Cardinals Major League Notebook: 08/19/11

The Cardinals move to Wrigley Field in search of a much-needed winning streak. Jaime Garcia takes the ball in game one on Friday afternoon.



The Cardinals' starting pitching, which was weakened initially by the loss of right-hander Adam Wainwright in spring training to Tommy John elbow surgery, has been up and down all season.

In 44 of the club's first 124 games, or better than one-third of the schedule, the starter did not go six innings and that has happened 29 times in the last 70 games.

"I've been really disappointed that we haven't pitched deeper in games," longtime pitching coach Dave Duncan said. "We've had a lot of five- and six-inning outings. I thought we would be better than that."

The Cardinals have balance, with four pitchers between eight and 11 victories. But it is possible for only the second time in the last 13 seasons, they might not have a 15-game winner. Wainwright had 14 victories in 2007.

Since 1999, the Cardinals had a total of 22 starting pitchers win as many 15 games in a season, or an average of two per season.

The loss of Wainwright, of course, can't be overlooked.

"You don't replace a Wainwright, unless you can get a (Roy) Halladay or (Cliff) Lee or somebody like that," Duncan said. "(Wainwright) not only is top-of-the-rotation guy, he's a top-of-the-league guy.

"You don't replace him, but when we started the season, I felt like the starting rotation probably would be the strength of our team."

It was early in the season when the Cardinals took something of a foothold atop the National League Central Division. But not in the last two to three months.

"It's just disappointing," Duncan said. "I usually have pretty accurate expectations, and I try to be realistic about it. My expectations were a lot greater than what we've really done in the starting staff."

The staff ERA of 3.83 ranks eighth in the 16-team National League. Asked what he could do with only 38 games left, Duncan said: "Not give up. Just not give up. It's not over yet. You just keep looking at what you perceive the problems to be and you address them."


The Cardinals will make their only weekend visit to Wrigley Field in Chicago this weekend to play their longtime rivals. By contrast, the Cubs were scheduled for three weekend sets in St. Louis.

After some thought, manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan have decided to roll over their rotation for the Chicago series after Thursday's off day. That means struggling LHP Jaime Garcia will pitch Friday, followed by RHP Edwin Jackson and RHP Jake Westbrook. Garcia, who recorded his 10th victory nearly a month ago, hasn't pitched past five innings in his last three starts.

2B Ryan Theriot, out at shortstop with Rafael Furcal having been acquired, has made the most of limited playing time. Getting two starts in three games so far on the trip, Theriot is 5-for-10, while playing adequately in the field and running the bases well.

3B David Freese had his streak of games with an RBI stopped at five on Wednesday night. "If he stays healthy, he'll be a consistent run-producer," manager Tony La Russa said. Freese, who missed nearly two months because of a broken left hand, has a career-high 36 RBI.

The Cardinals' modest 66-58 record reflects the fact they haven't really dominated play against any of the three divisions in the league, most importantly their own weak Central Division where they are 28-26. They are 16-14 against the West and 14-11 against the East, with an 8-7 interleague mark.

BY THE NUMBERS: 61 - Number of starts made in the last two seasons by 35-year-old RHP Chris Carpenter. That is the most in the majors.  

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Sometimes, it easier to write a story than it is to go out there and hit a baseball. Most people probably never even played the game. They probably never threw a baseball before. But that's the way it is. It doesn't bother me. Everybody has their own opinion."

- 1B Albert Pujols, the two-time National League home run champion and 2011 leader, about critics who thought he had lost his power earlier in the season.




RHP Edwin Jackson (right hamstring cramp) left his Aug. 14 start early but said the next day that it isn't a problem. Jackson will have an extra day of rest before his next scheduled start Aug. 20 in Chicago.

RHP Lance Lynn (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 10.

INF Nick Punto (strained left oblique) went on the 15-day disabled list July 29.

RHP Eduardo Sanchez (mild right shoulder strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 13. He began a rehab assignment with Class AA Springfield on July 7 but had renewed soreness soon after and was shut down until late August or early September. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 31.

RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season.


Fri., Aug. 19 at CUBS: Jaime Garcia (10-6, 3.42) vs. Randy Wells (4-4, 5.90) 1:20 p.m. CDT (FOX Sports Midwest, KMOX Radio and Cardinals Radio Network).

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