Cards miss chances to alter course of game
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals had no shortage of run-scoring opportunities on Wednesday, but they lacked the timely hit for a second straight day against a White Sox pitching staff that arrived in town with the American League's second-highest ERA (4.18).
In racing out to 51 wins over their first 75 games, the Cardinals ranked fifth in the National League with a .270 average hitting with runners in scoring position. Being opportunistic has been necessary, too, given the difficulty the offense has had in its attempt to gain traction.
But the club went 0-for-9 in such spots while losing by one run on Tuesday and then hitless another seven times with runners in scoring position in falling to Chicago, 7-1, on Wednesday.
Though it finished as the club's fourth loss by at least six runs, this was hardly a runaway win for the White Sox until they scored five times in the ninth. By then, the Cards had already squandered repeated scoring opportunities. None was more glaring than in the sixth, when Mark Reynolds, after knocking his first triple in nearly four years, was left on third with the Cardinals trailing by one.
Chicago starter Jose Quintana followed by striking out Randal Grichuk and inducing a flyout from Yadier Molina to quell the threat and cap his six-inning start.
"We had a little bit of trouble," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, whose team dropped consecutive home games for just the second time all season. "We did have an opportunity to tie it up, which could have made that game look a little different. That would have probably have had a different look to it, at least. But we didn't have a lot of good opportunities. That's a couple nights in a row."
Most every time the Cardinals threatened, Quintana answered with a strikeout. He fanned Reynolds and Grichuk with a runner on second in the first. An inning later, a strikeout of Peter Bourjos kept Jason Heyward from advancing after his one-out double. Bourjos went down swinging again in the fourth with a runner on second.
Of Quintana's eight strikeouts, six came with a runner in scoring position.
"His fastball was really sneaky," Reynolds said of the Chicago starter. "He kind of short arms it, and it gets on you. We weren't able to string much together against him."
This marked just the second time this season that the Cardinals have gone hitless with runners in scoring position in consecutive games. It previously happened on May 21-22, which were shutout losses to the Mets and Royals during the team's only three-game losing streak.