And so the rough games continue for the Cardinals …
One bad inning from Lance Lynn, an offense that couldn’t take advantage of opportunities and a second straight night with double-digit strikeouts led to the Cardinals losing 4-3 to the Astros — despite taking a 2-0 lead after Erik Bedard threw two pitches.
Which now means this.
Yep, for the first time since April 29 the Cardinals are not in sole possession of first place in the NL Central. Considering it’s June 27, that’s fine — plenty of games, obviously, still left to be played. Plenty against the Pirates as well: 14 to be exact, including five in four days at PNC Park from July 29-Aug. 1 as the teams make up that rained-out game from mid-April during what was already a four-game series.
What’s more perplexing, though, is the Cardinals record in June. After going 15-11 in April and a terrific 20-7 in May, they are now 13-12 this month — and losing to teams that it certainly seems they should beat, like the Marlins and the Astros.
Here’s something that might be surprising, given the win-loss record: they’re hitting very well this month, with a team batting average of .290. That’s the best of any month so far in 2013, as they hit .245 in April and .289 in May. They’ve also scored the most runs through 25 games in June, 138, than any month so far (117 in 26 games in April and 133 in 27 games in May). Yet they’ve continued to strike out a lot: 176 times this month, which is the same total as April but they still have three games to play in June. They struck out 186 times in May. And, despite the terrific showing on offense Tuesday with the 13 runs and 15 hits, they also K’d 14 times and then 11 more last night. Striking out 25 times in two games? Yikes.
The pitching too hasn’t been as stellar this month. While the overall team ERA is third in the NL at 3.25, the starter ERA is still atop the list — though it’s now 3.06. For the month, the overall Cards team ERA is 3.62 — right in the middle of the pack.
Which is just carrying on the recent tradition. June has not been a good month for the Cardinals in recent years, for whatever reason.
Yes, we have to look all the way back to 2008 to find a winning June. And they can still have a winning 2013, of course, since they’re 13-12 with these three games against Oakland still left.
Plus they’ve rebounded well in July for the most part lately — the last losing month was, interestingly, in 2008.
The schedule for July 2013 looks intriguing (to say the least) though: visits at Busch Stadium from the Marlins and Astros, along with the Padres and Phillies right after the All-Star break, plus the upcoming trip to Anaheim, a trip to Wrigley Field just before the break, and then what’s looking like a really important road trip at the end of the month that starts in Atlanta, goes to Pittsburgh for those five games and ends in Cincinnati in early August.
Lots of baseball ahead. Lots of challenging baseball ahead …
And the challenge continues in Oakland starting tomorrow night against the A’s, who are at the moment tied for first with the Rangers in the AL West (although the Rangers play today and the A’s do not). The A’s are 46-34 overall, but just 5-5 in their last 10 games. Look for more on this series tomorrow.
In the meantime, relax and enjoy the off day — with an emphasis on relax.
Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email email@example.com. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.