Wednesday’s Game Report: Nationals 1, Cardinals 0
By Rob Rains
Carlos Martinez came away from another start without a win on Wednesday but this time the result had nothing to do with how he pitched.
Martinez could not have pitched much better, allowing just one run over six innings, but the Cardinals offense failed to offer much support as they were shut out by Max Scherzer and the Nationals in the series finale in Washington.
A two-out double by Al Avila in the second inning drove in the only run of the game as the Cardinals were shut out for the third time in their last seven games.
For Martinez, his streak without a win was extended to 12 consecutive starts dating back to July 7, 2018. This was the first time he has started a game and allowed only one run and was charged with the loss since May 6, 2016, and he only pitched 3 1/3 innings in that game.
Despite how well he pitched, Martinez still became the first Cardinals pitcher to lose his first four starts in a season since Anthony Reyes in 2007.
The problem for Martinez on Wednesday was the fact the Cardinals could not score off Scherzer, the St. Louis native who was only 2-6 in his career against his hometown team.
Their best chance came in the first inning, when they loaded the bases with one out before Scherzer struck out Dylan Carlson and Matt Carpenter.
“I did feel like we were going to do some things but he got better as he went,” said manager Mike Shildt. “He was effective. We were able to take some good at-bats and got his pitch count up to some degree and got him out of there, but it would have been nice to cash in in the first for sure.”
Here is how Wednesday’s game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals had just three hits off Scherzer after the first, including a double by Martinez … They also loaded the bases in the eighth off Daniel Hudson on a walk, single and another walk but he got Carpenter to line out to right field to get out of the jam … Paul Goldschmidt was 0-of-3 with one strikeout against Scherzer, dropping him to just 2-of-28 with 15 strikeouts against Scherzer in his career … Yadier Molina was just 1-of-17 against Scherzer and he got the day off, until pinch-hitting in the ninth, with Andrew Knizner getting the start behind the plate. He had a double in four at-bats … Paul DeJong had the only multiple hit day for the Cardinals with a pair of singles and he also reached on a walk … The Cardinals were a combined 0-of-11 with runners in scoring position on Tuesday night and Wednesday.
On the mound: The Cardinals got quality starts from Jack Flaherty, Adam Wainwright and Martinez in the series as the three combined to allow only four runs over 19 innings … Martinez allowed only two hits after Avila’s double in the second and stranded two runners on third … This was the first time the Cardinals lost to the Nationals/Expos when allowing four or fewer hits since 1995.
Key stat: This was the first time the Cardinals lost 1-0 to the Washington franchise since it was the Montreal Expos, on Aug. 7, 1991. It actually was the first time a team from Washington beat a team from St. Louis 1-0 since the Senators beat the Browns on May 26, 1943.
Worth noting: Tyler O’Neill is scheduled to play in a simulated game with players from the alternate site camp, at Busch Stadium, on Thursday as the final test to make sure he is ready to come off the injured list on Friday. He has been recovering from a groin injury … After Thursday’s day off the Cardinals will begin a stretch of 17 consecutive games on Friday night. To keep their starting pitchers on a schedule that gives them five days off, the team will slot Johan Oviedo as a sixth starter for two spots during that stretch. It’s likely the first game will be on April 28.
Looking ahead: The Reds will be the opponent for the three game weekend series at Busch, with Kwang Hyun Kim set to pitch the opener on Friday night.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains