Today the Cardinals will go for a three-game sweep of the Mets at Citi Field. Scheduled first pitch is 12:40 p.m. STL time. If the Cardinals (13-14) can win on Sunday, they’ll have four consecutive victories and would upgrade themselves to a .500 record on the season.

Here were a few of my favorite things in Saturday’s 7-4 win by the team from St. Louis:

1. Sonny Gray: Yeah, he labored in the fifth inning. With the Cardinals leading 6-0 at the time, the Mets got to the tenacious righthander for four runs. The trouble began with an inning-opening error by third baseman Nolan Arenado that gave the Mets some spirit. Gray didn’t help by walking two in the inning. And the big blow was a two-run homer by Mets first baseman Pete Alonso. But only one of the four runs against Gray was earned, and he came back to pitch a scoreless sixth that ended with a 6-4-3 double play.

Gray struck out nine of the 25 Mets hitters that came to the plate. He struck out three of the five NYM hitters that batted with runners in scoring position. This is where Gray stands after his first four starts as a Cardinal:

+ Among MLB starting pitchers that have worked at least 20 innings this season, Gray leads the pack with a 36 percent strikeout rate.

+ Gray ranks third among MLB starters with a 1.16 ERA. But his fielding independent ERA (1.49) is the best by a big-league starter.

+ Gray has a strikeout-walk ratio of 8 to 1 which is tied for sixth among starters.

The Cardinals are 3-1 in Gray’s starts.

What I’m trying to say is, I think Gray is allowed to have one rough inning against the Mets. This feisty, cerebral dude is pretty special. Gray was absolutely furious over walking three Mets on Saturday. Love that. His high competitive standard sets a good example for every pitcher on the St. Louis staff.

2. The offense is agitating. Which is better than sleeping. The Cardinals have averaged 5.3 runs in their current three-game winning streak, an uprising pushed along by 12 walks and nine extra-base hits. Saturday they stung Mets pitchers for 5 hits in 16 at-bats with runners in scoring position. The Redbirds have scored at 5+ runs in three of their last five games. And when the Cards score at least five runs in a game, their record is 8-1.

3. Paul Goldschmidt is thawing: In his last seven games Goldy is 9 for 27 (.333) with two doubles, a homer, four RBIs and six runs scored. In Saturday’s victory Goldschmidt had two hits – including his second double of the season – drove in two runs, and scored two. Over the past seven games Goldschmidt’s batting average has increased from .169 to .214.

The Cardinals had a thorough attack in Saturday’s win. Seven players had at least one hit, four had walks, and five knocked in runs. Brendan Donovan had two hits (both doubles) with an RBI and run scored and has gone 5 for 12 in his last three games. Nolan Arenado had an RBI and is hitting .300 with seven walks and a .408 onbase percentage in his last 12 games. Nolan Gorman was one of the leaders of the offense again on Saturday; in his last five games Gorman is batting .375 with a 1.099 OPS.

4. Small Balling: After the Mets crept within 6-4, center fielder Mike Siani did some fine assembly-line production in the eighth inning with a sac bunt that set up a sacrifice fly by Donovan that extended the St. Louis lead to 7-4. Siani leads the majors with four sacrifice bunts this season. As a team the Cardinals lead MLB with seven sac bunts and are second overall with 13 sacrifice flies. They also have the most productive outs (50) in the majors. The Cardinals advanced on the basepaths multiple times Saturday and lead MLB with 50 extra bases taken. We saw some heads-up baserunning again on Saturday. The Cardinals are resourceful  offensively. Manager Oli Marmol is making things happen out there … good things.

5. Bullpen tightfistedness: Saturday’s final three innings were taken care of by JoJo Romero, Andrew Kittredge and Ryan Helsley. The Mets did not score, but threatened in the ninth by loading the bases against Helsley. He did not waver and secured his ninth save of the season. Helsley has converted 9 of 10 save opportunities.

The Cardinals lead the NL with an 83% save percentage, and their 10 saves are tied for third most in the majors. From the start of the seventh inning until the end of the game, St. Louis has the best ERA (1.90) in the National League and is second overall.

Win or lose Sunday, the Cardinals have claimed three of the last four series they’ve played. And that includes winning their last two series on the road.

Thanks for reading …


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.