Back in First Place

“This is a very tough division, it’s a very tough, competitive league now and we’d love to be ten games over and partying like rock stars–we’ll do it at some point,” Mike Shildt

They’re not quite ten games over .500, but since those comments on June 26th, the St. Louis Cardinals have gone 15-9 and moved from 2.5 games back into a tie for first place in the National League Central. It’s the first time the team has been in first place since May 7th.

Four consecutive series wins.

It’s the exact recipe the Cardinals were wanting to follow coming out of the All-Star break, methodically going about the process of winning and letting their place in the division take care of itself.

With their five game win streak, the Cardinals have also pulled their record even at 27-27 on the road. All of the other four teams in the NL Central are below the .500 mark in away games, with Chicago being a division-worst 19-29. St. Louis, Chicago, and Milwaukee are all eight games above .500 at home.

While the starting rotation has not gone as deep this last time through, it was that group that helped kick start things with an impressive turn that has been followed up by the bullpen picking up the slack of late.

Giovanny Gallegos has fans feeling better about the Luke Voit trade.

At the plate, Tyler O’Neill provided some heavy lifting but as he’s cooled, Jose Martinez has again found his power swing.

The two Pauls, DeJong and Goldschmidt, have deservedly received a good amount of attention for their recent barrage of home runs. But don’t overlook what Kolten Wong has put together post All-Star break. The Cardinals second baseman has hit .359 (14-39) and has a .426 on-base percentage the last fourteen games.

Matt Wieters and Andrew Knizner have provided a more than solid combination behind the plate as Yadier Molina continues to mend.

Tommy Edman and Yairo Munoz are still making the most of their opportunities for regular playing time.

Are there still questions? Of course. And the competition this homestand with the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs will be another chance to answer some of them. A few more games for the front office to evaluate and decide how best to bolster this club.

There’s a lot of baseball left to be played, but this is exactly what the Cardinals set out to accomplish–put themselves back in position to fight for first place from the top of the division. And in the process they’ve proved to the front office that the “all-in” approach for 2019 should continue.

CARPENTER TO SPRINGFIELD

–Infielder Matt Carpenter will move his 20-day rehab assignment to Springfield (AA) beginning tomorrow night. In his two games at Memphis (AAA), Carpenter was 0-6 with a walk and three strikeouts. Carpenter is expected to be in Springfield through July 29th.

photo credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

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