ST. LOUIS -- Sixteen days ago, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak stood at a podium and asserted that the next four to six weeks would not only determine his outlook for the rest of the season, but also shape his approach leading into the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.A change
ST. LOUIS -- Sixteen days ago, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak stood at a podium and asserted that the next four to six weeks would not only determine his outlook for the rest of the season, but also shape his approach leading into the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
A change in trajectory has not yet followed.
The Cardinals, who sat six games under .500 that day, dropped to a season-worst seven below with Saturday's 7-3 loss to the Pirates, who have jumped St. Louis in the standings by taking the first two games of this series. Since Mozeliak's shakeup of the coaching staff, the Cardinals have won five games against the Phillies and just two against everybody else. That includes a 3-8 record over the last 11 games.
The inability to gain any sort of traction continues to be the byproduct of fractured execution. When the starting pitching was sailing early, offense and fundamentals held the club back. When the offense came alive this month, the rotation regressed. Getting all areas to click simultaneously has been a maddening task rarely accomplished this season.
"We need to get them going at the same time, for sure," righty Adam Wainwright said. "That's what good teams do. They pitch well, and they hit well, and they play defense well. It seems like we haven't gotten much of anything timed up yet. We just have to keep going out there expecting it to, and hopefully it will."
Wainwright took a step back in the right direction with seven strong innings on Friday, and Lance Lynn hopes a similar turnaround is ahead for him. Lynn lasted 5 2/3 innings in Saturday's loss and now hasn't completed six innings in more than a month. Over the past week, Lynn has been knocked around for 14 runs, including six home runs.
He served up two more homers on Saturday -- Jordy Mercer's two-run shot in the fourth that gave the Pirates the lead, and a Josh Harrison solo shot an inning later. Both came with two outs, as did six of the seven runs Lynn surrendered.
"You just have to make sure that [this skid] stops where it's at right now and [that I] get on a little bit of a run right here before the All-Star break so I can regroup and have a good second half," Lynn said. "The last two [starts] are behind me, and I'm going to move forward, regroup and do what I'm capable of."
Collectively, the Cardinals hope to do the same.
They've got another 15 games leading into the All-Star break. Those include six against postseason contenders Arizona and Washington, but also nine against sub-.500 teams. The Cardinals sit a manageable five games back of the first-place Brewers, who lead a wobbly National League Central, but the club's window to make a run before Mozeliak picks a direction inches tighter with each passing series.
"We've seen too many of the pieces. We just have to put them together," manager Mike Matheny said. "We've seen the offense that can match up with anybody. We've seen the starting pitching that can match up with anything. I really like the way our bullpen is coming together. Nobody can convince me otherwise -- I believe that there's a good long streak of good baseball ahead of us."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, and Facebook.