The St Louis Cardinals stumble into the All-Star break
As the first half of the season comes to a close and the St Louis Cardinals enter the All-Star break, they are looking to put their recent struggles from a two city NL central road trip behind them.
On the road swing, the St Louis Cardinals went 3-5 having blown leads in three of those including the last two against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The series against the Pirates and perhaps even Chicago Cubs has many looking ahead to the playoffs but Cardinals skipper Mike Matheny would have known of it telling mlb.com,
"“That’s ridiculous. It’s July. It’s early July. … That’s so far away. We’ve got a lot of baseball to play.”"
With their clear struggles at the plate, it would seem to many that the All-Star break has come at the right time for the ball club, as they have seen their lead in the NL central shrink to 2.5 over the Pirates.
Following a crushing defeat on Saturday night 6-4 in extra innings in a highly dramatized and controversial game, the St Louis Cardinals once again faced a similar situation in last night’s game.
Heading into the bottom of the tenth inning, the Redbirds were up 5-3 and sent out All-Star and one of the league’s premier closers Trevor Rosenthal to shut down the Pirates and split the series in the process.
Instead the wheels unraveled and Rosenthal was unable to locate his pitches as he has done so effectively numerous times throughout the season and the Pirates were able to get to him, stealing the game from the club in the process 6-5 but this time without the heroics of star and perennial MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen.
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Despite this, the St Louis Cardinals have had many pluses to hang their hats on heading into the break such as Jhonny Peralta who has supplied the offense and maintained solid defense as well.
He belted a solo blast (13) off of Pirates starter Francisco Liriano to momentarily tie the game up which he has done a lot of in a Cards uniform since coming over in 2014.
Others have also stepped up at the dish as well including Randal Grichuk who is an extra base waiting to happen, plus Jason Heyward and Yadi Molina. However, the rest of the lineup has struggled mightily and it is rather evident especially after the last two series which has led to their lead swindling.
As for the good, well that is the starting rotation of course led by All-Stars Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez who have been sensational plus veterans John Lackey, Lance Lynn with appearances by both Tim Cooney who pitched a strong game Sunday night and Tyler Lyons in the absence of Jaime Garcia.
The bullpen has been out of whack as of late but still are among the premier staffs going and with a favorable schedule in the second half that will see the Mike Matheny led team play many home games, there is reason for a positive outlook despite the recent trend.
In the second half, the club will welcome back key offensive catalyst Matt Holliday, Jaime Garcia, Jordan Walden and possibly Marco Gonzales at some point.
John Mozeliak could also put together a few deals to strengthen the team particularly on the bench and/or at first base plus his usual under-the-radar moves that could add to the pen or bring another starter.
There is a lot to harp on that went well and to nit-pick at that could have went better but at 56-33 which is still the best record in the majors, the future remains bright for the Redbirds.