Everyone’s attention seems to be on the Chicago Cubs of-late. But it’s the St. Louis Cardinals who have continue to roll in the month of August.
The last time the Cardinals were under .500 was April 10. Coincidentally, that date also marks the furthest the club has been out of first-place this season, at a mere 2 1/2 games.
Since that point, St. Louis has reeled off a staggering stretch of baseball, having staked its claim on first in the National League Central for 129 straight days – an impressive mark, no doubt. This month, as has been the case multiple times this year, pundits seem content to ignore the Redbirds and their success – but why?
Maybe it’s because it’s just a forgone conclusion that Mike Matheny‘s club will reach the postseason yet-again. I mean, they have a 4 1/2 game lead over the second-place Pittsburgh Pirates in the division and will make the postseason, one way or another.
Or maybe it’s because excuses don’t matter to this group. They’ve lost their entire starting outfield from earlier this season to injury and continue to win regardless. That’s a rare feat for any team to accomplish these days, and St. Louis has done so without missing a beat.
After playing barely-above-.500 ball for July, the Cardinals re-focused themselves for the dog days of summer and have been among the best teams in baseball of-late. In the month of August, St. Louis is 11-6 – already with 77 wins on the season, sitting some 34 games above .500.
A big part of that has been the pitching; especially that of Jaime Garcia, John Lackey, who has run-off a dozen-straight quality starts entering play Friday, and the St. Louis bullpen – that, simply put, is near-untouchable.
The Cubs make a good story – there’s no doubting that or even disputing it.
They’ve got a skipper in Joe Maddon who is unconventional, to say the least, and, on the other hand, Matheny is quietly making a strong case for his first Manager of the Year award. However, he’ll, in all likelihood, lose out to the Cubs skipper for that very reason.
He’s unassuming. He’s focused on the task at-hand. Just like his team.
This Cardinals team, like so many others, is not about the accolades and the awards. They’re about winning championships – and despite what some may think, the recent injuries aren’t enough to derail this club.
The St. Louis Cardinals are headed for October. Be prepared.