The Cardinals, who still lead the National League in batting average (.273) and on-base percentage (.336) and are second in runs scored (336), have encountered an offensive brownout over the last 12 games.
Those games all have been interleague games against the American League Central, and the Cardinals have won but five and have scored three or runs or fewer in 10 of them. In one of the games they scored three runs, but it took them 15 innings and five hours to do it.
In seven of those games, including Thursday’s 2-1 loss in 10 innings to the Detroit Tigers, the Cardinals have tallied two runs or fewer.
Could it be the relative unfamiliarity with American League pitchers?
“That’s an answer, not an excuse,” said hitting coach Mark McGwire. “We’re not staying in our strike zone. We’re not working the count to get a good pitch to hit with men in scoring position. We’re giving away a lot of runs out there because we’re going out of our zone.”
The Cardinals were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position Thursday, including two misses by designated hitter Allen Craig, who jammed his left wrist diving for a ball the night before and then went 0-for-5 Thursday.
Craig, who said his wrist was “all right,” flied out in the fifth and popped up in the 10th, both times with two outs and two on, after Carlos Beltran was walked intentionally ahead of him.
— RHP Kyle Lohse (6-2) got his seventh no-decision despite allowing only one run in seven innings. “It’s a shame,” said manager Mike Matheny. “You get that kind of starting pitching, you expect to win, right?” The only Tigers run off Lohse came on a long fourth-inning homer with two out by Prince Fielder. “I was trying to bounce a curve,” said Lohse. “I wasn’t even close to bouncing it.”
— DH Allen Craig had a rough series going 1-for-12, and he often was in the eye of the storm in key situations. “He’s in a position where he’s going to be pitched tough for the rest of his career,” hitting coach Mark McGwire said. “Allen Craig’s name is out there. People know what he can do even though he’s barely into his second season. He’s going to be seeing the best of the best. It’s a compliment to him because of what he’s done in the short time he’s been in the big leagues. It’s a compliment to him he’s being treated like a 10-year veteran.”
— Detroit RHP Jacob Turner is a family friend of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny and the latter has advised Turner on what to expect from professional baseball. Matheny, after the Cardinals’ 2-1 loss in 10 innings, said, “I know he’s going to have a long career. Today … I wanted to see him give up a bunch of runs early.” Turner allowed one run in five innings.
— SS Rafael Furcal, after getting just two hits in 39 at-bats, got four in his last seven at-bats over the last two games. “You don’t see a guy hitting in 162 straight games,” he said. “It’s a long season and (2-for-39) can happen to anybody. You’ve got to be confident and keep fighting. Every day still is a new day. But you feel bad when you get a lot of hits and you don’t win the game.”
— INF/OF Matt Carpenter and perhaps CF Jon Jay, both on injury rehabilitation options, could show up in Kansas City as early as Friday, in Carpenter’s case. Manager Mike Matheny said, however, “It hasn’t been decided. We’re still trying to figure that out.”
BY THE NUMBERS: 3-12 — Cardinals’ record against Detroit in Comerica Park.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “I come from the school that says the more patient you are, the more the game comes to you. And the more impatient you are, the game goes away from you. Right now, I think we’re a little impatient.” — Hitting coach Mark McGwire.