One had to wonder at some point last season if it would catch up with the Cardinals sooner or later. All those two-out hits, that obscene average with runners in scoring position, best in the modern baseball era; it had to catch up with them at some point, right? The answer has been a definitive “Yes,” as the St. Louis Cardinal offense has been missing this season.
It continued Monday night in New York as the Mets blanked the Cardinals 2-0 as someone named Jenrry Mejia blanked the Cardinals on four hits for 6.2 innings, as another National League pitcher fattened up his stats on the NL Champs. That crown means nothing in 2014 and the Cardinals play has resembled little from the previous season.
St. Louis got all they could have asked for from Tyler Lyons, just called up from AAA Memphis to make the start as a replacement to Joe Kelly, who landed on the 15-day disabled list last week. Lyons pitched six innings giving up two runs, striking out seven and giving Matheny’s team a quality start and a chance to win.
The assumption is that at some point this offense will find their stride. It is hard not to imagine a lineup featuring Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter will not put it together. All the while concern grows among a fan base that perhaps the identity of a team that was brilliant in the clutch in 2013 has completely flip-flopped this season. Adding insult to injury consider this depressing bit of news for Cardinal fans.
The two earned runs Lyons yielded were twice as many as any other Cardinals starter had given up over their seven games. Twice as many. Yet the Cardinals only won four of those seven. Do the math. The Cardinals are now 4-4 in their last eight games and they allowed only one earned run in seven of those games. The other was Monday night when they gave up two.
That kind of pitching should produce an eight game winning streak. Which would put St. Louis even with Milwaukee in the NL Central division. Instead they are four games behind a Brewers team that has now won four in a row. They won nine in a row earlier in this young season. That is what good teams do. They keep putting together small streaks and an occasional long one.
The Cardinals have not been able to do that thus far. They are currently 12th in the National League in runs scored per game this season after leading the league last season, averaging nearly one full run less per game. They are also 12th in the NL in slugging percentage and 14th in home runs. Yikes.
To be fair the Cardinals defense, an allegedly improved aspect of this team, cost them in Washington over the weekend and has been suspect the whole season. The starting pitching had been spotty except for ace Adam Wainwright, until the past week or so and Matheny himself has pulled a few head-scratchers.. So to blame the offense completely would be unjust but the most consistent thing about the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals is an inconsistent offense.
Yet they are still above .500 at 11-9 and the calendar has not yet reached May. A front office with big expectations and a loyal fan base with even higher hopes is waiting for the St. Louis Cardinals offense that is missing right now. Is it even missing though? Non existent might be a better way to put it.
Commentary by Mick Varner
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the St. Louis Cardinals