The St. Louis Cardinals may be contenders for the National League pennant, but they haven’t been putting up much of a fight against the American League lately.
The Cardinals try to avoid losing eight straight games for the first time in 18 years when they continue their three-game series against the Cleveland Indians at Busch Stadium on Tuesday.
St. Louis (42-33) owns the second-best record in the NL, but has dropped seven in a row to the AL since its interleague schedule resumed June 20.
The Cardinals fell 10-3 to the Indians on Monday and have been outscored 65-27 during their skid.
“We’re not having fun,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. “Most of the games aren’t close. It’s a real struggle, but they’re in the book.”
St. Louis, winner of five of the last six NL Central titles, has not lost eight straight since July 4-15, 1988.
St. Louis’ lead in the division is down to 1 1/2 games over Cincinnati. The Cards led by 5 1/2 before the losing streak began.
Albert Pujols went 1-for-4 on Monday, but even he hasn’t been able to help in a seven-game stretch against AL Central teams that started with three-game series against red-hot Detroit and Chicago. The slugger is 7-for-20 (.350) in five games since returning from injury, but the Cardinals are 0-5 in those contests after going 8-7 without their star.
Anthony Reyes (1-1, 1.80 ERA), coming off the best outing of his brief career, will make his fifth career start for St. Louis on Tuesday.
Reyes one-hit the White Sox on Thursday—the hit being Jim Thome’s seventh-inning home run that lifted Chicago to 1-0 victory and a series sweep.
“I tried to keep the ball down and I made sure if I missed that it was down,” said Reyes, who struck out six and walked none. “I was getting a rhythm and just kept repeating my mechanics and it just happened that one pitch got over the plate.”
Monday’s victory gave the Indians (34-41) their first series-opening win since May 19—a span of 10 series. They are 1-8-1 in their last 10 series, dropping the last seven.
“This is a good start for us and that’s the way we’ve got to look at it,” Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. “This will get the monkey off their back.”
The Indians have lost 15 of their last 22 games and have not won two in a row since taking three straight from the White Sox from May 30-June 1.
Travis Hafner hit two home runs Monday, and is 13-for-35 (.371) with seven RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak.
C.C. Sabathia (5-4, 4.19) will take the ball looking to bounce back from one of the worst outings of his career.
The 25-year-old left-hander gave up a career-high nine runs and eight hits in 2 1-3 innings of a 9-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday. He admitted afterward that he may have briefly quit on the mound.
“What’s inexcusable? For me not to make pitches. For me to be giving up,” Sabathia said. “That’s something as a pro I should never do. I would like to apologize to everybody. I lost focus.”
Sabathia has not won since May 30, going 0-3 with a 10.24 ERA in his last four starts. His ERA has risen from 1.71 in that span.
Sabathia allowed five runs in 3 2-3 innings of his only game against St. Louis, a 7-6, 10-inning Indians victory July 7, 2001.