The Cardinals needed to win Sunday’s game to wrestle for a series split with the Rockies. The Redbirds took care of business with a 5-1 victory that featured a complete all-around team performance.

We haven’t seen that enough in 2024. The starting pitching was excellent. The bullpen put up a firewall and didn’t let the Rockies break through. The STL defense played a clean, error-free game. Eight Cardinals got hits. Sure, the fellers went only 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position, so I guess we can’t have everything. But it was a positive afternoon at the ballpark, and that’s always a good thing.

The Cardinals are 31-33 as they kick back on their day off Monday. The Pirates will be in town to start a three-game series on Tuesday. Pirates starting-pitching phenom Paul Skenes will introduce himself to the St. Louis batsmen. I don’t think that will be much fun for the hitters, but you never know. And Skenes puts on a good show. What a beast.

ACCOUNTING DEPARTMENT: The series split gave the Cardinals a 15-14 record at Busch Stadium but they’ve gone 9-3 in their last 12 home games … when the Cardinals score five or more runs in a game – as they did Sunday – their record is 20-6, .769. But the 17 MLB teams have scored five-plus runs in a game more often than the Cardinals. But that winning percentage just shows us how well the Cards would do if they could put up five or more runs in a game more regularly … oddly enough, the Cardinals have scored exactly five runs 12 times this season which is the third highest in the majors. But they’ve gone a so-so 7-5 in those games … the magic number appears to be six. When the Cardinals put up 6+ runs in a game, they’re 13-1.

FIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT ALEC BURLESON: He homered Sunday, a solo flight in the fourth inning that gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead. The more we see, the more we appreciate Burly.

1. In 38 at-bats in June, Burleson has a double, four homers and a .579 slugging percentage. The power coincides with Burleson’s increasing value since outfielder Lars Nootbaar went on the IL with a groin strain late last month. Burleson is doing his part to make up for the loss.

2. Last season Burleson hit eight homers in 315 at-bats, an average of one HR for every 39.3 ABs. This season Burleson already has a career-high nine home runs and has hit one every 21.5 at-bats.

3. Much appreciation for Burleson’s low strikeout rate of 13.7 percent. Only 11 MLB hitters (minimum 200 plate appearances) have struck out less frequently than Burleson this season.

4. Burleson’s change in approach is paying off. He’s swinging at more strikes this season, and that’s making a difference. Last season he swung at strikes 71 percent of the time; this season that’s up to 75%. And his superb contact skill doing the rest, but Burleson is punishing more strikes now. What does that mean for him? Read the next item.

5. In 2023, Burleson batted .269 with a .410 slugging percentage and five homers when he attacked a strike and put it in play. This season, Burleson has hit those strikes for a .341 average, .598 slug, and nine homers.

On strikes thrown to the heart of the plate, Burleson is batting .365 with a .671 slug, seven homers and five doubles when he connects.

There is a power dimension to Burleson’s game that wasn’t there before. The change in his mindset has changed the volume of power he’s generating.

Burleson still chases too many pitches out of the zone, and he’ll likely continue to have a fairly low walk rate. But he is being more selective in 2024 – hunting for strikes – and is driving more pitches because of it.

ANDRE PALLANTE. INTRIGUING: In his first start of the season for the Cardinals, the righthander pitched six shutout innings in a 5-3 win at Cincinnati. In his third start of the campaign, he pitched five shutout innings in Sunday’s 5-1 victory over the Rockies. In between those dandy starts, Pallante was hammered by the Astros for six runs in three innings. Go figure.

Pallante has been excellent in two of his three starts as the team’s de facto fifth starter over the last three rotation turns. How did he regroup after the beating in Houston?

The great Derrick Goold explained it at Pallante was schooled by veteran starting pitcher Kyle Gibson during a bullpen session a few days before Sunday’s start. The message: concentrate on being more aggressive with the fastball.

“He called me out,” Pallante told Goold. “(In) my bullpen, I was throwing all of my pitches. Kind of not really had a plan with what I was working on. He’s like, ‘That’s not how you improve. Work on what you’re trying to work on.’ When you’re working on something, you throw 15 to 20 pitches in your bullpen like that.”

