The Cardinals survived a weekend in Philadelphia by winning a game. They avoided getting run out of the place with three straight losses and assorted welts and bruises. There was no sweep, and that eased the pain for the team from St. Louis.

What’s the big deal about avoiding a sweep? I didn’t say it was a huge accomplishment that warrants a toast of champagne under a disco ball. But a little perspective is helpful.

The Phillies are the National League’s best team at a ridiculous 41-19. They have swept six series since mid-April including two that were four-game hit jobs.

Before the Cardinals ventured into south Philly, the Phillies had bullied visiting teams for sweeps in five of their last six series at home. So yeah, when the Phillies grab a team by the throat at Citizens Bank Park, it usually does not end well for the victims. Not this time. The Cardinals did not succumb, so this victory had extra significance. This was only the 9th time a visiting team has won in the 33 games played at Philadelphia this season.

The Cardinals squared their road-trip record to 3-3, with three more games to go at Houston. The win gave the Cardinals a 13-5 record in the last 18 games for a .722 winning percentage that ranks No. 1 in the National League since May 12. Instead of falling off the balance beam last nite to land at 27-30, the Cardinals left Philadelphia with a 28-29 record. That’s a losing record. Yes. But based on my deep analysis I have determined that it is preferable to depart Philadelphia at one game under .500 instead of exiting at three games under.

The Phillies had chances to get it done Sunday evening by exploiting an annoyingly careless Cardinals defense to erase deficits of 2-0 and 4-2. The two rallies locked the game into a 4-4 tie through five innings.

I cannot lie; at that point I thought the Cardinals would implode, get their arses kicked, and slink out of Philly after a completely lost weekend. But to their credit, the audacious Cardinals wouldn’t stand down.

The tourists from the Midwest fought off Philly over the next four innings to put this match into overtime. The Cardinals won it 5-4 in the 10th on a two-out RBI single by Nolan Gorman and an 11-pitch, two-strikeout, 1-2-3 save by Ryan Helsley. The St. Louis bullpeneers were excellent, blanking the Phillies over the final six innings. With runners in scoring position the Phillies were 0 for 7 with four strikeouts against six Cardinal relievers. More on this later.

THE CARDINALS VS. GOOD TEAMS: This topic gets a lot of play among the locals. This is still a carryover from the disgraceful 71-91 season of 2023. The bitterness is still there. The Cardinals win a game, or a series, and that’s when the “YEAH, BUT!” stuff comes flying out. And here come the lectures – and sometimes I give the lecture – about STL’s losing record against more prestigious opponents.

The Cardinals are 11-15 against teams that currently are .500 or better this season.

The Cardinals are 4-13 against the three most successful teams in the National League. They’re 1-6 against the Brewers, 1-3 against the Dodgers, and 2-4 versus the Phillies. Oh my goodness. Oh dear. I had no idea the Cardinals were inferior to those beasts. (Pardon my sarcasm. It’s therapeutic for me.)

The Cards are 9-14 this season against teams that would qualify for the 2024 postseason as of today. This scoresheet does not include Atlanta because the Cardinals won’t play the Braves until June 25.

– The Cards have won only two of seven series played against playoff-caliber foes, taking two of three games from the Padres at San Diego and sweeping a three-game set against the Orioles at Busch Stadium.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS: I don’t believe there’s a single soul out there claiming the Cardinals are an elite team, so I’m not sure why there’s such a compulsive need to do the YEAH, BUT thing when the fellers cobble together a few wins. I get it; the Cardinals aren’t the 1998 Yankees (114-48). But after tripping to the third-worst NL record through their first 39 games, the Cardinals have the best record in the NL over their last 18 games.

* The word that comes to mind is progress. I don’t know what this 13-5 run means besides showing that the Cardinals are doing better. For now. But I’m keeping my head level on this. This team has injuries, a weak-hitting set of outfielders, an extremely inconsistent offense, the inevitable starting-pitching depth concerns and a (suddenly) slapdash defense. The recent trend – the winning – could go poof.

