July 2: Cardinals (44-40) @ Giants (46-37)
Once reluctant to expose Oscar Taveras to center field at this level, the Cardinals brought him up to the Majors this time with a willingness to use him at the position when circumstances were right. Consider Wednesday the first of those opportunities since Adam Wainwright is on the mound. With manager Mike Matheny’s immediate priority being the need to spark the offense, he keeps Taveras in the lineup without pulling Matt Holliday, Allen Craig or Matt Adams out of it.
The Cardinals come into Wednesday’s game having scored just one run (a Matt Carpenter homer) since Friday. The team has been held scoreless over its last 24 innings. That’s the longest scoreless stretch of the season for the Cardinals, who have been shut out five times since June 1.
In five games against the Giants this season, the Cardinals are batting .176 with two homers. Through eight games on this road trip, the Cards have hit .222. And remember, this was a road trip that opened with three games at Coors Field, where the Cardinals scored 22 runs on 29 hits.
Not that the offense’s struggles are a new development. The Cardinals, with 307 runs scored in 84 games, rank only above the Padres in that category.
And don’t look now — but the Cardinals’ division lead over the Reds and Pirates is just about gone. The Cardinals are only a half-game out of fourth place.
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