Right now the St. Louis Cardinals are in the same basic shape they have been in for the past two or three months. They have one of the best records in Major League Baseball from one day to the next. Each series usually brings at least one win for them and they win most series they play. As usual though the same can be said of the Pittsburgh Pirates and now the Cincinnati Reds are playing good again as well. No matter how good the Cardinals play they just cannot get breathing room in the National League Central.
Enter into that equation an 11-game road trip right at the end of July. It appears that the Cardinals don’t have to worry about trades or anything like that effecting their concentration but being on the road for 11 games in 10 days will effect anyone’s concentration. The really big test will come with the final eight games of the trip coming against the Pirates and Reds that are constantly in their rearview mirror.
Manager Mike Matheny has led this team as well as any manager in baseball has led their own team. He is trying to take a day-to-day approach to the trip and focus on one game at a time. That does sound cliché but it is a cliché for a reason; it works. If anyone could keep a team focused for that stretch of road games, it would be Matheny. This is one of the main reasons they have had one of the best records for a few months now and counting.
I’m not sure how their results will play out but I know they will play hard. Unfortunately, as good as the Pirates are playing; trying hard won’t necessarily keep them in first place for the entire trip. They will actually need a little good luck for that to happen.