After this offseason in which the Cardinals traded defensive stalwart Brendan Ryan and inserted acquisitions Ryan Theriot and an aging Lance Berkman at shortstop and right field, respectively, Manager Tony La Russa said he was willing to sacrifice defense for offense.
Seven games into the season, he's sacrificing defense--without an offense.
The Cardinals are just 2-5 after dropping their second extra innings affair of the 2011 campaign, losing 5-4 in 12 innings at San Francisco to begin their 10-game West Coast road trip. While the Cardinals have been an average defensive team so far, they have lost both their extra inning games due to errors.
On opening day, they lost in 11 innings after Jon Jay's throw from right field seemed to nonchalantly wander into the infield as Chase Headley never stopped running and scored from first after a relatively harmless single by Cameron Maybin.
While there was more optimism in the 12-inning loss to the Giants including a ninth inning comeback, the Cardinals again lossed on an errant catch at first base by Gold Glover Albert Pujols.
Entering the ninth inning and down 3-2 with two outs against closer Brian Wilson, the Cardinals rallied to load the bases and take a 4-3 lead with Ryan Theriot's seeing-eye single on the twelfth pitch of his at bat. After a Colby Rasmus walk, Pujols came up to try and add to the lead, but the Cardinals didn't capitalize.
The Cardinals' 5-4 loss marked the first time the Cardinals scored more than 3 runs in a game. They are currently last in the NL in runs scored (19), doubles (6), home runs (2), RBIs (18) and slugging percentage (.282). They are next to last in total bases (67), and third to last in average (.223) and on base percentage (.301).
The lone Cardinals offensive threat to this point? Colby Rasmus. Rasmus leads the team in hits, triples, total bases, walks, on base percentage, slugging percentage and average. Yet he has no RBIs because there has been no one on base for his plate appearances.
Meanwhile, Albert Pujols has struggled to a .179 average and only five hits in seven games. He has also grounded into five of the Cardinals' league-leading eleven double plays.
The Cardinals will hopefully get Matt Holliday back this weekend after his emergency appendectomy surgery as his three hits on opening day including a home run has been one of the lone Cardinals offensive highlights so far this season.
The Cardinals are certainly sacrificing defense for offense but without an offense that is able to score runs or put men on base, it could be a long season for the Redbirds.
The Cardinals will continue thier road trip with 2 more games in San Francisco before heading to Arizona for three games and ending in Los Angeles with a 4-game series.