Friday’s Game Report: Braves 9, Cardinals 1
By Rob Rains
When Tommy Edman hit the seventh pitch of Friday night’s game for a double and later came around to score, there was at least a sense of optimism that this would be a better night for the Cardinals’ offense.
That didn’t turn out to be the case.
The Cardinals got a total of two more hits in the game, Carlos Martinez had another rough outing and the Braves blew out the Cardinals in the second game of the series in Atlanta.
It was the second game in a row in which the Cardinals were held to three hits. The rest of the recent numbers for the offense are just as ugly.
The Cardinals have scored a combined total of four runs in their last four games.
They have had only one multiple-run inning (scoring two runs) in their last 66 innings.
They have hit one home run in their last 59 innings.
It’s a stretch that has left the Cardinals frustrated and searching for answers. They have won three of the last seven games, getting a sweep of the Marlins despite scoring a total of seven runs in those three games.
“You play a game like, we’ve played more than we’re used to playing, I can’t alibi any of that,” said manager Mike Shildt. “Carlos was not sharp tonight. We weren’t able to swing the bats or put anything together. … We’ve just got to be more consistent as a group. But I’m not going to go Full Metal Jacket on a group of guys that are laying it out there as best they can.
“These guys are hurting. If I saw indifference, if I saw lack of effort, if I saw giving away competition, yeah I have and would say something.”
What Shildt said he has seen, however, is how much the players and coaches are trying to find a way out of this recent malaise.
“The thing that is probably a wonderful trait of this group is the fact that this group cares more than anybody has any idea about,” he said. “I can promise you right now we’ve got three of our regulars in the weight room right now. We have another two to three guys looking at video. We have pitchers reviewing video. We probably have four coaches right now looking at video. We have probably six conversations taking place about tonight’s game.
“My point in saying all that is people are invested. When people are invested to the level that this group is invested, that cares to the level they care, and it doesn’t work out, and you are not meeting your own expectations, which are high, then people may press.
“The flip side of that is we know we can play. We know what we’re capable of. It is a fine line, there are hard conversations that take place. … I feel like I’m always having to defend this group and I will. … No one is going to sit here and say we are as good as we need to be right now. I’m not saying that, I’m not alibiing. We need to improve in areas and be more consistent, no doubt about it.”
Here is how Friday night’s game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals had a total of six baserunners. Their hits after Edman’s double were singles by Edmundo Sosa with two outs in the fifth and by DeJong with two outs in the eighth. Dylan Carlson drew a pair of walks and Yadier Molina also reached on a walk. None of them other than Edman advanced past first base … Nolan Arenado was hitless in three at-bats before coming out of the game and is now mired in a 0-of-20 slump … DeJong’s hit was only his third in 25 at-bats since coming off the injured list.
On the mound: Martinez did not record an out in the fourth inning. He was charged with eight of the Braves runs, giving up eight hits, including two homers, walked four and hit Ronald Acuna Jr. twice. Fourteen of the 21 hitters he faced reached base. The final two runs charged to Martinez came after Jake Woodford replaced him on the mound … Woodford allowed the final run in his two innings before newly acquired Wade LeBlanc worked three scoreless innings.
Key stat: In their last seven games, when they have scored a combined 10 runs, the team has a composite batting average of .170 (32 hits in 206 at-bats). Twenty-four of the hits were singles along with five doubles and three home runs – all solo shots.
Worth noting: The loss dropped the Cardinals back to the .500 level at 35-35. Since May 30 they have lost 13 of their last 18 games … Outfielder Justin Williams was activated from the injured list and optioned to Triple A Memphis.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals will turn to Adam Wainwright to start Saturday night’s game, which will be televised by Fox.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains