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How rough was the Cardinals’ last 30 days?

Monday marks only the second day off for the St. Louis Cardinals since May 10 and their first at home. By any and all measures, they surely could use a bit of a breather.

The last 30 days offered an opportunity to measure the Cardinals against the rest of the league, as their 20-11 start through May 9 had included just four games against clubs outside the National League Central Division.

The Cards flunked the test. They were swept in three series while going 10-19 (.345) overall in the last 30 days. St. Louis logged a losing record both at home (6-7) and especially on the road, with defeats in 75 percent of the away contests (4-12).

Injuries were a major factor as six Cardinals went onto the disabled list during the period, including Jon Jay, Kyle McClellan, Lance Berkman, Matt Carpenter, Skip Schumaker and the latest, Jaime Garcia. Among the active, Matt Holliday is dodging back spasms, Allen Craig is limping and Carlos Beltran’s knees are better some days than others.

While one might like to hope the club could tread water by playing .500 ball until their injured players could return, it hasn’t happened.

The offense stopped scoring runs in double-digit batches, the normally-dependable defense showed surprising leaks and the pitching staff, which had been one of the league’s best, took on water. St. Louis hitters still rank first in the NL in batting average and runs scored, but the bullpen ERA is 12th of 16 NL clubs as the starters haven’t been pitching as deeply into games.

The bottom line is that the club fell from holding a 3.5 game lead that was built up during the season’s initial three weeks down to their current National League Central deficit of two games. The Cards are now in third place behind co-leaders Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

Here is a short recap of the last 30 days by series with a focus on the pitching.

May 11-13 vs. Atlanta: 0-3 record. The Cards and McClellan dropped the opener in especially disappointing manner in 12 innings. The normally-reliable pair of Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn lost the final two as the home team was outscored 14-6.

May 14-15 vs. Chicago: 1-1. St. Louis could only manage a home split against the reeling Cubs as they were outscored 12-11 in the two-game set. Jason Motte and Fernando Salas took the losses out of the bullpen.

May 16-17 at San Francisco: 1-1. Garcia bested Madison Bumgarner in game one while Matt Cain outpitched Wainwright in game two.

May 18-20 at Los Angeles: 0-3. The team with the best record in the NL was the better club as the Dodgers outscored the Cards 18-10. Still, St. Louis could have won two of the three had it not been for bullpen losses from Salas and Marc Rzepczynski.

May 21-23 vs. San Diego: 3-0. Against one of the weakest offenses in baseball, the Cards allowed just six runs in the series. Motte, Wainwright and Lynn picked up the wins. Unfortunately, the Cards can’t play the Padres every night.

May 24-27 vs. Philadelphia: 1-3. Despite the Phillies’ lack of success this season, they took three of four at Busch and knocked the Cards out of first place. The first two contests were another pair of bullpen losses (Salas and Motte).

May 28-30 at Atlanta: 1-2. Lynn took game one, but the pitching stumbled again as the staff gave up 15 runs in the game two and three defeats. Struggling Jake Westbrook and Rzepczynski took the losses.

June 1-4 at New York: 1-3. Johan Santana’s game one no-hitter set the stage as the no-name Mets dominated the series. The Cards went 26 innings without scoring and plated just one run in the first three games before eking out a 5-4 win in the finale.

June 5-7 at Houston: 2-1. The two clubs split one-run wins before the Cardinals finally had a laugher, a 14-2 spanking to close out the series and the 4-6 road trip.

June 8-10 vs. Cleveland: 1-2. Their first series of interleague play was not kind to St. Louis. The visiting Tribe won the set despite all three of their starters having come in with ERAs over five. Joe Kelly made his MLB debut, tossing five one-run innings on Sunday. Motte allowed a three-run home run in the ninth to lose the rubber match.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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14 Responses to “How rough was the Cardinals’ last 30 days?”

  1. WesPowell says:

    Always look at the bright side of life………No one in the division has been particularly hot for any lengthy period, else we could already be looking at a hill, trying to grow into a mountain if we were continue to falter. We are 2 games out.

    If it turns out not to be our year, or we don’t make the playoffs, well, every year is not going to be our year. We are not going to be in the playoffs every year. That’s life, like it or not. Bitch about it or not. Reality is not all that bad, unless you spend too much time dreaming up reasons why it is.

  2. WesPowell says:

    Put simply, after last year I’d feel guilty trying to find scapegoats so soon after. I’m pulling for the team and accepting whatever happens. But that’s just me.

  3. WesPowell says:

    In particular it’s important to acknowledge the Carpenter situation. Getting older but a grizzled champion. I seriously doubt we win game 5 at Philly last year or game 7 against the Rangers without him. Not mentioning the 2 hit shutout on the final day of the reg season putting us in the dance.

    • Brian Walton says:

      Carpenter is clearly a major factor when comparing the 2012 Cardinals to 2011. No doubt about it.

      However, he is not central to this article, as its focus is the 2012 club – comparing the in-division start of the season to the last month of play mostly out of the division. Carpenter was not active in either case.

  4. WesPowell says:

    Hall of Fame Manager gone, His side-kick and possible hall of fame pitching coach gone. Hall of fame first baseman gone, Pitching stud has yet to pitch.

    2 games out.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Wes. They are keen.

      Regrettably, this website has long been characterized by crybabies or those who accentuate the negative and eliminate the positive about the present day Cardinals.

      Its good that you are here to try to supply a little bit of balance. Baseball is not easy. Its not realistic to think we will go 162-0, year after year after year.

      The recent record of the Cards is sure no mystery. Injuries to Jay, Carpenters, Schumaker, and Berkman, explain it all. We are having to play guys who should be learning at Memphis, like Chambers and Adams.

      Its a war, but if we can get Jay and Matt Carpenter back, it will be helpful to our side.

  5. blingboy says:

    Jaime might have been pressing too much physically and mentally since signing his contract. I haven’t done the math, its just a thought.

    On one hand, I hope we don’t waste a couple months and then decide he needs surgery, but on the other, he likely wouldn’t be the same pitcher after shoulder surgery.

    But ‘moderate’ cuff and labrum tears doesn’t seem like the kind of thing where he rests a couple months and is good as new. So the question is whether he would be the same pitcher without the surgery.

    In other words, is he gaining anything by commiting a couple months to a wait and see approach? Perhaps it is a matter of needing the time to come to grips with reality. Fortunatly, there is time for that before the July 31 deadline.

    Wainy had troubles due to pressing, perhaps Jaime too. Now we must be sure the same thing doesn’t happen to Carp, whose warrior instinct will now compel him to struggle to his feet, pick up his sword and come to the aid of his comrades.

    Given what Carp and Wainy have had to struggle through, and Lohse too, they would make a fearsome and gritty post-season rotation. We are far from 10 1/2 out so NL beware.

  6. blingboy says:

    Rob Rains has some comments about draftee James Ramsey from the Cards area scout and former coaches. Interesting in light of the mixed reviews of that selection from the experts.

    Also a few other tidbits like which drafted pitchers have had TJs, etc.

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