Cards leave SD with a familiar feeling

May 17th, 2021

Vengeance is a dish best served … in mid-September?

That’s what the Cardinals hope now, swept by the shorthanded Padres in three games at Petco Park this weekend, capped by a 5-3 loss Sunday that saw too many issues from the prior two contests carry over into the finale. The starting pitcher failed to get deep, walks persisted and the scoring remained touch and go, with bruises picked up along the way.

“Just didn't control the strike zone enough; it was a big part of this series,” said manager Mike Shildt. “At least two out of three games, it cost us.”

Despite ’s best homering efforts, it was an unceremonious end of a week that started bright for St. Louis, playing in San Diego for the first time since the Wild Card Series last fall. Bounced from the playoffs then, the Cardinals can rest easy knowing, at the very least, the second-place Brewers dropped another series, after falling victim to the high-flying Cards in the middle of the week.

All told, the Cardinals went 2-4 in a week against some of the tougher competition they’ve seen this year. A trip that started promising ended without playoff revenge. Next chance comes when the Padres visit Busch Stadium starting Sept. 17.

The weekend provided three takeaways:

1. A trend turned over
, initially, looked poised to right the rotation’s ails, untouchable in the early going. Then he fell into some uncharted territory in the fourth frame, and the already taxed bullpen had little help from a lineup that failed to surpass four runs in any game during the weekend.

The Cardinals entered the series winners of 15 of their last 20 games on the backs of their starting pitching. Slow to get going, they then had 20 consecutive games from April 12 to May 3 with a starter going at least five frames.

But against the Padres, only Adam Wainwright finished four innings. Kim seemed poised to do the same, and then his control in that very same frame went awry.

“If I was the manager,” Kim said through interpreter Craig Choi, “I would go to the next pitcher in that case.”

2. And then the walks
On Sunday, the free passes came in the form of three from Kim and five more from the bullpen, ballooning the latter’s walk rate to 15.1% on the year.

That mark stands as the highest by a ’pen in the divisional era (since 1969).

A positive for the rotation is that and his career 4.8% walk rate appear just around the corner from a return.

The right-hander threw six shutout innings (80 pitches) in what could be his last rehab start with Triple-A Memphis on Sunday afternoon. He’ll be evaluated by the club further, though there remains an opening in the rotation late next week -- with the Cubs coming to town -- after Johan Oviedo was optioned to the Minors following his rough go on Friday.

Oh, and Mikolas hammered a two-run shot for Memphis on Sunday, to boot.

“I'm sure he's excited about multiple things today,” Shildt said pregame. “Maybe the two-run homer could be at the top of the list.”

3. Nicks and bruises
Outside of Arenado and his three homers on the weekend, there was no sustained offensive spark from the Cardinals. tried to provide one, with a homer on Friday and a double on Sunday that had the Cards poised for a big offensive inning at the get-go, piling on after Arenado’s two-run shot.

But it was short-lived for the left fielder, who exited with a left middle finger sprain in the bottom of the seventh inning after jamming it on a slide stealing second in the sixth. He’s day to day.

was also on the wrong end of a bang-bang play, taking right fielder Dylan Carlson’s right elbow off his chin in the seventh as the two raced for a popup. Bloodied, the second baseman remained in the game. Moroff nearly ran into another collision with Harrison Bader in the eighth, through the center fielder skirted away from another bruise in a weekend full of them.