ST. LOUIS -- The first postgame of Mike Shildt's career as interim manager was cold and damp. And he was happy with that, because it's how the club celebrated a 6-4 victory over the Reds in the series finale at Busch Stadium to end the first half at 48-46."You get
ST. LOUIS -- The first postgame of Mike Shildt's career as interim manager was cold and damp. And he was happy with that, because it's how the club celebrated a 6-4 victory over the Reds in the series finale at Busch Stadium to end the first half at 48-46.
"You get in the laundry basket and they spin you around, and then they just go at you with just a bunch of cold water to the point where I was hyperventilating," Shildt said. "I was just happy, and so were they probably, that there was no nudity involved."
Shildt slid into a new role as part of a series of moves the organization made on Saturday night in an effort to turn the season around. In the midst of a six-game home losing streak and with a record nearing .500, Cardinals management dismissed manager Mike Matheny, along with hitting coaches John Mabry and Bill Mueller.
"You look around the team right now, we have one of the most talented teams in all of Major League Baseball. I believe that 100 percent," second baseman Kolten Wong said. "So when we get clicking -- and we haven't clicked at all yet -- when we get clicking, the fans are going to see something special. They're going to see guys going out there and putting together good at-bats. It's going to be fun."
There was a sense of shock in the clubhouse on Sunday morning, but also a realization: there was a game to be played, and the slate was clean. There wasn't a stranger coming to town to take over the team. Shildt was a winner when he managed in the Minors, and he has been on the big league staff since 2017.
"[Shildt] has a good energy about him. I feed off of that," said William Fowler, who followed Matt Carpenter's leadoff home run with a solo jack of his own to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead. "Even being around him, he's always smiling, but he works hard and he cares. To see that each and every day is awesome."
Shildt made several key decisions early that paid off. He stuck with All-Star pitcher Miles Mikolas through four innings after the righty gave up three runs, but he picked a good time to pinch-hit Jose Martinez during the Cardinals' four-run rally in the bottom of the inning.
When center fielder Harrison Bader lobbied to stay in the game after hyperextending his knee, Shildt made the call to insert Tommy Pham, who knocked the go-ahead, two-run single with the bases loaded in the fourth.
"Look, my job is to put guys in a position to where they can succeed," Shildt said. "Today, they played the game very well. I just sat back and let them do it."
John Gant pitched four clean innings of relief, the longest outing by a Cardinals reliever this year. Gant set up Jordan Hicks for his second career save as closer Bud Norris was unavailable.
Collectively, Cardinals players spoke afterward about the blame they felt in Matheny's dismissal. The shakeup served as a wakeup call for everyone.
"When you see that happen, it's because us, as players, we're not doing our job. I hate saying that, but we're not doing our job and the blame is on us," Yadier Molina said. "Right now, we have a new voice, and hopefully we turn the page and can start playing better."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Pham fueled a crucial rally in the fourth with a single to center, reclaiming a lead the Cardinals had just lost. Pham, who entered the game as a pinch-runner after Bader exited in the second inning, finished with his first multi-hit game since July 5. More >
The official attendance on Sunday was 45,808, which made the Cardinals the second team in the Majors to sell 2 million tickets this season.
HE SAID IT
"I think the clubhouse re-energized itself a little bit today. Now, look, this has probably been more of an energized clubhouse than it's been given credit for. I think we should pause for a second and appreciate that. And so I think it wasn't so much re-energizing as it was a different focus perhaps." -- Shildt
The Cardinals return to action after the All-Star break at 6:05 p.m. CT on Thursday for the opener of a five-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. St. Louis took one of three in its last series against its division rival in mid-June. The Cards have not announced their rotation plans, while right-hander Kyle Hendricks (6-8, 3.92 ERA) is slated to start for the Cubs.
Sean Collins is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis.