Wednesday’s Game Report: Royals 12, Cardinals 3
By Rob Rains
Carlos Martinez wanted the opportunity to return to the Cardinals’ starting rotation this year, even when it meant delaying rejoining the team following a positive test for COVID-19.
The results, however, have not been what either Martinez or the team had hoped for.
His start against the Royals on Wednesday night was his fourth since coming back to the team on Sept. 8 and once again he struggled, giving up a career-high eight runs as the Royals jumped out to a 6-0 lead on two home runs from Salvador Perez in the first three innings.
The Cardinals have lost three of those four starts by Martinez, and this one dropped them back into a virtual tie with the Reds for second place in the NL Central heading into the final weekend of the season.
Martinez pitched into the sixth inning, but had to come out of the game with what was announced as a back strain on his left side. He will be evaluated further on Thursday when the team is back in St. Louis.
In his four starts this month, Martinez has pitched a total of 16 1/3 innings and has allowed 20 runs, 16 of them earned. His ERA for the season, including one start before the team was hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, climbed to 9.90.
“He made the most of his opportunity to win the spot and get those chances this year and he just never really got into the groove,” said manager Mike Shildt. “You saw glimpses of it. Carlos is a little bit of a rhythm pitcher, gets that feel, that groove, and once he does light’s out. He showed flashes of it.
“He never ultimately was able to get any consistency going with his pitches. This is a league where you can’t get away with a lot consistently.”
Martinez’s next scheduled start would be on Monday, if the team has to play the two makeup games in Detroit if a spot in the playoffs is on the line.
Shildt was non-committal about that appearance.
“We’ll cross that bridge if we have to cross it,” Shildt said.
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals scored one run through the first eight innings, on an RBI single by Dexter Fowler, before adding two runs in the ninth on a bases-loaded single by Harrison Bader … Yadier Molina had a pair of singles, moving to just two hits shy of the 2,000 mark for his career … The cleanup woes continued as Paul DeJong was back in the spot and went 0-of-4. The Cardinals have not had a hit out of the cleanup spot in 27 at-bats in their last nine games, with 14 strikeouts.
On the mound: The final two runs charged to Martinez were runners he left on base after a single and a walk to the first two hitters in the fifth, the last two hitters he faced before coming out of the game. Seth Elledge gave up the runs, allowing a three-run homer to the first batter he faced, Frenchy Cordero, who later homered again off Kodi Whitley, making his first appearance since being recalled from the satellite camp in Springfield.
Key stat: The Cardinals once again failed to climb to three games over .500 when they had the chance, something they have been unable to do all season. They are now 0-7 in those games. They have also not been more than two games below .500 all season.
Worth noting: The last time two players hit two homers and drove in at least five runs in the same game against the Cardinals was on June 3, 1954, when the Giants did it. The only other time that had happened in franchise history was in 1923 … Dakota Hudson is going to seek a second opinion before a decision is made about how to treat the injury to his right arm, which has been diagnosed as to the flexor tendon in his right arm. He met on Wednesday with Dr. George Paletta, the team physician … With two home runs on Wednesday night against the Cubs, the Pirates moved past the Cardinals and out of last place in total home runs in the majors this season. With 48 homers, the Cardinals now have hit the fewest homers among the 30 teams … The Cardinals finished the 13-game, 10-day trip with a 7-6 record against the Brewers, Pirates and Royals.
Looking ahead: Kwang Hyun Kim will get the start on Thursday as the Cardinals return home to host the Brewers in the start of a five-game series at Busch Stadium.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains