The Cardinals swept the Cubs over the weekend, winning back-to-back games that went down to the final pitch with the final outcome still up for grabs. These games sizzled like the holiday-weekend grills.

Busch Stadium was pulsating with the beating hearts of two passionate fan bases and the teams that represent them. The visiting delegation was disappointed by the results, but as an entertainment event the Cardinals-Cubs rivalry did not let us down. This reminded us of how much we love the game … and this festival of rivals.

It was a wet and wild weekend. Friday’s game was washed out. The start of Sunday’s game was delayed for more than two hours. But the Cardinals worked through it all – including two suspenseful endings – for their fourth consecutive series triumph. And the 7-1 homestand may have redefined the Cardinals, but we’ll learn more about that over the nine-game road trip that takes them to Cincinnati, Philadelphia and Houston. This much we know: the season is a lot more interesting now for the Cardinals and their fans.

The Cardinals have made their move.

I wish we could say the same about a procrastinating, maddingly complacent front office. I’ll get to that later in this piece.

THE ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT: Let’s look at all that the Cardinals have gained with their 10-2 record in the last 12 games.

+ The Cardinals have won five in a row to chain together the longest current winning streak by a National League team. This happened quickly. Not long ago, we watched this same group of Cardinals stagger to seven straight losses from May 4 through May 11. It They were outscored 45-20 in the 0-7 crash.

+ The Cardinals’ 10-2 is the best record by a National League team since May 12. In the majors only Cleveland (13-1) has done better over that time.

+ After falling to a season-worst 15-24 on May 11, the Cardinals have clambered to 25-26 and can reach .500 with a victory Monday at Cincinnati. The Redbirds haven’t been .500 since winning at Oakland on April 16 to level up at 9-9.

+ On May 11 the Cardinals ranked 13th in the NL with a .385 winning percentage. Their hot streak has elevated them to eighth among the 15 NL teams with a .490 winning percentage. Not exactly where the Cardinals want to be, but it’s still a helluva lot better than being stuck with Miami and Colorado in the sediment near the bottom of the NL

+ After losing 11 of their first 17 home games at Busch Stadium this season, the Cardinals used the 7-1 homestand to get above .500 (13-12) at Busch Stadium. It’s their first time above .500 at home since a win over Philadelphia put them at 3-2 on April 9.

+ The Cardinals have gained considerable ground in the NL Central and the league wild-card race. On May 11 last-place St. Louis trailed the first-place Brewers by 9 games and were 7 and ½ games behind the second-place Cubs. At that point the Cardinals were 2 and ½ games below the Pirates and 2 games beneath the Reds.

The Cardinals are catching up. They’re 3 games ahead of the Reds, 1 and ½ games above the Pirates. They’re 4 and ½ behind the first-place Brewers and only one game down to the Cubs.

+ On May 11 the Cardinals had a collective deficit of 21 games in the NL Central standings. Translation: they trailed the Brewers, Cubs, Pirates and Reds by a combined 21 games. But as of Memorial Day morning, the Cardinals were now a total of only 5 and ½ games (combined) behind the Brewers and Cubs. That means the Cardinals have cut 15 and ½ games from their collective division deficit on May 11.

+ NL Wild Card: the Cardinals are right there now, and that wasn’t the case on May 11. Through Sunday night the Redbirds were one game behind the Cubs for the second wild-card spot and a half-game behind the Giants and Padres for the third wild-card. On May 11 the Cardinals were 7 and ½ games behind the Cubs for the No. 2 wild card, and trailed the Padres and Nationals by 4 ½ games for the third wild card. Not only that, but the Redbirds had the Mets, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Reds and Giants ahead of them in the hunt for the third NL wild-card ticket.


1. The Revival Of The St. Louis Offense: In going 10-2, the Cardinals scored an average of 5.7 runs per game and improved across the board. Since May 12, the Cardinals lead the majors in onbase percentage (.361), rank second in batting average (.285), third in OPS (.806) and fifth in slugging (.446). And their batting average with runners in scoring position (.271) is ninth in MLB. Since May 12, per wRC+, the Cardinals have the No. 1 offense in the NL at 35 percent above league average. That’s second-best in the majors behind the Yankees over that time.

2. Good Starting Pitching: during their 7-1 homestand. Miles Mikolas, Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson collectively pitched to a 2.38 ERA in their eight combined starts. Who needs a fifth starter? St. Louis needs a fifth starter. Desperately. But while the front office does absolutely nothing to fix the problem, the top four starters are doing what they can to hold the rotation together.

Mikolas shouldn’t be overlooked. I know that he has a 5.64 ERA in 11 starts this season, so I’m not nominating him for Cy Young conservation. But Mikolas is with a 3.71 ERA in his last three starts. His bounce back has come at a fine time because it corresponds with the inexcusable failure by the front office to find a fifth starter.

