The Cardinals don’t seem to grasp the predicament they’re in. With a chance to sweep the three-game against Boston, the game wasn’t exactly high-priority stuff for the home team at Busch Stadium.

Matthew Liberatore was the choice at starting pitcher. Shortstop Masyn Winn, catcher Ivan Herrera and slugger Nolan Gorman were out of the lineup.

In a 11-3 blowout loss to the Red Sox, Liberatore was shelled early and left six innings of work behind to be picked up by the bullpen. It looked like a spring-training exhibition game in Jupiter.

With the Cardinals trailing by six runs, manager Oli Marmol curiously used Herrera to pinch hit in the eighth inning. It was a little late for that. Then Marmol dispatched Gorman to pinch hit in the ninth with Boston leading by eight. What was the point?

Before Sunday’s ugly setback, the Cardinals had won five of their last six games. Their offense was rolling, averaging 6.1 runs with 11 doubles, 10 homers, a .302 batting average and a .841 OPS over the 5-1 stretch.

In a fun six-game turn up that featured the most impressive display by the STL offense this season, Winn, Gorman and Herrera were prime presences in the surge. In the six games the three young birds combined for a .327 average, three homers, 12 RBIs and 12 runs scored. Why risk unplugging a hot offense?

We know that Winn has been dealing with back stiffness. Marmol is using some caution, making sure to schedule days off for the rookie. And that’s fine. Marmol is taking the right approach.

But in this particular situation, the Cardinals just had a recent off day. The team didn’t play Thursday. The Cards played two games on Friday-Saturday. And then Marmol sat three of his most dangerous hitters on Sunday.

As for Winn, let’s summarize: a Thursday day off for Winn and everybody … then two games played … and then another day off for Winn?

Perhaps Marmol knew the Cardinals were up against it with Liberatore on the mound. Because of Liberatore’s glaring weakness against right-handed hitters, the Red Sox figured to score a bunch of runs – which they did. So maybe this was a lost cause, anyway. I don’t wager on baseball, but I like to look at the daily schedule and play with the numbers. The Red Sox were near the top of the list of my mythical best bets.

Boston starter Nick Pivetta has a robust four-seam fastball, and it’s the type of pitch that gives the Cardinals trouble. And sure enough, St. Louis went 1 for 13 with five strikeouts over six innings against Pivetta’s four-seam.

Unless Winn reaggravated the back condition, I’m not sure why Marmol felt the need to rest him Sunday. After all the Cardinals will be off again on Thursday after finishing a three-game set against the visiting Baltimore Orioles.

If we go back a bit, the Cards were rained out on May 8, wiping out the third game of a series against the Mets. And that preceded a seven-game road trip to Milwaukee and Anaheim. So from May 8 through May 24, the Cardinals will have had three days off in 16 days. How many days off do the players need?

Despite their recent upturn, the Cardinals remain six games under .500 at 20-26. They’re still seven games out of first place in the NL Central. They’re hanging close enough in the wild-card race proceedings (minus 3 games), but that’s no reason to ease up.

In losing Sunday, the Cardinals are 0-6 this season when playing for a chance to complete a three-game sweep. They’ve been outscored 41-15 in the six losses.

For the most part Marmol has played it straight with his lineup in these sweep-opportunity situations, but he did have Winn on the bench for two of the games. And replacement shortstop Brandon Crawford went 0 for 5.

If the Cardinals had just win three of the six sweep-opportunity games, they’d be 23-23 right now.

Hey, but let’s take our time, OK?

The loss left the Cardinals with a 2-13 record in series finales and they’re 1-6 in Sunday games. I truly believe the Cardinals work hard. And while the word “urgency” is overused, I’d like to see more of it from the Redbirds.


* The Cardinals are 5-2 in their last seven games and have won two consecutive series.

* The Cardinals are having a good month offensively. So far in May they rank 3rd in the majors in batting average (.257), 4th in onbase percentage (.330), 5th in OPS (.732) and 9th in slugging percentage (.401). They averaged 3.6 runs in March-April and that’s gone up to 4.2 runs per game in May.

* Since May 12 the Cardinals lead the majors in runs (40), batting average (.320), onbase percentage (.402), and OPS (.939.) And over that time they’re second overall and No. 1 in the NL with a .489 slug.


* The Cardinals enter the new week with a 4.82 starting-pitching ERA that ranks 25th in the majors and 13th in the NL. In their first 16 games in May, the St. Louis rotation has been walloped for a 6.02 ERA that comes in at No. 30 (last) for the month.

* The Cardinals have four quality starts in May; among MLB teams only the Giants (3) have fewer QS this month than St. Louis.

* Take a look at these May earned-run averages by St. Louis starters: Kyle Gibson 4.76, Sonny Gray 5.50, Miles Mikolas (5.57), Lance Lynn (7.36) and Matthew Liberatore (8.10.)

