As the Midsummer Classic approaches, the St. Louis Cardinals boast plenty of noteworthy highlights through the first half of the season.
The Cardinals owned the best record in Major League Baseball (48-29) until June 26 when they fell into a two-way tie with the Pirates for first place in the National League Central Division.
An abundance of superb outings from the starting rotation mixed with timely hitting and solid defense have enabled the Cardinals to nest atop of the game.
Staff ace Adam Wainwright has been phenomenal thus far. The 31-year-old right-hander is 11-5, with a 2.36 ERA through 18 starts. Moreover, Wainwright pitched 34.2 consecutive innings without issuing a walk to begin the season. In that span, Wainwright fanned a combined 37 hitters and tossed a complete game shutout against Milwaukee on April 13.
Wainwright came up short of setting the franchise record for most innings pitched without allowing a walk after working around Washington’s Bryce Harper in the sixth inning on April 23.
Wainwright told Jenifer Langosch, of MLB.com:
I wasn’t going to go the whole season without walking someone. I wanted to let the game dictate when that was OK to do. Right there, I though that pitching him tough, even though I’m loading the bases for a tough hitter in LaRoche, Bryce Harper can hurt you in a lot of different ways.
No matter, Wainwright wound up recording his fourth victory despite walking his first man of the season.
Another noteworthy highlight from the season’s first half is the Cardinals ability to win in bunches, which is why they were so dominant over the first three months of the season. The Cardinals dropped two of three to the Diamondbacks to begin the season. They then dropped two of three to division-foe Pittsburgh in late April. However, the Cardinals did not lose another set in their next 13 series. Over that span, the Cardinals scored 153 runs and allowed just 73.
Additionally, the Cardinals have been blessed with explosive offense, particularly catcher Yadier Molina, who leads the National League with his .346 average. The five-time Gold Glove Award winner was recently voted to his fifth consecutive All-Star Game.
Perhaps the most important highlight of this season for the Cardinals is an equal mix of quality pitching and timely hitting, which is the formula of success every team desires.