St. Louis Cardinals

Fastest to 50: Cardinals proud of accomplishment, but plan to stay the course

Reaching 50 victories in 74 games is an achievement not lost on St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny.

“It’s news. I get it,” Matheny said Sunday.

The Cardinals on Saturday became the first team since the Chicago White Sox in 2005 to get 50 wins in their first 74 games. The only other season in which the Cardinals accomplished the feat was in 1944 when they were 51-21-2 en route to winning the World Series.

“It really doesn’t do us any good to focus on that kind of stuff,” Matheny said. “We’ve just got to go play the game.”

Matheny recalled the Cardinals’ big season in 2004 when they were 105-57. That year, however, the Cardinals didn’t reach 50 victories until their 82nd game.

That was the case last season for the Milwaukee Brewers, who were 50-32 after 82 games but finished 82-80 and failed to make the playoffs.

“The team that won 50 games first last year didn’t end up playing late in the year,” Matheny said. “So we’ve got to keep our mind on what we’ve got to do. Just work, just play, compete and trust the fact that if we keep to that, we’ll be where we need to be in the end.”

Garcia throws

Jaime Garcia played catch on flat ground Sunday, but he isn’t expected to pitch until Thursday at the earliest as he tries to recover from cramping in his groin.

Garcia on Saturday was scratched from his scheduled start Tuesday. Matheny reiterated Sunday that Lance Lynn will pitch Tuesday, and he said John Lackey will more than likely pitch Wednesday. Both pitchers would be on regular rest.

“We’re kind of moving forward thinking that we’ll stay on track to keep Lance and Lackey on regular rest,” Matheny said. “Thursday will be a little more realistic (for Garcia). I’m not real excited about throwing Michael (Wacha) or Carlos (Martinez) on regular rest, not taking advantage of that extra day.”

All-Star Game thoughts

Matheny doesn’t expect the All-Star Game to return to exhibition status any time soon. Rather, he believes homefield advantage in the World Series will continue to go to the winning league.

“I don’t think it’s a bad thing to have meaning to it,” Matheny said. “It’s just a fan game; I think the fans are the ones that kind of drove that to where it is right now. Abandoning it would not necessarily be a good idea.

“Overall, I do believe there’s a little more that goes into it. I was thinking about it last year when we were going through that game, realizing, ‘I want to get these guys in, but somebody in this room, somebody on this field right now is going to be the beneficiary if we can pull this off and win this game.’ I don’t want to take that lightly.”

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 618-239-2665. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidMWilhelm.

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