Cheap Seats

Step back from the edge. The Cardinals are warming up

Flip the safety cover back down over the panic button and put the "Mike Matheny must go" signs back in the closet.

The St. Louis Cardinals have won five of their last six games -- while the Milwaukee Brewers have come back down to earth with four straight losses and a 7-11 record in May -- to leave the Birds only 2.5 games out of first place in the National League Central.

Sure, the pessimists are going to say that the Redbirds SHOULD have won six out of six but were cheated out of a win by a blown ninth-inning lead in the series finale against the Atlanta Braves. Yes, that game was winnable. But things like that loss are inevitable once in a while over the course of a 162-game season. A team has to be able to absorb those blows and move on if it's going to be successful.

The Cardinals have a lot of positive momentum going on these days that should cause fans not to dwell on one misstep. And those victories weren't cheap and hollow. The Redbirds defeated a tought Atlanta team and then secured a series-opening win against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

While the D-Backs started terribly, they've been playing .600 baseball since the calendar turned to May.

Here are some reasons to be optimistic:

Adam Wainwright turned in his best start of a glorious career Monday against Arizona. His first career one-hitter was a statement game that prevented the Redbirds from giving back the advancements in the standings during the previous week. It's what franchises pay their ace to do and Wainwright surely lives up to his job description.

While we expect Wainwright to be dominant, Cardinals fans likely didn't expect the excellent start turned in by Shelby Miller in his most recent outing. Miller seemed that he might be ticketed for the bullpen or even the minors with recent uneven starts in which he ran up his pitch count and exited early. But whatever it was that Matheny shouted at Miller on the mound in his previous start, the young hurler seemed to get the message. The Cardinals need Miller, long their top pitching prospect, to make good on his talent and be a major force in their rotation if this club is to be consistently good.

Remember when shortstop Jhonny Peralta was struggling to hit even close to .200? Those days are long gone. Peralta, who hit his team-leading ninth homer Monday night, is hitting a respectable .252 with 20 runs batted in. In short, he's doing exactly what the Cardinals expected him to do when they surprisingly signed him to a four-year contract over the winter.

Matt Adams seems to have located his missing power stroke. He hit one home run Monday and narrowly missed a second when the ball curled foul. I'm all for Adams' efforts to hit the ball to all fields. But the Redbirds need him to be able to jump on his opportunities to hit the ball over the boards and drive in runs to provide a threat in the middle of the batting order.

The Cardinals just got Jason Motte and Jaime Garcia back from the disabled list. A late innings reliever with a World Series-ending performance on his resume and a nasty lefty starter are huge additions for any team.

And let's not forget that Oscar Peralta is coming.