The St. Louis Cardinals were among the best hitting teams in the majors last year.
Their best offensive showing of 2014 came against Homer Bailey and the Cincinnati Reds.
The Cardinals will try to capitalize on another meeting with Bailey as they attempt to win back-to-back games for the first time this season Tuesday night at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis (4-3) hit a staggering .330 with runners in scoring position last year, baseball’s highest mark since 1974. The team’s .269 overall average ranked fourth in the majors.
So far, that success hasn’t carried over for the reigning NL champion.
The Cardinals are batting a mere .199, including .167 with runners in scoring position while alternating wins and losses through seven games. However, St. Louis did all of its scoring Monday while going 3 for 12 with two doubles in that scenario to beat the Reds 5-3 in its home opener.
Still, the Cardinals’ best performance this season came in a 7-6 win at Cincinnati on Thursday, when they had season highs in runs, hits (11) and extra-base hits (five).
Much of that damage came at the expense of Bailey, who surrendered four runs and seven hits with three walks in 4 1-3 innings. It was the right-hander’s first time on the mound since March 10 due to a strained groin.
"For me, missing those 2 1/2 weeks without mound time in spring training kind of came back and bit me," Bailey told the team’s official website. "You could definitely tell I wasn’t sharp. Lots of walks, just a lot of pitches that missed by an inch or two."
That certainly wasn’t the case in Bailey’s most recent outing in St. Louis on Aug. 28, striking out seven while scattering five hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 10-0 win. That was a welcome change after going 0-5 with a 6.90 ERA over his previous seven starts there.
Bailey will have to contend with Matt Holliday, who owns a .351 average against him and had an RBI double in Thursday’s matchup. The left fielder connected for another one in the opener of this three-game series while scoring twice and drawing two walks.
Matt Carpenter may also be looking forward to facing Bailey since he’s 11 for 19 (.579) off him, and enters this meeting going 7 for 21 with six runs in six games.
The Cardinals will again counter Bailey with Lance Lynn, and a change of venue may be just what he’s looking for.
The right-hander got the win Thursday, but labored through 107 pitches in five innings. He had seven strikeouts but also gave up three runs and two homers.
"I was prepared for them to come out and swing it, and after the first inning, I was able to make some pitches when I needed to," Lynn told the team’s official website.
Lynn hasn’t had much trouble doing that at home against the Reds, compiling a 1.20 ERA and 0.93 WHIP while winning both of his starts over three appearances.
That dominance may continue since Cincinnati is hitting .231 with runners in scoring position and .224 overall.
"Right now, almost collectively, we’ve struggled to do anything with guys in scoring position," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "But that’ll change. It’s tough to sit through it."