Cardinals Offensive Woes Continue In Series Opener

Jun 29, 2018; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong (16) reacts after striking out against the Atlanta Braves during the fifth inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

Marcell Ozuna popped out in foul territory to Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman to end the sixth inning, stranding Matt Carpenter on second base. He proceeded to yell angrily, smashing his bat into the ground.

Yadier Molina led off the seventh inning with a pop-out to right field and broke his bat doing the same.

Who can blame the two, as Friday’s 5-1 loss was a frustrating game that lacked hits, hard-hit balls and clutch hitting for the Cardinals.

“Baseball’s hard,” manager Mike Matheny said. “Hitting’s hard. When a guy gets locked in on the mound, you’re going to have a tough night… You only get so many chances. We got a few, and they made the plays.”

St. Louis was held to two hits before a one run, two-hit ninth inning. In fact, they committed more errors (3) than hits at that point. Only a handful of balls were hit with authority, as a Jose Martínez line out in the third was the only hard-hit line drive before Ozuna’s single in the ninth.

The Cardinals’ offensive struggles spoiled yet another strong start from Miles Mikolas. The right-hander only registered one strikeout, but forced weak-hit balls and groundouts throughout. After six innings of work, Mikolas allowed four hits — three were infield singles and the other a ground ball that found a hole.

“Miles had a great start,” Matheny said. “We weren’t able to get anything going offensively. I mean our guy made pitches all day, got into a rhythm. He had good movement, changed speeds, kept them off balance.”

A St. Louis bullpen that has been more steady as of late showed its old colors Friday night, allowing four earned runs in the last two innings. One could blame the first run of the night on the bullpen as well.

Austin Gomber came in after Mikolas loaded the bases with an out in the seventh inning. The rookie plunked Ender Inciarte in the head on the first and only pitch of his outing, allowing the Braves jump out to a 1-0 lead.

Jordan Hicks got shelled in the eighth inning for three runs in just a third of an inning, and Greg Holland (although not credited for the runs) allowed a two-run double.

Luke Weaver (4-6, 4.59 ERA) squares off against the Braves and Max Fried (0-2, 4.09 ERA) at 6:15 p.m. Saturday at Busch Stadium.

Jack Parodi covers the St. Louis Cardinals for 590 The Fan and you can find him on Twitter @jack_parodi.