Pitching struggles magnified as Cards host Pirates

Field Level Media

June 24, 2021 at 1:03 am.

The St. Louis Cardinals have lost 16 of their last 22 games with only veteran Adam Wainwright regularly working deep into starts. Witness Wednesday, when John Gant retired just nine batters as the Cardinals fell to the Detroit Tigers 6-2.

“Your starting pitchers need to absorb quality innings,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “It’s not a good recipe when somewhat consistently, you’re waiting for one guy’s turn to come around

The Cardinals will start Carlos Martinez (3-8, 6.62 ERA) in the opener of the four-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium. After meeting the quality start standard five times in a span of six outings, the right-hander lost his four starts this month while posting a 15.34 ERA.

“Carlos has his moments, (he’s) more than capable,” Shildt said. “But I use the word all the time, consistency is what wins the day. If you are not getting consistent starting pitching and our not getting consistent offense, you are fighting an uphill battle.”

The Cardinals have scored two runs or fewer in nine of their last 11 games.

“We just haven’t been consistent enough to be able to score runs,” Shildt said. “We did a lot of things the first two months of the season that were really pretty positive. Towards the end of May until now, it just hasn’t been consistently good enough.”

Martinez threw eight scoreless innings against the Pirates on May 2 in a 3-0 victory. He is 7-6 with a 3.32 ERA in 33 career appearances against them, including 14 starts.

Gregory Polanco (14-for-32, eight walks, four doubles, one triple, one home run, three RBIs, 1.269 OPS), Adam Frazier (6-for-18, double), Jacob Stallings (2-for-4, double) and Bryan Reynolds (2-for-7, double, two RBIs) have hit well against him.

The Pirates have lost 12 of 15 games coming into this series. Among the players the Pirates need to get going is first baseman Colin Moran, who his hitting .188 in June.

Moran was hitless in four at bats and he stranded five runners during Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

“He’s in a little bit of a tough stretch. It looks like he’s a little bit in-between,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “I think that has to do a little bit with timing. We need to get him back on the fastball because he looks a little bit in-between.”

Overall the Pirates played better on their five-game homestand, winning three games and suffering two one-run losses before flying to St. Louis.

Chad Kuhl (1-4, 5.66) will start for the Pirates coming off his best start of the season. The right-hander allowed just one run on four hits in six innings during an 11-10 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

Kuhl is 1-3 with a 3.33 ERA in nine career starts against the Cardinals. He has not faced them this season.

Yadier Molina (7-for-15, two homers, three RBIs), Nolan Arenado (2-for-5, double, RBI), Tommy Edman (2-for-5) and Paul Goldschmidt (2-for-6) have had success against him while Matt Carpenter (3-for-17) has struggled.

The Cardinals’ bullpen took another hit Wednesday when reliever Daniel Ponce de Leon (shoulder) returned to the 10-day injured list. Seth Elledge replaced him on the active roster.