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Hochman: Sound of music speaks volumes after Cards lose big

Hochman: Sound of music speaks volumes after Cards lose big

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Benjamin Hochman

Benjamin Hochman is a sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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St. Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers

St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Tyler O'Neill (41) and St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Adolis Garcia (28) wear long faces in the dugout during the ninth inning as the Dodgers beat the the St. Louis Cardinals 17-4 at Busch Stadium on Saturday, Sept., 15, 2018, in St. Louis, Mo. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

“God’s plan” was Yadi’s plan.

After Saturday’s Cardinals game, the song from the rapper Drake, followed by others, filled the clubhouse. It made for a peculiar scene, since music is seldom played after a loss. But the music seemed to lighten the mood, as if it was played as a way to say: Let’s not let this loss overtake us … or make us.

And sure enough, the music played until team leader Yadier Molina unplugged his phone, because he was heading home.

I was struck by this strategy. And it may have been the only good to come out of Saturday, besides Patrick Wisdom’s grand slam. Because Saturday stank. The Cards played embarrassing baseball in the season’s biggest game. There was some overtaking â€" the Cardinals fell out of the second wild-card spot. The final score was 17-4. A Yasiel Puig homer was later spotted among those hot air balloons above Forest Park.

It was the worst game of the season at the worst time of the season against the worst possible opponent. Yet, when I asked Jose Martinez if frustration was the proper word â€" because it all sure seemed frustrating â€" he said, “I don’t think it’s frustration, I think it’s just baseball. You’re not going to hit and pitch every day. You’re going to look worse when they scored 150 runs and we didn’t hit. But I think if you put it like this â€" our first game against them, we scored seven runs (in a game started by) one of the best pitchers in the game. The next day, we had a chance, too â€" we had the (go-ahead) run at the plate (in the eighth).

“I don’t think it’s frustrating. Sometimes you get in a spot, and you’re not going to get that hit you need for a rally. … Hopefully everything turns around for us.”

Cards take a beating, lose grip on wild-card spot

Their 17-4 loss to Yasiel Puig (three homers) and the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday before a stunned Busch Stadium sellout house of 45,481 was their third in a row in this series and fourth consecutive defeat overall.

For that to happen, the Cards need to stir up some offense. And yes, in the clubhouse, many of the fellows referred to well-hit balls that weren’t actual hits. But beyond the five total hits Saturday, there were the paltry two on Friday and seven on Wednesday. In the past seven games, here are the on-base percentages of key Cardinals: Martinez (.269), Matt Carpenter (.290), Marcell Ozuna (.276), Harrison Bader (.217), you get the idea. Especially in the Friday loss to Walker Buehler, the Cards could’ve benefited from working some counts. Make a pitcher pitch.

What’s funny about Saturday’s loss is fans will remember the five Dodgers home runs, but what was worse were the 10 Dodgers who walked.

“That’s not a recipe for winning baseball,” said manager Mike Shildt, who has cooked up a lot of good games this summer but is 8-10 since the team returned home from Colorado and “interim” was dropped from Shildt’s title.

And now, with 13 games to play, the Cards no longer occupy a wild-card spot. St. Louis has lost four straight â€" and goes on the road Monday to play first-place Atlanta â€" so Sunday’s game will have a “football game” importance to it. Quarterbacking the Cardinals is Adam Wainwright.

I’m wary about Waino. I don’t want to be, but I am. The veteran allowed two homers in his first three innings Monday to pitiful Pittsburgh. That third inning felt like Pirates batting practice. And on Sunday, Waino will face the Dodgers, who have 50 hits in their past four games. Fifty!

“The reality is, if he wasn’t in a place to compete and give us an opportunity to win, he would understand (not getting the start) as well as would everyone,” Shildt said. “It’s not ceremonial â€" it’s merit-based. He’s done a nice job coming back, hasn’t had any setbacks, pitched well and except for one inning, he pitched really well the other day. Listen, if we get a version of Adam Wainwright who can compete, with what he’s been able to do and learned to do, that’s just a huge advantage for us.”

Shildt said his team has remained “even-keeled” during both the winning and the losing. Much has been made about what the Cardinals do before the games â€" the “Ball Talk” meetings with Shildt and the players. But what happened after Saturday’s game was perhaps the most telling. The season is on the brink, the team just lost badly, but there was some music playing and a calm to many of the players in the room.

Maybe it was a symbol. Maybe it’s the plan. Maybe I’m making a bigger deal out of it than I should, and the reality is: That’s the big-money Dodgers over there, and they’re going to mash.

But it caught my eye. And ear.

Source: Google News Music

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