Monday’s Game Report: Royals 7, Cardinals 0

Monday’s Game Report: Royals 7, Cardinals 0

By Rob Rains

The Cardinals knew playing a stretch of 19 games in 19 days was not going to be easy, but the team’s two star players don’t view it as an excuse for their current offensive woes.

For seven innings on Monday, every Cardinals batter took a right turn back to the dugout as the Royals, in a bullpen game, retired the first 21 batters in a row.

Nolan Arenado finally broke up their bid for the first combined perfect game in major-league history with a single to left leading off the eighth, but that was all the Cardinals had going for them.

They finished with two hits, for the second time in the last three games, as they were shut out in the first half of a two-game series at Busch Stadium.

In their last three games, with one more to go in the 19-in-19 stretch, the Cardinals have manufactured only one run that didn’t come on a solo homer, and that run scored when the inning began with Brendan Donovan on second base thanks to the extra-inning rule.

The team is a combined 0-of-11 with runners in scoring position in the last three games, have scored in only three of their last 28 innings and have a total of 12 hits in their last 95 at-bats.

“There’ no excuse, every other team goes through the same thing,” Arenado said. “We’ve just got to keep grinding … Nineteen games in a row, we knew this was coming. It is what it is.”

Arenado believes the bigger problem Monday wasn’t a case of being tired, but just of maybe trying too hard because the team has been starving for offense.

“You start pressing, you want to get a rally going,” Arenado said. “You feel like you’ve got to take it on yourself. I think all of us collectively probably felt that way at times where we had to get on base. That’s usually when we’re not going the way we want.

“When you’re losing sometimes you try to force the issue. I know I do that at times.”

Paul Goldschmidt, one of the few regulars not in a bad slump, also wasn’t buying the 19-in-19 as an excuse.

“We’re used to it, we know how to play,” Goldschmidt said. “It’s part of the schedule. We just try to go out there and have good at-bats, we just couldn’t get anything going today.”

The loss dropped the Cardinals to 11-7 in the 19 game stretch with one game remaining on Tuesday night.

Here is how Monday’s game broke down:

At the plate: Arenado’s single was only his third hit in his last 23 at-bats … Willson Contreras followed with another single, the only other hit for the Cardinals, and that snapped a personal 0-of-27 streak … The Cardinals trailed 4-0 at the time, but Donovan, Paul DeJong and Alec Burleson were retired in order to end the semi-threat … The closest they came to a hit before the eighth inning was a fly ball by Tommy Edman in the sixth, tracked down with a nice running catch by Drew Waters in center field.

On the mound: Adam Wainwright suffered the loss, allowing three runs on nine hits over five innings … The Royals added a run in the eighth off Steven Matz, making his first relief appearance of the season, then hit two homers off Drew VerHagen in a four-run ninth.

Key stat: The current streaks for six of the Cardinals’ regulars combined add up to 13 hits in 141 at-bats, an .092 average. In addition to Arenado’s 3-of-23 and Contreras’ 1-of-28, DeJong is 0-of-20, Edman 4-of-29, Nolan Gorman 5-of-31 and Lars Nootbaar 0-of-10.

Worth noting: Nootbaar had to leave the game after pulling up while chasing a fly ball in the gap in the third inning. The initial diagnosis was that he suffered a lower back spasm, with his status said to be day-to-day. He actually hurt his back the inning before, slamming into the wall after making a leaping catch. The Cardinals already have two outfielders on the injured list, Tyler O’Neill and Dylan Carlson. Carlson has resumed hitting left-handed and likely is only a few days away from going out on a minor-league rehab assignment. O’Neill, however, has made no progress with his sore back and manager Oli Marmol admitted before the game the team was at “a standstill” with him. O’Neill has been out since May 5 … This was the fourth time the Cardinals have been shut out by the Royals in 121 regular-season games and was their most lopsided shutout loss to the Royals since the 11-0 loss in game 7 of the 1985 World Series.

Looking ahead: Miles Mikolas will get the start on Tuesday night against the Royals, the final game of this quick two-game homestand before the Cardinals have Wednesday and Thursday off.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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