Sunday’s Game Report: Royals 6, Cardinals 5
By Rob Rains
It was the late manager of the Kansas City Royals, Dick Howser, who once was asked about his team having a .500 record to which he replied, “about where we oughta be.”
The same could very well be said about the 2021 Cardinals.
A loss to the Royals on Sunday at Busch Stadium pushed the Cardinals back to a game under the .500 mark, kept them from sweeping the series and winning for a third day in a row, which would have matched their longest streak since they won four consecutive games in late May.
Since two days after the All-Star break the Cardinals have been anywhere from a game over .500 to two games under, a stretch that has now lasted 23 consecutive days.
It was another frustrating loss as the Cardinals rallied for three runs in the eighth to tie the game, then had to wait out a rain delay of more than two hours before the Royals scored the winning run in the ninth.
Typical of a team which wins about the same number of games as it loses, there isn’t a great margin of error for the Cardinals these days, and that was true again on Sunday. It was a throwing error by Paul Goldschmidt in the ninth that led to the unearned run. It was his first error of the season.
“I tried to make the play at second and just threw it away,” Goldschmidt said. “It was unfortunate, probably cost us the game. It was just a mistake. It stinks when it costs your team the game.
“I just made a bad throw.”
Here is how Sunday’s game broke down:
At the plate: Dylan Carlson put the Cardinals ahead two pitches into the bottom of the first with his 12th homer of the season, the sixth he has hit as the team’s leadoff hitter … They failed to score and left seven runners on base over the next five innings, including when they loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter with nobody out in the fourth and failed to score. Andrew Knizner, starting at catcher, hit into a pitcher-to-home-to-first double play and Jon Lester popped out. Lester had hit a ground-rule double in his previous at-bat … The Cardinals finally scored again in the seventh on an RBI single from Goldschmidt before rallying to tie the game with their three runs in the eighth, getting a sacrifice fly from Carlson and run-scoring singles from Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.
On the mound: Jon Lester was much better in his second start for the Cardinals as he allowed just one hit through the first three innings. In the fourth, however, three hits and a hit batter led to the first two Kansas City. Lester was also charged with two runs in the sixth … Alex Reyes allowed a leadoff single in the ninth before Goldschmidt’s throwing error. Reyes stayed in the game after the 2:10 rain delay and got an out before giving up an RBI single that gave the lead back to the Royals.
Key stat: Despite tying the game with the three-run rally in the eighth, the Cardinals fell to 2-45 this season when they have been losing after the seventh inning.
Worth noting: Miles Mikolas struggled in what was supposed to be his final rehab start on Sunday night in Springfield. He gave up seven runs on 11 hits over 5 2/3 innings, including three home runs. He was expected to be in line to rejoin the rotation perhaps next weekend in Kansas City, but those plans might now be changed because of how Sunday night’s game went … Tommy Edman started in the fifth spot in the batting order for the second time this season. He has started games hitting first, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth … Radio broadcaster John Rooney was inducted into the Missouri Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in a ceremony on Saturday night.
Looking ahead: After another day off on Monday, the Cardinals will head to Pittsburgh for a three-game series beginning Tuesday night. J.A. Happ will get the start in the opener.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains