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Cardinals find cure to offensive drought in Bucs

@LangoschMLB
May 9, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- Turns out the concerns about the Cardinals’ collective offensive rut carried a short shelf life, as a visit from the Pirates proved to be all the antidote they needed on Thursday. Held to one or fewer runs in four of their previous seven games, the Cardinals burst

ST. LOUIS -- Turns out the concerns about the Cardinals’ collective offensive rut carried a short shelf life, as a visit from the Pirates proved to be all the antidote they needed on Thursday.

Held to one or fewer runs in four of their previous seven games, the Cardinals burst out for 11 in the first four innings of an eventual 17-4 rout of Pittsburgh at Busch Stadium. The victory to open the four-game series marked just the second win for St. Louis in its last eight games.

But it certainly was an emphatic one, featuring contributions from every spot in the lineup early and often as the team chased starter Joe Musgrove before he could record an out in the fourth. All eight position players reached base three or more times and scored at least once. In three different innings, the Cardinals batted through their order.

Box score

“I think I just kind of misread their lineup,” said Musgrove, who allowed the first eight runs. “These guys have been really aggressive early in the count, not punching out a lot, not trying to get themselves in a hole. [I] tried to expand early and get them to chase. They were extremely patient. [I] found myself behind in the count a lot, and the breaking balls and pitches I was throwing to try to get back to even were getting hit.”

The 17 runs eclipsed the Cardinals’ previous season high of 13 and marked the second-highest output in Busch Stadium III history. The club also finished with 16 hits, 11 of which came with a runner in scoring position.

“It was just one of those games, one of those outlier games,” Paul Goldschmidt said. “Guys had good at-bats. We found some holes out there, too. Just consistent good at-bats throughout the game.”

Here’s a by-the-numbers look at how they did just that:

8: That’d be the season-high number of walks the Cardinals drew on the night. St. Louis made the most of those gift-wrapped baserunners, too. Seven of those walks turned into runs, and the other extended an inning to Goldschmidt, who promptly delivered his first RBI since April 21. It’s one of three hits that he had on the night.

0: Oddly, the Cardinals did all this offensive damage without going deep. It marked the first time since Aug. 22, 2008, that the team scored at least 17 runs sans a home run. The last team to do so had been the Rockies in an April 2012 victory over the Giants.

“Homers are nice. We’ll take them,” manager Mike Shildt said. “But when we’re at our best is when we’re doing damage in a lot of different ways and using all our skills and playing the game based on situations. That was [evidenced] tonight.”

6: The Cardinals may not have hit any home runs, but they still piled on the extra-base hits. The club collected a season-high six doubles, including a two-run double by Dexter Fowler that put the Cardinals in front in the second inning. Marcell Ozuna later delivered a bases-clearing double to cap a five-run sixth. It came in one of the three at-bats Ozuna took with the bases loaded on Thursday.

“You just try to keep the train moving,” Fowler said. “We’ve been taking some good at-bats and obviously our luck wasn’t there the last few days. We were hitting line drives right at people. But we put some good at-bats together and found some holes."

25: Two days after not taking a single at-bat with a runner in scoring position, the Cardinals had 25. That’s the most by this team in a nine-inning game since Aug. 10, 1985. More recently, the Cardinals took 27 during a September 1999 win over the Brewers, though that game lasted 10 innings.

11: From those 25 at-bats, the Cardinals clubbed 11 hits, their highest total with a runner in scoring position in a game since 2008. This follows a three-game series in which the Cardinals tallied a total of two. With Thursday’s output, the Cardinals are now batting .277 in such spots.

366: That’s how many career doubles Yadier Molina has after knocking in the team’s first run with a two-base hit in the second. It moves him into a sixth-place tie with Enos Slaughter for most doubles in franchise history. Molina, who had three hits on Thursday, will tie Rogers Hornsby with his next double.

Jenifer Langosch is a senior content manager at MLB.com. She previously covered the Pirates (2007-11) and Cardinals (2012-19). Follow her on Twitter.