ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Welcome to the Big 3, a weekly feature taking a look at the three biggest takeaways from the Cardinals’ last week. Whether it’s a particular player, a moment, or a trend, the Big 3 will have you ready to talk Cards all week long.
The Cubs came to town, and though the Cardinals took Sunday night’s finale, it felt an awful lot like the status quo of the last few seasons: The Cubs are in charge of the Central, and the Cards don’t have the horses to run with them in the division chase.
Let’s get into it.
1. This series was a bad, bad look for the Birds.
The Cardinals haven’t been in first place since May 12, and have gone 7-8 in June. coming into the weekend they were 6-6 for the month despite not playing any teams with a winning record.
They’re starting a run of games against division leaders and they badly needed a boost against the Cubs on their home field.
Instead, they mostly looked brutal.
They got outscored 19-13, and that’s with a 5-0 shutout on Sunday. They had two errors in every game of the series. They left 21 men on base and went 5-for-18 with runners in scoring position (2-for-11 before Sunday’s win).
Harrison Bader got picked off first by the catcher. Tommy Pham got caught stealing for the sixth time. Dexter Fowler ran into an out and the resulting internet vitriol prompted him to delete all his tweets and go silent on his Twitter account. Note: Fowler’s wife Aliya followed suit, which is a profound bummer because she was one of the most candid, funny and genuine Twitter users around, especially given the size of her profile in the community. Mob mentality on social media is nothing new, but if any Cardinal supporters still clung to the delusion of being the Best Fans in Baseball, stuff like this should disabuse them of that notion once and for all.
Michael Wacha, who had been the best arm in the rotation all year, got waxed. Four innings, seven hits, three homers, eight earned runs. His ERA went from 2.47 to 3.24 in one day.
Carlos Martinez walked six Cubs in five innings.
The bullpen allowed seven earned runs in nine innings during the first two games.
Pitchers aren’t going to be perfect, and sometimes things just don’t go your way, but this was a terrible look for a team desperate to prove they belong in October. It sure felt like if Sunday had been more of the same, a few people may have been out of a job by Monday morning.
2. Joe Maddon is trolling the Cardinals because he can.
When you play like garbage, you invite mockery; and Joe Maddon will take any opportunity to rub a little salt in the wound.
The Cubs manager elevates agitation to high art, and during Friday’s beat down, he needled the Cardinals one more time in the ninth inning.
Down 13-5, St. Louis sent John Brebbia, who had just finished the top half of the inning on the mound, up to bat for himself.
The game was completely over, and there’s perhaps no bigger white flag in all of sports than letting a reliever hit.
Maddon changed pitchers. He went to a lefty because Brebbia, who had one at-bat in his entire career, hits from the left side.
After the game he sidestepped questions about the move, claiming it was related to pitch counts.
Luke Farrell had thrown 27 pitches. He’s thrown more than that five times this year.
Maddon was having fun, and my dude is a master of subtle knife-twisting. I support the move. If the Cardinals don’t like it, they should stop getting run off their own field.
3. Marcell Ozuna is on one right now
Rumors of the Big Bear’s demise were greatly exaggerated. Gone are the days of him swinging a pool noodle at the plate.
His season average is up to .294 and his slugging percentage has risen to .444 on the season.
But the last 30 days or so? Holy moly.
.410 average, .459 OBP, .718 slugging.
He’s gone hitless in just a SINGLE game in June. He has multiple hits in 9 of the 15 games this month. He has seven bombs and 17 RBIs.
If you put his 46 total bases with Jose Martinez’s 36, the pair has more than half of the ENTIRE offenses of the Mets, Nationals, Royals and Orioles.
They should just make the entire plane out of Marcell Ozuna.
Note: After this story was published, Ozuna was named NL Player of the Week