* In the first five innings of their games this month, Cardinals starting pitchers have a 5.99 ERA and have yielded a .297 average, .346 onbase percentage and .509 slug. And because of that – with some relief work mixed in – the Cardinals have been outscored 57-30 this month in the first five innings of games.


YOUNG STARTERS, UGH: Over the last three seasons the Cardinals have gotten 80 starts from pitchers age 26 or younger, and in that age category those pitchers collectively rank 27th in ERA (5.66) and 28th in WAR (1.0) among the 30 teams. This season Liberatore and Zack Thompson have a combined 7.52 ERA in their five starts and are below the replacement level in value.

LARS NOOTBAAR: He’s found his swing and timing and all of that other good stuff over his last 13 games. Over that time Noot batted .311 with an outstanding .436 onbase percentage and .622 slug. The power has been there (two doubles, four homers.) He’s cashed in run-scoring opportunities with 10 RBIs. And with 10 walks in his last 13, Nootbaar has helped to pump up the team’s overall onbase percentage.

In 48 plate appearances as the No. 2 hitter since May 5, Nootbaar has batted .316 with a .458 OBP and .658 slug for a 1.116 OPS.

This is what the Cardinals and their fans have been waiting for since Nootbaar returned from the IL. In his first 20 games back, he hit only .162 and had a .532 OPS. But Nootbaar has turned things around and the Cardinals needed that from him.

WAY TO GO, YOUNG CATCHERS: Since Willson Contreras went on the IL with a broken left forearm, St. Louis catchers Ivan Herrera and Pedro Pages have teamed for a .343 batting average that ranks fourth in the majors at the position over that time. They’re also 4th in onbase percentage (.439), 7th in OPS (.810) and 12th in slugging (.371.) Per wRC+, Herrera and Pages collectively have performed 45 percent above league average offensively since Contreras went to the IL on May 8.

IN A RELATED NOTE: The Cardinals are 5-5 since Contreras went on the IL. Their offense has averaged 4.9 runs, batted .279 and generated a .772 OPS during his absence. Contreras discarded the cast on his forearm last week and is making progress that appears to be ahead of schedule. But I’m not joining this parlor game. When he’s back, he’s back. It serves no purpose to speculate on a return and circle a date.

ALEC BURLESON: During the Cardinals’ 5-2 stretch, Burleson hit .423 with a .769 slugging percentage and 1.192 OPS. He had three doubles and two homers over the team’s last seven games. Among MLB hitters with at least 50 plate appearances in May, Burly ranks ninth in the NL and 21st overall with a .556 slugging percentage. His .315 batting average is 13th in the NL and 26th overall.

PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT: The Cards first baseman extended his hitting streak to eight games Sunday. His eight-game uprising includes a .423 batting average, .359 OBP and .500 slug with two homers and a double.

BRENDAN DONOVAN, STABILIZING: He’s batting .273 with a .344 OBP and .418 slug in his last 13 games. His improved stretch includes five doubles and a homer.


In the first two seasons with the format that had three wild-card teams in each league, the average regular-season victory total for the National League’s No. 3 wild card was 85.5 wins. In the American League the No. 3 wild card averaged 88 wins. That comes to an average of 86.5 wins over the past two seasons for the No. 3 wild cards in both leagues.

Through 46 games, the worst record by a No. 3 wild card was Philadelphia (2022) at 21-25. The other three No. 3 wild-card clubs had winning records: Tampa Bay (27-19) in 2022, Arizona (26-20) in 2023 and Texas (29-17) in 2023.

At 20-26 the Cardinals are one game off the 46-game pace by the ‘22 Phillies. In theory the Cardinals can still get there but it’s a stretch. From what we know in retrospect the 2022 Phillies were better than the 2024 Cardinals appear to be with the possible exception of the bullpen. The St. Louis offense hasn’t established consistent quality, so I suppose there’s upside.

To match the 2022 Phillies and get to 87 wins on the season the Cardinals would have to go 67-49 (.577) the rest of the way. And even that’s no guarantee of making the tournament because we don’t know how the other NL wild-card contenders will finish the regular season.


Welcome home, St. Louis Browns. Just kidding, of course. The Baltimore Orioles are here for three games. A painful rebuild put them on a long promised road – hat tip, Brian Wilson. Since the start of last season only Atlanta (.637) has a better winning percentage than Baltimore (.631) among the 30 MLB franchises. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have a Browns-like .438 winning percentage over the last two seasons. That ranks 25th in the majors.

Pitching matchups as of Sunday night: 

Monday: RHP Dean Kremer v Sonny Gray

Tuesday: RHP Kyle Bradish v Lance Lynn

Wednesday afternoon: LHP John Means v Kyle Gibson

The Orioles (29-15) rank 4th in the majors with an average of 5.02 runs per game, are 6th in run prevention at 3.70 runs allowed per game, and are 5th with a 3.25 ERA. Their rotation ranks sixth with a 3.16 ERA.

Thanks for reading …


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