Bench players will be key to Cardinals success -

Bench players will be key to Cardinals success

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Members of the St. Louis Cardinals during the National Anthem in July of 2013. By Bryce Moore Members of the St. Louis Cardinals during the National Anthem in July of 2013. By Bryce Moore
By Scott Bierman By Scott Bierman

(BaseballStL) -- The St. Louis Cardinals have a busy schedule ahead of them before they can start worrying about magic numbers and clinching a playoff spot.

The team will have only four more off days until the end of the season. In that stretch, the Cardinals also have a double-header scheduled against the division-rival Pittsburgh Pirates on July 30.

It’s only natural to think the aging veterans and the everyday players will need their breaks with the daunting schedule ahead of the team. That’s where the unfamiliar faces from the bench will become recognized with increased playing time from now through September.

“I’d imagine they’re going to see some opportunities, especially if they keep doing as well as they’ve been doing you want to keep it going,” Mike Matheny said. “Seeing our guys come off the bench without a lot of opportunities and still being productive is big for us. We feel that we can use them more and they feel good about themselves when they get the opportunity.”

Excluding Wednesday starters Shane Robinson and Matt Adams, the Cardinals’ bench players went a combined 2-for-5 with an RBI in an 11-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Factoring in Robinson and Adams, the typical bench players (Robinson, Adams, Cruz, Peterson) finished 7-for-13 with seven RBI in Wednesday’s win.

Wednesday will have to be the recipe for success for St. Louis to make it through these coming weeks.

“We’re going to use our guys,” Matheny said. “We’re going to have to. Everybody realizes that. Fortunately, the weather cooperated with us today. It’s supposed to be pretty nice (Thursday), where it’s not your typical end of July weather.

“I think the guys are all planning on this. It’s going to be a rough stretch here so everybody is going to have to chip in.”

Adams, who went 2-for-4 with a double and three RBI, has already seen the bulk of his work increase since Matt Holliday went down with a hamstring injury on July 11. In eight starts since, Adams is 8-for-30 with four RBI. But it’s the help from the veterans that will most help the younger players, like Adams, Matheny said.

“I think a lot of it has to do with watching a lot of the guys in our lineup, a lot of the veteran players and how they’re going about their at-bats,” Matheny said. “And then the approach that John Mabry and Bengie Molina have been able to give out offense, it’s a consistent approach.

“It’s not a panic approach when you get to two strikes. It’s not a panic approach when you get to two outs. It’s the same. It’s easy to talk about that, but you start seeing some guys put that into play and what it looks firsthand is a great opportunity for a guy like a Matt Adams young in his career to put together his own approach.”

Adams used that approach with his two base hits with an 0-2 count on him in Wednesday’s win.

“I think that with 0-2 I try to see the ball as long as I can and just battle up there,” Adams said. “I think that I was chasing stuff the past couple of weeks. I figured some stuff out today in BP and stuck with it and used it in the game.”

If the Cardinals’ typical bench players perform like they have recently, it could be a very joyous time come October in St. Louis.

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