* This is also true: during their 13-5 stretch that has straightened their season, the Cardinals are 7-3 against opponents that are .500 or better. Before that, the Cards were 4-12 against teams .500 or above. And they are 5-2 in their last seven games against playoff-caliber opponents.

* It isn’t easy to beat good opponents. Only six of the 30 MLB teams have winning records against competitors that are .500 or better this season. Two other teams are .500 against such competition. And 22 teams have losing records against opponents that are .500 or more.

* The Cardinals 11-15 record against teams .500 or better ranks 14th in the majors. Some notable teams have done worse than 11-15:

Record against opponents .500 or better:

Cubs, 12-16
Twins, 12-18
Reds, 11-18
Rays, 8-14
Royals, 8-14
Rangers, 6-12
Diamondbacks, 7-14
Giants, 8-18
Red Sox, 7-18
Astros, 8-21

There are 16 major-league teams with poorer records than St. Louis in matchups against .500 or better opponents.

Another interesting aspect to the YEAH, BUT stuff is the records by some of the best teams in baseball when they face competitors that are .500 or above. The Brewers are 10-10, the Braves 8-10, and the Mariners are 12-17.

And though Philadelphia has a great overall record, the Phils have played only six games this season against .500 or better opponents. The Dodgers have played 14 games against teams that are no worse than .500 this year.

As of Monday morning, the Cardinals’ 28–29 mark has them in the lead for the NL’s third wild-card spot. The Redbirds are 1 and ½ games out of the second wild-card ticket and a half-game ahead of the Giants and Cubs for the No. 3 wild card.

Another typical and understandable comment I hear is this: even if the Cardinals make the postseason, they won’t win anything because they’re so bad against the better teams. I understand. But I also know that the past three NL champions averaged 86.3 wins during the regular season including last season’s 84-win Diamondbacks. The regular season is not a reliable predictor for postseason baseball. The regular season and postseason are entirely separate.

BULLPEN BRILLIANCE, PART I: Great performances Sunday night from Matthew Liberatore, Ryan Fernandez, JoJo Romero, Andrew Kittredge, John King and Ryan Helsley. The six relievers had a 4-4 tie to hold in place and did just that, keeping the Phillies off the board over the final six innings. The sturdy six allowed only four of 22 Phillies to reach (all on singles) and had a 32 percent strikeout rate.

BULLPEN BRILLIANCE, PART II: In the team’s 28 victories this season, Cardinal relievers have combined for a 2.00 ERA in 99 innings. The three top put-away relievers – Helsley, Romero and Kittredge – collectively have a 1.80 ERA in their 65 innings handled during the 28 team wins.

BULLPEN BRILLIANCE, PART III: The big-three relievers are the best, but I want to acknowledge the superb bullpen work done by the lefties King and Liberatore and righty Kyle Leahy during the Cardinals’ 13-5 record since May 12. In the 13 wins over that time, King, Liberatore Leahy have combined to allow two earned runs in 18 and ⅔ innings for an 0.96 ERA. King was especially effective when he appeared in any of the 13 wins, allowing one earned run in 11 and ⅔ innings. And in his last three relief appearances combined, Liberatore has pitched three scoreless innings without allowing a hit (and two walks) while striking out five.

BULLPEN BRILLIANCE IV: The Cardinals are tied for the MLB lead with an 81 percent save rate (21 of 26). They are fourth in the majors with 43 holds. And Helsley leads the majors with 19 saves (in 20 opportunities.)

GOOD GRIEF, WAKE THE HECK UP ON DEFENSE: The Phillies scored 10 runs over the final two games of the series and six came on unearned runs. All four of Phillie’s four runs Sunday were unearned. This has become an embarrassment.

Cardinals are fortunate to have won as many games as they have over the last three-plus weeks. During their 13-5 stretch the Cardinals have been charged with 16 unearned runs in 15 games. The volume of goofs on defense has reached absurd levels over the last 11 games, with opponents scoring 15 of their 38 runs on unearned gifts from the Cardinals. That means 39.4 percent of the total runs scored against St. Louis were unearned in the 11 games. And yet the Cardinals were 8-3 in these slop-fest games.

