As the St. Louis Cardinals open the month of July, they find themselves with a record of 42-39, 5.5 games out of first place in the National League Central Division. And for the first time in a year (June ’17) they finished a month with a losing record, posting a 12-15 mark in June.
“A lot of time left for us to get it to where we want it to be,” stated Mike Matheny, when asked about reaching the halfway point of the season.
To be clear, no one is dismissing the inconsistent offense, defensive mistakes, or other gaffes the team has made.
But the Cardinals have also managed to stay above .500 while dealing with those issues and extended stints on the disabled list by Paul DeJong, Carlos Martinez, and Yadier Molina.
“The balance is more day-to-day,” answered Matheny. “How’s it look today? And what can we do today to get better tomorrow? I think just that one-step-at-a-time approach to a long season is the only way I know to make the most of it. To stay honest. Maybe the results aren’t there sometimes and you’re playing really well. Maybe you’re not playing really well and you’re getting results. So it’s kind of looking at it each day, figuring out how we can get a little bit better and what we can do for each guy, because there’s always somebody who’s going to need a little help.”
There will continue to be more conversation about how to best use the talents of Jose Martinez. He returned to the outfield in the later innings last night, which could remain an option if Harrison Bader slides over to center and Tommy Pham is given a day off.
Finding a spot for Dexter Fowler also remains a challenge.
“We talk about wanting to get him going, the only way you get going is by playing,” said Matheny, noting that Bader’s play isn’t making it easy to do that. “With what (Bader)’s doing defensively, (Fowler) is just kind of stuck in a spot. But when we give him those opportunities, yesterday was a good step getting a base hit. Just continue to take advantage of the opportunities we do get him.”
Counting last night, Fowler has two hits in his last 9 at-bats. Bader enters the day hitting .429 (6-14) on the homestand.
3B Matt Carpenter
CF Tommy Pham
1B Jose Martinez
LF Marcell Ozuna
SS Jedd Gyorko
RF Harrison Bader
2B Kolten Wong
C Francisco Pena
P John Gant
DEJONG DOWN TODAY
–Shortstop Paul DeJong will not play today as he continues his rehab assignment with Memphis (AAA).
“He’ll be down today,” confirmed Matheny. “Yesterday was shortened, but he still got his at-bats. Down today, most likely back-to-back, possibly full games back-to-back.”
Both Matt Bowman and Luke Gregerson, also on rehab assignments, are expected to pitch in the game.
photo credit: Scott Kane, Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports