The only good thing about the Cardinals’ 1-4 trip is they returned home still in first place in the National League Central Division, albeit only a half game ahead of Cincinnati.
The 1-4 trip followed a 1-4 homestand, giving the Cardinals eight losses in their last 10 games. In three of their four losses on the trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles, they scored five runs, which would have been enough to win earlier in the season. But the bullpen let them down Sunday in a 6-5 loss at Los Angeles.
Left-hander Marc Rzepczynski struck out the only really dangerous hitter in the injury-riddled Dodgers lineup when he fanned right fielder Andre Ethier with two on in the seventh inning. That was the second out. Rzepczynski had only to get St. Louisan Scott Van Slyke, a minor league call-up who was pinch hitting.
After falling behind 3-0, Rzpczynski laid in a changeup. Van Slyke had the green light from manager Don Mattingly and the son of former star outfielder Andy Van Slyke, popped his first big-league home run, a three-run shot, to left.
“My plan was to go with sinkers away early and see if he could hit a ground ball,” Rzepczynski said. “Then I threw a 3-0 changeup, thinking he’d be a little bit out in front of it, I just left it up a little bit up, and it was right in his wheelhouse.”
The Cardinals ran themselves out of two innings although television replays indicated catcher Yadier Molina was safe in the sixth inning after trying to advance on a bloop hit by first baseman Matt Adams.
Adams’ performance in his first major-league game was notable. He had two singles in four at-bats as he replaced injured first baseman Lance Berkman.
“He’s a pretty mature hitter for his age and experience,” manager Mike Matheny said of the 23-year-old Adams. “He has a short, powerful swing and the ability to stay within himself and not try to do too much. He has the ability to go to both fields. Power is a rare commodity and he’s got some. Defensively, he does a nice job, too.”
–1B Lance Berkman was placed on the disabled list Sunday. He will find out Monday the severity of his right knee injury suffered Saturday night. “If I’ve re-torn my ACL or something like that, I’d certainly get it fixed but you don’t know how psychologically you’re going to come back from something like that,” Berkman said. “I’m not talking from the standpoint of being scared of hurting it again. I’m talking about doing everything it takes to come back and play again at an elite level. I think that’s a legitimate question I’m going to have to answer if, in fact, it turns out to be something more serious than we hope that it is.”
–Rookie 1B Matt Adams was purchased from Class AAA Memphis to replace 1B Lance Berkman. Adams, a 23rd-round draft pick from Slippery Rock University in 2009, was hitting .340 with nine homers at Memphis and he singled on the first pitch thrown to him in the majors and added a second single on Sunday while playing flawlessly in the field, even starting a double play.
–RHP Kyle Lohse was denied his sixth victory by a bullpen letdown. Lohse, over 5 1/3 innings, pitched around many of the Dodgers’ 11 hits off him.
–3B David Freese, already locked in an awful slump, hit rock bottom on Sunday, fanning four times on four at-bats, mostly on high fastballs. Freese is 3 for his last 34 with all three hits coming in the same game.
–2B Skip Schumaker continued his impressive hitting as a part-time player, suggesting that perhaps he should play more. Schumaker tripled in two runs in the fifth and also drew a walk.
BY THE NUMBERS: 8 — Consecutive losses by the Cardinals to the Los Angeles Dodgers over two seasons.
QUOTE TO NOTE: From the Chicago Tribune, “If this team has shown anything, it’s that it’s resilient enough to hang in there. We realize no matter who it is, we’re going to be right there. I still feel that way.” — 1B Lance Berkman, after he went down with a right knee injury, further cluttering the Cardinals’ disabled list.
–1B Lance Berkman (right knee injury) was placed on the disabled list May 20. He will find out this week the severity of the injury suffered May 19.
–RHP Kyle McClellan (strained right ulnar collateral ligament) left the May 17 game and returned to St. Louis to be examined by team doctors. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on May 18 and will be sidelined at least 10 weeks.
–RF Carlos Beltran (sore right knee, plantar fasciitis in right foot) did not start May 14-17, though he pinch-hit three times. He returned to the lineup May 18.
–CF Jon Jay (sprained right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 15.
–RHP Scott Linebrink (right shoulder capsulitis) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 30. He felt tightness during an April 30 bullpen session, and he didn’t appear close to a return.
–RHP Chris Carpenter (weak right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. He isn’t likely to begin a real throwing program until sometime in May and probably won’t pitch until at least June.