St. Louis Cardinals' Winning Strategy: Stomp Teams Early, Suffocate Teams Late

By Todd Bennett
Michael Wacha
Getty Images

The St. Louis Cardinals are not known for being a suspenseful, cardiac episode inducing bunch. In the years that they have been successful — and there are a lot of them recently — the winning formula has been to give the pitcher some run support early and then proceed to let the arms slowly, but efficiently, take the life out of the opponent’s offense.

In Monday’s home opener, the Cardinals dispatched of the Cincinnati Reds using the familiar formula of veteran clutch hitting and dependable if not outright dominating starting pitching. While starter Michael Wacha actually gave up more than one hit, the Reds never really threatened after catcher Yadier Molina threw a body blow with a bases clearing double in the first.

But for the Cardinals to succeed the team will need to find clarity in the lineup, something so far undiscovered in the midst of Peter Bourjos‘ struggles and Kolten Wong‘s inconsistent play. Bourjos did manage to discover the base paths, so that is a good sign. There is no reason to overreact to inconsistencies, as at 4-3 the club is on a 91-win pace. But one cannot help in watching the Cardinals seeing a bit of an all-or-nothing result at the plate as the hitters have either garnered hits in bunches or gone through long dry spells of maddening low energy plate appearances.

Going forward the biggest challenge will simply be staying interested, as the team, though not even sniffing full efficiency, seems to be coasting on enough talent to keep themselves firmly entrenched in season-long contention, if not dominance, of the National League Central.

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