The St. Louis Cardinals are in a 3-2 World Series hole and done for the year at home where they’ve been so good, too, after their second look at Red Sox lefty Jon Lester was no better than the first. They managed just four hits in a 3-1 loss in Game 5 on Monday night, a meager output that’s become all too familiar.
Getting Allen Craig back as a full-time starter for the first time since early September didn’t help, either. Wainwright had 10 strikeouts, gave up three runs in seven innings and never pitched with the lead.
“Waino battled, pitched good,” leadoff man Matt Carpenter said. “We just couldn’t score any runs for him.”
Since winning 5-4 on the first game-ending obstruction call in World Series history to take a 2-1 series lead with a chance to finish off the Red Sox at home, the Cardinals have totaled three runs.
In 16 postseason games, they’ve scored three or fewer runs nine times.
They’re batting .218 and averaging 2.6 runs in the World Series, in need of a quick turnaround. The Cardinals overcame a 3-2 series lead against the Texas Rangers to give manager Tony La Russa a very nice going-away present in 2011, but the last two victories came at home.
To match that in Mike Matheny’s second season, they’ll have to come up big twice at Fenway Park.
“I think our guys are going to see it as a good challenge,” Craig said. “It’s going to be tough. Anything can happen. We can do it.”
Unless the bottom half of the batting order comes to life, the pressure will be on rookie Michael Wacha, the NLCS MVP who’s 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA in the postseason, to hold Red Sox hitters down a second time in the Series.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to go in and prove the kind of team we are, how tough we are mentally,” Matheny said. “We’ve got to have Michael come out and throw a big game.”
The offensive slump prompts unpleasant memories of last season’s flameout when they totaled one run the last three games in the NLCS against the Giants.
“I think pitchers have been pitching us tough all playoffs,” Craig said. “You try not to expand the zone. The last few games they’ve done a good job not leaving much over the plate.”
The Cardinals had the second-best home record in the majors but finished the year with consecutive losses at Busch Stadium for the first time since mid-August.