ST. LOUIS — A 7-4 loss hardly qualifies as a blowout defeat, unless you’re the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals.
Their three-run loss to the Yankees on Wednesday night at Busch Stadium marked only the third time this month and eighth time all season the Cardinals lost by more than two runs.
After 3 1/2 innings, this one looked like it would be a real blowout. The Yankees scored four times in the third and three more in the fourth to take a 7-0 lead, but the Cardinals started chipping away, finally bringing the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning.
"That’s really the story I want to leave this one with," manager Mike Matheny said. "These guys kept fighting. We get to the point they’re bringing their closer in and we get the tying run to the plate. I really admire the fact that these guys kept playing the game. We’ve seen teams roll over in situations like that, but that didn’t happen. We just couldn’t get enough."
The Cardinals had the tying run up three times in their final at-bat following a leadoff single by Allen Craig and walk to Yadier Molina. But closer David Robertson struck out Jon Jay, Matt Adams and Daniel Descalso to close out the Yankees’ victory and also give them the series win.
— Kolten Wong. A night after making four stellar plays on defense, the rookie second baseman went back on the offensive and turned in the first four-hit game of his young career. Wong is hitting .381 since he returned from Memphis and has raised his average from .225 at the time of his demotion to .283.
— Matt Carpenter. With his first two-double game of the season, Carpenter extended a hitting streak to 10 games. During the stretch, Carpenter is hitting .355 (16 for 45) with six multi-hit games. He had a good night at third base, too, starting a double play in the eighth that ended a bases-loaded, no-out threat without a run.
— Yadier Molina. He was the only Cardinals player listed as a leader at his position in the first NL All-Star Game balloting released Wednesday, grabbing a lead of more than 200,000 votes over Buster Posey. No other Cardinal is even close in the voting. Holliday was the only other Cardinal listed among the leaders, at 11th among outfielders.
— Shelby Miller. He’s now struggled in his past two starts, allowing a total of 11 runs in nine innings to raise his ERA to 3.94. Miller wasn’t hurt by the home run against the Yankees, but another nemesis cost him: walks. He walked only two but both scored. Mainly, though, the Yankees just beat up on Miller. He gave up nine hits in the first four innings, including three to Jacoby Ellsbury. Miller finished with just one strikeout, the fourth time in 11 starts he’s had fewer than three K’s. He had only three such low-strikeout starts in all of 2013.
"I don’t have a good explanation for it, and I don’t think he does, either," Matheny said. "Just one of those nights where everything seemed to be right where they were putting the bats."
Said Miller: "Tough start. I just didn’t have it. I’m upset about it, but nothing I can do about it but work."
Miller pointed to breaking balls he threw to John Ryan Murphy and Ellsbury that he thought were decent pitches, but both went for two-run hits.
— Timely hitting. The Cardinals had plenty of scoring chances, as they put runners on base in every inning except the first. After falling behind a touchdown in the fourth, they chipped away with single runs in three consecutive innings. The lack of a big hit, however, prevented them from mounting a more serious rally. They finished 3 for 15 with RISP and left 13 runners on base. Twice they put three runners on in an inning but did not score.
— Adams. A sore left calf that he reported after Tuesday night’s game kept him out of Wednesday’s lineup even though he’d been swinging a hot bat, going 7 for 14 in his past three games. Adams wasn’t sure when he first felt the discomfort and wasn’t concerned. He appeared in a pinch-hitting role in the ninth and struck out. Matheny said he did not know if Adams would return to the lineup Thursday night when the Cardinals meet the Giants in the opener of a four-game series.
You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.