Wednesday’s game against the Miami Marlins just became that much more important for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals finished their home stand a week ago with a 4-2 record and were just one game back in the central. With a road trip to Baltimore, who was struggling offensively, and to Miami to face a Marlins team lacking much name recognition outside of Giancarlo Stanton, the Cardinals seemed poised to make a move to the top of the standings.
With just one game remaining on the current six game road trip, the Cardinals have fallen flat on their face and now sit three games back behind the Brewers and a spot behind the Pirates in the standings. Even Adam Wainwright was unable to stop the skid for the Cardinals, giving up three runs in seven innings and picking up the loss.
The Cardinals offense was non-existent on Tuesday, managing just four hits against Jarrod Cosart, who was making his second start since being acquired by the Marlins. Two of the hits came from Mark Ellis, who was filling in at first base for struggling Matt Adams. Adams wasn’t given the entire night off, as he was brought in to pinch hit in the ninth with the opportunity tie up the game. As he did the night before, Matt Adams struckout to end the game and give the Cardinals their fourth loss in five games.
St. Louis is a disappointing 10-12 since the all-star break and have a national league central worst -24 run differential since the all-star break.
Wednesday’s game against the Marlins could be the breaking point for this club and a change should be expected soon if they are swept by Miami. Justin Masterson has struggled mightily since become a Cardinal and has added two games to his unimpressive streak of allowing five runs or more, which he has now done in 11 of his 21 starts. Masterson holds a 5.92 ERA on the season and may lose his spot in the rotation to a surging Carlos Martinez.
The offensive challenges may bring a change in the lineup as well. Outside of Matt Holliday and Matt Carpenter, the offense in the second half has seen its production continue to be inconsistent. Matt Adams is betting near .230 in the second half and has begun to chase curve balls in the dirt and doesn’t seem able to catch up to the heater. Oscar Taveras, although getting hits, has been rather poor in the clutch situations.
With trade options like Marlon Byrd still available, and free agent Alfonso Soriano available to bring some power to the bench, a move may be inevitable if the Cardinals are unable to avoid the sweep in Miami. Tonight’s game, and the teams confidence for the upcoming series’, may rely on the performance of Justin Masterson, and with this season’s track record, Cardinals fans might see their confidence dip as well.