In the first three days of June, the St. Louis Cardinals played better than at any point in May. Could the sweep of the Cubs be a turning point?
The St. Louis Cardinals did NOT like May. As I wrote late last week, May was just about the worst month in the history of the organization and was a huge disappointment after the birds had the best record in the league in April.
The Cardinals feebly ended the month of May losing their eighth straight series to the Phillies and things weren’t looking better with the Chicago Cubs coming into town in first place by 2.5 games and were coming off a sweep of the Cardinals earlier in the month of May.
In game one, the Cardinals were carried by a strong outing by Miles Mikolas and won on a walk-off “single” by Matt Carpenter. Game two was more of a shootout. After a solid five innings by Jack Flaherty, a lengthy rain delay left the bullpen to wrap things up and the late homers by Dexter Fowler and Harrison Bader sealed game two.
If the series would’ve ended there, I don’t think anyone could’ve been mad about the Cardinals performance. The bullpen held up when it should’ve, the starters put in some high-quality innings and the bats were just good enough when they needed to be. Unfortunately for the Cubs, nobody told Adam Wainwright that just winning the series was enough.
In one of the gutsiest performances we have seen from Adam Wainwright in a long time, the old man went 8 innings, giving up just two hits and while he walked seven, he always worked around the walks and was a sign that Waino was not ok just giving in to a tough Cubs lineup.
The outing culminated in the eighth inning when Mike Shildt let Waino go back out to the mound with 108 pitches in the game already and after allowing two Cubs on base, struck out Kris Bryant then made this pitch to Anthony Rizzo.
This is the most emotion we have seen from this team all year and it was completely warranted. That single would’ve tied the game and took a lot of momentum from the Cardinals. Whether or not Shildt let Waino go out or Waino told Shildt he was going back out, his faith was rewarded as that 126th pitch by Waino got him through the inning.
After tacking on another run, the Birds went on to sweep the Cubs in a similar fashion that they did with the Brewers earlier this season.
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All of a sudden, the Cubs were no longer in first place, and the Cardinals were just 3 games back of the Brewers. After all of May; how bad they looked, how much we all wanted to tear our hair out, they are still in it.
After the Brewers sweep, the Cards won 5 of the next 6, and it’s not unreasonable to wonder if there could be a similar effect for them this time. It’ll take a run of eight wins out of ten or something of the sort for the Cardinals to get back in it, and for all we know, they are in the middle of it.
As we saw when the team was performing at the highest level earlier in the season, resiliency was a huge common thread, and it’s something we saw in the Cubs series. Rekindling that resiliency might just prove to be a turning point for this club moving forward. Being able to be resilient once is great, but losing it and finding it again is an even bigger confidence booster.
I’ve said time and time again that all this team needs to find is consistency in all parts of their game. This last series against the Cubs showed what they can do when they are consistent on all parts of the ball.
If you thought at any point that this team is dejected and just doesn’t care, pay close attention to Waino and Kolten Wong’s reactions after the play Wong made. They have some swagger and when they are hot, this is a tough team to beat. The Cardinals already did something they didn’t in May: win three in a row. June is going to be fun to watch.