Perhaps overshadowed by all this is an actual baseball issue: the missing in action St. Louis Cardinals offense. The Cards head back to Boston for tomorrow night’s Game 6 trailing the Red Sox three games to two. The lack of hitting across the St. Louis lineup is as big a culprit as any why they’re nine innings away from elimination.
St. Louis led the National League in batting during the regular season (.269) and runs scored (783), but has seen their average plummet to .213 in October. Oddly enough St. Louis’ .218 team average in the World Series is an improvement over both the Division Series (.209) and the LCS (.211).
The Cardinals got through the first two series vs. the Pirates and Dodgers with pitching, but in the Series Boston is matching them — namely Jon Lester. The southpaw has allowed one run and nine hits in 15.1 innings in two starts vs. St. Louis. Whatever is going on with his glove should be a moot point. The Cardinals were weak against lefties (.238) all year and that’s showing up in the World Series.
There’s a clear break in the production in the Cards’ lineup. Allen Craig, Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran are each hitting over .300. Matt Holliday is at .286 with the team’s only two home runs in the Series. After that it get ugly. Matt Carpenter led the NL in hits during the year, but is only batting .227 in the Series. Former World Series hero David Freese (.200) isn’t faring much better. Rookie Matt Adams was benched for Game 5, batting just .167 in 18 at bats, while Jon Jay is hitting .143. Bringing up the rear is shortstop Pete Kozma and his 0-for-10 Series mark.
Kozma will probably draw lots of the ire from St. Louis fans, since his error in first inning of Game 1 set the Series on its strange tone, but the issue is more at the top of the order with Carpenter and his inability to get on bases.
Mike Matheny compounded the issue in Game 5, changing up his lineup. He moved Shane Robinson into the No. 2 hole and dropped Carlos Beltran down to four. It didn’t really help. Robinson went 0-for-4 and the Cardinals only sent 30 men to the plate vs. Lester and then Koji Uehara for the final four outs.
The way St. Louis is hitting his series you could make the argument if not for two terrible throws to third base, the Red Sox would already be celebrating. Then again, Boston is batting a paltry .205 for the Series, but have the good fortune of David Ortiz who is 11-for-15 with two homers carrying the load.
Some good news for the Cardinals? If Michael Wacha can keep up his sterling postseason success Wednesday night vs. John Lackey, the Sox have Jake Peavy slated to start Game 7. Peavy is the weakest link in the Boston staff, having allowed 10 earned runs in 12+ innings this month.