Makes sense. Gibson’s leadership was an important consideration in the Cardinals’ desire to sign him as a free agent last winter.

And Gibson gives good advice. Sunday, Pallante threw 48 four-seam fastballs. The Rockies went 1 for 8 with three strikeouts against the pitch. Pallante offset the fastball with more extensive use of his knuckle-curve speciality. The Rockies were flummoxed by it, going 0 for 5 with two strikeouts.

According to Statcast, Pallante got nine called strikes and 12 swings and misses – plus lots of foul balls and five grounders mixed in. The Rox had a hard time squaring up Pallante’s moving pitches. He did a fantastic job.

Pallante has a 3.95 ERA in his 13 career starts with the Cardinals. Three of his 13 outings were poor. And in nine of the 13 starts, Pallante went at least five innings each time and didn’t give up more than three runs. His ERA for those nine starts was 2.18.

If only the Cardinals had done the sensible thing by giving Pallante a chance from the beginning to do what he does best. He’s a starting pitcher, not a reliever.

PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT’S STREAK: I think it’s pretty cool that Goldy has gotten on base for 26 consecutive games. But that number isn’t my focus. What’s more impressive is what he’s done – the body of work – over those last 26 games since May 11. In 118 plate appearances during his streak, Goldschmidt has hit .278 with a .339 onbase percentage and .472 slug for an .811 OPS. His improvement over that time includes six doubles, five homers, two stolen bases and 15 runs scored.

Before the streak began on May 11, Goldschmidt was hitting a whispery .190 with a .535 OPS. And he had just three doubles, two homers and 11 RBIS in 156 plate appearances. Before the streak Goldy homered an average of every 68.5 at-bats. During the streak he’s homered every 21.6 ABs.

And to me, that’s why this streak stands out. It’s been a turnaround time for him. If he had failed to reach base in two or three of those games, it wouldn’t have mattered. And we wouldn’t be yapping so much about the streak. That’s because Goldschmidt is hitting for more power and driving in more runs.

Per wRC+, Goldschmidt is 34 percent above league average offensively since May 11. Before that he’d been 40 percent below league average offensively.

The Cardinals are 16-10 with Goldy in the lineup since May 11. Before that they were 15-21 when Goldschmidt started at first base.

MASYN WINN AND DAYS OFF: I raised a fuss the first couple of times manager Oli Marmol had a scheduled rest day set aside for the rookie shortstop. But in retrospect there was no good reason to holler about this. Why? Several reasons:

Winn’s lower-back pain is real and should be managed carefully. There is no point in wearing this dude out and putting him at risk for a more serious injury related to his back problem.

Winn is fully on board with Marmol’s plan and has no objections. Marmol prefers to keep Wynn out of the lineup in the game before a scheduled off day for the entire team. But you could see Winn wincing in pain a couple of times during the Houston series. Knowing what we know now, the criticism of Marmol’s resting strategy with Winn is off base. I’ve adjusted my view based on the new information provided by the manager and the player.

When Winn sits during a day off, he’s performed well in his first game back in the lineup. In these instances Winn is 15 for 37 for a .405 batting average – with two triples, three doubles and seven RBIs.

In Brandon Crawford’s last four starts in place of Winn, he’s batted .286 with a .571 slugging percentage. And the Cardinals were 2-2 in the four starts.

When Winn starts a game this season he’s batting .312 with a .359 onbase percentage and .444 slug for an .803 OPS. So Marmol’s plan has merit. He starts Winn often enough to get the best from him. And the maintenance days obviously help.

PROGRESS? Sliver-sized sample, but Dylan Carlson started three games in the Colorado series and went 4 for 10 with two doubles and three RBIs. Before the weekend upturn Carlson was 6 for 47 this season (.128) with no extra-base hits and no RBIs.

THE NL WILD-CARD RACE IS BANANAS: I know it’s June 6 and too early to turn the wild-card standings into some kind of horse race. Perhaps a large cluster of teams will take a different shape by the All-Star break, and we’ll have some clarity.

