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Cardinals display potential, pitfalls in Cincy split

@anne__rogers
August 18, 2019

CINCINNATI -- Cardinals manager Mike Shildt has emphasized the capability of his team all season and its need for consistency in all parts of the game. Including Sunday afternoon’s 5-4 win, this weekend against the Reds showed what’s possible when the Cardinals do put the pieces together, and what’s possible

CINCINNATI -- Cardinals manager Mike Shildt has emphasized the capability of his team all season and its need for consistency in all parts of the game.

Including Sunday afternoon’s 5-4 win, this weekend against the Reds showed what’s possible when the Cardinals do put the pieces together, and what’s possible when they don’t.

Box score

The four-game series split at Great American Ball Park was a microcosm of the Cardinals’ season.

On Thursday, the Cardinals were held to two hits. On Friday, they had 18 hits -- in a game started by Reds All-Star Luis Castillo -- and exploded for 13 runs. They were held to one run Saturday, but Sunday, they were able to plate five behind home runs from Paul Goldschmidt and Tommy Edman.

Of the Cardinals’ eight hits Sunday, five of them came from two rookies who weren’t on the Opening Day roster: Edman, who went 3-for-5 on Sunday and 6-for-14 in the series, and Lane Thomas, who finished 2-for-4.

“[This series] was up and down,” Edman said. “I think it just all depends on the pitcher you run into. If the pitcher is executing his pitches, like Sonny Gray was that first day. Yesterday, I think we took some good at-bats. Just barreled balls to guys. That second day, we were absolutely on fire. It’s just up and down. It’s just baseball. It depends on how the pitcher is executing and how we’re executing our plan.”

Inconsistency aside, the Cardinals are content with the two wins and their 4-2 road trip against the Royals and the Reds.

“We scored five runs today, we scored 13 the day before yesterday,” Shildt said. “We won four games on the road trip. At some point, there’s got to be some credit given to the offense. We’d like them to go out and score six, seven runs a game, but we also faced a team that has pretty good pitching. Came out of the road trip 4-2, so I feel good about it overall.”

As for the rotation, the Cardinals got five innings out of Michael Wacha and Miles Mikolas in the two losses. The pieces came together in the Cardinals’ two wins, Adam Wainwright threw 6 2/3 innings, allowing four runs (three earned) Friday, and Jack Flaherty -- who has an 0.83 ERA since the All-Star break -- continued his recent success Sunday.

Flaherty allowed one run on three hits in five-plus innings with three walks, including one to Aristides Aquino in the bottom of the sixth that led to Flaherty’s exit.

“The Reds are a scrappy team,” Flaherty said. “Especially this ballpark, anything can happen. [I’m] trying to keep the ball in the yard and keep them from putting some hits together. Any time you give up free passes, which we kind of did today, it’s not putting yourself in the best position. Today, lost my mechanics a little bit there, but all in all, keeping the ball in the yard and executing when you need to.”

As the Cardinals look to make the postseason for the first time in three years, it’s imperative that they find consistency in their offense and rotation. It’s especially important over the next few weeks, with a three-game series against the Brewers, who are two games back from first place, starting Monday.

“I think just not making the game any bigger than it actually is,” Edman said. “I know that as we get into September, it’s going to be more of a playoff-type environment, and I think that there’s the potential for us to try to do too much.

“As long as we stay within ourselves, I think we’ll continue to have some good offensive games. I’m sure we’re going to have some good games and [some] not as good games. It’s a matter of having as many good and consistent at-bats as we can.”

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