Offensive skid catches up to Cardinals
Despite historic-low team batting average, St. Louis holds edge in NLCS
LOS ANGELES -- The National League's most potent lineup during the regular season finds itself in unexpected company this postseason, ranking among some of baseball's most historically impotent offenses.
In the wake of the Cardinals' 3-0 loss to the Dodgers in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series on Monday night, consider some startling numbers:
• Through their first eight games this postseason, the Cards were hitting .180. The lowest team batting average in postseason history for a team that played seven or more games belongs to the 2012 Yankees, who batted .188 in nine games.
• These Cardinals are only the sixth team in Major League history to be held to four hits or fewer four times in one postseason.
• The Cards are also the only team in MLB history to win two postseason games in which they were held to three hits or fewer -- Game 4 of the NL Division Series against the Pirates and Game 2 of the NLCS against the Dodgers.
• This all comes after a regular season in which St. Louis led the NL with 783 runs scored, a .332 on-base percentage and a .330 average with runners in scoring position -- 59 points better than the runner-up Rockies. After going hitless in only one chance in Game 3, the Cardinals are batting .194 with runners in scoring position this postseason.
Yet St. Louis dispatched Pittsburgh in the NLDS and leads the NLCS, 2-1.
"We have to find a way," said right fielder Carlos Beltran, who is 2-for-11 in the series and drove in all three Cards runs in their Game 1 win. "Right now, we're getting good pitching from us, from them. I think this series is about pitching. The guys that pitch the best, those are the teams that are going to move up. We've seen that. It's going to continue. We need to find a way to have better at-bats and probably score a few runs.
"We're confident in our team. We're confident in ourselves. If we're here, and we put ourselves in this situation, I think we have what it takes to go on and win. We have to find a way right now."
The next opportunity comes in Game 4 (Tuesday at 7 p.m. CT on TBS).
"We just have to stick with our approach," said center fielder Jon Jay, who is 1-for-10 in the NLCS. "We have a lot of good hitters on this team. We're a good offense. We just have to go out and continue to grind and fight, and good things will happen for us."
Others have similarly slim averages so far in the series. Left fielder and No. 3 hitter Matt Holliday is 0-for-12. Second baseman and leadoff man Matt Carpenter is 2-for-11 in the NLCS and 3-for-30 this postseason. Slugging first baseman Matt Adams is 1-for-10 with five strikeouts in the NLCS.
Offense in a funk
The Dodgers have something to do with this; starters Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu were all terrific. On Tuesday, the Cardinals expected to draw right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who has not started for the Dodgers since Sept. 25 and has not pitched competitively since Sept. 29, when he received a one-inning tuneup against Colorado. Nolasco has kept busy by maintaining his usual between-starts routine and throwing approximately 80 pitches in a simulated game Wednesday.
Nolasco owns a 3.84 ERA in 11 career appearances against the Cards, including 10 starts. There are some promising matchups. Beltran is a .340 (16-for-47) hitter against Nolasco, and Holliday a .462 hitter (12-for-26). Third baseman David Freese is 6-for-12, but he left Game 3 with a tight right calf and is questionable. Jay is 7-for-13.
"We're fortunate that we won the first two," Freese said. "Obviously [it was] a tough loss today, but we've got to get the sticks going a little bit."
"It's the postseason; runs are at a premium," Said Carpenter. "Pitchers are locked in and trying to avoid big innings. We know what kind of offense we're capable of being. We haven't gotten that going yet. Hopefully that changes tomorrow."