The Cardinals have been tagged with 36 unearned runs this season which is the fifth most among the MLB teams. The errors are starting to cut into the team’s defensive runs saved total. As of Monday morning, the Cardinals had fallen into a tie for 16th with six defensive runs saved.

Per defensive runs saved, the most troublesome position for St. Louis defensively is third base. After another rough weekend, Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado’s minus 8 defensive runs saved is dead last on a list of 122 players that have played at least an inning at third base. No, I didn’t think I’d ever be typing that sentence. But Statcast is kinder to Arenado; his minus 2 outs above average in the bottom 23 percent of MLB third basemen.

THE NOLAN GORMAN FILE: He was the hitting star in Sunday’s victory, drilling a two-run homer to give the Redbirds a 2-0 lead, then singling home Masyn Winn for the winner with a two-out RBI. I’ll have more on Gorman’s career trajectory in a second column I’ll post later today.


The second-place Cardinals trail first-place Milwaukee by 7 games and are a half-game ahead of the third-place Cubs.

NL Central team records since April 27: Milwaukee 19-15, St. Louis 16-15, Pittsburgh 14-18, Cincinnati 12-21.

Alec Burleson’s two-run homer gave the Cardinals a 4-2 lead. It was his first home run since May 17. In his previous 12 games before Sunday, Burleson had 12 singles (no extra–base hits) in 48 at-bats and had knocked in only one run. Burleson has one hit, the homer, in his last 22 at-bats.

Arenado is 4 for 20 (.200) with two homers and three RBIs on the road trip. He went 2 for 4 with a walk in Sunday’s victory.

The Cardinals offense has cooled during the first six games of the road trip. Against Cincinnati and Philadelphia the St. Louis batsmen hit .226 with a 25 percent strikeout rate, and the team averaged 3.5 runs per game.

The Cardinals were 4 for 35 (plus four walks) with runners in scoring position in the first six games of the roadie. That’s a .114 batting average.

After their overall team ERA jumped to 4.49 for the season on May 19, the Cardinals have pitched to a 2.13 ERA in 97 innings over their last 11 games.

The St. Louis starting pitching ERA is 4.26 for the season. That ranks 19th overall, but that ranking was much worse (25th) at one point in May.

The Cards starting pitchers have a 3.73 ERA during the team’s 13-5 phase. But in the last 11 starts, the starter ERA is 1.96 and they’ve held opponents to a .176 average, .249 OPB and .273 slug.

The Cardinals have made 17 charged errors in their last 17 games.

To follow-up on a note presented by ESPN during Sunday’s telecast: when facing the other team’s lineup for the third time in a game, Lynn has been hit for a .311 average, .426 onbase percentage and .556 slug. When Lynn goes beyond 75 pitches in a start, opponents have struck him for a .382 average, .500 OBP and .706 slug.

ONTO HOUSTON: The Astros (26-34) have a .433 winning percentage that ranks 12th among the 15 American League teams … the Astros are 15-17 at home this season … they’re 5-13 in one-run games … as the Cardinals invade, Houston has gone 6-9 in its last 15 games and dropped five of their last seven … The Astros rank 14th overall with an average of 4.33 runs scored per game and are 17th with an average of 4.45 runs given up per game … The Houston bullpen has 10 saves and 10 blown saves for a 50 percent save rate that is tied for 27th in the majors … success rate that ranks as of Sunday the Astros had four starting pitchers on the IL: Luis Garcia, Cristian Javier, Jose Urquidy and Lance McCullers Jr. … the Astros are 23-5 when leading after 7 innings and 23-2 when leading after 8. But the problem for them is late-game tied scores. The Astros are 3-5 when the game is tied through six innings, 2-5 when the score is tied through seven innings and 3-6 when tied after eight innings.

Scheduled pitching matchups

Monday, 7:10 pm STL time: Kyle Gibson vs. Justin Verlander.

Tuesday, 7:10 pm STL time: Andre Pallante vs. Spencer Arrighetti

Wednesday, 1:10 pm STL time: Miles Mikolas vs. Ronel Blanco

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.