From 5 Back To First Place, 7 Days Later

It’s been quite a week for the Cardinals, hasn’t it? Last Sunday, after two straight disappointing losses to the Miami Marlins, the Cards were five games back in the National League Central and in third place behind the Brewers and Pirates.

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Love the sign! (Photo: STLToday.com)

Now, with winning five of the past seven games including a 10-2 victory over the Brewers on Saturday, the Cardinals are tied for first place.

If it seems like it’s been a while since they were in first, it has. The last time? April 5. Not that we need a reminder of what most of the first half of the season has been like …

So it’s definitely good to see this position once again. First place!

Of course, gaining so much ground so quickly wouldn’t be possible without the Brewers having lost each of the last seven games and 11 of their past 12. And, given what they were dealing with as a team yesterday with the death of Jean Segura’s infant son, it seems wrong to gloat too much about yesterday’s Cards win in particular.

Instead, what about the five Cards wins this week — and especially Friday night’s comeback win?

That was absolutely the best game of the season so far. From the grimness of being down 6-0 after two innings to slowly chipping away at the Brewers’ lead with a fourth-inning Matt Adams two-run bomb to tying the game with a four-run sixth inning with homers from sudden slugger Kolten Wong and Jhonny Peralta plus an RBI-groundout from Oscar Taveras, it was the kind of spark and fight that we have rarely seen from the 2014 Cardinals in the season’s first half. Then Matt Holliday put the Cards ahead with his first homer since June 15 to make the comeback complete, while the bullpen pitched six scoreless innings and allowed just five hits with five strikeouts.

Total team win.

And what a win!

Back to Kolten Wong. This won’t surprise you since you’ve been watching, but in these past seven games he’s leading the team in home runs with five, RBI with eight and has a line of .333/.407/1.000 in that stretch. Yes, our little 5’9 second baseman has a slugging percentage of 1.000.

Matt Adams in the past week? Just .429/.467/.750 with 12 hits including two homers and three doubles, seven RBI and even a stolen base.

Jhonny Peralta’s hitting .409/.417/.636 these past seven games, with the homer, two doubles and five RBI.

Jon Jay’s hitting .316 the past week. Even Peter Bourjos is hitting .667, without even starting any of these seven games, as he’s had six at-bats and four hits.

And while all of the pitching numbers from the past week are not very pretty — Joe Kelly’s ERA is obviously high at 18.00 and Jason Motte’s is 15.00 — it’s nice to see 0.00 ERAs for so many members of the bullpen: Randy Choate with three appearances, Sam Freeman with four, Seth Maness with four, Pat Neshek with three (plus two wins!) and Trevor Rosenthal with three (and two saves).

With a sweep of the Brewers today, the Cardinals will go into the All-Star break in sole possession of first place — and that would be a first for this season. They’ve only been tied for first in the limited time they’ve reach that perch thus far in 2014. And as recently as July 1, they were 6 1/2 games back.

Today’s game is at 1:10 p.m. Central, with Carlos Martinez and Wily Peralta as the starters.

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