3. The Regeneration Of Mister Paul Goldschmidt: During the team’s 10-2 surge, Goldy has calibrated his swing for a .308 average, .357 OBP, .596 slug, four homers and 10 RBIs. He still strikes out too much and is struggling when swinging with runners in scoring position. But Goldschmidt is finding his way back, and the Cardinals are better because of it. I don’t know what the Cardinals can count on from their first baseman in the days ahead, but on Sunday his two-homer, four-RBI toppling of the Cubs uplifted his teammates. They were thrilled for Goldy.

4. The Bullpen Perseveres. The Cubs got to Ryan Helsley, JoJo Romero and Andrew Kittredge in late-inning comeback attempts in both weekend games. But the three sentinels didn’t crack and held off the Cubs for a pair of one-run wins. During the 10-2 blitz, the Cardinals had a 3.34 bullpen ERA from the start of the 7th inning through the end of the game. Helsley had five saves, and Kittredge and Romero combined for 10 holds. Romero was credited with two wins.

Importantly, others came to the rescue with timely contributions: John King had two holds and a win, Kyle Leahy had a win and a hold, and Ryan Fernandez notched a save. There was only one blown save over the last 12 games – by Romero – but the Cardinals won that game, anyway.

5. Homegrown Hitters: Six players drafted and developed by the Cardinals had a substantial role in the team’s offensive blastoff. During the 10-2 streak here’s what the Cardinals received, collectively, from Masyn Winn, Alec Burleson, Nolan Gorman, Lars Nootbaar, Brendan Donovan, and Ivan Hererra:

* .334 batting average
* .419 onbase percentage
* .522 slugging percentage
* .941 OPS
* 14 doubles, 1 triple
* 9 homers
* 37 RBIs
* 32 walks
* 46 runs scored
* 7 stolen bases

6. Timely Hitting: The six homegrown Cardinals combined for a .313 batting average and 26 RBIs with runners in scoring position during the 10-2 stretch. This was a crucial development for the Cardinals, but the fellas will have to keep it going. The money-time hitting was a huge factor in the 7-1 homestand. As a team, the Cards strummed for a .348 average and banged out a .530 slugging percentage with runners in scoring position.

7. Pleasant Surprises: There have been a few encouraging developments, and that’s always an important aspect of winning.

– Masyn Winn: Surprise? Yes. After he batted .172 in his first major-league trial late last season, there was a lot of jabbering from the fan base about his weak offense and “overrated” defense. Some were ready to dismiss Winn as the next overly hyped prospect that was destined to disappoint. The talk about Winn having to win the shortstop job in spring training was ludicrous; as I wrote repeatedly, manager Oli Marmol was 100 percent committed to Winn as his starter. It was never a question.

This season Winn is batting .301 with a .356 OBP and .438 slug. His 129 OPS+ is 29 percent above league average offensively. Winn continues to come through with big hits. He’s an effective hitter against lefty and righty pitchers. He has stolen seven bases in eight attempts. And Winn’s six defensive runs saved are the most for an NL shortstop and second overall to Kansas City’s Bobby Witt Jr.

Yes, Winn is a surprise. Though I believed in the 22-year old, I didn’t expect him to be this good, this soon. Winn enters the new week with 2.2 WAR in the Baseball Reference version. That’s the most by a major-league rookie so far. Not only that, but Winn’s 2.2 WAR is 14th among all MLB players and sixth in the NL. The only NL players with more WAR than Winn are Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani, Ketel Marte, William Contreras and Matt Chapman. Winn has more WAR than a number of notable stars including Bryce Harper, Elly De La Cruz, Joe Ramirez, Corey Seager, Jose Altuve, Jeremy Pena, Julio Rodriguez and Adley Rutschman.

The Cardinals are 10-6 since catcher Willson Contreras went on the IL with a broken arm. He was their best hitter at the time of the injury, but young catcher Ivan Herrera and the other Cardinals have stepped up in a big way to fill the void left by his absence.

Michael Siani: During the 10-2 run Siani sparked the Cardinals with a huge home run, five RBIs and three steals. And he rates among MLB’s best center fielders defensively. Siani’s two outstanding catches were paramount in Sunday’s narrow win over the Cubs. Even though Siani is 0 for 12 in his last four games, he continues to provide value with his exceptional defense. “It’s a game changer,” Marmol told reporters on Monday. “He’s playing with no fear. He’s a big part of our wins.”

– John King: The lefty blew a save in his first relief appearance of the season. But in 11 appearances since then, King has a 1.38 ERA in 11 appearances and has held opponents to a .213 average and .491 OPS. In those 11 games King held left-handed batters to a .217 average and was even better against right-handed hitters (.208). His ground-ball rate over the last 11 appearances – 69 percent – is outstanding and highly effective. King came over from Texas in the trade-deadline deal for starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery. King’s inclusion in the trade package didn’t draw much attention. But King has a 1.67 ERA and a 67% ground-ball rate in his 32 appearances and 32 and ⅓ innings as a Cardinal. Credit to the front office for landing King to reinforce the bullpen. As the 2024 season rolls on, King is taking on added importance in late-inning scenarios.

