Royals rock Cardinals, send them home for decisive series with 12-3 drubbing

©St. Louis Post-Dispatch

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — At the end of the longest road trip of the season, one that was overstuffed with doubleheaders and crisscrossed the Midwest before they headed into isolation back in St. Louis, the Cardinals bruising that won’t be memorable.

Just tough to forget.

Salvador Perez slugged two homers in his first two at-bats and Franchy Cordero hit two home runs in his final two at-bats to send Kansas City to a 12-3 debacle Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium.

The loss left the Cardinals 7-6 on their 13-game road trip and kept them from gaining a game on the Milwaukee Brewers. The fourth-place Brewers visit the Cardinals for the final home series of the seasono — a five-game, four-day showdown that could decide anything from who gets in the playoffs to who wins the National League Central to whether or not the Cardinals season is over or continues Monday in Detroit.

Got at all that?

The Cardinals are going into the weekend series with a handful of questions — notably the ongoing struggle to score runs, but also the health of their starting rotation. Carlos Martinez left Wednesday’s start with soreness in his midback, near his left side. He was pointing to his ribcage and the area where he has had oblique issues before. Martinez had injures emanating from weakness in his right shoulder throughout two of the previous three seasons, and those were some of the reasons he was used in relief during 2019.

A similar injury this late in the calendar would likely end his season, and the Cardinals do not expect him to pitch again in the regular season.

He will go for additional exams Thursday in St. Louis.

Perez greeted Martinez with a two-run homer in the first inning and a three-run homer in the third to catapult the Royals to a 6-0 lead. Perez tagged an elevated slider in his first at-bat, and for the three-run shot he golfed a changeup that was close to being just down and in enough to be a swing-and-miss.

Instead it traveled 435 feet.

The Cardinals did have a bases-loaded opportunity in the sixth inning before the Royals pulled away. The game was 6-1 at the time, and the bases-loaded opportunity would have given the Cardinals the chance to steal a win on the night the first-place Cubs also lost. Designated hitter Rangel Ravelo was due up as Royals manager Mike Matheny made a pitching change. He went from lefty starter Danny Duffy to a righthanded reliever.

The Cardinals had a simple choice: Brad Miller or Matt Carpenter off the bench. Both are lefthanded hitters. Either would have been the DH against a righthanded starter.

Manager Mike Shildt went to Miller, and Miller’s grounder went to first.

The inning ended with three runners left on base.

The Royals scored five in the bottom of the inning to vaporize any drama that might have been left in the game. Martinez (0-3) allowed eight runs on nine hits and two walks. He pitched five innings and did not see the end of the sixth that he started. Martinez struck out two and allowed the two homers to Perez.

The Cardinals mustered a pulse offensively in the ninth inning with Harrison Bader’s two-run single.

Yadier Molina had two hits to reach 1,998 in his career.

The Cardinals slipped to 0-6 when they have a chance to improve to three wins above .500.

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©2020 St. Louis Post-Dispatch