It’s a shame that the St. Louis Cardinals followed a 5-1 stretch that put them at their high water mark for the season with a lackluster series sweep at the hands of the 32-35 Houston Astros.
Now the Redbirds have to take on a pair of divison leaders, the Texas Rangers (42-25) at home and then the Chicago Cubs (44-20) on the road.
Because of the Houston sweep there is no room for excuses. St. Louis MUST win four of its next six games and start to make up some of its deficit in the National League Central.
If the Cardinals are really playoff contenders, at some point they need to make a stand and prove it. We’ve gone too far into the season believing that this eventuality or that was going to turn their season.
The time is now. And there is too much talent on the roster not to play better. Especially at home where the Birds are an incredibly disappointing 15-18 compared to 20-12 on the road.
▪ The Cardinals on Friday announced that Kolten Wong will return to St. Louis just in time for the jersey giveaway in his honor.
Jeremy Hazelbaker is the roster casualty. He was sent back to make room for Wong both in St. Louis and in the outfield picture.
Hazelbaker, 28, was hitting .250 in his first stint in the major leagues. But he’s only batted .174 when he saw little regular playing time. He hit .317 in March and April, .176 in May and .200 in June.
Wong was hitting .429 in Class AAA after a demotion that was likely made to straighten out his head as much as it was to straighten out his swing. He had 12 hits in seven games with four homers and 11 RBIs. But it remains to be seen if he can produce like that back in the majors.
▪ My question is what happens with Randall Grichuk since Wong was switched from second base to centerfield in the minors.
I don’t know what kind of outfielder Wong is. But I know that Grichuk is an exceptional one -- with a power bat Wong only hopes to match.
Sure, Grichuk has had a crummy first third of the 2016 season at the plate. But we’ve all seen him do better and I would hate to have the Cardinals lose out on a chance to get him back on track by experimenting with Wong.