The St. Louis Cardinals don’t know what’s wrong with their offense - they just know that it’s sputtering.
The Cardinals hope to reverse their fortunes at the plate Tuesday when they continue a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis ranks last in the majors with 92 runs this season and has scored three or fewer in each of its last nine games, going 2-7 over that span. The defending World Series champions lost Monday’s series opener 3-2 when Tyler Johnson walked Brad Hawpe with the bases loaded in the ninth.
“I don’t know what to say,” said center fielder Jim Edmonds, who was 0-for-4 and is hitless in his last 20 at-bats. “At times we’re taking good at-bats and we’re hitting balls right at people.
“Then other times, we’re not having good at bats and when you’re scuffling that’s the way it goes. It’s timing.”
Edmonds isn’t the only one struggling. Second baseman Aaron Miles is 0-for-11 in his last four games, first baseman Albert Pujols in 0-for-10 in his last three and shortstop David Eckstein is 0-for-8 over his last three contests.
The Cardinals (12-18) are in last place in the NL Central and 5-11 at Busch this season - the second-worst home record in the majors, ahead of only Washington.
The Rockies, meanwhile, have won four of their last six games. They are just 8-11 away from home, but improved to 4-3 on their nine-game road trip with Monday’s victory.
Todd Helton homered for Colorado (14-18) after hitting just .189 (7-for-37) with no RBIs in 37 at-bats against the Cardinals last season.
Taylor Buchholz (1-1, 8.04 ERA) will look to help the Rockies to another series win on Tuesday. He was pounded for six runs and eight hits in 3 1-3 innings last Tuesday at San Francisco, but did not factor in the decision as the Rockies won 9-7.
The start was just the second this season for Buchholz, who moved into the rotation to replace the injured Rodrigo Lopez. He allowed four runs in five innings in his first start, a 6-1 loss to the New York Mets on April 23.
“We just have to keep working with him to try and get him over this hump,” manager Clint Hurdle told the Rockies’ official Web site.
Buchholz is 1-1 with a 4.40 ERA in three starts against the Cardinals, all of which came last season for Houston.
St. Louis will counter with Brad Thompson (1-0, 4.67), who makes his first start of the season in place of injured ace Chris Carpenter. Carpenter, who has not pitched since the season opener because of right elbow problems, had hoped to return for this game, but the team announced Saturday that he will undergo arthroscopic surgery and miss at least three months.
Thompson has made 14 relief outings this season. His only career start came on May 24 last season, when he allowed two runs in two innings of the Cardinals’ 10-4 win at San Francisco.
Thompson will be limited to 50-60 pitches, and pitching coach Dave Duncan said he will be given a chance to fill the void on a longer-term basis “if he pitches well enough to deserve it.”
“I think you always look within first,” said La Russa, who could eventually decide to fill the rotation spot via a trade. “Brad will go out there and we’ll evaluate it as we go along.
“I just don’t know that it’s possible to do more than go series to series.”
Thompson has made four career relief appearances against the Rockies, allowing one run in five total innings without receiving a decision.