Things are looking good for the St. Louis Cardinals these days.
Three straight wins over the Braves, four in a row over overall, seven victories in their last eight games and, oh yeah — a return to first place in the National League Central after nearly four weeks, tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates as both teams are 76-53.
Happy days indeed!
And it’s been those Cardinals strengths that earlier led them to the NL Central lead and best record in the majors returning once more. Terrific starting pitching. Timely hitting, and plenty of it. Results just seem to come when those two things are working well.
Last night it Shelby Miller with his strongest start in a while, as he allowed only three hits and one run (on a first inning home run to Freddy Freeman) in seven innings with six strikeouts and no walks. It was his longest outing since June 1 and the first time since June 12 that he didn’t walk a batter. In addition, the other two hits besides the homer were both singles.
Speaking of homers, the Cardinals have rediscovered their power again. Matt Carpenter had a lead-off home run and Carlos Beltran launched one in the third to put the Cards ahead 2-1. Beltran has been very hot lately, hitting .406 in the last seven games with three homers and six RBI. Last night he had three hits and drove in the Cards final run in the eighth inning. He now has a six-game hitting streak.
Also hot lately: Yadier Molina. In the last seven games, he’s hitting .462 and had an RBI single in the seventh last night.
Speaking of Yadi, that streak of winning seven of eight the Cardinals are currently on? He returned from the disabled list for the first game of the streak, against the Pirates on Aug. 15. His .336 batting average is back leading the NL in hitting once again as well.
This afternoon, the Cardinals will go for the four-game sweep of the Braves — remember from the other day, every series between the Braves and Cardinals at Busch Stadium since 2009 has been a sweep. If the Cards succeed, it will be their second four-game sweep of the season, as they swept the Brewers May 2-5.
Game time is 1:15 p.m. this afternoon, with Lance Lynn and Mike Minor the starters. The game is on TBS and Fox Sports Midwest. (Whether I’ll be blacked out of TBS like I have been all the games this sereis that have been on MLB Network, we’ll soon find out!)
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.