KANSAS CITY – The Cardinals operated with little margin for error in August, a margin that was made even more difficult when they were swept away by the Braves in the month’s first full series.
Their response was swift, stellar, and swaggering. It erupted into two innings on Sunday, scoring seven runs in the first two frames of starter Kris Bubic for a 7-2 win over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium, representing their eighth triumph in their last nine games.
But their answer will be tested even more, more than it did during that six-game winning streak against the last-place Pirates and Royals. Now St. Louis welcomes the First Place Brewers and their historically formidable trio to the top of the rotation, all set to pitch at Busch Stadium Tuesday through Thursday. This will be the clubs’ first clash since May; they face each other 13 times further.
“We’re ready for Tuesday,” said manager Mike Shildt. ” I will tell you. ”
The statement made on Sunday – and over the course of three days on I-70 – was on the backs of Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt. The duo led the Cardinals 1-4 hitters with four RBIs in the first two innings, including Arenado’s two-run long ball to give themselves a homerun in every game in this series. By the time the third inning rolled out, the top of the St. Louis roster was 7 for 8 with seven runs scored and five runs batted in.
Shildt said the coordinated hot sequences of Arenado and Goldschmidt – solid this season but rarely at the same time – are like a movie premiere: “Coming soon, to a stadium near you. And it may have happened.
“You get that kind of contribution in the middle of the roster, guys like that, it’s huge,” said Shildt.
They gave JA Happ a lot of room for error before standing on the mound on Sunday. He responded with his second straight win in a Cardinals uniform, with a 1.62 ERA after 5 2/3 shutouts. Happ’s rise to prominence (and his descent into the ERA) is emblematic of the Cardinals’ excellence as starting pitchers since the trade deadline, third in the league by ERA standards. The only two ahead of them: Milwaukee and Los Angeles.
The former will play 25 of 0.500 games at Busch Stadium while pitching his top three pitchers in St. Louis. Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta and Brandon Woodruff are lined up to start the series midweek; they represent three of the top five ERAs and three of fWAR’s top 10 totals in majors.
The Cardinals will strike back with a rock solid line; Adam Wainwright, fresh off a two-hit shutout on just 88 shots, will be followed by Jack Flaherty, who is set to make his second start since returning from the injured list and will look to surpass his six shutout frames. .
Thursday’s starter is to be announced; the Cardinals weigh Miles Mikolas, who surrendered what was likely his last rehab outing on Saturday, or Jon Lester, who has been historically strong against Milwaukee.
“It’s going to be a battle, but we’re playing good baseball and we’re confident with what we have and what we can do,” Arenado said. “We are delighted with this series. ”
But if the Cardinals find themselves at the heart of a decision with more serious implications to make – like Thursday’s starter – it’s because of the game they played across the state, only closing the second road. undefeated trip of at least six games. in franchise history.
They have allowed just six points in three games for the Royals and have scored 22. They are averaging 5.15 points per game over 13 games in August, while they are averaging 3.19 and 4.17. in June and July, respectively. He just came relentlessly on Sunday.
The Cardinals’ 2021 season so far has been a roller coaster of consistency, results and injuries. Regardless, it has placed them at the heart of the National League Wild Cards pursuit, with the Padres struggling and six games left against the Reds they are also chasing.
On their file? Three of the Majors’ top 5 pitchers by ERA, seven games against the Pirates and two more against the Tigers before the month draws to a close and the playoff push shifts into high gear.
“That’s why I’m here,” Arenado said.