Sam LeCure, one of the Cincinnati Reds pseudo-pitchers Sunday during a 15-2 annihilation perpetrated by the St. Louis Cardinals, was one of the few stand-up guys after the game.
Of course, the Cardinals knocked everybody off their feet, including LeCure, who gave up four superfluous runs in the ninth inning long after the game was a farce and an embarrassment.
“We’re running out of tomorrows,” said LeCure, standing in front of his locker in a near-empty clubhouse. “I’m ashamed of myself and ashamed for the team for today’s game. Losing is one thing, but getting the (bleep) kicked out of you, getting embarrassed in front of your home fans is not acceptable. The Cardinals have taken advantage of us and we have not adjusted.”
If you give the Cardinals an inch they’ll take five miles — or, in this case, a five-game lead over the Reds in the National League Central.
And that’s just the distance between third and second. The third-place Reds are 6 ½ games behind the first-place Pittsburgh Pirates.
Mike Leake retired the first two Cardinals in the first inning. But before Leake found that third out, the Cardinals found four runs.
It was single, double, double, home run, 4-0 — just like that.
In the fifth inning, the Reds made two errors. And the first seven Cardinals reached base. Before the first out could be found, the Cardinals had found five more runs.
It was single, single, single, error, double, double, error, double, 9-2 — just like that.
To add a point of emphasis, a very large exclamation point, the Cardinals finished the day with four more runs off LeCure in the ninth inning.
The Cardinals took two of three from the Reds in Great American Ball Park and extracted more than a pound of flesh. They won Friday’s game, 13-3, the Reds surfaced positively in Game Two Saturday for an 8-3 win, then sunk back to the depths of defeat and despair.
So the Cardinals won a series from the Reds for the sixth straight time and outhit them Sunday 19-4. Catcher Devin Mesoraco can sleep well the next two nights by counting Cardinals crossing home plate as he tries to doze off.
There was a flashpoint of hope for the Reds in the second inning Sunday when Zack Cozart, of all people, cranked a 425-foot two-run home run into the left field bleachers, slicing the St. Louis lead to 4-2.
That was it, though. That’s all the Reds could dig up against St. Louis right hander Lance Lynn, now a 13-game winner. He held the Reds to two runs and four hits over eight innings, during which he struck out 11 (sorry, no pizza when visiting pitchers do it) and walked two with his 115 pitches.
“The Cardinals are the best and toughest hitting team there is,” said Leake. “Their numbers don’t lie and they make you pay. I don’t know if it’s the way they home grow their guys and develop them, but they are never out of an at-bat, even if you have two strikes on them. There are no easy outs.
“They have our number for sure, play us tough,” said Leake. “It is on us to figure them out and now it’s our job to figure them out better.”
The middle of the St. Louis lineup did deep damage. Matt Adams had two hits, including a two-run home run, drove in two and scored two. David Freese had three hits, including a home run and a double, drove in two and scored three. Matt Holliday had two hits, drove in one and scored two.
For the second time in three days it was The St. Louis Slaughter — and Enos Slaughter doesn’t even play for them any more. And what made it worse is that the Cardinals don’t have their All-Star catcher Yadier Molina, who is on the disabled list.
Manager Dusty Baker and general manager Walt Jocketty held a 40-minute closed door discussion in Baker’s office immediately after the game.
Asked if there is any help on the horizon, Baker said, “The cavalry isn’t coming. This isn’t a movie.”
If it is, it is a very bad “B” flick.
“You can’t hope for help. You have to find help from the inside,” Baker added. “We have to find it here.”
And the Cardinals? Are they a better team?
“Right now they are,” said Baker. “They are ahead of us in the standings and they are leading the league in hitting and close to leading it in pitching. They caught us in a weak moment and in a weak moment good hitters become even better.”
Baker, though, won’t toss in any white towels or raise his hands in surrender.
“I don’t give up, I give out,” said Baker. “There are a lot of people who want us to give up now. I don’t know how to give up. I don’t give up.”