No love: Cardinals’ offense fires blanks in Miami

Matt Adams reacts after striking out to end the game. 

Lynne Sladky/AP

A 3-0 loss at Miami on Tuesday night gave the Cardinals their 11th shutout of the season, equaling their total for 2013.

As you might expect, their other offensive numbers this season do not match up well with 2013, either. After 118 games, in fact, the comparison is rather lopsided:

2014: 62-56 record, 436 runs scored, .251/.317/.373.

2013: 68-50 record, 578 runs scored, .274/.336/.408.

Home runs: 93 at this point last year, 79 this year.

And the biggie: At this point last year, the Cardinals were hitting .333 with runners in scoring position. This year: .244.

No wonder manager Mike Matheny appeared practically distraught in his postgame presser that aired on FOX Sports Midwest.

"Nothing, not much at all," he said when questioned about the offense. "We had a couple of balls hit hard, but not even that many. We didn’t put a lot of pressure on them until late. It was too little, too late."

In the ninth, a leadoff single by Kolten Wong and a two-out walk by Jon Jay brought the tying run to the plate, but Matt Adams, pinch-hitting for Oscar Taveras, struck out against hard-throwing lefty Mike Dunn.

St. Louis right-hander Justin Masterson, who was rocked at Baltimore in the first game on this trip, will start Wednesday night before the Cardinals return to Busch Stadium for a four-game series against the Padres.

3 UP

— Mark Ellis. He looked pretty comfortable at first base for someone who hasn’t started there since 2011. Ellis took a hit away from Jarrod Saltalamacchia with a nice stop to his right to end the sixth inning. He had a better night at the dish, too. Through the first six innings, Ellis had all of the Cardinals’ hits — that is, both of them.

— Adam Wainwright. He’s been on a win-one, lose-one pattern for the past month, but that’s in part due to the underperforming offense. This wasn’t Wainwright at his best, but he did not pitch poorly, by any standards. Wainwright gave up three runs in the fourth but none the rest of his night, walking one and allowing seven hits. It says something that Wainwright hasn’t been very satisfied with his work lately, but his numbers remain remarkably consistent compared to 2013. After 24 starts this season, Wainwright’s numbers are better than at the same point last year, but not that much. This year: 14-7, 2.24 ERA, 1.02 WHIP. Last year: 13-7, 2.66 ERA, 1.05 WHIP.

— Stopping Giancarlo Stanton. A night after he hit two homers, Wainwright didn’t let the Marlins’ slugger beat the Cardinals. He walked him in the first and though that turned into a bases-loaded, one-out problem, Wainwright got out of it with two strikeouts, both on curveballs. The next two times Stanton came up, he grounded into 6-4-3 double plays.


— The Cardinals’ 3-4 hitters. Matt Holliday reached base five times Monday and Jhonny Peralta, batting cleanup, also has been swinging a productive bat. But neither did anything against Marlins starter Jarred Cosart or reliever Bryan Morris. Holliday and Peralta combined to go 0 for 8, though Peralta did make a couple of hard outs.

— Pitching to Solano. Miami had a run in, one on and two out in the fourth when the Cardinals opted to pitch to eight-hole batter Donovan Solano even though Cosart was not swinging the bat because of a tweaked oblique. The decision backfired when Solano pulled an inside fastball down the left-field line for a two-run homer that essentially put the game away for the Marlins.

You can understand why the Cardinals didn’t walk Solano, though, even though the pitcher was up next. The homer was Solano’s first in his three years at Marlins Park and only the sixth allowed by Wainwright in 169 innings. Matheny defended the decision by saying the pitch to Solano was off the plate and there already was a man on first. Wainwright said the ball was heading foul — Solano acted like he wasn’t expecting it to go fair, either — but it curved right into the foul pole to give Miami a 3-0 lead.

— Road trip. Tuesday’s loss assures the Cardinals of finishing no better than 2-4 on this two-stop trip that winds up Wednesday. It also clinches their first losing trip since early May.

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