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St. Louis bats deal with Rocky Mountain malaise

@anne__rogers
September 12, 2019

DENVER -- It’s not often one-run games show up at Coors Field, but the Cardinals have been a part of two of them this week. And they’ve been on the wrong side of both. Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Rockies was the Cardinals’ second in as many days, and Thursday,

DENVER -- It’s not often one-run games show up at Coors Field, but the Cardinals have been a part of two of them this week.

And they’ve been on the wrong side of both.

Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the Rockies was the Cardinals’ second in as many days, and Thursday, the National League Central-leading Cardinals will try to avoid a sweep by the Rockies, who are in last place in the National League West.

Box score

Until the Cardinals visited this week, the Rockies had never won back-to-back games in which they scored two or fewer runs at Coors Field.

“Those games that are close, you have to find a way to win them,” Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson, who gave up two runs over six innings, said.

The Cardinals have lost consecutive games for the first time since losing five straight Aug. 3-7, but they still sit 4 games ahead of the Cubs -- who lost to the Padres on Wednesday night -- and Brewers, who beat the Marlins on Wednesday and moved into a tie with Chicago for second place.

"It's really big tonight,” Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela said. “... It's a really good team, the Cardinals. They are playing to clinch the Central. That's good."

Over the last two games, the Cardinals have left 14 men on base and gone 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position. They had their chances Wednesday, but those opportunities were were quelled by three key double plays.

An early lead opportunity diminished

The last time that the Cardinals faced Senzatela, they scored six runs off of him in 1 2/3 innings. On Wednesday, he held them to one run over six innings.

The Cardinals started quick off of the right-hander, though, with Dexter Fowler’s leadoff double. They loaded the bases following a walk and an error, and Paul DeJong stepped to the plate with one out.

After getting to a 3-1 count, DeJong hit Senzatela’s slider and grounded into an inning-ending double play that left Fowler veering into the dugout instead of directly to home plate.

“I hit it hard, just right at the guy,” DeJong said. “It was one of those things where I wasn’t trying to lift the ball because I know in this air, if you get under it too much, it’ll hang up there. I just tried to hit the ball hard, and unfortunately, it was right at him.”

The Cardinals had the chance to do damage quickly, but it ended quietly.

“You always want to capitalize regardless of ballpark,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “Absolutely there’s a chance to do some damage there in the first. Good swings, just couldn’t capitalize. You talk about double-play balls, Pauly hit that ball hard and right at the guy. [Tommy Edman] did the same thing [in the ninth]. You can’t do a whole lot about that. We take a quality at-bat, and that’s all we can do.”

7th-inning dud

Looking for a rally after Ian Desmond’s homer in the sixth, Edman led off the seventh with a single off of Rockies reliever Wes Parsons.

But Harrison Bader couldn’t quite beat out the double play that Rockies duo Nolan Arenado and Ryan McMahon turned. Then, pinch-hitter Jose Martinez struck out swinging in a key moment for the second straight night.

“I think it’s more about the guys executing pitches,” Shildt said. “They’re going to go to their bread and butter pitch, trying to get that ground ball. I don’t know where the pitches were, but they got their swings on it and were able to turn them over.”

The offspeed pitches down in the zone from Senzatela and the Rockies relievers were what forced the double plays and killed any rally that the Cardinals could summon.

“That just really kills us,” Edman said. “Their pitcher did a good job keeping the ball down in the zone and really not giving us many pitches we can drive.”

The tying run stranded

The Cardinals’ final chance came in the top of the ninth, when DeJong led off with a single and reached second on a rare error from Arenado. With two on and no outs, Edman hit a slider to second baseman Ryan McMahon, who turned it to Story to start the double play.

But there was still some hope with DeJong on third after a walk to pinch-hitter Matt Carpenter. But pinch-hitter Rangel Ravelo lined out to left field to end the game.

The ball came off of Ravelo’s bat at 109.8 mph and Edman’s bat at 97.4 mph, according to Statcast.

“It almost would have been better if I didn’t hit it hard, if I hit a little dribbler,” Edman said. “First and third [with] one out, maybe. But I don’t know. Just one of those days where it seemed like we hit a few balls hard and right at guys. Paul hit the ball really hard in the first inning, just right at the guy.

“It’s just been a bad past couple of games for clutch hitting.”

Anne Rogers covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @anne__rogers and on Facebook.