Cardinals’ offense battered in shutout as Kershaw K’s 13
Take heart, Cardinals. At least the San Francisco Giants aren’t playing very well.
St. Louis should not mind running into an opponent having some trouble of its own, either. The way the Cardinals’ bats have gone quiet again, they’ll take any break they can.
The Cardinals scored a total of four runs in losing three out of four games at Dodger Stadium over the past four days. Left-hander Clayton Kershaw shooed St. Louis out of L.A. on Sunday afternoon with seven shutout innings in a 6-0 victory.
Over the past two games, the Cardinals struck out 26 times while managing only 10 hits and one run. Of course, that can happen when you run into Kershaw and Zach Greinke.
The Cardinals’ bats had come alive in Colorado when they scored 22 runs on 29 hits while winning two of three. But after being outscored 17-4 by the Dodgers, the Cardinals’ fell to 3-4 on the trip and also lost sole possession of second place in the NL Central.
The Giants aren’t faring any better. They have lost 15 of their past 19 and seen a 9 1/2-game lead in the NL West vanish. Both the Giants and the Cardinals should welcome a day off Monday before beginning a three-game series Tuesday.
It won’t be much easier for the St. Louis offense. After facing the pitcher who threw the majors’ second-most recent no-hitter in Kershaw, they will meet the pitcher with the most recent no-hitter in Tim Lincecum. He no-hit the Padres in his last start.
— Matt Carpenter. Left-handed hitters came into the game hitting .143 (8 for 56) against Kershaw, the main reason why Mike Matheny started only one. That lone lefty was Carpenter, who accounted for most of the little offense the Cardinals managed Sunday. Carpenter had hits in each of his first three at-bats, raising Kershaw’s average versus left-handers by 43 points, to .186, all by himself.
Carpenter had a chance to end Kershaw’s scoreless-innings streak at 28 when he batted with a runner on second in the seventh inning, but whiffed on a slider in the dirt.
— Yadier Molina. A leadoff double in the second gave him his third hit of the trip and lifted his average out of the .270s. More impressive was his arm. Molina threw out his 16th would-be base stealer of the season in 33 attemps, and it limited the damage in L.A.’s four-run fourth. This was not just any base stealer, either, but major league leader Dee Gordon, who was going for No. 41. Give the dugout an assist for calling a pitching on the play.
— Jorge Rondon. On his third call up of the season, the 26-year-old right-handed reliever finally appeared in a game. Rondon made his big-league debut a good one by working a scoreless seventh inning. He issued a two-out walk to Matt Kemp but did not give up a hit, though the way Yasiel Puig dropped his bat after hitting a fly ball, he apparently thought it was going to more than a fly out to right.
— Shelby Miller. Early on, he did not seem bothered by the back tightness that put a premature end to his previous start. Miller struck out the side in the first and did not allow a base runner until walking Kershaw with two out in the third. He got out of that inning when Gordon scorched a line drive right at Allen Craig.
He would not be so fortunate in the next two innings. A lead-off walk resulted in a run as the Dodgers scored two in the fourth and Miller’s outing really went south in the fifth. He gave up five straight hits, the last a two-run homer by Andre Ethier that put the Dodgers up 6-0. Miller exited with his ERA at 4.10.
— Timely hitting. The Cardinals actually had their chances against Kershaw, especially early, but could not come up with a hit when they did put a runner in scoring position. Their best chance might have been the second, when Molina led off the inning with a double, but Peter Bourjos and Shane Robinson struck out and Mark Ellis grounded out to third. The Cardinals put two on in the same innning against Kershaw only once, in the third, but Craig struck out looking to end the inning.
— Making contact. The Cardinals had struck out 13 times in a game three times before Sunday, including Saturday night. But this was the first time when one pitcher piled up all 13 K’s against them. Molina and Ellis were the only players in the Cardinals’ starting lineup who did not K against Kershaw, who had two strikeouts in five of the seven innings he worked.
You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter @StanMcNeal or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.