With May behind us, suddenly the St. Louis Cardinals are riding a four-game winning streak and they’ve received five excellent starts in a row from their once shaky starting pitching staff.
Could the Redbirds finally be coming out of their doldrums, playing like the team that had the best record in the National League at the end of April instead of the one that had one of the worst months of May in franchise history? I don’t know who found the switch, but it seems as if it has been flipped with Kolten Wong, Paul DeJong and Paul Goldschmidt showing signs of life at the plate. Wong also came through with his legs and his glove. Wong stole a base when it appeared he would be picked off late in the game. That run turned out to be the deciding factor when closer Jordan Hicks gave up a walk and a bloop hit before giving way to John Gant. Wong then somehow ran down a flair into right field in the top of the ninth when it appeared the ball would tie the game.
I don’t know if Chicago Cubs loudmouth Kris Bryant’s ill-advised offseason comments about how he finds St. Louis boring served as bulletin board material for the Cardinals or if the outcome of the weekend series was just coincidence. But for all Bryant’s talk about how he hoped Cardinals fans would boo him — which they did — he seemed to only hurt himself. Bryant managed only one hit in the three games and was a total non-factor in the series. The lack of production seemed to spread to his teammates who couldn’t buy a hit with runners in scoring position.
My take on the whole Bryant things is that it was both stupid and classless. It’s never a good idea to make things personal with your opponents, giving them a little bit of additional motivation. The remark was especially dumb because Bryant wasn’t insulting the opposition as much as he was insulting St. Louis fans, the people who actually live in that city year-round. What’s the point of a spoiled millionaire taking pot shots at working class people who help to make his lifestyle possible? That being said, I get that he thought he was just trying to be “funny.” I just don’t get what’s funny about what he said. It seemed awful juvenile to me. But I guess he figured it was a good way to endear himself for Chicago fans to make dumb remarks about their rivals. Whatever.
If Bryant didn’t embarrass the Cubs enough, manager Joe Maddon made sure that he wouldn’t fall short.
The Chicago manager lost his mind Friday night when a pitch didn’t go his team’s way. After the game, he went on a surreal rant about how he was upset because the call made his player feel bad about himself. I’ve never heard a manager or coach say anything of the sort about a professional athlete. If I was that hurler, I would feel less bad that I walked an opposing hitter than I would that my manager treated me like a child and then it was reported all across the country.
In addition to the fun of watching the Cardinals sweep Chicago, knocking the Cubs out of first place in the process, St. Louis fans got a treat in watching one of the team’s top prospects make his major league debut over the weekend,
Andrew Knizner got the start on Sunday in the absence of starter Yadier Molina who is on the injured list with ligament damage to his thumb. The Birds must be higher on Knizner than they’ve been letting on. The slugging catcher was assigned uniform number 7, something that they wouldn’t likely do if they didn’t think he was going to be a star sooner rather than later. Molina had to earn his way into single digits. When he was brought up as a kid, he was assigned number 41 and didn’t lose the second numeral for a couple of year when he had already become a starter.