Cardinals, who finished the first half on a high note with six wins in their
last eight games, will contend, but they are unlikely to be a playoff team
unless they fix the front half of their bullpen.
Right-handers Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte have been excellent at the back end, but the sixth and seventh innings
have been an adventure.
The club surely is looking for one or
two veterans, preferably one from each side.
With the return of two pitchers,
left-hander Jaime Garcia (shoulder strain) and right-handed reliever Kyle McClellan (elbow strain), unlikely before mid-August, general manager John
Mozeliak also might be on the outlook for a starting pitcher. However,
right-handed rookie Joe Kelly has handled himself well in six starts.
The offense, statistically the best in
the league, will get a second-half boost from first baseman Lance Berkman, who
has been out virtually all season with hamstring and knee injuries, the second
of which required surgery that has sidelined him for nearly two
Right-hander Chris Carpenter, out with
shoulder weakness from spring training on, had been counted on for a second-half
lift, but surgery will sideline him for the remainder of the season.
The rotation should be all right,
though, if right-hander Adam Wainwright continues to improve following Tommy
John elbow surgery that put him out all last season.
If the Cardinals do attempt to trade
for pitching help, they do not have much other teams want. One exception would
be prized prospect Shelby Miller, a 21-year-old right-hander who is having a
terrible time with Class AAA Memphis. Another is burly first baseman Matt Adams,
who acquitted himself well in a month-long call-up, although he was sidelined
with a bad right elbow at Memphis after having a string of good
SS Rafael Furcal, whose
average had been dropping, knocked in three runs Sunday, including two on a
bases-loaded single off a 1-2 pitch by Miami RHP Heath Bell, giving the Cardinals a 5-4, walk-off win over
Miami. "I know
I've been struggling a little bit with men in scoring position," Furcal said.
Noting that two earlier hitters, including 2B Daniel Descalso, who had an
excellent at-bat, had drawn walks in a three-run ninth, Furcal said, "You've got
to be patient. Heath Bell is not the closer he used to be. He's a little wild
3B David Freese was not
in the starting lineup because of a left leg bruise sustained when he was hit by
a pitch Saturday. He did pinch-hit in the ninth inning Sunday, walking on four
pitches and then sliding in with the winning run when Miami C John Buck couldn't
handle the ball cleanly on a throw from the outfield on a two-run single by SS
RHP Victor Marte and RHP
Michael Cleto both struggled in the seventh inning as Miami erased a 2-1 lead.
Cleto allowed a walk and a double, and Marte tossed a bad 2-0 slider that wound
up as a three-run homer by PH Austin Kearns.
RHP Joe Kelly, making his
sixth start, didn't give up an earned run in six innings, although he walked
five. The rookie's ERA is 2.70. Manager Mike Matheny said, "Joe really attacks
the zone, and the next thing you know, he's pitching behind in the count. The
thing is, he pitches himself into trouble and typically gets himself out of it."
Kelly said he mostly had trouble controlling his fastball
RHP Mitchell Boggs
retired only one man but was the winner, striking out Miami 3B Donovan Solano
with the bases loaded in the ninth inning. Manager Mike Matheny didn't plan to
use Boggs with the team behind, but LHP Marc Rzepczynski had walked two and
allowed two hits in the ninth, and he was replaced by
RHP Fernando Salas, who
led the team in saves last year with 24 but has struggled this year, worked a
scoreless eighth inning, fanning two and being helped by a good play by LF Matt Holliday. Manager Mike Matheny said it was a fair question why Salas wasn't used
in the seventh, but Matheny said he thought rookie RHP Maikel Cleto had earned a
chance to pitch that inning. Cleto may have blown that by allowing a double and
a walk after rookie LHP Barret Browning had retired his 13th consecutive hitter
since coming up from Class AAA Memphis.
31 - Home runs given up
bullpen, the fourth-highest total among major league relief corps. The
Cardinals' starters have allowed 43 homers, the second-lowest total in the
majors. The Cardinals' relievers are allowing a home run every 7.4 innings,
while the team's starters are allowing one every 12.3 innings.
Quote to Note:
"It will be nice to stew
on that one for a while."
- Manager Mike Matheny,
after his team rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth for a 5-4 win
over Miami in
the final game before the All-Star break.
LHP Jaime Garcia (left
shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 6. After
further examination, it was determined that he has tearing in his rotator cuff.
He threw 40 pitches from 60 feet on flat ground for the first time in a month
July 4. He is out until at least mid-August.
RHP Kyle McClellan
(strained right ulnar collateral ligament) went on the 15-day disabled list May
18, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 30. He won't need surgery
but likely will be sidelined until at least late July. He threw from flat ground
for the first time July 3 and reported he felt good July 4. He could be back in
1B Lance Berkman (torn
meniscus in right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list May 20. He had
arthroscopic surgery May 25, and no ACL damage was found. He took batting
practice July 2, and he could begin a rehab assignment during the weekend of
RHP Chris Carpenter (weak
right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26, and he
was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 10. He threw for the first time since
March on June 13 and then threw another 40 pitches on June 15. He threw to
hitters for the first time June 22 but then had a setback June 25 when he felt
renewed weakness in the shoulder. He said it felt better the next day, and he
had an extensive throwing session off flat ground June 27. On June 28, he was
told he has thoracic outlet syndrome, which can cause, among its effects,
weakness in one's shoulder. A July 2 bullpen session was canceled. On July 3,
the Cardinals announced that Carpenter would undergo season-ending surgery July
19 to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.