C-Mart's woes continue in sloppy loss to Crew

Righty struggles in 4 innings as club commits 4 errors, allows 6 unearned runs

June 22nd, 2018

MILWAUKEE -- The Cardinals have spent recent weeks watching their rotation, which they leaned on during an injury-plagued first half, crumble. will not pitch again this season. On Thursday, they learned will miss at least several weeks on the disabled list. All told, it's been 10 days since a Cardinals starter earned a win, and seven weeks since , their ace, did.
Martinez's latest unraveling was at the nexus of an ugly 11-3 defeat to the Brewers at Miller Park on Thursday, when the right-hander spiraled for the fourth time in four starts He maintained he is healthy after allowing seven runs (five earned) over four frames, which make his struggles all the more perplexing. Martinez is now 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA since returning from the disabled list earlier this month. He pitched to a 1.62 ERA in eight starts prior.
"The first two starts I was scared about going back to being injured," Martinez said. "Now, I need to work with my strike zone. … I'm just waiting to get back to being better."
Meanwhile, the Cardinals are reeling. They've lost 10 of their past 16 games, over which their myriad problems bubbled up largely independent of one another. Thursday's result came courtesy of a collective breakdown. Four errors and a pivotal misplay by in left field led to eight of Milwaukee's runs, six of which were unearned. Martinez's two wild pitches created another. On offense, the Cardinals mustered fewer hits (2) against winning pitcher than they did defensive miscues.
"It wasn't one of those games we like to put our name to," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Call it what you want. It's not how we want to look. That's all there is to it."

Perhaps nothing was more reflective of the Cardinals' pitching situation than the image of infielder floating 65-mph fastballs to the plate after being summoned to pitch the final frame. But the reality was evident long before. Cardinals starters own a 5.60 ERA over the past two weeks; only twice has a starter surpassed six innings in that span. Their issues have taxed an already jumbled bullpen alignment. That Martinez is at the epicenter of those issues make them all the more alarming.

"They've carried us for a good portion of this thing," Matheny said of his starters. "A night like this, anything that could go bad did."
The offense spotted Martinez an early lead when Matt Carpenter whacked Suter's first pitch over the center-field wall. But the Cardinals soon gave it back, and more. Ozuna's misread on a fly ball led to two in the first; Martinez compounded a Carpenter miscue with two wild pitches in the third; and 's solo blast sparked a three-run fourth. allowed four unearned runs in the seventh as part of a two-inning stint that Matheny said did not preclude him from starting in Wacha's place Monday.

The Cardinals do not know who will assume Wacha's rotation spot long term. Before the game, general manager Michael Girsch did not dispute the idea of the Cardinals buying at the Trade Deadline, saying, "Remember the good old days, when we had too many starters?"
In a game that featured a plethora of defensive miscues, it was a play officially ruled a hit that most severely affected the outcome. Aguilar's two-run double in the first struck the base of the left field wall -- below Ozuna, who leapt in an attempt to pull back a ball that never came close to clearing the wall.
"I thought the ball was going out, and I went up to rob it, and I looked up and it was below me," Ozuna said. "I saw the ball carrying, carrying, carrying, and then I got turned around. … At the end, it was a bad read."

Martinez had a bizarre moment in the third, when he lost the grip of a breaking ball mid-pitch after being "confused" by a set of 's signs. Matheny said Martinez "crossed himself up," which Martinez confirmed. Martinez gripped a slider, though Molina called for a changeup. The result was a 35-foot floater toward the third-base line -- officially a wild pitch that brought home the game's fourth run.

"I was supposed to throw a different pitch than I had in my hand," Martinez said.
"Mistakes are mistakes. Guys prepare and don't give up. Mistakes are going to happen. We don't settle and we try to fix them, that's all." -- Matheny
Rookie right-hander (3-2, 2.66 ERA) has been the only starter immune to the injuries and ineffectiveness that have plagued the Cardinals rotation. He'll get the ball opposite righty (3-5, 2.89 ERA) when this series continues Friday at 7:10 pm CT from Miller Park. Flaherty impressed by blanking the Cubs for five innings last time out; the 22-year-old owns a 2.43 ERA since rejoining the rotation in early May.