After that loss, which dropped the defending league champs to
47-42, a reporter asked ace pitcher Adam Wainwright why the season
was such a disappointment.
"In a week from now, we could be doing a completely different kind
of interview," Wainwright said.
Less than a week later, St. Louis caught the slumping Brewers for
first place in the Central. Although they fell back into second
Sunday with an 11-2 loss to Milwaukee, the Cardinals can still head
for the All-Star break with optimism, even though they won't have
All-Star catcher Yadier Molina until at least mid-September after
surgery Friday to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb.
On one hand, St. Louis has been disappointing. The offense has been
bogged in a sea of grounders all year, with key run-producers like
left fielder Matt Holliday and right fielder Allen Craig struggling
to get on track.
On the other hand, the Cardinals have shown grit and perseverance to
be in contention. Injuries have wiped out three key starting
pitchers for long periods, second-year starter Shelby Miller has
been one of the league's worst pitchers by most metrics and closer
Trevor Rosenthal has been a thrill ride, yet St. Louis is right
As for the last 66 games, the Cardinals catch at least two
scheduling breaks. After opening the unofficial second half with a
weekend series at home against the Los Angeles Dodgers, they play 25
of the next 37 games against losing teams. That includes seven games
each with the Chicago Cubs and San Diego.
Also, with a plethora of off-days, St. Louis won't need a fifth
starter until Aug. 2. That will allow manager Mike Matheny the
chance to set up his rotation, potentially giving Wainwright and
present No. 2 starter Lance Lynn the ball in six of the first 10
games after the break.
Matheny feels his team will be ready for a potentially grueling
four-team race in the Central.
"It's a perfect time for the break," he said. "These guys have
competed, they've worked and we asked them to grind. I anticipate
that we will see a well-rested ready group when we get back."
MLB Team Report - St. Louis Cardinals - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Lost one
FIRST-HALF MVP: RHP Adam Wainwright is having the best season of his
career. In a year when the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Johnny Cueto
will it a crowded NL Cy Young Award ballot, Wainwright is off to a
12-4 start with a 1.83 ERA. Mixing his pitches better than before
and introducing tactics like a hesitation windup and increased use
of the cutter, Wainwright continually stays a step ahead of batters.
He is averaging more than seven innings a start, allowing manager
Mike Matheny to use his bullpen more on days when Wainwright isn't
pitching, knowing the relief corps largely will get a breather when
it is Wainwright's turn.
FIRST-HALF GRADE: C-plus -- Given the high expectations off last
year's 97-win team that represented the National League in the World
Series, it is hard to give the Cardinals a higher grade. The offense
was inconsistent at best, slugging fewer homers and hitting into
more double plays than any other team in the league. Manager Mike
Matheny's lineups didn't reflect the team's struggling state, as he
left RF Allen Craig in the No. 4 spot far too long, even when it was
obvious that right-handers were dominating Craig with inside
fastballs. On the other hand, the organization's pitching depth
helped the Cardinals withstand the loss of three starting pitchers
for long stretches.
PIVOTAL POST-BREAK PLAYER: The suspicion was that LF Matt Holliday
might finally be washed up after he entered the last week before the
break with five homers, as many as Cincinnati speedster Billy
Hamilton, and on pace for fewer than 80 RBIs. However, Holliday
might be on the verge of one of his patented tears, where he pounds
the ball into the seats for weeks at a time and carries an offense.
Holliday still has great bat speed -- his game-winning homer July 11
in Milwaukee left his bat at more than 103 mph -- and is on track
for 40 doubles. If Holliday can get on a RBI tear, the offense
suddenly looks stouter.
BUY OR SELL: Buy, buy, buy -- but with a caveat. GM John Mozeliak is
unlikely to deal prospects like OF Randal Grichuk, OF Stephen
Piscotty or OF James Ramsey for a power bat, and he certainly will
end the conversation if someone asks for rookie OF Oscar Taveras.
However, inserting RF Allen Craig into a package could make a big
trade work if someone wants to take on his contract, which runs
until 2017 at just over $6 million per year. The recent emergence of
2B Kolten Wong makes it doubtful that St. Louis would trade for a
power-hitting infielder such as Texas 3B Adrian Beltre.
INJURY STATUS: The Cardinals' season was hampered by injuries from
day one. Three starting pitchers -- RHP Michael Wacha, RHP Joe Kelly
and LHP Jaime Garcia -- missed significant time. Garcia is done for
the year, and there is no timetable for Wacha's return from a stress
reaction in his shoulder that has sidelined him for almost a month.
C Yadier Molina tore ligaments in his right thumb July 9, and he is
out until at least mid-September, and perhaps the rest of the
season. LHP Kevin Siegrist (forearm) should be back with St. Louis
before July is over, giving the team another solid late-inning
[to top of second column]
TOP PROSPECT: OF Randal Grichuk already had two brief stints with
the Cardinals in the first 96 games. The versatile 22-year-old can
play all three outfield positions and offers home run power. His
first big league blast came off Toronto LHP Mark Buehrle last month,
giving St. Louis the lead for good in a game it won. Depending on
trade-deadline moves, Grichuk could rejoin the Cardinals in August
or he could be a September call-up. With his ability defensively and
his long-ball capability, Grichuk might change a game or two down
QUOTE TO NOTE: "They are going to continue to compete and so are
we." -- St. Louis manager Mike Matheny.
MLB Team Report - St. Louis Cardinals - ROSTER REPORT
--C Yadier Molina (torn ligaments in right thumb) went on the 15-day
disabled list July 10. He had surgery July 11. He is expected to be
out until September.
--RHP Michael Wacha (stress reaction in scapula) went on the 15-day
disabled list retroactive to June 18. He had an MRI exam July 7, and
it showed that his shoulder has healed, but not to the point where
he can throw yet. GM John Mozeliak said that Wacha would undergo
another MRI around July 21 to determine if he can start throwing. He
expects Wacha to pitch again this year.
--LHP Kevin Siegrist (strained left forearm) went on the 15-day
disabled list May 24. He threw bullpen sessions June 12 and June 15.
He had to cancel a bullpen session June 18 because he couldn't get
his shoulder loose due to a nerve issue. Siegrist threw off flat
ground June 20. He threw bullpen sessions July 4, July 7 and July 9.
He began a rehab assignment with Double-A Springfield on July 12.
--LHP Jaime Garcia (sore left shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled
list on June 21, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 11.
Garcia missed most of last year with a torn rotator cuff, and this
injury is said to be related. He had season-ending surgery July 11.
RHP Adam Wainwright
RHP Lance Lynn
RHP Shelby Miller
RHP Carlos Martinez
RHP Joe Kelly
RHP Trevor Rosenthal (closer)
LHP Randy Choate
RHP Seth Maness
RHP Pat Neshek
RHP Jason Motte
LHP Sam Freeman
LHP Nick Greenwood
1B Matt Adams
2B Kolten Wong
SS Jhonny Peralta
3B Matt Carpenter
INF Mark Ellis
INF Daniel Descalso
LF Matt Holliday
CF Peter Bourjos
RF Allen Craig
OF Oscar Taveras
OF Jon Jay
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