Thank goodness for the all-star break.
If there was ever a team that appeared to need a few days off to recharge its batteries, it’s the 2015 St. Louis Cardinals.
The Redbirds, who dominated most of the first half of the season with excellent pitching and clutch offense, stumbled to the break with a pair of lousy four-game series against their chief competitors, the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates.
St. Louis lost late leads - including several in extra innings - Saturday and Sunday to cough up what could have been a 3-1 series win over the Pirates and, instead, leave town with a 1-3 mark. The result was the Cardinals’ National League Central lead dwindled to just 2 1/2 games over the Pittsburghers.
Just imagine if Jhonny Peralta hadn’t hit a dramatic, game-saving homer in the finale against the Cubs... Then this road trip would have been a total, unmitigated disaster.
Closer Trevor Rosenthal, who struggled all last season before regaining his form in 2015, was absolutely terrible Sunday. He allowed five hits and three runs in 2/3 of an inning to blow a two-run lead provided by Randal Grichuk’s bases loaded double. Rosenthal definitely seems as if he could use a few days off.
Somehow, over the break, slumping Cardinals hitters - especially Matt Carpenter - need to figure out how to get their bats going. Matt Holliday, who has been out for a month with a leg injury, was supposed to be back sometime during the Pirates series. Now his return had been pushed back past the All-Star Game. Hopefully, he’ll be ready to go when the games resume in four days.
It’s a real shame that the Birds have had a historic first half of the season only to have it end on such a sour note.
Every team has its slumps. But it’s really bad timing that the Cardinals have sagged while the Pirates have been red hot.
It’s time to take control of their future and start playing the kind of baseball we’ve seen this team is capable of. Stop the base-running blunders, the defensive lapses and the offensive blackouts.