then was dealing with a sore elbow.
Looking ahead: Austin Gomber will get the start on Tuesday night in the second game of the series.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains