Ortiz: Surging Cardinals deliver message to Cubs, baseball – STLtoday.com


In taking two of three this weekend against the Cubs, the Cardinals emphatically reminded the baseball world that they’re going to be serious contenders this season.

The 3-9 start is but a distant memory as the Cardinals flex their impressive depth. The reports of Adam Wainwright’s demise were highly exaggerated. More importantly, John Mozeliak’s 40-man roster has shown tremendous depth recently.

Even the most optimistic fans could not have predicted how well the Cardinals’ depth would shine after outfielders Stephen Piscotty, Dexter Fowler and Jose Martinez suffered injuries.

Before we rave about the depth, let’s focus on the overall picture. Since starting 3-9, the Cardinals are an impressive 18-6.

The Cardinals 18-6 mark since April 17 is the best winning percentage in baseball, just ahead of the Astros (18-8, .692) and Nationals (17-8, .680).

More impressively, perhaps, they are a brilliant 8-1 since Fowler and Piscotty were injured in the loss against the Brewers on May 4.

The Cardinals fell a game under .500 (13-14) on that miserable May 4 night when there was serious reason for concern about Fowler, Piscotty and how the team would perform without them.

There seemed to be plenty of reason for concern as Piscotty landed on the 10-day disabled list on May 5 with the hamstring injury he suffered a day earlier while Fowler nursed a shoulder injury. Fowler didn’t return to the starting lineup until last Friday’s opener against the World Series champion Cubs.

Martinez suffered his groin injury on May 6 and landed on the disabled list, prompting Mozeliak to call up center fielder Magneuris Sierra from Class A Palm Beach on May 7.

Outfielder Tommy Pham, who was called up from Class AAA Memphis to join the team on May 5, and Sierra made sure the Cardinals didn’t miss a step.

Sierra’s mother was strong for him.

Sierra is the feel-good story of the Cardinals’ season so far. If you haven’t had a chance already, please read about his inspiring journey and the sacrifices his single mother had  to make to help him and his two younger brothers.

After watching the minor-leaguers in spring training, especially the hard-throwing young arms, I was quite optimistic about the Cardinals’ future. 

Center fielder Harrison Bader, catcher Carson Kelly and Sierra turned heads this spring along with Martinez, but nobody could have predicted that Sierra and Pham would help carry the Cardinals through an impressive run.

Pham is hitting .371, with a .463 on-base percentage and a .743 slugging percentage with three home runs and eight RBIs in nine games since he was called up from Memphis.

Sierra, 21, is hitting .375 (9-for-24) with a .423 on-base percentage and .375 slugging percentage with seven runs scored over six games.

Sierra has yet to play in a game the Cardinals lost since he was called up. He did not participate in the series-opening loss against the Cubs on Friday. If nothing else, that is an interesting little tidbit.

Wainwright’s strong performance Sunday also gives Cardinals fans reason for hope because he was the only starter who hadn’t been off to a solid to strong start this year.

There are still 126 games remaining on the schedule, so it’s way too early to celebrate, but the Cardinals’ depth and resurgence prove that they’ll be strong enough to contend this year.


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