That said, it’s bonkers right now. First of all, there’s the NL Central. The Brewers are on top and lead the division by 6 and ½ games. But behind them is heavy traffic congestion.

The Reds (32-34), Cubs (32-34) and Cardinals (31-33)) are tied for second. Technically the Cards are a percentage point behind the Reds and Cubs, but it’s a tie in the standings because all three teams trail the Brewers by 6 and ½. And then there are the Pirates (31-34) who are only a half-game behind the Reds, Cubs and Cardinals. That means the four teams chasing Milwaukee are bunched up with only a half-game separating them as of Monday morning.

The NL wild-card positioning is just as crazy. Atlanta has a 4 and ½ game lead for the first wild-card ticket. The Padres have the second spot, but lead the Giants, Reds, Cubs and Cardinals by just a half-game.

The Giants, Reds, Cubs and Cardinals are tied for the third wild-card voucher. The Pirates are a half-game behind all four teams. The Diamondbacks are a half-game behind the Pirates and trail the Giants, Reds, Cubs and Cardinals by one game.

And I’m not finished. The Nationals (30-35) are just 1 and ½ games out of the third wild-card spot, and even the Mets (28-36) are in the melee at only 3 games out.

In the NL’s wild-card scramble, only one team (Atlanta) is above .500. The other eight so-called contenders – Padres, Reds, Cubs, Cardinals, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Nationals and Mets – have losing records.

Is this good for major-league baseball? I mean, when you have so many losing teams alive and in reasonably good shape in the wild-card derby, is it competition or charity? When eight mediocre teams are in a massive pileup that can’t be sorted out … is this healthy?

What’s the incentive for franchise owners to spend more money on payroll if they can hold the line on costs and still have a decent chance to make the postseason?

Some of the teams in the NL quagmire are big spenders. In the 26-man payroll accounting, the Mets are at $331.6 million. The Cubs ($217.7) and Giants ($214.3) are over $200 million. All four teams rank in the major-league top 10 for player payroll investment.

Next comes St. Louis ($177 million) at No. 13, the Diamondbacks ($168.2) at No. 14, the Padres ($166.6) at No. 15. Of the eight wild–card aspirants, only the Reds and Pirates have below-average payrolls – and drastically so. The Reds ($92 million) rank 28th and the Pirates ($85.7) are 29th.

If you want a free-for-all for the final two NL wild-card passports, then enjoy the scrum. Because that’s how it’s looking right now. Head-to-head matchups between these eight teams will take on added importance. The clog could lead to more aggressive action before the July 30 MLB trading deadline.

And perhaps the wild-card jumble will result in an increase in home attendance. On the list of eight NL teams that I’ve referenced to, half are in the top 10 for average home attendance: Padres (4th), Cardinals (6th), Cubs (7th) and Giants (8th.) But the other four teams rank 14th (D-backs), 17th (Mets), 20th (Nationals), 21st (Reds) and 25th (Pirates) in average home attendance.

Don’t assume that being a wild card sentences a team to an early exit from the playoffs. We know better than that. In the first two seasons of the three wild-card system (in each league) the 2022 Astros were the only 100-win team to win a pennant. The other six 100-win teams got booted. The other three teams to win a pennant over the past two seasons were the 90-win Rangers (2023), 87-win Phillies (2022) and 84-win Diamondbacks (2023.)

According to Monday’s Playoff Odds at FanGraphs, these four teams from the wild-card pool (excluding Atlanta) have the three highest probabilities of getting to the postseason:

Padres, 50.5%
Cubs, 33.3%
Giants, 33.2%
Cardinals, 29.1%

A Personal Note To The Readers: My “X” (Twitter) account was hacked on Sunday, and it was a pretty serious breach and I may have to rebuild. I’m still trying to resolve everything, and it looks like I will have to start over. That stings because I have 142,000 followers – an audience built since 2009 – and don’t want to disappoint them or lose their interest. I’ll let you know when I’m able to launch a new X account.

I do have an account on Threads @miklaszb … and you can subscribe to my column here on the site, and the link will arrive in your email box as soon as it is published. Thanks for your support and your patience.

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.

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.