The Cardinals maintained their one game lead over the San Fransisco Giants for the first wild card spot with a walk-off win over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday. The victory came in extra innings after Trevor Rosenthal blew his fifth save of the season. Rosenthal has given up at least one run in four of his appearances in the month of August, and his recent performances have brought questions of who should be closing out games for St. Louis.
Jhonny Peralta hit a walk-off single in the 10th inning on Monday and has been on a recent terror. Peralta has seven multi-hit games in his last twelve, and owns ten RBI’s during that stretch. The Cardinals offense has been encouraging as of late as a whole. St. Louis has averaged more than five runs per game during August, up from 3.76 runs per game for the season. The offensive spark can be contributed to the hot hitting of Peralta and Matt Holliday, as well as the consistency being provided by AJ Pierzynski. Pierzynski is batting .273 in place of the injured Yadier Molina and has had a nice rapport with the pitching staff.
The defense may be getting a boost soon as well, as Yadier Molina has progressed repidly after suffering a thumb injury on his throwing hand in July. Molina had surgery to repair his thumb injury on July 11th and was given a return date around mid-September to early October, but has already begun fielding ground balls at first and doing some light baseball activities. The Cardinals have also been encouraged with the progress of Michael Wacha, who has been battling a stress fracture in his throwing shoulder. Wacha threw thirty pitches off of a mound on Saturday and said he felt great doing so. The Cardinals are hopeful that Wacha will be able to return in time to make a few rehab starts for the Memphis Redbirds. If Wacha is unable to return in time, however, the Cardinals will strengthen his arm with bullpen sessions and hope to have him back before the regular season ends.
The only teams above .500 that St. Louis plays are the two teams they’re battling in the NL Central. The Cardinals will play the Brewers seven more times this season and face the Pirates just six more times. With twenty-five of their final thirty-eight games against teams under .500, the Cardinals should be able to hang on to at least a wild card spot.