The Redbird Report - 04/05

Right-hander Braden Looper, after 572 consecutive relief appearances, made his first big-league start Wednesday night, and for five innings, he shut out the Mets, one of his former teams. The bad news was that the Cardinals offense took another night off.

For the third consecutive game, the Cardinals not only lost to the Mets, but they never had the lead. They had just two hits, a fifth-inning single by Scott Rolen and a ninth-inning double by Chris Duncan in a dismal 10-0 loss. Looper gave up three runs, all in the sixth inning, when he weakened.

After the Mets outscored the Cardinals 20-2 in the three-game series, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said, "Two runs in three games. We're better than that. We have to be better than that if we expect to have a season in contention."

But La Russa added, "I think we'll fix it -- sooner rather than later."

The Cardinals offense has been so lacking that the team has just one hit with a man in scoring position -- and that didn't even score a run. And the outfield defense has been deplorable.

Right fielder Preston Wilson, after letting a ball drop in front of him in the eighth inning, whiffed on another drive later in the inning, accounting for the Cardinals' third outfield error of the series. Wilson's miscues helped the Mets score five runs in the inning.

The Cardinals have lost 12 of their last 15 regular-season games dating to last season.

METS 10, CARDINALS 0: Right-hander John Maine worked seven innings of one-hit ball, and the Mets hit three home runs to beat the Cardinals 10-0 Wednesday. Counting last year's National League Championship Series, Maine has held the Cardinals to three hits and no runs over his last 12 1/3 innings. The Cardinals beat the Mets in seven games to wrap up the NLCS last year, but the Mets have won the last six regular-season meetings: three last August in New York and the three just completed. "These three games weren't all that competitive," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.

NOTES AND QUOTES

--After hitting into seven double plays in the first two games of the series, the Cardinals didn't hit into any double plays Wednesday. Of course, they had only four groundball outs and just four runners overall.

--The last time the Cardinals were swept in a three-game season-opening series at home was 1969, when they lost three to Pittsburgh. They hadn't started 0-3 anywhere since 2001, when they were swept at Colorado to open the season.

--The Cardinals were 1-for-15 with men in scoring position for the series.

--RHP Jason Isringhausen made his first appearance since having hip surgery last September. He worked a perfect ninth inning Wednesday, throwing just 10 pitches.

--RHP Chris Carpenter has some elbow issues, and the team remained uncertain if he would be able to pitch Tuesday in Pittsburgh.

But manager Tony La Russa said the team's ace reported improvement Wednesday. "Now, I don't know if that's enough improvement for him to pitch Tuesday," La Russa said.

The Cardinals probably wouldn't decide whether or not to disable Carpenter until sometime this weekend, or until after Carpenter has been re-examined by Dr. George Paletta, presumably on Thursday.


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