As if you need another reason to get pumped up about this weekend’s series against the Cardinals, here is a little fact to consider:
With a weekend sweep, the Royals will have a better record than their cross-state rivals. It nearly happened last weekend in St. Louis (Saturday’s loss could have gone either way). Should the Royals achieve a better record by Sunday, it would be no small feat considering two big factors.
1. The Royals had that 12-game losing streak in April.
2. The Cardinals were 20-11 at one point.
They are now 35-35 after falling to the Tigers on Thursday.
“It seems like we're only one break away, and we know that they are going to come all at once and someone is going to have to pay for this,” St. Louis pitcher Kyle Lohse told reporters in Detroit. “We know we're a lot better than our record, but our record is where we are, and we can't go back and change that.”
Royals fans know all about not being able to change a dreadful record.
So what’s caused the Cardinals’ decline? They aren’t doing well in any phase of the game.
In June games, they are batting .251 with a .310 on-base percentage. The Royals have the same OBP this month and they are hitting slightly better (.254). Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that the Cardinals have scored three runs or fewer in 10 of 12 interleague games. The heart of order was zero for 16 in Thursday’s loss to Detroit.
Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch pointed out that the Cardinals may have 66 runs in 19 games this month, but 24 were scored in two games. Take that out and it’s 42 runs in 17 games (2.47 runs).
As for pitching this month, the Cardinals’ team ERA is 3.92 (15th in baseball) and behind the Royals, whose 3.22 ERA in fifth in baseball.
Overall, the Cardinals’ bullpen has struggled. The relievers have a 4.33 ERA (24th in baseball) and opponents are hitting .253 (21st in baseball).
Closer Jason Motte, who blew a save chance in last Sunday’s loss to the Royals, has four blown saves. Of relievers with 14 or more saves this season, his four blown saves are tied for the most with Miami’s Heath Bell, who had an atrocious start to the season.
Also, the Cardinals’ Defensive Efficiency Rating of .682 ranks 25th in the game.
"We can tell you right now we're not playing the kind of baseball we need to play," manager Mike Matheny told reporters before Thursday’s loss in Detroit. "I do know where we are and I know we're a much better team than where we stand right now. I just don't see us as a .500 team."
| Pete Grathoff, email@example.com