7. Finding Ways To Win: The 10-2 season turnaround featured five one-run victories. And their final three wins of the homestand were one-run stressors. And four of the 10 wins were the result of comebacks. As I noted in Sunday’s column, the Cardinals won games in a variety of ways: starting pitching, relief pitching, offense, defense, close calls, low-scoring games, high-scoring games, comebacks and late-game heroics. This is what good teams do. Are the Cardinals a good team? They’ve been worthy of the designation over the last two-plus weeks. But this won’t mean much if the Cardinals revert to losing habits.


1. The Astonishing Failure To Find A 5th Starter. This is on the short list of the most glaring examples of front-office negligence during the 29 seasons since Bill DeWitt Jr. took over as owner in 1996. Under general manager Walt Jocketty, the 2002 Cardinals managed to overcome the unspeakably tragic death of starting pitcher Darryl Kile in June. That team also had to cope with injuries to starting pitchers Woody Williams and Andy Benes. St. Louis had to use 14 different pitchers that season and worked like hell to plug in one solution after another. The result was 97 wins, a division title, and an advancement to the 2002 NLCS.

And here we are in 2024. Frequent Injured List visitor Steven Matz suffered a back injury on April 30, isn’t close to returning, and the front office continues to let this team compete short-handed. The players have dug in and competed valiantly to overcome a slow start, and the front office does nothing to help them. The risk factor is intensifying because the starting pitchers aren’t delivering enough innings. Since Matz went out, the Cardinals rank 28th in the majors with 107 and ⅔ innings from starting pitchers.

An overworked bullpen is showing signs of distress. Lefty reliever Matthew Liberatore, effective in a bullpen role, isn’t pitching out of the bullpen because the Cardinals may use him to start. So in recent days, Liberatore wasn’t a reliever, wasn’t a starter, wasn’t in action. By keeping Libby out of games because he’s a maybe might be starter, the bullpen is shorthanded as well. This is insane. And still … nothing from the front office. At least Andre Pallante is back from the minors. What this means, who knows? When the Cardinals come up with a firm plan, I’m sure they’ll let us know. Or maybe not. I don’t know how or why DeWitt finds this acceptable. For fans who question ownership-management’s true commitment to winning, this is another exhibit for the evidence file.

2. Stop The Steal. The Cardinals have to do something to prevent thefts on the bases. They’ve given up 36 bags in 42 attempts for a caught-stealing rate of 14 percent. Only the Mets (9%) have done worse. Contreras nabbed 33 percent of the runners that tried to steal on him – that’s 11 percent above the MLB average. But runners have stolen 27 bases in 29 attempts against Herrera, and they’ve made it three times in four attempts against fellow rookie Pedro Pages. I’m surprised that the Cardinals have allowed only 36 steals; 19 MLB teams have been given up more. I suppose it could be worse. But the Reds lead the majors with 84 steals, and I’m sure they’ll be busy trying to swipe as many bases as possible over the next three days.

3. Too Many Errors: The St. Louis defense is much improved from 2023; currently their 12 defensive runs saved rank fourth in the NL. But the Cardinals have made an official error in 11 straight games. After being cited for 14 fielding errors in their first 40 games, the Cardinals have been assessed with 12 errors in the last 11. And that’s caused problems for their pitchers. The Cardinals have been charged with 28 unearned runs this season, tied for the sixth most in the majors. The Cards are fortunate to have a five-game winning streak — doing it despite allowing a whopping 10 unearned runs in those five contests. These mistakes and lapses will eventually cost the team wins, so it’s time to sharpen up. The Cardinals are 8-11 this season when allowing at least one unearned run in a game.

Thanks for reading …


A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie hosts an opinionated sports-talk show on 590 The Fan, KFNS. It airs 3-6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 4-6 p.m. Friday. Stream live or access the podcast on or the 590 The Fan St. Louis app.

Please follow Bernie on Twitter @miklasz and on Threads @miklaszb

For weekly Cards talk, listen to the “Seeing Red” podcast with Will Leitch and Miklasz via or through your preferred podcast platform. Follow @seeingredpod on Twitter for a direct link.

Stats used in my baseball columns are sourced from FanGraphs, Baseball Reference, StatHead, Baseball Savant, Baseball Prospectus, Sports Info Solutions, Spotrac and Cot’s Contracts unless otherwise noted.

Bernie Miklasz

Bernie Miklasz

For the last 36 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.

While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. A 2023 inductee into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame, Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.