(BaseballStL) — After winning five games in a row, the Cardinals have skidded to two straight losses. Each loss is met with frustration, and the response is often a redoubling of efforts.
Friday, Mike Matheny nipped that impulse in the bud.
The Cardinal manager canceled most pre game activities, including batting practice, and gave the players more time to themselves before the game.
“This team cares as much as any team I've ever seen, as far as how hard they're wearing some of the personal struggles or the team's been struggling,” he said. “You could see that it was almost getting to the point of unhealthy and I think it's our job as a staff to stop and slow down to take days like this. To say ‘let's put things back in perspective.’ ‘You've got families, you've got a life let's spend some time there.’”
Matheny spoke of how the staff felt a need to back off the grind of everyday routine, and allow players to decompress.
Still, those decisions aren’t made in a vacuum. Often the skipper consults the leaders in the clubhouse before making that move.
“I'll bounce that off veteran guys and they're times when they're like, 'No I need to hit. I actually want to come out early and do some extra,’” he explained. “We admire that and respect it- we usually we go along with it. But then we encourage them that there's going to be a time when less is more.”
After putting up four runs or more in four straight games, the Cardinals have managed only three in their last two combined.
Thursday night, they were held to four hits and one run by Philly starter David Buchanan; a rookie pitcher who began the game with a losing record and an ERA a whisper under 6.00.
After watching his batters flounder in the loss, Matheny got the sense Friday was the right time.
“Last night, I think that's really a pretty good barometer of it, is to hit them up and say, 'Hey, I'm thinking of shutting hitting down tomorrow.' And every once in a while you'll get some fight back,” he said. Thursday night, there was far less resistance. “You kind of get a pulse from the guys when they are like, 'You know, we could probably use that right now.’”
The offense will get a chance for a rebound against a familiar foe, as they take on AJ Burnett for the 18th time Friday.