Beginning the night Cardinal fans were hoping to see Jack Flaherty shut down the Nationals. Unfortunately, the Cardinals’ woes continued in the playoffs. In the bottom of the first Trea Turner hit a shot back up the middle, it looked like it was a single for sure. Instead we saw Kolten Wong make a great play, and a better throw to get Turner out.
As a Cardinals fan this was a good sign but it was short lived. In the second inning Marcell Ozuna hit line drive double. However after this play Paul Goldschmidt struck out ending the inning. In stepped Jose Martinez, who was brought into the lineup to be a sparkplug. He hit a ground ball back up the middle, which was fielded by Strasburg. Ozuna was stuck on a island between second and third. Strasburg chased him down for the out. The very next play Yadier Molina popped out, setting a theme for the night.
The Nationals starting pitching staff has not allowed a single earned run this series. Stephen Strasburg looked amazing in game 3. He went 7 solid innings, allowing only 7 hits while striking out 12. The Cardinals hitting has looked abysmal this series. In Game 4 the Cardinals will get to face Max Scherzer which will be a difficult task, especially in an elimination game.
Cardinals hitting woes
Coming in to game 3 the Cardinals had 4 total hits, with only 1 run scored. In game 4 they had 7 hits and only scored 1 more run.
Dexter Fowler is hitting a miserable .069. In this series he has only walked once and is 0 for 11. In the 2nd spot Kolten Wong is 0 for 10 with 2 walks, which isn’t any better. This means 21 times this series Paul Goldschmidt has came to bat with 2 outs and nobody on. Goldy seemed to be the hero in the last 2 months of season time and time again, however, in this series he is 1 for 12. Marcell Ozuna had two hits in game 3, which were his first 2 hits of the entire series. These hitting issues continue from the top of the order to the bottom. Jose Martinez has been the only real bright spot, but that hasn’t helped.
Cardinals Defensive issues
Throughout the regular season the Cardinals relied on good defense. It seems like the pressure of post season baseball may be getting to the Cardinals. Fans have seen multiple plays so far that leave them scratching their heads. Game 3 saw Ozuna make a sliding catch attempt, where he hooked his cleat in the ground causing him to drop the ball. There were 2 outs at this point, and this scored Adam Eaton who was on his horse from first base. From here the Nationals put 2 more runs up in the 3rd taking a commanding lead with Strasburg on the mound.
With the team offensive approach being so bad overall it leads to many questions. Did the Cardinals overpay Fowler? Is this Matt Carpenter‘s last year with the Cardinals? Did we find our future third basemen in Tommy Edman? I think the question we should ask is did the Cardinals wear themselves out against Atlanta. Did the Cardinals take the series with the Braves too personally? It raises a lot of questions when the bats are this inconsistent. There has to be some sort of fatigue being factored into the inconsistent bats. It could also just be that the Nationals have the better rotation and pitching beats hitting every time.
Turning The Series Around
While this task will be very difficult as the Nationals pitching has looked outstanding, the Cardinals could do potentially be the 2nd team to come back and win 4 straight to stave off elimination.
Paul Dejong had 30 HRs this year, breaking his own record for most by a Cardinals shortstop and he’s the number 8 hitter. Paul Goldschmidt has time and time again played hero all season. Marcell Ozuna is a consistent RBI machine when there is traffic on the bases. Yadier Molina can be the singles machine if he’s pulling it down the line. Tommy Edman is just beginning to blossom as a player. As much as I feel Fowler could be a impact bat, I feel Harrison Bader should be starting for defensive purposes.
If the Cardinals are to come back in this series they will need everyone to start hitting the ball, and a lot of things to go their way. They have Dakota Hudson on the mound for game 4. What this team need is a spark and Hudson has proven he can be capable of providing that. The Cardinals need someone like Yadi to get fired up. If not, the Cardinals’ woes will continue and they will be eliminated. I think being down 3-0 should be the spark they need, but Cardinal fans will find out if that is enough Tuesday night.
Come discuss this and much more at the Overtime Heroics forums!
Check out our partners at Shoreline Sportsbook for all of your sport betting needs! Use promo code OTHGambling when you sign up and get your deposit matched 100% up to $500!