The Daily Redbird Review:
FIRST PITCH: Pitching has carried the Cardinals during their surge to the best record in the National League since the All-Star break. But in an encouraging sign, we’ve seen the Cards’ offense muscle up to win some key games in recent days. There was the 9-8 win Saturday at Chicago, and on Monday night the Cardinals smashed four homers for a 9-7 win at Arizona overcome a shaky outing by starting pitcher Adam Wainwright.
That makes it six consecutive wins for the Cardinals, which ties their season high for longest winning streak. This was a big win because of the potential letdown factor following the four-game sweep at Wrigley Field. But the Cardinals, pushed hard by the Diamondbacks, didn’t crack. They hung tough.
In addition …
+ The Cardinals are 32-12 in their last 44 games, and 46-23 since the All-Star break.
+ The Cards’ magic number is down to three. With second-place Milwaukee idle last night, the STL lead over the Crew increased to 3 and ½ games with five to play.
+ The Cardinals are 23 games over .500, and have reached the 90-victory mark for the first time since winning 100 in 2015.
+ In the Tuesday-morning Playoff Odds report at FanGraphs, the Cardinals have a 97.7 percent probability of winning the NL Central.
BASEBALL HERO: A few worthy choices here, but let’s go with first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who powered for his 32nd homer of the year, a two-run shot that gave the Cardinals a 4-1 lead in the third inning. Goldy walked and scored a run in the first, and singled and scored a run in the ninth. It was a special evening for a classy guy on his first trip back to Arizona to play in front of Diamondbacks fans who have loved him since his promotion to the majors in 2011.
TURNING POINT: The game was tight going into the ninth, with the Cardinals holding onto a 7-5 lead. But Yadier Molina drove in a run with a sac fly, and on the next pitch Goldschmidt scored on a passed ball. The Cardinals led 9-5, and the D-backs win expectancy dropped to 1.3 percent.
HEY, YOU DID GOOD: The list:
1. In addition to hitting his 10th homer of the season, Molina had a four-RBI game.
2. Tommy Edman went 2 for 3 with a walk, lifted the Cardinals to a 1-0 lead with a homer in the first inning, and scored three runs. It was Edman’s 11th homer of the season. Since Aug. 9, among MLB hitters with at least 174 plate appearances over that time, Edman ranks third with a .348 batting average and is eighth in OPS (.987.) Amazing.
3. Goldschmidt has 21 RBIs this month, which ties him with the the Dodgers’ Corey Seager for the National League lead in September.
4. Marcell Ozuna, who hit a two-run homer in Saturday’s 9-8 win over the Cubs, went 2 for 3 with two walks and a run scored against the D-backs last night.
5. Harrison Bader hit his 11th homer of the season, and fourth this month, to increase the Cardinals’ lead to 7-5 in the eighth.
LOOK, YOU NEED TO DO BETTER: Wainwright has been outstanding for the Cardinals, so there’s no need to go nuts on this. He just had one of those nights ina tough ballpark for pitchers, allowing eight hits and five earned runs in five innings. Even with this rough night baked in, Wainwright is 5-0 with a 2.02 ERA in his last six starts.
— Dexter Fowler was 0 for 5 with four strikeouts.
— Pauly DeJong was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts.
— Matt Carpenter went 0 for 4 with a walk and strikeout.
SECOND-GUESSING SHILDTY: Just some minor stuff. Nothing worth mentioning.
GOOD MOVE, SHILDTY: I was wrong about Tommy Edman. I honestly (and incorrectly) believed that Shildt had overrated the rookie by playing Edman every day. Shildt obviously knew what he was doing; Edman has been one of the best players in the National League over the last six, seven weeks.
BREATHLESS: The Cardinals are 36 games over .500 since Shildt became manager on July 15 of last season.
SINCE THE ALL-STAR BREAK: Here are the best records in the National League…
St. Louis, 46-23
Los Angeles, 40-24
New York, 41-25
Among American League teams, only Houston (45-21) and Oakland (43-21) have better second-half winning percentages than the Cardinals.
ON DECK: Jack Flaherty for the Cardinals vs. Arizona’s Mike Leake. It’s an 8:40 first pitch St. Louis time. The Brewers open a three-game series tonight in Cincinnati; their rookie Adrian Houser will start against the Reds’ formidable Sonny Gray.
TRACKING THE BREWERS: How are they winning? The answer: for the same reason, generally speaking, that the Cardinals are winning.
The top two ERAs by a MLB team this month:
1. Milwaukee, 2.81.
2. St. Louis 3.12.
The Crew has a 2.61 earned-run average during the team’s current 15-2 streak, including a 2.56 ERA since MVP Christian Yelich was lost for the season with a busted kneecap.
The Brewers have benefited greatly from the acquisition of starting pitcher Jordan Lyles; the return of starting pitcher Brandon Woodruff from a strained oblique; the repurposing of former starter Freddy Peralta into a high-octane reliever; the return of lefty starter Brent Suter from an elbow injury and his effectiveness in a relief role; the good work being done by LH reliever Drew Pomeranz, who was acquired from the Giants; and closer Josh Hader using his slider more frequently to remedy a rising homers-allowed total. And then there’s the usual aggressive, creative managing by Craig Counsell is paying off; he’s already used 20 pitchers this month. That includes using starters as relievers — and relievers as starters.
“We’ve pitched really well and that’s been the biggest thing in this stretch,” Counsell told media that cover the Brewers. “You lose ‘Yeli’ and say the position players have to step up. But, really, our pitching has stepped up. We’ve pitched exceptionally well and that’s been a lot of different guys. We’re not giving up many runs and that’s a credit to our pitching and our defense.
“Pitching can win you games, for sure, and our pitching has won us a lot of games.”
Thanks for reading …