(Busch Stadium) For only the fourth time this season Matt Carpenter will not be leading off for the St. Louis Cardinals as Mike Shildt has opted for Yairo Munoz to bat first and play centerfield in today’s series finale against Pittsburgh.
Despite the Cardinals scoring three combined runs in four of their last five games, the move is not reactionary as Carpenter was aware going into the series that he would not be scheduled to play this afternoon.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” said Shildt, referring to a common phrase from John Mozeliak. “But you wouldn’t have said that nine days ago. I don’t want to be irrespective. Things go in cycles, we get it, things change. But from my, our seat as a staff you look at it and you go ‘hmm, best team in baseball. Oh, a couple of close games don’t go your way, what are you doing to shake it up?’
“Again, if we saw something that told us a guy was struggling–a lot of swing and miss, a lot of soft contact, a lot of chase, then you say ‘yeah, we’ve gotta do something. We’ve got to react to that.’ Or even we try to be ahead of it. I’m not seeing it. Don’t think I have a blind eye to it. I’ve talked to a lot of people that I trust, including our staff and then I just talk to our players and realize what they’re doing.
“We’ve got a different line up today, so we’ll always evaluate it. But I don’t see any red flags that say anything needs to be different other than a little more timely hitting. If we win a couple of those games 3-2, then everybody’s like man, you guys are doing great. It’s a slippery slope. I get it.”
With three hits in his last 23 at-bats, Carpenter has seen his batting average drop to .201. But Shildt noted a couple of recent hard hit balls and nice defensive play that kept Carpenter off the bases. He also points to the overall process and approach of the team to come out of this tougher stretch.
“I actually talked to a player yesterday, just to check in on how he was doing,” Shildt shared. “I said, any observations? Because I trust our guys. Any observations? He goes, you know what I appreciate? I appreciate the fact we had the best record in baseball and I appreciate the fact that we’re not happy about the fact the last week or so hasn’t been as good, but you know what I appreciate? Is that everybody goes about it the same.”
The statement is on point. As winning 10 of 11 and rising to the top of the stands was presented, the Cardinals were pleased but were also quick to remind it was early in the season and there was still a lot of baseball to be played. They are saying the same thing now.
“It doesn’t mean that we can’t adjust,” Shildt emphasized. “I don’t want to misrepresent that we’re just going to sit there and be kumbaya. It’s not the case, we recognize that. We have a good process. We have an identity how we play. Nothing’s foolproof in this game. Our job is getting to stay together, and work together, and play together.”
CF Yairo Munoz
1B Paul Goldschmidt
SS Paul DeJong
LF Marcell Ozuna
RF Jose Martinez
C Yadier Molina
3B Jedd Gyorko
2B Kolten Wong
P Dakota Hudson
photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports