The St. Louis Cardinals spent most of the month of May in first place in the National League Central. When July 1 rolled around, they were tied for third, and only a late surge to end June pulled them out of fourth.
Now the Cardinals are off to a rough start in July.
After a home sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks to end June, St. Louis dropped the opener of a four-game series against the Rockies 5-2 on Thursday night when Colorado’s Elias Diaz hit a three-run, walk-off homer.
The series continues Friday night in Denver when St. Louis will send rookie right-hander Johan Oviedo (0-4, 5.23 ERA) to face Colorado right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez (2-5, 5.81).
The Cardinals had trouble scoring runs before the series against the Diamondbacks, managing two or fewer runs in nine of the 12 previous games.
St. Louis put up 17 runs in three games against Arizona.
“I think we just talked about having good at-bats, you know, taking what the pitcher gives you,” Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt said. “You can still have good at bats, just not get the results. So, I think the focus has definitely been process-driven. … If you do that, then you know you’re going to eventually get those results.”
Goldschmidt homered Thursday night while going 2-for-4, giving him five hits in his past two games.
Oviedo is still looking for his first major league victory. In 15 career games (14 starts) over the past two seasons, he is 0-7 with a 5.32 ERA. Oviedo last just four innings in his most recent start, giving up five runs in a 7-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.
Friday will be his first time facing the Rockies.
Gonzalez, on the other hand, has some experience against the Cardinals. He is 1-2 with an 8.16 ERA in three career starts against them. That includes an outing in St. Louis on May 8 when he allowed seven runs in four-plus innings and took the loss.
Gonzalez has bounced between the bullpen and rotation and has struggled of late in his home starts. He allowed 10 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings over his past two outings at Coors Field.
Still, he has done well at home this season, going 2-0 with a 4.68 ERA in seven games, four of them starts. His team hasn’t been as lucky when he pitches, going 4-11 overall in his 15 games, 11 of them starts.
Gonzalez is coming off a solid but unrewarding outing at Milwaukee on Sunday, when he allowed just one run over five innings in a 5-0 defeat.
He could have gone deeper in the game if he had not needed 91 pitches to get 15 outs against the Brewers.
“The scoreboard tells you all you need to know about the game,” Gonzalez said after his loss. “I got to 91 pitches in five innings, so they got my pitch count up. That’s kind of my danger zone once I get to 100 pitches, so that’s something a little better I should’ve done and could do, is be more efficient.”
–Field Level Media