Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pitching Stats Bad; Offense Worries Torre More

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Pitching Stats Bad; Offense Worries Torre More

Article excerpt

The numbers are slightly gruesome: Cardinals pitchers have allowed 267 hits in 238 2/3 innings. They have been touched for 38 home runs and have a 5.21 earned-run average.

Cardinals manager Joe Torre doesn't dismiss the numbers. But there are other things that concern him even more.

"Our main concern is we have to start hitting," Torre said. "At least at that point, we can win some games 8-6."

The Cardinals got a well-pitched game Friday night from ace Bob Tewksbury, but needed four ninth-inning walks from New York Mets reliever John Franco to squeeze out a 3-2 victory.

With the notable exceptions of Ray Lankford and Gregg Jefferies, the Cardinals' offense, much ballyhooed before the season started, has clicked on and off.

Lankford has been a catalyst in his new leadoff role. He has started four games with home runs and is batting .346. With seven home runs, Lankford has matched his total of 1993 and his 22 runs batted in and 24 runs lead the club.

"With him batting first, at least he gets more at-bats than anybody else," Torre said.

Jefferies, a .342 hitter last year, had just ended a 17-game hitting streak and is batting .340. But elsewhere, the bats are considerably less impressive.

Regulars Luis Alicea and Ozzie Smith are hovering around the .200 mark. Brian Jordan has a weak .217 mark to go with his weak shoulder. Mark Whiten, just back from the disabled list, got his first home run and RBI of the season Friday night.

Todd Zeile has seven home runs, but is batting .242. Bernard Gilkey is at a respectable .267, but his average has dipped significantly the last two weeks.

The malady is so widespread, Torre doesn't have many options as far as batting-order changes.

"Who would I change?" he asked.

The pitching problems can be explained. After all, four hurlers have gone on the disabled list since spring training began. Another, Donovan Osborne, was lost before the season. …

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