Game Report: Twins 7, Cardinals 1

By Rob Rains

Even though their defense let them down on Tuesday, it was another sub-par offensive performance by the Cardinals that was more concerning.

The Cardinals were held to two hits and one run by Highland, Ill., native Jake Odorizzi and three relievers in their loss to the Twins, who limited the Cardinals to a combined six hits and one run in 18 innings sweeping the short two-game series at Busch Stadium.

The consecutive losses came after the emotional weekend sweep of the Cubs, which at least temporarily overshadowed the bigger questions about the team’s lack of offense.

A hope that warmer temperatures would heat up the cold bats of Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler has yet to be realized. Carpenter was 0-for-4 on Tuesday, dropping his average for the season to .152. Fowler was 0-for-3 and is now at .151 for the season.

Especially with Tommy Pham out of the lineup for a third consecutive day because of a sore groin, the top of the lineup has struggled, but manager Mike Matheny still is preaching patience and confidence that the lineup will soon start to produce on a more consistent basis.

“We’ve got to play better, we know that,” Matheny said. “We’re still in a pretty good spot without everybody clicking. We believe in what they are going to be able to do.”

The Cardinals tied their season high with three errors, and for the first time since April 17, 2013 had more errors in a game than hits.

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate:
Jose Martinez’s fourth homer of the year, in the first inning, produced the only Cardinals’ run. Their only other hit was a single by Francisco Pena in the second, and they did not have a baserunner after Martinez walked in the fourth. The Cardinals’ last 18 batters were retired in order and they hit only four balls out of the infield … They scored a combined three runs in their last 26 innings and produced only one run in the last three games that did not come on a home run.

On the mound: Carlos Martinez saw his streak of six consecutive starts allowing no more than one run end as he gave up four runs in five innings, two of them unearned because of errors by Greg Garcia and Jose Martinez. The Cardinals’ third error, by Ozuna, helped score another Minnesota run even though it was an earned run. Martinez had allowed just three runs in his previous 40 2/3 innings over his last six starts … The Twins added one run off Sam Tuivailala and their other runs came on a two-run homer off Tyler Lyons, now the only left-hander in the bullpen, whose ERA climbed to 6.17 … John Brebbia pitched the last two scoreless innings and has not allowed a run in seven innings in the majors this season.

Key stat: The Cardinals have scored 22 runs in their seven games so far in May, with eight of them coming in one game. As a team they have a collective average of .194 (43-for-222). Carpenter is now 3-for-21 in May, Fowler 2-for-25 and Ozuna 6-for-26, but still without a home run since April 12.

Worth noting: Alex Reyes is expected to begin his official rehab assignment by starting Wednesday night’s game in Palm Beach. He can spend a month in the minors before he will have to be activated by the Cardinals … Brett Cecil, who has been out since opening day, began a rehab assignment at Double A Springfield on Tuesday night … Brebbia returned to the major-league club on Tuesday when Ryan Sherriff was sent back to Memphis. John Gant remains on the roster for now, until the Cardinals are certain that Adam Wainwright will come off the DL and return to the rotation, most likely on Sunday in San Diego. Because of the rule that a player has to spend 10 days in the minors until he can return to the majors, unless there is an injury, the Cardinals felt they needed to keep Gant in case they need a pitcher before Sunday.

Looking ahead
: The Cardinals will head to San Diego on their off day on Wednesday and begin a four-game series on Thursday night. Miles Mikolas will get the start. A two-game stop in Minnesota will follow before the Cardinals return home on May 17 to host the Phillies.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains