4 Keys to Cardinals success in the second half - KMOV.com

4 Keys to Cardinals success in the second half

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St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa looks over his lineup card in the  ninth inning of the Colorado Rockies' 8-7 victory over the Cardinals in a baseball game in Denver on Wednesday, July 7, 2010. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) By David Zalubowski St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa looks over his lineup card in the ninth inning of the Colorado Rockies' 8-7 victory over the Cardinals in a baseball game in Denver on Wednesday, July 7, 2010. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) By David Zalubowski

1- Get Heathly. The Cardinals appeared headed toward building a comfortable lead in the Central division before the injuries to Brad Penney and Kyle Lohse on successive days. They haven't been the same since. Blake Hawksworth has done a decent job in his most recent starts, and Jeff Suppan hasn't been awful, but that's hardly the criteria for a pennent contender. It's possible Penney won't be back for the rest of the season, and Lohse isn't very close to returning either. The Cardinals may have to swing a deal for another starter unless Hawksworth and/or Suppan improve in their next several starts and go deeper into games. The injuries to Ryan Ludwick and David Freese have also hurt. Those two should return to the line-up in the next few days. The Cardinals line-up isn't very imposing without the power bats of Ludwick and Freese.
 
2-Find a shortstop. We all loved Brendan Ryan at the start of the season, but he's been a major disappointment so far. He's still struggling to get above the .200 mark with the bat, and his defensive work at short has been less than stellar. The Cardinals have talked with other clubs about trading for a shortstop, but Alex Gonzalez and Yunel Escobar were just traded for each other so they're both off the market. Christian Guzman of Washington is a possibility. Barring a trade, Tyler Greene figures to get a lot of playing time over the next few weeks. Ryan appears to have played his way onto the bench for now.
 
3-Strengthen bullpen. The relievers have been mostly reliable this season, but had some rough outings recently. Some of that can be attributed to the increased work load with Hawksworth and Suppan unable to pitch deep into games. Dennys Reyes has struggled recently. If he faltars the Cardinals are dangerously low on lefthanded arms in the pen.
 
4-Play better on the road. It's hard to explain how the Cardinals could be 20-26 on the road. They've lost six of their last nine games away from home. Adam Wainwright is 9-and-0 at home, and 4-and-5 on the road. How can that happen? The Cardinals haven't hit very well away from Busch. I've asked several players why the Cardinals (and most other clubs for that matter) struggle so much on the road and nobody seems to know. You wouldn't think home field advantage would be that important in baseball, but it has been through out the league this year. The Cardinals still have two trips to make to Houston, Chicago, and Pittsburgh, and have a four game series to play in Washington. Those are very winnable road series that could make the difference in another trip to the playoffs, or a second place finish in the division.


 

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