Losing the first four games of a five-game series to the team who was trailing them in the standings is not the way the St. Louis Cardinals wanted to start the series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, but that’s what they get for falling asleep on offense.
The Cardinals haven’t been able to get the offense going on their road trip, and it is costing them. They started the trip with three losses to the Atlanta Braves in which they scored three runs throughout the entire series. They repeated that stat over the first three games against the Pirates. They were able to score four runs Wednesday in the early innings but were shut down after the fourth inning.
The Cardinals now trail the Pirates by 2.5 games going into the series finale and need to come to life offensively if they hope to have a chance to salvage the final game of a dreadful series in Pittsburgh.
David Freese, Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter have a combined .076 batting average over the past week with zero home runs and one double between them. Craig finally registered a hit Wednesday after being held without one over the previous seven games.
Carpenter and Craig are still batting well over .300 on the season, but without those two doing well, the Cardinals will struggle to be a consistent offensive threat. The Cardinals’ team batting average has them ranked third in MLB, but their three most important parts of that equation have been non-factors lately.
The news gets even worse. The Cardinals will have to get it going without their most important defender in Yadier Molina, who has also been their most valuable hitter. He is batting .330 on the season and has been one of the toughest outs for opposing pitchers to get all season long. Molina hit the disabled list with a knee injury Wednesday, and the Cardinals will have to use his absence as a way to light a fire under the other players who have struggled lately.
The Cardinals and Pirates are going in completely different directions, and while a third of the schedule still remains, the Cards can’t afford to fall too far behind the Pirates. The Cincinnati Reds are still looming just a few games behind them, and it won’t be long before they surpass them if they continue to reel like they have lately.